updated 09:50 am EST, Wed February 23, 2011
iPod nano update improves sleep button
Apple has quietly put out a firmware update for the sixth-generation iPod nano that gives its sleep/wake button new functionality. The 1.1 upgrade now lets users optionally double-click the button to either skip to the next track or pause music. The trick works both with regular music as well as the FM radio.
Regardless of the settings, the button also now behaves like a true off button much as its equivalent on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Pressing and holding the button for several seconds will completely shut the player down. While expected that any active content will stop, Apple has warned that the update clears the radio app's buffer and that both the Nike+iPod and voice memo apps will save their most recent progress before they stop.
The iPod has temporary memory that will remember the "now playing" status for up to five minutes after a complete shutoff, but will go back to the regular home screen at any point afterwards.
Apple's changes reflect a rare feature addition for an iPod post-launch and suggest an attempt to address complaints from some owners that it depends too heavily on the touchscreen. Cold-weather runners, those with gloves and anyone who has been unable to look directly at the screen have complained that the newer nano requires too much concentration for basic functions. The new method could help handle basic tasks even when the iPod is stowed away in a pocket.