iPod Firmware Update

This post is obsolete and screenshots have been removed.

I was finally forced to update the firmware in my 5G iPod. I always hold off and only do an upgrade when there’s a problem. Well, lately there’s been a problem.

My iPod has developed the annoying habit of freezing up at the beginning or end of some podcasts. By freezing I mean it displays a black screen with a nice big Apple logo. To recover I’d have to reboot the iPod. To reboot a 5th gen iPod toggle the hold switch on then off, then hold in the menu and select buttons together until the Apple logo appears – or in my case disappears and re-appears. Only a few podcasts had a problem but when one had a problem it always had the problem. It wasn’t a case of reboot and then it would be fine. In addition, it wasn’t any specific shows. They were isolated and spread out.

It happened again today so I decided to give in and upgrade the firmware. After the upgrade the problem podcast played OK so I’m optimistic the problem is resolved. I went from version 1.2 to 1.2.1. I’m annoyed that Apple doesn’t publish a list of fixes so I have no idea if I really fixed a problem.

The reason I don’t like to upgrade the firware is because I’m hooked on a feature that Apple used to officially say didn’t work. I make extensive use of smart playlists and Apples documentation at one time said they wouldn’t dynamically update on the iPod (now they say they work so they’re unlikely to go away). For example, I have playlists set up by what I call “Least Recently Played” order. The screen shot below is an example (click image for full screen view).

This playlist is limited to the 125 least recently played items that meet the criteria. The only difference between the iPod and iTunes is that I have to stop playing the playlist before it actually updates. Either stop playing by going to another playlist and starting it or just letting the playlist run to the end. This means I can keep playing my least recently played songs without having to sync with iTunes.

With a previous iPod, a 3G I think (I can never keep track), a firmware upgrade had removed this unsupported feature. It was very annoying since I like playing my oldest songs and prefer not having to sync all the time. Luckily the feature returned at a later time. Since then I’ve avoided firmware upgrades. As an aside, I think the “unsupported” article I saw might have been an attempt to avoid having to continue with the feature (maybe to reclaim memory) but it was later officially put back in after all the complaints.

I already did a quick test and the smart playlists work just fine on my iPod.