As many iPod watchers expected would happen, Apple released an iPod update that brings feature-parity to the iPod mini. Before you get too excited, your iPod mini won’t suddenly show pictures in grayscale because you’ve updated its firmware to the current version 1.2 (as part of iPod Updater 2004-11-15). Rather, it now includes the same features and commands as the fourth-generation iPod.
As with the 4G iPod you’ll now find a Shuffle Songs command in the main iPod screen for quick access to the iPod’s shuffle feature. This same screen now includes a Music command. Like the 4G iPod, the Music screen now includes an Audiobooks command and the iPod mini can now play those audiobooks slower or faster as can its fourth-generation sibling. And just like the more expensive iPods it can now hold multiple On-The-Go playlists and the device can be configured to play the Click Wheel sound through the headphones port.
So what’s this “and a Bit More” promised in the headline? It turns out that the update changes some of the mini’s diagnostic tests (accessed by resetting the iPod by holding down Select and Menu and, when the Apple logo appears, holding down Select and Back).
None of these changes are earth-shattering — the SLEEP test (which, aptly enough, put the mini to sleep) is now gone. And Apple has renamed a couple of the tests — SMRT SCAN is now called DISK SCAN and HARD R/W is called HDD R/W (which is closer to the name used on the iPod photo).
This update adds four new tests — IRAM3, ALLSDRAM, CLR BLKS, and the intriguingly named HDD DROP.
The first two tests check the mini’s SDRAM chip but it’s unclear to me what the other two do. Despite its ominous sounding name, CLR BLKS doesn’t erase the contents of the mini’s hard drive (though if it did I suppose it would be named HDD CLR). When you initiate the test it ticks up from 1 – 100%. The mini behaves exactly as it did prior to initiating the test so I’ll have to shrug my left shoulder about this one for the time being.
I’m reserving my right shoulder for the HDD DROP test. When you press select with this test highlighted you see another command called DROPTEST. Press Play to initiate the test and you’re returned to the HDD DROP command. I like my mini enough that I haven’t been willing to drop it to the floor to see if the screen displays the single word “OUCH!”