Blind Bargains

The iPod 6: an upgrade worth having?

The following was submitted by Scott Davert.
It's been 3 years since Apple has released a new iPod touch, and it's an update I've been hoping for and mostly given up on seeing. There were rumors of a new iPod to be announced last year which proved to be untrue. At which point, many thought the iPod 5 was the final model. While I understand the need for iPads, and certainly the value they bring to some users, I really didn't see the point in having a larger touch screen for myself. It's less portable and I'm totally blind, so really the only advantage would be more text on each page of the screen when reading books that used to require page turning with braille displays. However, with iOS 8, this is no longer an issue, as VoiceOver now has the option to automatically turn pages when using a braille display. Although I had an iPod 5 for quite some time to offset the use of my iPhone, it was starting to get a little sluggish with iOS 8.0, particularly with regard to braille keyboard input, requests submitted through Siri, and the carrying out of functions such as OCR using the KNFB Reader. With some dismay, I had almost accepted that I may have to use an iPad Mini, when Apple announced the new iPod 6.

SO, what does it look like compared to the iPod 5?

There is almost no difference in the physical appearance between the 2 models. The only noticeable difference is the absence of the nub on the 6 for the wrist band that was included with the 5. In terms of height, width, and thickness, the 2 devices are identical. However, don't let the almost identical outside trick you in to thinking there is no noticeable difference in performance.

So how much difference is there?

With the new a-8 Processor, 8 MP camera, and the slightly upgraded battery, it's almost like what I'd call an iPod 5s. At least, if we were following iPhones, this would certainly qualify as a S upgrade since the iPhone hardware releases seem to be following this pattern. However, the jump in both ram and processor are a much bigger upgrade from the iPod 5 than what you would traditionally see with iPhone upgrades that happen every year.
In terms of direct application, after changing all the braille keyboard settings I noted in This Guide, I opened the notes application and typed the following sentence. "hello, my name is Scott, and I am testing braille keyboard input with the different models of iPod." The results? With the iPod 5, it took VoiceOver about 7 seconds to translate the entire sentence while I was typing it. With my typing at around 120 WPM in braille, most of that time was spent in translation. With the iPod 6, It took approximately 4 seconds to translate the same text.
Looking at Siri, with all things as equal as possible, meaning both devices were on the same wifi network, both running iOS 8.4 and both microphones were sitting side by side, I asked Siri a few things. When I asked what the temperature was outside, the iPod 5 responded in 2.5 seconds, while the 6 responded in 2.1. Not a huge difference, but still noticeable. I then asked Siri to play the most popular song on iTunes. The iPod 5 brought up the tune in 5.6 seconds, while the 6 did so in 2.9.
With regard to KNFB Reader, I found that scanning single pages of typed text in terms of accuracy was not all that much different. Although I did the scanning in well lit areas and with only typed text on clear paper, because that is what came in the mail that day, I suspect that the difference will show in less lit areas under less ideal scanning conditions. The difference, though, was again in speed. While the iPod 6 performs at the same level as the iPhone 6 in terms of beginning of the read out in about 2 seconds, the iPod 5 took about 7 seconds to start reading text. Over the course of a few pages, those seconds start to add up fast.


The testing in the body of this article shows the speed at which things can be done more effectively using the iPod 6. Although difficult to time, I can say that the iPod 6 on iOS 8.4 runs very smoothly and quickly. While the iPod 5 certainly can still get the job done, it does take longer to load larger apps and perform functions. The overall responsiveness of the iPod 5 is acceptable to me, but is much more appreciated on the 6. It was money well spent for me, and is a great second iDevice or upgrade from the 5 in my opinion. If you have a 5, there are certainly buyers out there for this device, as it still makes a good first iProduct to have, and isn't a bad cheaper solution for someone requiring less intensive activities like podcast listening or reading email. The iPod 6 costs $199 for the 16gb model, $249 for the 32 GB model, $299 for the 64 GV model and $399 for the 128 GB model.

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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