By Dan Moren
August 31, 2018 12:47 PM PT
The Back Page: Back from the dead and loving it
Recently, in a rare curveball move, Apple released a firmware update for the AirPort Express, the mini base station that was last updated in 2012—which Apple had also discontinued earlier this year. The update brought support for the new AirPlay 2 protocol, allowing users to continue eking out some utility from the aging device.
Usually Apple’s pretty content to let the past die, which made the decision all the more surprising. But it got me thinking: there are probably plenty of old Apple products that still have some utility left in them. Maybe it’s time for Cupertino to think about delving into the archives, dusting off a handful of devices, and adding some new features to surprise and delight its customers. Don’t worry: I’ve got a few suggestions.
iPod Classic: Apple’s behemoth of an iPod still has some life left in it. Even these days, getting an iOS device that can store as much as the 160GB iPod can be a pricey proposition. So there are definitely some people that would pick up one of these iPods, especially if you could just pop in a little support for for Siri. (It may be a little underpowered, hardware wise, but hear me out: bring back the old Fred voice from Macintalk and you can probably save some processor cycles.)
Newton MessagePad 2100: Yes, the built-in stylus for the Newton was perfectly serviceable. But come on, Apple’s come such a long way since the ‘90s. These days, everybody knows styli aren’t cool. So all Apple has to do is release a firmware update for the Newton OS to add support for the Apple Pencil. You might even find some folks eschewing their iPhones—after all, they don’t have Pencil support, do they now?
Power Mac G4 Cube: Look, I’m not saying it wasn’t one of the most innovative computers of its era. I know there are plenty of people with a soft spot left for it. I am just saying that what could be wrong with a firmware update that allows it to eject CDs from that slot-loading drive at high velocity? Is that too much to ask?
LaserWriter: This thing needs AirPrint, stat. How am I supposed to print crisp, beautiful black and white text from my iPhone or iPad at 8 pages per minute without it? Just need to route it over LocalTalk, to Ethernet, to Wi-Fi, and Bob Mansfield’s your uncle.
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh: Okay, the company’s still got a year left, but this one’s pretty easy. A simple firmware update just needs a little tweaking to turn it into the brand new Forty-Second Anniversary Macintosh. Douglas Adams would be proud.
iPod Socks: About time Apple brought them back and, more to the point, resized them for the current generation of iPhones. Though I guess that’s less of a firmware update and more of a _soft_ware update…oh man. *wipes tear from eye*
Scott Forstall: This one’s more of a bug fix: clearly, Scott’s firmware went awry somewhere. I mean, he’s off producing Tony-award winning Broadway shows when his programming should have had him spearheading the next big technological revolution. Scotty, come home.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]