Expanding Uses, Utilizing Functions of Your iPod

Most people think of music when they think about their iPod. But this remarkable little device can do much more than just play your favorite tunes. Learn how to get the most out of your iPod-the incredibly popular somewhat pricey must-have gadget of the year.

For those of you who may not know, an iPod is the portable, personal digital audio player manufactured by Apple Computers, the people who bring you Mac computers. Introduced to the market in 2001, skeptics were unsure whether or not consumers would be willing to shell out $399 for a new gadget. The skeptics fears were proven unfounded as the iPod became an instant hit. Now several models later, the iPod has become a cultural icon with its catchy advertising and sleek, sexy looks. People everywhere are using their iPods to maintain, organize, categorize and store massive music collections. The iPod makes it easy to take your entire music collection with you wherever you go. All around the neighborhood, pedestrians and passengers alike can be seen bobbing their heads for no apparent reason until they approach and you can make out the ubiquitous white earbuds worn by iPod users. Listening to your collection of music on your iPod is great but is that all you can do with an iPod? Surprisingly, this amazing little piece of equipment has many more functions.

-Listen to audio books.
You can use your iPod to enrich your mind, not just turn it to mush listening to head-banging music. From the latest suspense thrillers to always-popular romance, many genres of books are available on Apples iTunes Music Store through their affiliation with audiobooks.com. Want to improve your life? Try downloading a copy of “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren or snag yourself a free copy of the King James Bible online. Instead of relying on multiple CD’s or unwieldy, unreliable audiocassette tapes, enjoy listening to your favorite books even when you are busy doing something else such as the laundry or going for a run. What were you thinking about while you were putting those clothes in the washer anyway?

-Play games.
Depending on the model of iPod you own, you have at least one game on its hard drive. All users have a game called “Brick”, reminiscent of an old arcade game called “Breakout”. Depending on the model of iPod you have, you may also have the following games: “Parachute”, “Solitaire” and “Music Quiz”. And all in a very discreet package. So if you feel a little bored during that next employee meetingâÂ?¦

-Store non-music files.
The iPod can be used to store all kinds of files from your computer. Some have suggested that the iPod is a cost-effective alternative to other removable hard drive options to allow users to save their files for back-up. Critics, however, will point out that the small size and portability may lead to greater chance of the iPod and therefore all of your files, being stolen. Even more tragic, filling up your iPod with silly documents will hamper your ability to fill the device with as much music as you can possibly cram on there. But in a pinch if you need some back-up file storage, your iPod can do the trick.

-Organize your life.
Just like PDA’s were supposed to organize our ever-complicated and busy lives, the iPod could also be pressed into service for this purpose. Your iPod can store a copy of the user’s information from the address book to help keep up with contacts. And what about your calendar? Your iPod can also store information from iCal, the calendar function on the Mac to keep track of all those upcoming appointments and meetings. The downside? The information, once stored on your iPod can not be edited on your iPod. You must return to the original program, make any desired changes and then re-sync the iPod. This minor point could be quite a problem if say, you are at a party and want to jot down the contact information of someone you find intriguing. You would not be able to do so because you could not add any information to the address book on your iPod. So you are stuck searching for a pen and writing on a crumpled up napkin after all!

-Record voice memos or record lectures.
This capability of your iPod requires what is known as an iPod accessory. There are literally thousands of third-party company applications to make your iPod more useful. One of these is a voice recorder that can be attached to your iPod to allow you to create digital recordings on your iPod. This function can be handy if you tend to come up with ideas in awkward places such as when you are driving or if you would like a tape-free way to record interesting and/or mandatory lectures. Griffin Technology produces the iTalk for this purpose. Some have even suggested the iTalk can be used to record your very own iPod radio show called a podcast. But creating podcasts are a topic for another article!

-Listen to radio broadcasts and Internet Pod Casts.
Yes, you news junkies can listen to your favorite talk radio shows at your leisure on your iPod. How? Once again, you will have to rely on an inexpensive third-party solution such as Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba. With this or other software, you can record streaming audio from any broadcast that comes on the computer, such as KRLA in Los Angeles, and save it in your iTunes library to listen to on your iPod later. Pesky 9 to 5 job interfering with your talk radio schedule? It doesn’t have to because you can record digitally and listen anytime. And what about non-commercial, individually produced podcasts? iPod users such as your self can create radio shows specifically to be listened to on the iPod. Recently featured in the New York Times, podcasts are becoming very popular. The topics of these shows run the gamut from Christianity to you-guessed-it, iPods and come in a variety of styles and quality levels. Lists of available podcasts can be found at iPodder.com and other sites. Downloading is straightforward and explained on the podcast sites. Find your favorite topic and enjoy!

-Listen to music in your car.
Third-party accessories that allow you to listen to your iPod in the car so you can jam or learn while driving are available. Docking stations that attach to your center console connect with your car’s audio system through the tape deck to allow what’s on your iPod to be heard out loud in your car. This is much safer than having earbuds on while driving. Although you may look cool wearing the iPod’s fashionable earpieces, not being able to hear the cop trying to pull you over could prove to be more than embarrassing. Some docking stations and some models of iPod will also allow you to charge your iPod while you are using it in the car. And if you have it like “that”, you can get your iPod seamlessly integrated into your BMW for the ultimate driving experience (or at least you can dream about it!)

-Listen to music out loud-without headphones.
Your iPod can be connected to mini-external speakers, a device such as the iTalk mentioned above or to your stereo system (for instance, if you are lucky enough to own a Bose system). Mini-speakers can be inexpensive or top-of-the-line models. So for the times that you do not want to be rude and make people think that you are not paying attention to them, hook up your iPod to external speakers and share the love.

-Store and share your photos.
If you are lucky enough to have the state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line iPod Photo, you can enter a whole new realm of photo album sharing. Instead of carrying around bulky photo albums with pictures of Fido and the kids, you can whip out your sleek iPod Photo and brag away. Another neat feature- you can view the cover art for your music as you choose it from your collection. All this is in full, gorgeous color. Nice, very nice.

There are so many cool ways that you can use your iPod if you just start thinking about what you want and then research your options. Not just for music, the iPod has revolutionized the way that we look at portable digital media.

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