Tricking an iPod into trusting your dock

[Thijs] has an iPod dock with an LCD display in it that allows you to watch videos without having to squint quite as much. Unfortunately, the iPod classic wouldn’t play videos on it because it’s not an Apple approved product. He figured out that an authentication chip is included in docks and cables that Apple has approved and set out to retrofit his device with one. He pulled the PCB, authentication chip included, out of a $5 cable from Deal Extreme and wired it up to the PCB on his dock. Voila, the dock now plays video.

This is a nice hack but it’s also just silly. You paid for the iPod, you paid for the music and videos (right?), and you paid for the dock. Why can’t they all talk to each other without authentication?

72 thoughts on “Tricking an iPod into trusting your dock

  1. Excellent hack. I’ll remember it if I run into similar troubles. I may also have to order one of those cables, it might come in handy someday!

    I’ve got an iPod Touch. 99% of the time I love it, the other 1% of the time wish they’d unlock some of the restrictions on the built-in Bluetooth so that I can control my PS3 with it (among other useful things Bluetooth could be used for!)

  2. There should be more hacks like this.

    An inexpensive hack that makes tons of otherwise functional iPod trash useful again is nothing short of a miracle for folks who have dug themselves into the iPod hole and a possible reprieve for the very planet itself.

  3. Someone mentioned it ensures quality??? I just do not understand how putting a chip in a cable ensures quality for a couple reasons. One, how does a manufacturer screw up making a cable? Even if it sells for a dollar. Two, by adding an extra part (chip) to the cable and making it more complicated it therefore becomes less reliable. Simpler equals better, more reliable, cheaper and more rugged. Apple made a cable a bit of water could kill easily.

  4. @therian
    I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by strawmanning Apple and user’s of Apple products like that. Apple makes solid hardware for the most part and their software is generally very polished and well thought out. Not in every case, but usually it is the case. They are definitely not going tor the Hackaday crowd, so why bash them for that?

    The reason I do like OSX is I can go to a terminal and get an actual useful terminal, it’s unix! Also, all of their development software is included on the OS install cd. Certainly those are two huge advantages.

    In college I used linux almost exclusively. Unfortunately a lot of the software I needed in my electrical and computer engineering classes needed windows. I ditched linux after I realized how much wasted time I had trying to get unsupported hardware working or configuring things. It’s a great OS for what it’s used for, however I switched to OSX to still have an extremely powerful OS that I didn’t need to fight with to get things to work properly. It has the polish that many linux distros need.

  5. Foxconn manufactures hardware designed by Apple. Depending on the i-device, that’s a little or a lot. For iPod touches and iPhones, Apple does the entire design.

    About the hack itself. If you have an iPod touch or iPhone, a better bet is to just jailbreak it and install one of the many apps that will allow you to use a basic cable without a chip. The problem with these dealextreme cables is they most often will stop working after a software update. This exact situation happened to me, and it continues to do so (check out dealextreme’s discussion area. It won’t show up in the reviews because they delete bad ones).

    Still, it’s only $5, and software updates don’t happen that often.

  6. Now what someone needs to do is figure out how to enable the bluetooth to ANY device not just apple approved $$$ ones.

    nothing worse than having to spend a ridiculous amount on a pair of expensive bluetooth headphones when a cheap generic much tougher pair are $15 or so.
    maybe while they are at it they can figure out how to retrofit an sd slot into a broken ipod video, surely there must be a way.

  7. @therian

    I’ve never had an Apple device fall apart on me. They are not impervious to device durability issues, the current iMac issues they are having are an example. But for the most part, they sell solid hardware.

    What issues are you having with your bluetooth headphones? I’m using a pair of cheapo logitech’s with my iPhone. As far as I know, there is no restriction on A2DP headphones or bluetooth headsets.

  8. My iPod Classic is essentially an expensive external HDD with a nice menu system to view its contents and a mediocre music player tacked on. Where as my dirt cheap Sony is about a million times better.

    Apple only exists the way Gap, Coke and Benetton do: mediocre product, good image, ubiquity and aggressive marketing.

  9. @jim

    *walks out of Banana Republic, looks at jim’s comment, hides loud yellow casual suit, whistles calmly*

    But yeah, it does seem to come down to marketing a good image for the masses than making a quality product that works like it should.

  10. Thankfully, as far as media playback goes, all the best stuff from the iPhone made the cut in the touch. It shares the same audio, video, and photo apps as the iPhone, which is a good thing since we still love the new Apple mobile media interface every bit as much as we did when we first reviewed the iPhone.

  11. @pyrofallout

    My Sony Clie came out in 2003, plays MP3, AAC, Ogg, MP4 videos, had no app restrictions, had an infrared port (great for messing with TVs and stuff BTW), Wi-Fi, web browsing, FLASH PLAYER (tee hee) email, and the same resolution as the iPod touch.

    Apple’s not innovating.

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