"When Apple released the first iPod, in 2001, listening to music became an entirely different proposition than it was in the days of the Discman, or the Walkman before it, or the boom box before that. Rather than the physical insertion of a music-bearing artifact into a player, the iPod came with music already loaded—much more music than anyone had previously been able to imagine. The largest, the hundred-and-twenty-gigabyte model, could hold roughly forty thousand songs, far more than the average music consumer owned. With that unnecessary limit reached, the philosophy of the device shifted. The iPods, originally external hard drives, became considerably smaller but more stable flash-memory devices, and were eventually absorbed into iPhones. Local storage increasingly gave way to cloud storage.
There’s a parallel history, though, one that focusses not on the devices but on the interface through which music is presented, and that’s what I was thinking about last week, when I downloaded iOS 7. I had heard about the new thin font, the command center that you pulled up from the bottom of the home screen, and the pull-down search. Not much of the advance publicity for the operating system discussed the native music player. And, in a way, that turned out to be the biggest shock of all."