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TinyPod wants to turn Apple Watches into minimalist phones that feel like iPods

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Enlarge / The font styling is very intentional.

TinyPod

I traded in my Series 5 Apple Watch last week to Apple after the battery couldn’t make it through most evenings. There wasn’t much resale incentive on the open market, because the screen was far from pristine and the battery was nearly 5 years old. You can replace the battery yourself, but, already having a lot of fix projects on the shelf, I opted to send it off, take a gift card, and move on.

If I get a chance, though, I’m going to ask Apple for that watch back. Apple can keep its estimated $90. I am cautiously but earnestly optimistic that the tinyPod can give me more value than a gift card number I plow into some future iPhone upgrade. In fact, the tinyPod, according to its creator, should go on sale for around that $90 mark after a more detailed reveal in June.

No electronics, just a lefty-oriented Apple Watch case

The tinyPod is essentially an iPod-like case, complete with circular-scrolling clickwheel, into which a strapless Apple Watch can be snapped in. Once inside the case, the scroll wheel function is “entirely analog and physically rotates the watch crown,” according to tinyPod founder Newar, better known as “Sentry” on X (formerly Twitter) and in jailbreaking circles. The crown-moving mechanism and general case enhancements to the Watch are patent-pending, Newar wrote by email. More on the scroll wheel will be shown next month, he wrote, at a “proper launch.”

As seen in the reveal trailer on X/Twitter, the tinyPod has two buttons on its side, with an inlet for a microphone hole, too. They all roughly match the Apple Watch’s long side button and crown push-button. It might not look like it lines up with how an upward-facing Apple Watch is oriented, but that’s probably because you’re right-handed. The Apple Watch can flip its display for lefties, something the tinyPod seems to utilize.

The case doesn’t have any “additional storage or electronics,” Newar wrote, at least in this model. The best use cases are “anything playback related (music/podcasts/audio books).” But, Newar adds, it’s also “the best way for an iPhone user to disconnect from their phone while staying connected to the essentials of messaging, email, calendar, phone calling and more that watchOS is capable of.”

The tinyPod project aims to eventually cover all Watch models that are Series 4 and newer. But at launch, the larger 45 mm models of Series 7-9 will be first to ship, then the Ultra and 41 mm sizes of the newer Series 7-9, and eventually the 40 and 44 mm models of Series 4-6.

Prior to this creative reuse project, Newar toiled in the iOS jailbreak scene, working on the Auxo app switcher, AltKeyboard, Apex, and several others. After that, he worked as a product designer and director of design engineering at Snap. Newar is working now with what he describes as a small team, globally dispersed.

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