How I managed to install a working version of TouchOSC on a first generation (1G) iPod Touch

A first generation 1G Ipod used as a wifi connected personal headphone mixer

A first generation 1G iPod combined with Touch OSC makes a great low-budget headphone mixer

Here’s how I managed to install a working version of TouchOSC on two very old first generation (1G) iPods.  I purchased the two 1st generation iPods from Amazon for about $40 each with the intention of making them into TouchOSC controllers for headphone sends. (I wanted each musician to be able to create a custom mix while recording).

I have four stereo headphone mixes available from my RME MadiFX sound card, and I plan to use four different iPods, each with about four (or five) faders on them. One fader will be used for click, and the others for each performer’s instrument or vocal level.

The first problem I encountered was that the current version of Touch OSC available on the Itunes store will not run on a first generation iPods. The newest OS my 1G iPods will run is OS 3.1.3.

I searched and found a workaround to download old versions of TouchOSC from the app store. The trick, however, was that I was unable to find a compatibility grid showing which TouchOSC versions run with which IOS versions. So I just downloaded a bunch of random old versions of TouchOSC using the method outlined here:

How to Download Older Versions of IOS Apps using Charles Proxy software

Here are the versions of TouchOSC I downloaded to Itunes. Unfortunately NONE of them would sync with my 1G iPod:

  • TouchOSC v1.0.1
  • TouchOSC v1.1
  • TouchOSC v1.2
  • TouchOSC v1.7.2
  • TouchOSC v1.8.1
  • TouchOSC v1.9.2
  • TouchOSC v1.9.8

Each time I tried to sync one of these legacy versions of Touch OSC with my 1G iPod it gave me a compatibility error and failed. I was puzzled because I knew at least one of these should work with IOS 3.1.3. Then I noticed that the error I was getting reported that the app was incompatible with the iPod hardware, not the software.

I searched some more, and found a description of a method to bypass the Itunes limitation on older devices:

How to modify downloaded IOS apps so that you can install them on a first generation 1G iPod Touch even if they are designed for a newer device.

Because I had trashed each of my Touch OSC versions from Itunes as I tried them, they were available in my Mac’s trash. Following the advice of the article on MacRumors, I moved each version from the trash onto a machine running Windows (in my case Windows 7), and followed the instructions in the article.

(I’m not sure why you need Windows, but I did try it on a Mac first and it didn’t work.)

The article tells you how to temporarily change each of your app files’ suffixes from .ipa to .zip, which (at least in Windows 7) allows you to modify a line or two of critical code that will allow your 1G iPod to sync with TouchOSC. I followed all of the steps and was able to begin syncing my randomly-chosen legacy versions of TouchOSC with my 1G iPod. Success!

Next I had to narrow down which version of TouchOSC would run on my 1G iPod. As I mentioned before, I had trouble finding good information about this. So I tried a few versions, and discovered that Touch OSC version 1.8.1 seemed to do the trick. I’m not sure where the cutoff is, but v1.9.2 failed to sync. (I didn’t test any versions between v1.8.1 and v1.9.2)

It was a lot of work, but now I have some very handy headphone mixers that are portable and connected by WIFI to my computer. And they cost less than a typical hardware control surface.