Those Apple iPods are too volatile to take into space in their default configuration so it has to be modified to be declared space-worthy. The Lithium-Ion battery packs are replaced with something that is less likely to start a fire/explosion.
It’s not clear who is responsible for the modification; Apple or NASA itself. I hope it was NASA that informed Apple to swap out the batteries on the iPod because the alternative is that NASA spent tax payer dollars on modifying iPods for space flights. I’m not sure if I’m okay with that or not.
According to TUAW, iPods taken aboard the Space Shuttle must have the Lithium-Ion battery packs replaced with “certified alkaline batteries” before making the trip. Maybe it’s as simple as taking out the battery pack and using one of the external packs that use “AA” batteries.
Despite the fact the iPod can be used onboard a Shuttle docked with the space station does not mean it can be used aboard the space station itself. It seems that iPods have not yet been certified as safe to use in that environment; even though it’s 98% the same.
Perhaps the next step is to design a space suit with built-in Bluetooth for use with a Bluetooth-capable iPod that can be used in the vacuum of space, that would be cool. I suppose the only problem would be the astronaut couldn’t hear mission control; oh well, just how important are those instructions anyway?