I'm buying a gift that requires an iPod 3 or newer and I'm trying to get my brother to tell me what kind of iPod he has, but he is unable to open the case it's in.
How can he, using software, tell me what kind of iPod Touch he has?
You can easily check the model of the device using information found in Settings > General > About and a simple Google search..
Open the Settings app and select General.
From the General pane select About.
Scroll down in the About pane until you find the Model.
Type the model number into a Google search box. That should be sufficient, but you can add additional search terms like Apple or iPod Touch if need be.
Plug the device into any computer with either iTunes or the iPhone configuration utility and it will tell you the model, serial number and much more about the device. Both software packages run on Mac and Windows and are a free download from Apple.
An alternate method of determining whether the Phillips Hue app will run is to have them download that app since the App store includes built in checks to ensure the device meets the app's minimum requirements. I could see how this might not be ideal if part of the gift is to be a surprise that downloading the app might spoil.
If you get the serial number from Settings->General->About, you can enter the last four digits on this website to learn about the model number.
If the device runs, or can run iOS 5, or 6, then you can use it with that product.
Only 1st and 2nd generation iPod Touch cannot run iOS 5+. 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation can run iOS 5, and 6, respectively.
Determine what iOS version it is currently on by opening Settings.app > General. If the second table cell says "Software Update" the device is running iOS 5+.
The concrete way to find exactly which version would be to go Settings.app > General > About > Version.
Note: If it is isn't running iOS 5+, plug it into iTunes to see if it is eligible for an upgrade. If iTunes says something like iOS 4.3.1 under Summary and doesn't give an option to upgrade, the it is a 1st or 2nd gen - incompatible.
If you can look at other physical features of the device it is possible to tell.Start by looking to see if it has a camera (front or back). If it does you are fine because only the 4th and 5th generation (the larger 16:9 one) iPod Touches have cameras. If it is a 64GB model ("Settings" -> "General" -> "About" -> "Capacity", will be not quite 64 but close) then it is at least a 3rd generation. If all else fails go to "Settings" -> "General" -> "About" -> "Model", the 3rd generation's numbers end in 086LL , 008LL, or 011LL.