Apple Updates Shuffle: 4GB, VoiceOver

Apple Store goes down, Apple Store comes up with just what we expected: a new revision of the iPod Shuffle. It's got 4 gigs of storage, comes in silver and black, and an all new feature: VoiceOver.

The new Shuffle is half the size of the previous -- a feat achieved by removing nearly all of the controls off the device itself and onto the headphone cable. Only the Off/Repeat/Shuffle switch stays on device. In other words -- don't plan on using your own headphones with the Shuffle. While that's a bit of a downer, the upside is that the headphone controls are very thoughtfully laid-out and easy to hit without looking.

VoiceOver and how the controls work -- after the break!

VoiceOver is pretty darn clever. It actually gets created on your PC or Mac and then synced over to the Shuffle with your music. The upshot is that Apple has managed to add the feature without having to ask too much of the little device. The voice you hear will therefore depend on what type of computer you sync to.

Back to controls: the are three buttons. Volume up and down is pretty obvious, then there's the middle button. A single click starts and stops music, a double click advances tracks. Holding down the middle button activates VoiceOver, which reads title and artist. Holding it down even longer activates a beep and then the Shuffle reads through your playlists, you can click to select the one you want.

In all, it's a pretty neat little iPod, available now (ships within a week), for $79. Unclear is whether or not the feature is going to be made available to other iPods or the iPhone. Given that the heavy lifting of creating VoiceOver happens on the computer instead of the iPod, it seems like a no-brainer. It might be a little more dicey with the iPhone and iPod Touch, though, since you're able to download music directly.

Any iPhone owners out there thinking of supplementing their Apple music phone with an Apple music gadget?

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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Apple Updates Shuffle: 4GB, VoiceOver

18 Comments

Wow. That sounds really cool. A little compicated though. The voice over has me slightly iffy. Although my iMac does voiceover when there is an alert and it sounds understandable , that's just one sentence. I do t think I could imagine going through a whole list. Also what if the tittle is not spelled correctly ? I gave my cousin my last generation shuffle and he lost it. I think I would get him this one since it has more space and more features. Looks like a good product ! I just have my concerns.

Also , I do t think I would ' supplement ' my iPhone with any other device. I think voice over on the iPhone / iPod touch would be a good feature but I think just pressing the home / hold button will be enough. Wasn't there a patent by apple for a screen that cones on without the use of a backlight ?

Omari, the point VoiceOver is to be able to utilize the device without needing a display. It wouldn't make sense to require an iPhone/iPod Touch to use the home button to activate voice over instead of using the in-line ear bud remote because you'd then have the display right in front of you, which voids the need for displayless-utilization. :)

It's pretty neat although I'm torn about the requirement for Apple headphones. The shuffle is ideal for the gym, but the gym is precisely the place where Apple's earbuds won't stay in for me. Anyway, I have a 2nd gen shuffle that still suits my needs just fine. What I'm really looking forward to is a new iPhone with support for volume up/down from the headphones so that I can adjust volume without taking it out of my pocket. (That and some serious hardware/software improvements, of course)

I guess apple is no longer needing of it's events to reveal new products, it can now happen any day haha

This is VERY cool. I definitely think this is a great upgrade. True, you can't use just any ol' set of headphones, but I think the play/pause feature is being integrated in enough headphones (thanks to Apple's lead) that there should be a wide range of alternatives in the near future.
The only bummer is that it doesn't seem that there is a Shuffle in the $49 range. That was the sweet spot for me. I'd love to see a 2G or even 1G version for $49. Most of my regular mobile music listening is done on my iPhone, and I only use my Shuffle for workouts or other short bursts of music. 1G is plenty for that purpose.

@christomapher : That was exactly my point! =] I thought that having voice over on the iPhone / iPod touch would be redundant. It already has a screen.

iPods main selling point has always been ease of use. No controls, seems to go against that. I like it, but it is going to put alot of people off.

Sonuds like a great idea, but I cannot stand in-ear head phones. Especially the apple ones. They never stay in my ear and they hurt after I use them for 30min. Would there be any solutions for people like me?

I am blind and I need VoiceOver. It works very well on the Nano, almost adequately on the Schuffle. I just learned today that VoiceOver is ONLY available on the damn iPhone. I have an iTouch. I downloaded 3.0 only to find that VoiceOver is not available to me unless I pay $600! I am not a happy camper.

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