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iPod Shuffle Finds Its Voice

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the easy-to-use-easy-to-lose dept.

Music 379

theodp writes "Steve Jobs wasn't around to convince you that you should be impressed, but on Wednesday Apple unveiled a 4GB Shuffle that's half the size of its predecessor. Holding up to 1,000 songs, the pre-shrunk Shuffle sports a 10-hour battery life and also adds a new VoiceOver feature that can recite song titles, artists, and playlist names, as well as provide status information. Even without a show from Steve, the new player is generally leaving folks dazzled, although there are some complaints." Update: 3/14 at 14:10 by SS: Reader Mike points out some disturbing news that the new Shuffle contains DRM which, according to a review at iLounge, prevents it from fully working with any headphones that don't have an Apple "authentication chip."

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379 comments

And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191097)

Maybe consumers will draw the line when Apple requires its users to install DRM-equipped electrodes in their own frontal lobes.

Maybe [eff.org].

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191109)

And before anyone says the Voice function is innovative, Rockbox has had it for years. Luckily Apple prevented the installation of Rockbox onto iPods with the 6th gen Classic :/

The Voice function is innovative (3, Informative)

beetle496 (677137) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191725)

The speech output option of Rockbox lets you navigate menus and track names and such, but is does not let you hear the title of the track while the song is playing. That aspect is pretty slick!

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (3, Insightful)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191767)

Too bad Rockbox has "by techies, for techies" approach to the user interface.

It really isn't very good.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191907)

mmm... and it wasn't at all similar to the 'use VoiceOver for menus' function activatable through iTunes. At all.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (1)

sagematt (1251956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191937)

Luckily Apple prevented the installation of Rockbox onto iPods with the 6th gen Classic :/

Luckily for WHO? Not for me, at least.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27192205)

Um, whoosh?

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (3, Informative)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191141)

What in heaven's name are you talking about?

The headphones have no DRM built into them. You could argue that, maybe, Apple is actually making the Shuffle 'closed-source' by requiring a user to use their headphones with their player (I'll insert the customary car analogy -- they're producing a car and restricting you to putting their wheels on their car!), but frankly Apple has long been in the business of coming up wit new ways of doing things and letting the rest of the market catch up. Unless we hear Apple stopping other people from producing headphones or adapters for this device, I'm going to assume that we'll soon see other vendors coming up with adapters and headphones for it. Oh, look, Scosche has already announced they're working on it.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (3, Informative)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191199)

What in heaven's name are you talking about? The headphones have no DRM built into them

Oh really? The EFF disagrees: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/03/apple-adds-still-more-drm-ipod-shuffle [eff.org]

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (4, Informative)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191207)

That's going, as I've noted in another reply, on a single iLounge review. Not exactly a technical analysis of what's going on inside the earphones. It sounds more like a non-standard control chip, as opposed to a DRM chip.

See also my reply with the definition of Digital Rights Management (short version - the music is entirely unaffected and can play through any headphones).

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (5, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191481)

You must've missed the iPod TV out debacle. All the recent iPods won't do TV out unless they can detect a special Apple authentication chip in the TV out adapter. There's no technical reason for this - they're quite capable of doing TV out via old-fashioned adaptors without the chip, and I think some of them even display a message via the TV out in this case. The sole purpose is to require accessory manufacturers to get authorised and pay a per-item fee to Apple - enforced by the requirement to put the Apple-supplied lockout chip in each one.

It really shouldn't surprise you if they start doing the same things with headphones.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (4, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192327)

That's going, as I've noted in another reply, on a single iLounge review. Not exactly a technical analysis of what's going on inside the earphones. It sounds more like a non-standard control chip, as opposed to a DRM chip.

According to iLounge, even Apple's own previous headphones with remotes built in (for the iPhone and recent Nanos) refuse to control the new shuffle properly. So non-standard that it doesn't even work with your existing products seems pretty unlikely, though I'll happily be proven wrong if someone smashes open the remotes on either set of headphones and finds out what's in there.

See also my reply with the definition of Digital Rights Management (short version - the music is entirely unaffected and can play through any headphones).

Is the music player not also a digital device? It may not be DRM to the letter, but it's still technology to prevent you from freely interacting with your purchases.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (3, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191357)

The impression I get about the EFF is that they've become a bit too much like Greenpeace. I'm an environmentalist, but I do get sick of Greenpeace. I also don't like the DMCA, but the amount of spin coming from the EFF lately is a bit too much for me. When organisations like this start going after the small stuff, I think they undermine the very importance of what they're fighting for and just end up preaching to the choir.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191411)

What else is new. The EFF has spent their entire existence trying to run out in front of every parade.

You want to like the guys, but then you realize that they survive by pandering to the type of mongoloids who Slashdot and Digg appeal to.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191521)

Superiority. It just makes anything nicer. Certainly improves the experience of reading slashdot, huh?

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191575)

type of mongoloids who Slashdot and Digg appeal to

The intelligent, principled ones?

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (5, Funny)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191983)

The thing that one needs to remember is that anyone, no matter who they are, who questions Apple or points out any problem with Apple's behaviour, is evil. Apple is always right. We are fortunate to be living at the same time that Apple exists.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192123)

I don't think the IP issues with Apple are a big problem, so I must blindly support Apple on everything and never question them? You know, it is possible to both be a supporter of Free software and open hardware standards, yet also tolerate to some extent the practice of using today's IP laws in business.

You can't use it with normal amplifiers (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191571)

You can't play it through normal amplifiers without losing the ability to change tracks.

You can't plug it into a cars MP3 port, you can't plug it into previous iPod docks.

This is useless without its headphones, you're stuck with those crappy Apple ones.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (3, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191201)

Ah, you beat me to it (I replied below). This really doesn't seem anything beyond a non-standard control interface - particularly since it doesn't seem to fit the definition of "Digital Rights Management" at all. It more accurately fits "Physical Rights Management" - in terms of restricting what accessories are required to do something with their device. It does nothing to the (digital) music playback (music is reported to play just fine through any headphones).

I wouldn't doubt that one could, with a little ingenuity, hack together some sort of standard headphone jack on the end of a cut-off earbud remote that currently comes with the shuffle, as well.

Normally I support the EFF quite highly, but they seem to be jumping the gun a little on this one, going on the word of one iLounge review, as opposed to a report from someone actually taking the thing apart to see how it works - such as a manufacturer.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191343)

The EFF are doing exactly the same thing as the RIAA/MPAA do when they call copyright infringement stealing. They are using a similar but technically different term to describe something because of the emotional weight behind the word. It is dishonest and the EFF should be above doing it. Frankly I sense the presence of a certain attention grabbing campaigner behind this.

What Apple has done is no different to mobile phones with non-standard power adapters, cars with non-standard stereo systems and cameras that use custom batteries. Sure all these things are a pain in the arse and companies should be 'discouraged' from doing them but they are not DRM.

In addition might this not all be FUD or least a conspiracy theory? Every time a scare like this comes up in regard to Apple the evil anti-consumer thing they have supposedly done also happens to have size and aesthetic advantages. Maybe the new Shuffle has this 'DRM' requirement because they took the controls off the player to make it smaller. Of course you could also argue that this is just a convenient excuse.

Also you don't have to buy a iPod or any Apple products. There are plenty of equally capable alternatives. If you don't like the product don't buy it.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191817)

It would be more appropriate to say they "SONYed" it than added DRM. It's the more generic term.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (4, Insightful)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192319)

This is debatable - what ilounge is claiming is that if you don't have headphones with controls all it does is play a loop of the playlist - because the player doesn't have any physical controls on the device.

Apple is *forcing* you to buy their headphones if you want to control it and from what I understand is that 3rd parties cannot make these special headphones without a special chip only apple has.

So yes - its drm.

And while some 3rd party could reverse engineer the lockout chip apple could in turn shut them down with the dmca.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191583)

>Apple has long been in the business of coming up wit new ways of doing things and letting the rest of the market catch up

Yeah, like the PowerPC, the Mighty Mouse (TM), and FireWire. The market will catch up around 2200 probably

ps. I'm not an Apple hater, just saying :-)

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (2, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191191)

Is there actually any evidence of the chip being a DRM "authentication" chip, as opposed to just a non-standard control interface? A single iLounge review is hardly what I'd call conclusive evidence - considering they note in there that there are likely to be 3rd-party remotes that do not have headphones attached before long.

While not an ideal situation, by far, I think it may not be quite as bad as your initial reaction paints it to be. It *is* also explicitly noted in the review that it still does play music through any headphones, and that the control is what's missing - not the music itself.

I also highly doubt that any such headphones will become required on any other iPod devices, since the shuffle is the only thing Apple has constantly been trying to cut down the number of buttons on. Furthermore, I personally would welcome some 3rd-party remote-only accessories, as they seem like they'd be likely to work with other recent iPod models as well, when you don't feel like digging it out of your pocket.

Re:And DRM in the fucking *headphones*. (3, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191287)

Non-standard != proprietary DRM.

People have already started announcing 3rd party accessories for the new iPod shuffle. It may not be a standard headphone jack, but it's not locked-down. I'm sure in a months time there will be people who've made their own iPod shuffle headphone controller just for the fun of it. If you want to talk about price of accessories making the whole package too expensive, then that's something else.

NOT Digitial Rights managment (4, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192275)

The headphones do not contain Digitial Rights Management. device will play just fine with ordinary headphones. in no way does it block access to your music.

the headphones can contain a controller to tell it to advance to a given song or change volume. Were you somehow expecting unmodified headpones to do that? how exactly?

Re:NOT Digitial Rights managment (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192365)

I would expect at the very least Apple's existing headphones with a remote to do that, yes. I'm given the impression that's not the case. As I do own a couple sets of third-party headphones with a remote built in (to replace the headset that comes with the iPhone), I'll wait until I can test them. Either way, I find the requirement for an external remote when using a music player with any non-headphone audio output (which I'm doing 95% of the time) completely idiotic.

I Like It (5, Informative)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191099)

I suspect I was one of the first few people on Thursday to pick one up. This Shuffle is my first, complementing my 30GB Video, 60GB Video, and iPhone devices. Basically, I've gotten tired of lugging around the bigger devices while I bike.

So far, I'm really pleased with it. Hate the headphone arrangement in principle, but I can live with it for now. It's tiny, as noted, and I've already lost it (and found it again) once. I suspect that's the biggest risk to owning a small, black device like that.

Re:I Like It (4, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191655)

Well, extrapolating from the trend so far, you'll be losing the next gen shuffle in your ear.

Re:I Like It (1)

webagogue (806350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191777)

"Hate the headphone arrangement in principle, but I can live with it for now." That's an interesting way to put it. But if you are really pleased overall, with the exception of the "headphone arrangement" aren't you still pleased? I find that, constantly wanting to change "just one thing" about my computers, ipods, etc., is really just wasted energy. It works. It works well. Why be frustrated with it?

One of the articles wondered what's next... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191139)

Here it is: iSophagus

http://store.sluggy.com/detailed-isoph.html

Screw that... for the sheer hilarious effect... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192293)

... just check that eff.org link before the last in the summary:

iLounge sums up what this means for consumers:

This is, in short, a nightmare scenario for long-time iPod fans:
are we entering a world in which Apple controls and taxes literally every piece of the iPod purchase from headphones to chargers, jacking up their prices, forcing customers to re-purchase things they already own, while making only marginal improvements in their functionality?
It's a shame, and one that consumers should feel empowered to fight.

I don't know why... but cluelessness of iPhans never seizes to amuse me.

why (0, Redundant)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191145)

i have an mp3 player that can do everything a shuffle can (minus the voice thing). it accepts any audio speaker device as long as it has a 3.5mm stereo jack. it has a display. it has an eq. it costs a fraction of the shuffle's cost. so the question is, why?

Re:why (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191187)

Because Apple users are fags. FAAAAAGS!

Re:why (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191667)

I know you were trolling, but I know several gay people and if I were to run the numbers...The majority of them are Mac users.

Headphones (5, Insightful)

Ganty (1223066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191147)

The inability to use your own headphones is a big problem, in fact this makes the new shuffle unusable for me as I can't use earbuds.

Ganty

Re:Headphones (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191167)

So its a $15 4gig memory stick with a $5 audio/mp3player chip, sold for $79.

Come on Apple, make all ipods/iphones min 32gig with 64/128gig options, and make all shuffles 8gig min.

How about real innovation, like a shuffle thats bluetooth capable. WIRES SUCK!!

Btw, I suggested the voice speaking mp3s a year ago, its a no brainer over lunch idea. Good thing any and all mp3 players could implement this, unless it has a stupid patent on it.

We know you can, yes YOU can.

Re:Headphones (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192165)

Yeah, Apple should implement stereo bluetooth, just like they did with the iPhone. No, wait, they didn't.

Re:Headphones (5, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191215)

I'm not sure who Apple is catering to by forcing people to either wait for third parties to license the earbud chip, or use the "one size fits some" earbuds that are included.

Children who are given this as their first MP3 player might not be able to use the earbuds.

People who want an inexpensive iPod for jogging or campus won't be able to use these earbuds, because earbuds tend to fall out.

Which leaves people who are just buying a really low end iPod for financial reasons. If someone wants a generic MP3 player, choices abound in this market segment. Apple has competition here, as opposed to the other models which the choices thin out dramatically, especially the high capacity iPod Classic.

This is a head scratcher, because Apple tends to know better than this. Maybe they will make an adapter with the volume controls and button for $29 or so, so people can use their own cans.

UI-wise, features seem to have been lost. Say I have a long DJ mix with no breaks in it. From what I've seen, I can't fast forward or rewind in a song, its either go to the beginning or skip, with no in between.

All and all, I am disappointed. Yes, this is their low-end product, but there are some definite features that some people use everyday that are missing. At least the 2G Shuffle is still for sale. If I had to buy a Shuffle, I'd buy the 2G which has half the capacity, but allows me to do basic music navigation actions with a single button press as opposed to multiple triple-clicks.

Re:Headphones (2, Insightful)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191263)

This is a head scratcher, because Apple tends to know better than this. Maybe they will make an adapter with the volume controls and button for $29 or so, so people can use their own cans.

Which is likely why Apple is still offering the old iPod Shuffle at least until 3rd party headphones start coming out. If things truly go awful, they can always back track too. :-p

http://store.apple.com/us/tab?node=home/shop_ipod/family/ipod_shuffle&tcid=tg_tabcontroller&tab=1 [apple.com]

Re:Headphones (3, Insightful)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191387)

Just a note because I don't think I was clear enough about the link. Scroll down and notice that apple is selling both versions of the iPod shuffle. Even more intriguing, they are filling different pricing brackets. $50 vs $80 which sounds very similar to the original iPod Shuffle pricing. The people who want the cheapest iPod would still be going for the earlier revision so the headphone argument is mostly moot for those people anyway.

Re:Headphones (3, Funny)

laurens (151193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191289)

You can fast forward and rewind, although you need to read the manual for that ;-)

Double-click-and-hold and triple-click-and-hold, respectively.

Re:Headphones (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191737)

For $29 you can get an MP3 player with a screen and no ridiculous headphones.

Re:Headphones (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191843)

It's called "lockin".

You kill the third-party market by designing your hardware in such a way that people can only buy the OEM's product. It used to be common practice in the computer industry, until the mid-90s when generic PCs took over. However Apple has clung to that paradigm right up to the present day.

OH CANT U??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191275)

just try plug it in and wait 3 seconds.

Re:Headphones (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192033)

It will probably be about a week before some taiwanese company is selling a reverse-engineered inline headphone pigtail with buttons. You can control the volume by using headphones with a volume control. Why would you buy a mp3 player the size of a suppository anyway? There is such a thing as it being too small. But I guess there's a market, or they would never have made the thing. Personally I got a phone which is an mp3 player and requires special headphones (RAZR V3i) and it has not been a serious impediment for me - you can buy an adapter pigtail.

madoff's disease more deadly than bio/nuke threat (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191173)

it's the trickle DOWn effect. no doubt, unfortunately, that there are many more people who have bernie's ailment, with no visible remedy short of self introspection.

please do not confuse religion, with being a spiritual being. the lights are coming up all over now. even us mortals can see it now.

Rockbox (5, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191205)

I am surprised, with Apple constantly spouting "The first music player that talks to you", that no one has yet mentioned Rockbox [rockbox.org]'s voice capabilities.

It has existed for some time, and even supports it on some very cheap hardware, by calculating and storing the speech synth on a PC while the player is plugged in.

So, Apple has, in fact, been fighting to keep speech synth off the iPod for years.

Re:Rockbox (3, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191309)

But that's not really a music player -- It's software that you can install on a music player. Apple is not fighting to keep it off the iPod, they just don't care about supporting it. Big difference. And why are you surprised? Apple isn't a bad company IMHO, but they're not there to be everyone's best friend, either.

Re:Rockbox (5, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191509)

Apple is not fighting to keep it off the iPod, they just don't care about supporting it.

The establishment of encrypted firmware with the iPod Touch and iPod Classic was an intentional move towards preventing third-party firmware installations like Rockbox. Apple made an effort to ensure you can't install it, so the issue is a lot more than a neutral "lack of support".

Re:Rockbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191747)

Maybe it was a test to see how they could do things with the jesus phone?

Re:Rockbox (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191763)

Yeah, I'll admit that they are biased towards not wanting such things, but I doubt they were targeting Rockbox specifically. My impression was that you can still install your own firmware if you wanted, even if you can no longer simply modify Apple's. I think Apple does it because it solves a lot of support issues for them and they care about that more than keeping OSS advocates happy. Otherwise, I don't see much evidence that they would care that much about hacking. I think it would be nice if they were more open, but no one's perfect, and in the way they've used IP laws, they seem to be a lot more reasonable compared to other companies, and therefore I don't have a such a problem with it.

Re:Rockbox (2, Informative)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191523)

It has existed for some time, and even supports it on some very cheap hardware, by calculating and storing the speech synth on a PC while the player is plugged in.

The shuffle also works that way; it sounds different on Windows than on OS X.

Talking Moose (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191715)

Hey it just a matter of time before someone figures out how to hack it and we can intall the Talking Moose on the iPod Shuffle.

"The more you jog over a dead cat, the flatter it gets."

It'll be like 1990 all over again!

Re:Rockbox (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192091)

My car radio and my home stereo also have this "talking to announce song title and singer name" feature. It's called "the DJ" although some of the older stations call this feature "the MC". ;-)

"Ha! I kill me." - Alf

Re:Rockbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191697)

I am surprised, with Apple constantly spouting "The first music player that talks to you", that no one has yet mentioned Rockbox [rockbox.org]'s voice capabilities.

Rockbox is a firmware not a player. That's like claiming a game is DX10 based just because DX10 exists.

So, Apple has, in fact, been fighting to keep speech synth off the iPod for years.

Yes, in a parallel universe maybe. iPod Nano 2008 was the first player supporting spoken menus.

Re:Rockbox (2, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191921)

Even so, people do buy mp3 players JUST to install Rockbox on them. They fall into two categories:

1. People like you and me who read /. all day.

2. People with physical impairments.

Check out the rockbox mailing lists sometime. You'll be amazed at the number of posters looking for help who have almost no technical expertise at all. Somebody brings a rockbox to a school for the blind or whatever and suddenly 50 people want one - because there is almost no market for this sort of thing. I'd suggest creating a company to pre-install Rockbox on a suitable player, but I'm guessing when making devices for the blind there are 500 regulations to comply with (which don't apply if you just make some firmware and toss it on a website without specifically advertising it to blind people).

Look, Rockbox isn't the nicest packaged piece of software out there. However, in terms of feature set you're not going to find anything commercial that comes close. If somebody comes out with a Rockbox-based player for my android phone I'd use it without hesitation (my rockbox-based player just went through the dryer and is no more).

Its like miracle ! (5, Funny)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191231)

I always thought how big and clumsy my Shuffle is, thank god they finally addressed this issue !

Re:Its like miracle ! (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192323)

I was thinking the same thing. This seems like a solution in search of a problem.

I use my shuffle when I'm running or biking and what really what annoys me is the wire. So far I'm not aware of any good solution to that problem. I think Apple has now arrived at the point where the wire weighs more than the player. OK, that is cool but what I'd really like to see is an elegant wireless solution that caters to active people.

Curious (1)

MedeaMelana (1016001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191243)

I find it strange that Apple has moved away from a voice-based interface with their "visual voicemail" GUI on the iPhone (for a very good reason!) and now with the new iPod shuffle has moved back to one.

Headphone controls ... wtf? (1)

SandyT (1499741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191247)

I use my (fake) ipod shuffle for running quite a lot, and its passable. For some time now I have been considering getting a new one, but I really really dislike the apple headphones. So I'm going to have to get a previous generation one ... :-(

Re:Headphone controls ... wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191659)

I hear this a lot. Sure, the standard headphones have been bad, but I hear that the new ones are a lot better.
One thing I don't understand is people listening to music while running: such people are not serious about your music or about running... so I think their complaints are, in general, void.

Why not a small screen? (2, Informative)

cyberjessy (444290) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191279)

Though voice is more accessible and helps blind people, for the vast majority of non-blind users it is simply very inconvenient.

Many years back, I got a shuffle when I wanted a tiny MP3 player. It drove me nuts, and I bought a Sansa; same size, but comes with a screen and some useful features.

Just about every tiny MP3 player has a screen these days, but Apple is probably having the NIH syndrome.

Screen costs money and take up case space. (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191377)

Because putting in a screen costs money, and occupies case space. Voice is free - the feature is entirely software.

From the blurb, the voice differs depending on which OS you use, so odds-on the voice synth is done on the computer and the output is stored on the device, so they didn't even need to optimize their voice synth to run on the Shuffle.

Re:Screen costs money and take up case space. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27192235)

Screens don't cost that much. This player [amazon.co.uk] has an OLED screen, FM radio, microphone, and 15h battery life. Small like a shuffle for about the same price. No AAC support or PC-rendered voiceover, though.

Re:Why not a small screen? (1)

the_one(2) (1117139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191733)

Though voice is more accessible and helps blind people, for the vast majority of non-blind users it is simply very inconvenient.

Yeah! And what about the deaf people? They won't be able to hea... oh, wait

Re:Why not a small screen? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191803)

The shuffle is your own portable radio station. The typical use is to have it dump a selection of your favorite songs from iTunes into the player every time you sit at your desk, so you have a constantly-changing bunch of music. You can skip tracks if you want to, but the interface is too primitive to want to do more. That's fine; if you want a screen, pay for it and buy a Nano instead of a shuffle, and stop complaining about things that aren't problems. If you want to harsh on Apple, why not harsh on the lengths they will go to in order to attempt to prevent you from installing your own firmware on an iPod.

big deal (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191285)

I don't know why anyone is impressed by this at all, even though I'm a mac fan, this new shuffle is lame and isn't all that innovative. If you are going to make it that small, it's dumb to have a long cord dangling, why don't you build the ipod right into the headphones, that would be innovative, and illiminate the annoying need for chord tangles.

Oh Joy... (2, Interesting)

drew (2081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191385)

As if iTunes wasn't already bloated enough...

The first time you sync one of the new iPod Shuffles with iTunes, Apple will install software on your Mac or PC that makes the voice feature possible.

I'd be curious to see how accurate that statement actually is. "Apple Mobile Device Support", which as far as I can tell is only needed for iPhone or iPod Touch, is installed automatically with iTunes. Sure enough, I just checked in Apple Software Update, and the new version "Supports syncing with iPod shuffle (3rd generation)." If Apple insists on installing half a dozen other unrelated or semi-related software packages with iTunes, it would be nice if they would provide an interface to only install (or update) the ones that you actually want. At the very least, I'd appreciate it if the iTunes installer would recognize when certain components aren't installed so I wouldn't have to uninstall Bonjour every single time I upgrade. (Why anyone ever thought it would be a good idea for system level network autoconfiguration and application level sharing to be handled by the same program in the first place is beyond me. The only thing I find more baffling is that anyone else in the world thought it would be a good idea to follow their example. avahi, I'm looking at you...)

Re:Oh Joy... (2, Informative)

ickoonite (639305) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191781)

Not sure about on Windows, but on the Mac, it doesn't install the VoiceOver Kit unless you have one of the new Shuffles. I was a bit disappointed by this, as I would quite like my Mac to be able to speak something other than English.

My Sansa (4, Interesting)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191503)

Man I love my 25 dollar, 2 gig Sansa with a 4 gig microSD card.

I've had speech functionality since I installed Rockbox in January of '07.
Plus, I can play doom and gameboy ROMs in class.

Did I mention I got it brand new for 25 bucks?

Jus' sayin'...

Re:My Sansa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191587)

I double dare you to abuse your Sansa the way I abuse my Shuffle at the gym.

Re:My Sansa (1)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191639)

Well, it spent all summer in the pocket of my carharts with nails, screws, and nail sets.

I think that beats the gym...

Re:My Sansa (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191669)

I looked up Sansa and they are promoting Slotmusic - you buy a 1GB microSD card with 320kbps MP3 files on it. No DRM at all. They even come with a USB adapter so you can copy the files onto a PC. All for $15 per album.

http://www.slotmusic.org/ [slotmusic.org]

Actually judging by the number of albums they have and the fact I'd never heard of it, it looks like it will flop badly. Shame really, it's actually exactly what people that dislike DRM should want in a format, except you have to pay for it.

Re:My Sansa (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192017)

Which model do you have? Sounds like you have the one that doesn't suck, and I want to see if I can find the same one used.

Shiny and tiny! (-1, Flamebait)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191607)

I'm tempted to buy one of these to rename all my music stuff like "jobs sucks balls.mp3" listen to it announce the song.

If the ipod shuffle is a long running joke then this really takes the cake. Yet I'm perplexed by how this has not been identified by the fine institution of slashot.

The first ipod shuffle was priced higher than it's competition, was one of the few players without a display at the time, had mediocre sound quality and was locked-in to all hell to itunes. It just wasn't really any good. However it still sold, for the reason that people like to impulse buy things that are shiny and tiny .

Oh and it had apple trademark battery life claims. Hmmm? Oh you know what I mean, it would say n-hours of playback on the box, but you could only hope to possibly achieve somewhat less than n of this quoted time, otherwise time would stop and the shuffle would have infinite mass.

In lieu of actually improving the product how about adding a gimmicky feature, with some dubious marketing claims about it's originality?

Thus we arrive at what is without a doubt the single worst product that apple has ever released. Google that kind of statement I'm not the only person saying that, including apple-head websites.

It must be a joke.

Yes, thanks for asking, but I did once buy an Ipod. I took it back to the store citing local consumer law here 'must be fit for a purpose', resisting the urge to make a scene finding a way to crumble it into little bits, but ask for a trade down to a cheaper sony walkman, getting a refund of the difference, to have claimed 36-hour playback that you actually get and the best sound quality I have ever had out of a mp3 player.

If you really care about music you'll take your ipod whatever back to the store and smash it to bits on the counter with your shoe.

Re:Shiny and tiny! (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191635)

If you really care about music you'll take your ipod whatever back to the store and smash it to bits on the counter with your shoe.

Apple will probably not mind if you buy as many $79 iPods for $79 and smash them to bits on the counter, as long as you clean up the mess behind you and as long as your credit card is Ok.It's all revenue and therefore profit.

Re:Shiny and tiny! (1)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191751)

The first ipod shuffle was priced higher than it's competition, was one of the few players without a display at the time, had mediocre sound quality and was locked-in to all hell to itunes.

The first iPod Shuffle looked way better than the generic boxes the competition was pushing. Most people that want a small mp3-player for use during sports or commutes listen to music with the device in their pockets, so not having a screen isn't all that important. Integration with iTunes just works, for normal people. Yes, for us nerds it might be better to copy files from the commandline. Regular folks just want to plug it in and having it sync all by itself.

It just wasn't really any good.

It was so much better than the competition that it isn't funny anymore.

Stop comparing technical ticklist features. Compare ease-of-use for casual users. You'll see why Apple sells so well.

Re:Shiny and tiny! (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191775)

Thus we arrive at what is without a doubt the single worst product that apple has ever released.

No, the puck mouse still has the nr. 1 place. The new iPod shuffle is at least usable, but it definately comes close though.

New marketing strategy (3, Funny)

Mendenhall (32321) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191699)

OK, this is an interesting new marketing strategy for a company as a way to remove a product from their line. You don't ever have to stop selling it. You just keep halving its size until no one is sure whether they have bought one or not.

With some good access to the RDF, everyone will continue to hear music, whether or not there was actually a device in the box.

I still own a first generation Shuffle. I think it weighs 50 grams. Really, that's just to much to bear, carrying it in my briefcase. I know that if my briefcase only had a 10.7 gram Shuffle in it, it would be MUCH easier on my walk to work.

morse code controls (5, Insightful)

nloop (665733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27191755)

I appreciate Apple trying to get rid of too many control interfaces. For the most part I am behind them all the way.

However, the one button to control this thing is rediculous. On a shuffle I often end up jumping forward or backwords through a fair amount of songs to find something I am in the mood for. On this one you double click to go forward, triple click(?!) to go back. Fastworward/rewind? double click and hold, triple click and hold (but only if you are more than 6 seconds into the track, or the triple click restarts the track). Say the name of the song? Click once and hold for 1 second. NOT FOR LONGER, if you hold longer, then you go to playlist selection!

This is not a step forward. Apple's approach to a simple design before made them accessible to nondorks. Grandmother friendly. My grandmother would need a cheat sheet to operate this. It honest reminds me of The Onion's coverage of The Wheel [theonion.com].

Not going to go down well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27192041)

a new VoiceOver feature that can recite song titles, artists, and playlist names

The copyright holders are not going to like this. Lawyers .. arm!

Very interesting different "Voices" (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192045)

So if you load the player using a MAC you get one voice... if you load it using anything else you get a completely different voice.

This is a rather interesting thing to do... I mean, what happens if the MAC users like the other voice?

Why would they do such a thing unless the MAC voice was "better" is some way?

Lawsuit pending... (-1)

Snard (61584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192047)

Sadly, this new feature has resulted in a lawsuit by the Professional Screen Navigation Narrators Guild, who are being put out of work by this voice synthesizer technology.

Oh the humanity.

Half the size = BS (1, Interesting)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192089)

They shrunk the size by moving UI parts into a second unit.

By that logic I have a full blown PC the size of a USB memory stick. Just ignore the big beige box attached to the stick, that's only the power and reset buttons.

Get a Sansa Clip instead (4, Insightful)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192117)

The 4GB Sansa Clip [amazon.com] is a similar size, $18 cheaper, similar battery life, has a small screen, and doesn't lock you into the iTunes ecosystem.

no buttons? should not have been a problem, but.. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192315)

disclaimer: I have no MP3 player at all actually, I don't listen to music, but I want to say something about the no-buttons interface.

The new Shuffle talks to the user, excellent, but since it has no buttons, why not allow the user to control the damn thing by voice?

I would not buy an MP3 player unless it was also a voice recorder, because that would be my usage of it: record voice, play voice back. So if Shuffle featured a microphone, then I could buy it, BUT BUT. I cannot buy something I cannot control, and shuffle is uncontrollable for my use.

So then the question: if a phone I have can be controlled by voice (dial such and such, or dial a number) then why cannot this device be also voice controlled?

Shuffle Start Record: blah blah blah... Shuffle Stop Record.

Shuffle Play Back Last Record: blah blah blah... Shuffle Delete Record or Shuffle Store Record As $NAME$

Shuffle Play Record $NAME$: blah blah blah... Shuffle Stop Play.

Shuffle Delete Record $NAME$: ARE YOU SURE? Shuffle Yes. Record $NAME$ deleted.

Shuffle List Record Names All: $NAME$ $NAME$

Shuffle List Record Names For Today: $NAME$ $NAME$

Shuffle List Record Names For Yesterday: $NAME$ $NAME$

Shuffle List Record Names For $DATE$: $NAME$ $NAME$

Shuffle List Record Names For Date From $DATE$ To $DATE$: $NAME$ $NAME$

Shuffle Delete All Records Before Date $DATE$: ARE YOU SURE? Shuffle Yes!. ARE YOU FUCKING SURE, CAUSE I AM NOT BRINGING GOING TO TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE LOST DATA AND DON'T YELL AT ME LIKE THE LAST TIME: Shuffle, Fucking Delete the Fucking Records! SIR, YES SIR! ALL RECORDS BEFORE $DATE$ DELETED.

--

Now that would be a product I would probably buy: Something useful and someone to talk to :)

Re:no buttons? should not have been a problem, but (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 5 years ago | (#27192347)

Just came to me that with that technology you may as well add voice recognition and imprint your voice into the device and set security on some chosen records, so that the only person who can listen/delete record is the one, whose voice gave specific commands.

Shuffle Play Record $NAME$: OH NO, YOU DON'T. YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED. Shuffle Play Record $NAME$ Overwrite Security Now: THIS SHUFFLE WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN 5 SECONDS! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 BAM!!!

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