New iPod shuffle freezes author’s brain with joke overload

Seriously. I still have to use a third-party, system-level-altering application to restore OS 9 window shade functionality to OS X (oddly enough, it’s called WindowShade) because Apple is way too busy doing important things like building Steve Jobs an Al Gore-powered Suit of Immortality and, apparently, engineering things nobody really, truly needs.

Like the new iPod shuffle.

By now you’ve undoubtedly read the reviews, skimmed the specs and done other things of an alliterative nature. Some of you may have ventured into an Apple store and beheld the thing for yourself, perhaps coddling it gently in your palm like a newborn chick. Or biting it like a silver dollar to see if it’s really real. I don’t know—you’re an odd bunch.

For those of you who ignored the hype and kept wondering why pictures of anodized suppositories kept littering your screen, I’ll regurgitate the basics here:

  • On Wednesday, March 11, 2009, Apple unveiled their new iPod shuffle. Because people haven’t been clamoring for a mid-level desktop all these years – they’ve been pleading for a redesigned shuffle.
  • The new shuffle features 4GB of memory, twice that of the old shuffle.
  • The new shuffle is so danged itty-bitty it can hide behind something that is only slightly bigger than itself.
  • The new shuffle includes a feature called Voice Over that reads back song information. Handy for music pirates who dump anything and everything into their libraries and won’t recognize .38 Special when they hear it.
  • There is one control button on the shuffle, for switching between random and ordered play.
  • All the other shuffle controls are on the headphone cord.

Of course, it’s the last bullet that has most people irked. I realize Apple is on some sort of button jihad, but this is, how do you say, dumb. This product firmly falls into the “just because you could, doesn’t mean you should” camp. Let’s examine this a little more flippantly, shall we?

Was anyone complaining about the gargantuan, 3/4-scale matchbook size of the previous shuffle? No.

Was anyone frightened and/or confused by the previous shuffle’s controls that mimicked those of nearly every iPod that had gone before? Maybe, but that’s more of a psychiatric issue.

Was anyone so distressed by being able to use any pair of headphones they liked that they went fetal at the thought of having to make a decision? See above.

Because that’s the real kicker. With controls on the headphone cord, you have to use Apple’s headphones. Or wait for companies to release their own, Apple-approved compatible headphones. Or wait for an adapter to use their existing headphones. Or just weep gently until a stranger takes pity upon them and pushes them in front of a bus.

So yeah, now you’ve got a proprietary controller for the shuffle. And while Apple and proprietary devices/standards/turtlenecks are nothing new, this one seems especially myopic.

But at least it’s user friendly in the way only Apple can make it user friendly. Not.

Here’s the diagram Apple itself posted to explain how to use the controller.

iPod Shuffle's dumb controls

Ooh, the eleganceness.

I’ll admit, I could become a pro at using this thing in about five minutes. But I’m a gadget nerd. Also, I wouldn’t be trying to learn it while running on a treadmill or sweatin’ to the oldies. Regardless of the learning curve, it’s still a step back when the previous shuffle’s controls had no curve to begin with.

Perhaps I should be happy that it gave me something to rant about this week. But I’d rather be relaying something cool and interesting than cold and annoying. And no, I won’t be trumpeting the late-by-two-year addition of cut-and-paste to the iPhone OS next week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to learn how to multiclick like an amaXhosa.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • DaveJB
    • 11 years ago

    What gets me is that Apple seem to have gone backwards with each Shuffle generation. The original was, despite its lack of screen, a pretty nifty little player that also doubled up as a memory stick thanks to its inbuilt USB plug. Then you got the 2G model, which was a bit fiddly and used an awkward proprietary dock for connectivity. Then this thing… I don’t think Apple could design a more style over substance (and usability) product if they tried!

    It doesn’t really bother me, since I use an iPod Nano, but I still can’t help but wonder… why?

    • lamparalaptopiaguita
    • 11 years ago

    lol pathetic sorry-ass appletards. instead of, u know, choosing superior, cheaper alternatives from other company, they are so emotionally dependent on their Apple Kingdom Corp. annd their Jesus ‘jobs’ christ, their lord and savior, that they rant and explode in anger when presented witha turd like this shuffle, yet they keep buying apple’s shit.

    pathetic.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      When making fun of others, it’s in your best interest to use proper spelling (u know? Really?), capitalization, punctuation, and grammar.

      You calling me stupid, in effect, is the biggest compliment you could give.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    l[

    • cobalt
    • 11 years ago

    What I can’t understand is why the MacBook Wheel isn’t mentioned in every single post or story covering the new shuffle? It really should be.

    ( §[< http://www.theonion.com/content/video/apple_introduces_revolutionary<]§ if you haven't seen it.)

      • absinthexl
      • 11 years ago

      Sorry, I missed this one.

      It’ll become a new tradition, like linking to Penny Arcade when someone types M$.

        • cobalt
        • 11 years ago

        Sure! At first I was mostly impressed with the production values of the Onion video, but it feels a little like Apple had to one-up the parodies of them, which adds a whole new scale of relevance to the original…..

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    Colour me surprised. I honestly thought someone would blog to the devil’s advocate. I suppose this means there’s a loose consensus at TR about the new Shuffle.

    • potatochobit
    • 11 years ago

    hmm
    you really think they released the controls on the headphone to get people to buy their brand? I think its probably just a downside to making it more portable. Do that many people get rid of their ipod headphones? I mean, they are sort of free anyway, you have to pay for them when you buy an ipod regardless on the cord or not.

      • nerdrage
      • 11 years ago

      More portable? It’s not as if the old version was some kind of a burden to carry around.

    • Corrado
    • 11 years ago

    Heres the thing… if you guys don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it. Rather than bitching and griping and still buying them, people need to NOT BUY IT. If people don’t buy it, that shows Apple that they dun effed up. With that said, I’m sure I’ll see lots of people on the train using these in the next few months.

      • eitje
      • 11 years ago

      you should find out how many of those are gifts.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah Apple throws in Shuffles into promotions all the time. So do large corporations hoping to motivate staff… although that is now a very questionable reward.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        Creative companies can threaten to give them to people if they i[

        • FireGryphon
        • 11 years ago

        It’s a sale. The reason for the sale doesn’t change that.

      • MixedPower
      • 11 years ago

      x2. If you think it’s worse than the old shuffle, then buy the old shuffle.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 11 years ago

        Except they’ll probably discontinue the old one. That’s the normal practice, right?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 11 years ago

          Usually they do that upon introduction and just take the leftovers to the clearance bin. Whether it’s that the old Shuffle didn’t sell well and they’re sitting on a ton, or whether it’s the fact that they recognize some folks would rather have the second generation, the Apple Store still has 2G Shuffles in the actual store section and my local Wal-Mart (as of earlier today) still only has 2G Shuffles as well.

      • FubbHead
      • 11 years ago

      Oh, I think you greatly underestimate the pretentiosess and the sheep mentality of a whole lot of Apple’s customers. And Apple knows this.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    You’re a day late -[

    • jrr
    • 11 years ago

    I may be a gadget nerd, too, but I use my shuffle in a way that I think matches one of Apple’s target demographics for this device: while exercising.

    I have a little green 2GB shuffleclip(tm), and it’s /[

    • glynor
    • 11 years ago

    I think you hit the crux of your issue (and many other tech reviewers) with the device right in the text of your post. You’re a gadget nerd. Ergo design isn’t your primary concern (certainly not at the expense of function), ergo you are not the target audience for this device.

    Now… Is there a viable target audience for this device? I don’t know… Maybe.

    I do know this… My wife only ever listens to music on her Sansa in shuffle mode. She’d never even consider replacing her earbuds as long as they don’t break (and by then, who knows, maybe it’s be time for a new cheap Shuffle anyway). For her, one button (start/stop) might be plenty. I think that anyone who would care at all about switching headphones or doing more than rudimentary track switching is not the target market for this thing. That doesn’t mean the market doesn’t exist.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      I think maybe you misunderstood that part of the blog. He’s saying that i[

    • Hance
    • 11 years ago

    The control scheme on this thing is fracking retarded. The you throw in the fact that you either have to have a dongle or special headphones to even work with it and its a complete failure. Everybody repeat after me apples stock head phones SUCK. I wont buy a shuffle.

    • Philldoe
    • 11 years ago

    Haha, this made me chuckle. Good read.

    • FireGryphon
    • 11 years ago

    Edited for content.

    • Jason_Fox
    • 11 years ago

    Why would it come back to bite me? If it sells like hotcakes (mmmm, hotcakes), good for Apple. Doesn’t mean I’ll like it any better.

      • eitje
      • 11 years ago

      reply button!

      i don’t care who you are. 😛

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 11 years ago

        2nded. Geez guy, only newbs or egotists don’t use reply.

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    Gotta love the new Shuffle overload on TR. People seem to hate it just as much as they used to hate Vista.

      • Firestarter
      • 11 years ago

      Except that now they have a legitimate reason 😮

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        There is truth in what you speak.

        • FireGryphon
        • 11 years ago

        Since when is not using something and then commenting on its usability a ‘legitimate reason’?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 11 years ago

          i was told that’s a cop-out.

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          Your logic is all wrong.
          You don’t need to start wearing inside-out headphones or burning an upside-down candle to know that they will suck hard.

          Similarly, you don’t need to try driving a car that misses the front left and the rear right wheels, and you don’t need to try using the new Shuffle, to discern whether they’re ass-sauce.

      • grantmeaname
      • 11 years ago

      Vista sucks. Everyone knows it but you, Meadows!!!!1!!1111!

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 11 years ago

        despite all that is said around.

    • khands
    • 11 years ago

    This is one of those articles/blog entries that you have to be really sure about before writing, and; while I agree that the product more or less sucks, it’s possible it’ll take off. In which case this could come to bite you in the butt.

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