Apple Announces New, Smaller Shuffle With VoiceOver

In a somewhat atypical Wednesday hardware announcement, Apple released their newest iPod Shuffle. The biggest news about the iPod redesign is that it uses VoiceOver to tell you about the music you’re listening to, creating a marked improvement in the Shuffle’s navigation capability.

The new Shuffle holds 4GB of music, or about 1,000 songs. It’s nearly half the size of the previous iteration of Shuffles, and comes in silver and black colors. It costs $79 an is immediately available for order.

Apple was able to make the latest Shuffle so small, due in large part to moving the controls (other than the on/play/shuffle slider) off to the earbud cord. Much like the iPhone’s microphone headset, the button located on the cord is multifunction, and handles the likes of play, pause, next track, volume up/down, and the new VoiceOver features. So the new Shuffle seems to be sacrificing headphone options for size…though I’m sure the 3rd party market will address this need in short order.

The prolific John Gruber hit on the idea of VoiceOver for the Shuffle a couple of weeks back. VoiceOver announces the name of the currently playing song (without interrupting the music) at a touch of the cord button. Hold the button longer and it will announce the playlists loaded on your Shuffle. Tap when you hear the playlist you want and it’ll begin to play. So with VoiceOver, an entire new level of control is brought to the iPod Shuffle (almost making the name irrelevant).

Check out the video tutorial on Apple’s Shuffle page for full details on how the new iPod Shuffle works.

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