Blog Post

My iPod Shuffle 3G Experience


I’ve had my new iPod (s aapl) shuffle for two days and thought I’d post my thoughts on it. We’ve already covered the out-of-the-box and setup experience elsewhere, so I won’t repeat them here.

Playlist Support

I experimented with a few different setups, but finally settled on using three playlists:

  • One contains all my “recent” music (basically, everything added in the last few months).
  • Another contains all the “recent” music that’s been rated one star and up. (This is just a subset of the above list, so it requires no extra space on the device.)
  • The third one grabs songs at random — rated three stars or higher — from my entire collection, provided they’re not “recent.”

The first playlist takes about a third of the shuffle’s storage (though obviously it fluctuates), and the latter is specifically limited to the remaining two-thirds.

The interface to switch between playlists is pretty simple, and works great. Click and hold the center button, it first names the current song/artist and then beeps. Let go at the beep and it will name the current playlist, then “All Songs,” and then each playlist in alphabetical order. When it names the one you want, click the center button.

With up to six playlists, this works great. For 7-12 playlists I’d suggest using the + and – buttons to speed up the voice listing. Going past a dozen playlists I found it a bit too much, but it really all depends on your own patience level.

For my purposes, it’s a great convenience to have playlist functionality, and a very welcome improvement in the shuffle.

Song Titles

This is a wonderful addition. Since a lot of the music on my shuffle is new, I’d sometimes hear a song and not be sure who it was, or what song it was. I’d have to make a mental note to remember that when I got back to my Mac I’d want to find it and see if it was rated. Now I just click and hold to get the artist and title.


I haven’t used my 2G shuffle in a while, but I remember it being a little more “noisy” than this one. This one just seems quieter.

I think the sound is fine, but then again I use it walking or riding a bike and that’s hardly the best time for the brain to be especially picky about high fidelity.


The USB charger cable is three inches long. If my main Mac were a MacBook I’d probably prefer this; how much cable do you need for that anyway? But my iTunes library is on my iMac. I have to plug it in the back (kind of a pain) and then it just hangs there since it doesn’t even reach the desktop. My iPhone dock is always plugged in; I just dock it when I need it. My old shuffle was the same way. But this device really can’t work that way since I have to fumble around in the back regardless.

The headphone cable is shorter than Apple has supplied before. My plan was not to even clip the thing, but rather just drop it in my pocket. When I did that, I found the headphone cord uncomfortably short, yet the iPhone never had this problem. I compared it to the iPhone headphones and it’s roughly eight inches shorter. Really, Apple, are you getting rich from all the cord you saved with this device?


I like this device quite a bit more than the 2G shuffle. I’ve been using headphone controls for a while with my iPhone and find them preferable to fumbling with the unit. I think they make even more sense on the shuffle. I also like the playlist and song title support, and of course holding 4GB of tunes is a big plus.

If you’re very happy with your 2G unit, I wouldn’t rush out and get a 3G. And if the Apple headphones are a deal breaker, you’ll need to wait until third party’s gear up. But if you’d like even a couple of these features: a lot more memory, headphone controls, more convenient size, playlist support, and ability to know what song is playing, then it’s an excellent upgrade.

19 Responses to “My iPod Shuffle 3G Experience”

  1. I am extremely disappointed in the i-Shuffle. I have used mine a handful of times, only for running, and it no longer works. I am told by the Apple store that there is water damage (it has never been in water, and I must say I was quite frustrated when the person helping me implied that it had to have been dropped in water, as if somehow I was lying about the device – perhaps they should consider listening to honest complaints about their product). I had thought Apple produced better products than this, and that they would recognize when there is a shortcoming.

  2. I have just changed my library on my pc…sync’d my shuffle and now it doesnt tell me any of the names of the songs. Most of them are the same but I moved my library to another pc so when I had to sync it added and deleted some songs : ) Has anyone else had this problem?

  3. Well, it has only been a week or so my new apple ipod shuffle 4g has started showing some problems, it automatically switches off and gets overheated while charging otherwise everything was working properly. I have showed it to the apple service centre and will get replacement. Lets see how this altered device react.

  4. NewUser

    The earphone cord is way too long. Seriously, the new shuffle is so small and so light, it might as well be clipped onto your collar or shirt front. I’ve shortened mine to be only 4″ long below the Y-split.

  5. SomeOne

    A few minor comments/corrections:

    USB cable: As already indicated by others, the cable supplied in the box is very short, but as you surmised, is intended for laptop users. You can buy the “Apple iPod shuffle USB cable” on the store at (which is itself a slight misnomer, as it actually includes two cables: One long, and another short version)

    Headphone cable: You state that it is “shorter than Apple has supplied before”, but that’s not actually correct, as it seems to be the same length as the headphone cable on my 2nd gen shuffle. These are shorter than the headphones which come with other iPods, or the iPhone, but it looks like the intent is to not have extra cord, if the device will be clipped onto your clothes (and not in your pocket).

    And, to comments from others here:
    Agreed that the multiple playlist support makes this INCREDIBLY useful, beyond the 2nd gen shuffle. Nice approach on defining some very-functional playlists, BTW.

    It looks like other manufacturers will soon have 3rd party headphones which support the buttons, allowing them to be used with the shuffle – see the Ars Technica article:

    Many appear to be complaining about “the sweat issue”, but it looks like that in the recent 1.0.2 update, this has been (partially?) addressed – see the Apple Discussions thread on the issue at

  6. Ditto on the sweat issue. Apple support said it ‘probably wasn’t designed to be used in moisture.’ This is the first iPod that has been a disappointment for me. How can you design an iPod shuffle and not expect people to use it at the gym?

  7. tokyoJohn

    I actually like the short cable. With the size and weight of the unit I don’t need to put it in a pocket usually it’s on my collar with excess cable tucked under my shirt. Also fits nicely behind my tie. Basically I bought it because of it’s size and minimalism. I’m really happy with it (don’t like the i-tunes software so much)

  8. I just sent mine back because of the sweat issue. Like many people I use my shuffle primarily for workout. It’s way too water sensitive to be effective, especially when it’s located right under your chin where sweat tends to drip.

    Sure, I could probably rig something to protect the control — but then again I could save fifty bucks and buy the old version that didn’t have this issue.

    In addition, the controls on the headphone make it impossible to use the shuffle to plug into other devices. I used to use it in my car. Once again, minor issue, but the old version worked fine.

  9. Brandon

    Jase, I’m experiencing the same thing. At the first drop of sweat my volume shoots way up and then becomes unresponsive. I thought it might have been some ridiculous low battery feature, but apparently not. I guess I’ll just have to put a little sweat band on the volume control

  10. The USB charger cable is three inches long. If my main Mac were a MacBook I’d probably prefer this; how much cable do you need for that anyway? But my iTunes library is on my iMac. I have to plug it in the back (kind of a pain) and then it just hangs there since it doesn’t even reach the desktop. My iPhone dock is always plugged in; I just dock it when I need it. My old shuffle was the same way. But this device really can’t work that way since I have to fumble around in the back regardless.

    Ever thought of using a USB extender cable?

    Whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge.

  11. MisterD,

    Apple says not to use the keyboard ports. I assume they lack the juice for proper charging, and may be slower as well. Not that it matters to me. I use the wireless keyboard.


    I don’t sweat enough for it to get on the controls, so I can’t say I’ve experienced what you’ve seen.

  12. Have you used yours to workout? Do you sweat? I love the multi-playlist capability of the new Shuffle (one for running, one for cool-down!), but I’ve found that a bit of sweat causes my earbud controller to malfunction. At first the volume goes all the way up, then the thing refuses to respond to presses of any button. Later (after drying out?) it’s all back to normal.

    So, great little thing — but either I’ve got myself a dud, or Apple didn’t give this much real-world testing where people exercise and sweat while wearing it.

    • I had the exact same sweat problem… This is a major pain. I love the shuffle, but these things make me think that Apple is still not mature enough to make truly durable consumer electronics products. The product planning is design is so superior, yet these things disappoint me once in a while….

    • Stephanie

      I’ve had the same problem with the controls not working after wearing it to work out. I didn’t know what the problem was due to but now it makes sense. I was definitely sweating when I wore it last.

  13. Along with most of the world, I’m not a fan of Apple’s proprietary earphones. I didn’t anticipate them being so short though – that’s interesting. Hopefully the 3rd party manufacturers will keep that in mind for their versions.