The New iPod Shuffle Speaks!

Apple has just announced its new third-generation iPod shuffle, which the company claims is "the world's smallest music player." The new iPod shuffle is almost half the size of the previous generation iPod shuffle, measuring a scant 1.8x0.7x0.3-inches (HWD) and weighing only 0.38 ounces. What makes this new iPod truly unique, however, is not just its size, but also that it actually talks to you in any one of 14 languages using text-to-speech capabilities that Apple calls "VoiceOver."


VoiceOver is Apple's elegant solution for how to relay track information on a music player that is too small to have a useful display. In fact, other than power, "play in order," and shuffle, the rest of the controls  (play, pause, volume, playlists, and VoiceOver) have been moved to the earphones. When you are listening to a track, you can press the VoiceOver button, the music will fade down, and the iPod shuffle will tell you the artist and song name based on that track's metadata. VoiceOver also announces the names of your different playlists, so you can cycle through them until you find the one you want. As to the 14 languages the iPod shuffle can speak, Apple has managed to cover a wide swath of the planet's population (although, we were hoping for Urdu): Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.


The new iPod Shuffle has 4GB of flash memory, which Apple claims can hold up 1,000 songs (in 128Kbps AAC format). It uses a built-in, rechargeable, lithium-polymer battery, which Apple states should provide up to 10 hours of playback time on a full charge. The battery should be 80-percent charged after about 2 hours, and fully charged in about 3 hours. The iPod Shuffle is now available in either silver or black, includes a stainless–steel clip, and sells for $79.