iDesign: The Art of Designing Great iPod and iPhone Cases
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The Art of Protecting Screenless iPods (iPod shuffles)
Once Apple announced the original all-plastic $99 iPod shuffle and $149 higher-capacity version, a debate broke out: does the iPod shuffle even need to be protected? Some companies and customers immediately said “yes!”—but others were equally emphatic in disagreeing. Today, as second-generation aluminum-bodied iPod shuffles start at $49 and tap out at $69, the general consensus is that no one cares about cases for these models.
Therefore, rather than spending the time to exhaustively discuss the best practices regarding iPod shuffle case design, we will merely note four different approaches that have been successfully taken by several companies in designing past case and film solutions.
Comprehensive, High-Quality Coverage: The Power Support Silicone Jacket. This no-compromise approach to coverage provided a thick, surgical-grade rubber shield for the entire iPod shuffle body, leaving an opening to let the rear switch remain flexible, though the case was designed for pocket or bag use and protection. Without a screen to be concerned with, Power Support could use a single piece of entirely clear frosted film to cover the device, providing full access to the front controls, and similarly protective access to the bottom controls. The small size and straightforward manufacturing enabled the price to be low enough for budget-conscious shuffle buyers.
Less Comprehensive, Mid-Grade Coverage: The Capdase Silicone Case. Capdase’s solution used a lower-grade rubber than Power Support’s and a detachable clip cover that may have been more practical for some users—those who intended to wear the shuffle and did not care about covering its back. This compromised the device’s protection but allowed for greater versatility. A number of different color options were also offered, and the cheaper quality enabled Capdase to include lanyard and supplemental leatherette case items in the package while still keeping the price low.
Fashion: The Miyavix/Power Support Kimono Case. Released only for the original shuffle, this simple sleeve put fashion over function, using beautiful fabric to cover almost the entire device, leaving a hole for headphone port connection and adding a cool tassle as a visual accent. While the design lacked for practicality relative to others we have cited above, and would not work in this form for different iPod and iPhone models, the lack of an iPod screen effectively enabled these and other designers to create complete body covers that users could push-through to access the controls. Ultimately, small changes would have made this a much better case to use, but it was beautiful to look at.
Fashion, Cheap: Shufflesome Sticker Outfits for iPod shuffle. A number of companies released film-like stickers that covered the iPod shuffle’s body, almost invariably only the front and back rather than the top and bottom. Had the stickers completely protected the shuffle, we would have been more enthusiastic, but as-was, they were inexpensive and semi-protective options that delivered enough coverage and good looks for the dollar to appeal to some users.
Ultimately, the utter lack of reader and customer interest in iPod shuffle cases led us to stop reviewing them, and most companies to stop producing them. While we continue to believe that even Apple’s lowest-end iPods are worth keeping in good condition, the best solutions for such models may ultimately be in something simpler—clear body film—rather than the elaborate options shown above.
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