Following today’s introduction of the expanded color options and a 2GB model for the third-generation iPod shuffle, Apple has removed the option to purchase a second-generation shuffle from the player’s online store listing. Previously, a small link notifying customers that the 2G shuffle was still available could be seen at the bottom of the page; it is unclear whether Apple was continuing to sell the older model to address concerns over the new model’s buttonless control scheme, or to hit a price point below that of the $79 4GB model. A limited number of 1GB and 2GB refurbished second-generation iPod shuffles remain available on Apple’s online store, and sell for $39 and $59, respectively.
Apple today updated its third-generation iPod shuffle lineup, adding new colors to the 4GB model and introducing both a 2GB version and a special edition model. Both the 4GB and the new 2GB models are now available in silver, black, pink, blue and green, and feature the same buttonless design and included Earphones with Remote as before. In addition, Apple announced a new 4GB special edition polished stainless steel model, which will be available exclusively from Apple’s online and retail stores. The 4GB third-generation iPod shuffle remains $79, while the 2GB model is priced at $59 and the special edition model runs $99.
Update: A hands-on video of the updated iPod shuffle 3G is now available for viewing on Vimeo.
Apple has added an iTunes Store promotional graphic and song listing for a third-generation iPod shuffle advertisement that has not appeared. The graphic takes users to an unusually sparse and seemingly unfinished page listing the songs “Happy Up Here” by Röyksopp, “1901” by Phoenix, and “Rich Girls” by The Virgins, all under the heading of “iPod Shuffle Ad Songs,” with the “s” in shuffle atypically capitalized. In addition, the promo graphic, three-track album art, and main page header graphic all use a Voice Over talk bubble-like graphic, populated by art similar to that seen on Röyksopp’s new album Junior. It is unclear whether the songs were planned for use in an upcoming or cancelled set of shuffle advertisements, and whether Apple intentionally or errantly posted the song listing.
Update: iLounge readers report that the songs come from a web banner ad that appeared earlier this week on ESPN.com; however, the ad does not appear to be visible now.
Update x2: Continue reading to see a screenshot of the web-based advertisement, which was found on allmusic. Thanks to our readers for helping to track this down.
Apple today released a software update for the third-generation iPod shuffle and a new version of its VoiceOver Kit. The iPod shuffle (3rd Generation) Software Version 1.1 is listed as fixing a “rare issue where audio playback would occasionally stop” as well as providing “other minor bug fixes” and support for the new VoiceOver Kit. As with other iPod software updates, the iPod shuffle 1.1 Software is downloaded and installed via iTunes itself.
The VoiceOver Kit 1.1 update is available as a separate download through Apple’s Software Updater, and adds support for Cantonese Chinese, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian and Russian languages. The update also includes minor bug fixes for English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Polish and Spanish voices. The VoiceOver 1.1 update requires iPod shuffle Software Version 1.1. Both updates are available now.
According to a teardown analysis of the third-generation iPod shuffle, the total cost of the device is roughly 28% of its retail price. Citing analysis from market research firm iSuppli, BusinessWeek reports that the total cost of the shuffle’s components, its remote-laden headphones, and its packaging comes to just $21.77. iSuppli found that Samsung supplied both the shuffle’s controller chip, which costs roughly $6, and the 4GB of flash memory, which also costs roughly $6; iSuppli analyst Andrew Rassweiler notes that Apple is likely using flash memory from Toshiba and Hynix Semiconductor as well. “It’s almost like six dollars worth of flash memory tied to some flash and a battery and not much else,” Rassweiler said. “It’s very basic and downsized.” The device also includes a lithium ion battery that runs $1.20, which Rassweiler describes as “the smallest we’ve ever seen.” Other component suppliers include On Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments.
Apple has released VoiceOver Kit 1.0.1, the first update to the voice response system of the third-generation iPod shuffle. According to the release notes, version 1.0.1 of the kit includes corrected pronunciation for several artist names, as well as minor bug fixes. Notably, the update currently requires users to run Apple’s Software Update utility, and exit iTunes before installing. It weighs in at 17MB on the Mac.
Users of iTunes 8.1 have reported issues when syncing some first- and second-generation iPod shuffle units. According to an Apple Discussions thread, iTunes 8.1 creates duplicate files on these shuffles when dragging files to the iPod that already exist on the device, does not place podcasts at the beginning of the play order on the shuffle, sorts alphabetically rather than by date, doesn’t automatically delete podcasts on the shuffle that have been deleted from the Podcasts list in iTunes, and doesn’t allow users to play songs from the shuffle in iTunes when the device is connected. The problems appear to be occurring on both Mac and PC computers; some users have reported that restoring the shuffle fixes all problems, while other users have had only limited success following a restore. [via Wired]
A group of third-generation iPod shuffle users is complaining of issues when attempting to control the device from the pack-in headphones. According to an Apple Discussion thread on the matter, the issue appears to be linked to moisture and sweat, which seems to interfere with the in-line controls. Users have repeatedly reported that the volume randomly increases to maximum when working out or running during use, while a subset of users said that the unit unexpectedly turned itself off shortly after the volume increase. Apple has yet to publicly respond to the thread, however, one user claims that the company has quietly made contact to get the unit back for examination. [via MacNN]
iPod shuffle sales grew 51% from their prior level in the first full week the third-generation model of the device was available, according to the latest data from the NPD Group. Citing information from NPD published by a Barclay’s analyst, Apple Insider reported that growth continued the week of March 28, rising another 10%, an effect that is most likely attributable both to early adopters and the extended period that had elapsed before the prior model’s replacement. Despite the rise in iPod shuffle sales, combined sales of all iPod models fell 38% year over year the week of March 21, although the drop is in line with the overall MP3 player market, which dropped 37% during the same period. While the NPD Group’s numbers factor in sales at Apple retail stores, they do not account for online or international sales.
Computer customization shop Computer Choppers is now offering color anodized third-generation iPod shuffle units, as well as various metal plating options. The company is charging $129 for a “standard” anodized iPod shuffle 3G, while “polished” anodized units run $30 more. Also available are a number of metal-plated units, including a chrome model for $149, copper or black nickel units for $169, 24kt gold for $179, and white gold, rose gold, or platinum models for $199. In addition, the company is offering optional laser engraving starting at $20, and is hinting that it may release “diamond shuffles” sometime soon.
Apple has released Software Version 1.0.1 for the third-generation iPod shuffle, the first update since the device’s release late last week. According to the sparse release notes, the new software includes “[m]inor bug fixes,” it is unknown whether any noticeable changes are present in the update. iPod shuffle 3G Software Version 1.0.1 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.
iFixit has posted new teardown photos of the third-generation iPod shuffle. The device’s sole chip was found to be a multi-layered stack containing the CPU, RAM, and 4GB of flash memory, while the 3.7 volt lithium-polymer battery lists a capacity of 0.27 watt-hours, or 73 mAh, which iFixit describes as “record-breakingly small” in terms of iPod batteries. Interestingly, the back of the shuffle’s main casing was stamped 09/03/03, suggesting it may have been manufactured as little as ten days ago, and both halves of the device weighed 5 grams, or about 10% more than a single sheet of letter-sized paper.
iLounge has obtained both models of the new third-generation iPod shuffle, and will be posting unboxing photos in this story as we take them, along with some brief first impressions.
Update: It’s very similar in size to the Apple Bluetooth Headset, and as small as the smallest flash drives we’ve seen. Its rear clip is somewhat of a fingerprint magnet, and it lacks personality from front, to side, to bottom. The black color is same as the iPod nano 4G and 120GB iPod classic, and if a user plugs in headphones with no music loaded onto the device, a voice directs him/her to sync to iTunes.
Update 2: The results of our initial file transfer test show the new shuffle to be faster than the second-generation model, but not as fast as the iPod nano 4G. When transferring our 1GB test playlist, it took the iPod shuffle 3G 2:02 to transfer, while the iPod nano 4G took just 1:27. The same transfer on the second-generation iPod shuffle took 2:33, but it was only a partial transfer, as some songs could not be played, and iTunes showed only 392MB as transferred.
In addition, iTunes must connect to a server to download the VoiceOver kit before that feature can be enabled, meaning that an Internet connection will be required for initial VoiceOver setup.
In our initial audio testing with a pair of Ultimate Ears UE-11, there is an immediately noticeable difference in the amount of static present in the audio compared to the iPod shuffle 2G—hissy, static-like noise present in the prior generation’s audio is gone in the iPod shuffle 3G. Our initial impressions of its sonic balance are that its sound signature is extremely similar to that of the late 2008 iPods and iPhone 3G. Our testing has also found it basically impossible to control the unit with standard third-party headphones, and that Apple’s other remote-enabled headphones appear completely compatible. Of note, Apple has further slimmed down the headphone plug on the new earphones, physically matching the top of the shuffle’s headphone jack.
Apple has posted a new knowledge base document outlining the control methods for the third-generation iPod shuffle, including two features that appeared to be missing: fast forward and rewind. According to the document, users will need to double-click and then hold the center earphone remote button to fast-forward, an action that will be accompanied by a single green blink from the unit’s status light. Rewind will require a triple-click and hold, again accompanied by a single green blink, while next track/previous track operations are carried out with double- and triple-clicks, respectively, the same behavior exhibited on the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPod nano 4G, iPod touch 2G, and 120GB iPod classic. Finally, users must click and hold the center button to hear the song title and track names, hold until the unit issues a tone and then release to switch playlists, clicking briefly again once the desired playlist name has been spoken, and click and hold to exit the playlist menu.
In a new support document entitled “iPod shuffle (3rd generation): About headphone compatibility,” Apple has disclosed that the new iPod shuffle can be set to play audio, without additional user input, even without the earphone-based controls. “When a standard headphone or audio accessory is connected you can initiate audio playback by simply switching iPod shuffle to the play in order or shuffle position from the off position… iPod shuffle will resume playback of the content that was previously being played at a fixed volume level that cannot be adjusted from the iPod itself. If iPod shuffle is connected to external speakers or a car stereo, volume adjustment may be possible from those devices.” While track control will still be impossible, this method should provide a temporary solution for owners who want to use the device with their car stereo or external speakers, until a proper adapter is available.
Initial response to the third-generation iPod shuffle’s requirement of special new earphone-mounted controls has been overwhelmingly negative, based on comments posted on iLounge and across the Internet. While electronically compatible with past earphones, the new shuffle cannot be controlled by them, and will require as yet unannounced and undeveloped third-party remote adapters to remedy that issue. Repeatedly using descriptors such as “fail,” “mistake,” and “disappointing,” readers have cited these and other concerns as reasons to shun the device. “What about Podcasts?” writes iLounge reader Matt. “The biggest problem with this new design is there is no way to fast forward through a track. My older shuffle is the best way to listen to podcasts, as I can fast forward through parts I don’t want to listen to without having to look at a screen. This new model is virtually unusable for podcasts or audiobooks (unless you always listen start to finish).”
“I’m very disappointed,” says reader Tim Warneck. “I was hoping the new shuffle to have a small screen or something where you can see what music you’re playing. Have voiceover and the controls in the headphones just shows they’re only focused on one thing - size… The shuffle now has no character, it’s some tiny piece of metal. No one’s going to know it’s an iPod anymore!”
“Apple headphones cause me physical pain. Seriously,” reader Ort states. “This seems like a clunker. Simplicity and affordability were the two big things the old shuffle had going for it, and Apple pretty much crapped on both of those.”
Reaction was not much better on other sites, with Engadget saying “Apple’s cheapest iPod is now the most needlessly complex,” All Things D calling the new earphone requirement “off-putting,” and Boing Boing Gadgets comparing Apple to one of its proprietary format-obsessed rivals, stating, “the part of Sony will be played by Apple.”
Apple has released an all-new iPod shuffle with an audio-based navigation system called VoiceOver. Devoid of buttons save for the three-position power, shuffle, and ordered play switch and billed as “the world’s smallest music player,” the third-generation iPod shuffle uses VoiceOver to let users navigate through songs and playlists using the in-line remote control found on the included headphones. VoiceOver can tell users the name of the song and artist currently playing, playlist information, and status information such as battery life. Users will hear a slightly different voice depending on what operating system their computer uses — users who sync their shuffles with Mac OS X Leopard will hear this voice, while PC users and Mac users running OS X Tiger will hear this voice. More audio samples of the VoiceOver feature are available on Apple’s website. The new shuffle also features a stainless steel clip on the back for attaching to clothing, offers 10 hours of battery life, and is “significantly smaller than a AA battery,” according to Apple. The new iPod shuffle comes in 4GB capacities only, and is available now in silver or black for $79.
“Imagine your music player talking to you, telling you your song titles, artists and playlist names,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPod and iPhone Product Marketing. “The amazingly small new iPod shuffle takes a revolutionary approach to how you listen to your music by talking to you, also making it the first iPod shuffle with playlists.”
Alongside the third-generation iPod shuffle, Apple has also released the new Apple iPod shuffle USB Cable for charging and syncing the device. It is compatible with the Apple USB Power Adapter and sells for $19.
Editorial comments on the announcement can be found in these Backstage articles: So Last Year’s iPod shuffle Rumor Was True (Partially): iPod shuffle 3G and One More Thing: Apple’s New Approach to iPod “Generations”.
Apple has released iPod Reset Utility 1.0.4 for Windows, the latest version of its iPod shuffle utility. The software can be used to restore both first- and second-generation iPod shuffle models back to factory settings when iTunes is unable to do so. Apple notes that the restore process completely erases all music and data on the iPod, and installs the latest iPod software on the device. iPod Reset Utility 1.0.4 for Windows is available now as a free 4.9MB download and requires Windows 2000 with SP4 or Windows XP with SP2.
Apple has released iPod Reset Utility 1.0.3, which allows users of first- and second-generation iPod shuffle models to completely erase all music and data and restore the units back to factory settings when iTunes is unable to do so. On first-generation shuffles, the utility will reinstall iPod Software version 1.1.5, while second-generation shuffles are restored to iPod Software version 1.0.4. iPod Reset Utility 1.0.3 for Mac is a 3.6MB download and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, while the Windows version weighs in at 4.9MB and requires Windows XP (SP2) or Windows 2000 with SP4. Both versions of iPod Reset Utility 1.0.3 are available now as free downloads from Apple’s website. [via PowerPage]
Apple has released software version 1.0.4 for the second-generation iPod shuffle. According to Apple, the update offers enhanced support for 2GB models, contains bug fixes, and supersedes all previous versions. iPod shuffle software version 1.0.4 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.