iPod fans rage against new shuffle’s earphones, adapter | iLounge News


iPod fans rage against new shuffle’s earphones, adapter

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.”

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Same issues as others with apple headphones.  I find them excrutiatingly painful after 15 minutes in my ear.  Very disappointed in this shuffle offering.  Liked the last generation much better

Posted by Michael Shaf on March 11, 2009 at 6:02 PM (CDT)


I get what people are upset about. I hate the apple headphones too (yes, physical pain) and stopped using them back in 2003. However, I think this voice over idea is an ingenious solution to everyone’s complaint about the shuffle. I never considered buying a shuffle before this device. I’ll just have to wait until Etymotic, or someone else comes out with “Shuffle compatible” headphones.

Posted by urbanslaughter on March 11, 2009 at 7:14 PM (CDT)


It initially occured to me that the ipod shuffle 3G would work well in the car because then you wouldn’t always be distracted by looking at a screen to read to cycle songs and playlists. However, operating the device would require third-party remote adapters as mentioned.

Posted by Junos on March 11, 2009 at 8:26 PM (CDT)


Aren’t they still selling the older model?  What’s the big deal?  If you want a shuffle to listen to audio books or to use with your own headphones, buy the older model.

People get crazily angry every time Apple releases something they’re not interested in buying.  It’s bizarre.

Posted by Dave on March 11, 2009 at 9:14 PM (CDT)


The abrupt announcement of the new Shuffle was a big surprise, but I’m far more astounded by the bizarre miscalculations that went into the design. There’s nothing wrong with the 2gen model form factor. All Apple needed to do was add a modest screen and throw in some of the stuff like FM radio and recording that the Sansa Clip offers. Put 4 gigs into THAT model and sell it for $50 and retailers wouldn’t have been able to keep them in stock.

Sure,  a lot of people will buy this ridiculously tiny gadget because it’s supposedly so cute. But it’s not practical or cost-effective and many prospective buyers will figure that out.

Posted by Rob on March 11, 2009 at 9:54 PM (CDT)


For gods’ sake, the “overwhelmingly negative” reaction to the new iPod shuffle seems misplaced. People who hate it really wanted it to be a cheap nano, miraculously squeezed into a smaller form factor. “Hoping for a small screen”? What was that guy smoking?

The new shuffle is another iteration towards the design ideal for the core product concept. The shuffle is not for people who need to control their music, or for whom there is a “right place” in a track or playlist. Read the name of the product again: “shuffle.” It has _always_ been designed for people who just want a musical score as background for their daily lives. If it weren’t for the need to preserve battery life, the shuffle wouldn’t even turn off, you would just take the earphones off when you needed to listen to something else. The only real control the shuffle needs is a “I don’t want to listen to this particular song right now” skip button.

If you need to control your music to match every mood, or listen to something linearly (podcasts, audiobooks, etc.), or constantly fiddle with what you’re listening to, then the shuffle isn’t for you. (It’s not for me either; I bought a 1st gen, and used it maybe three times.) Buy a nano.

But if you’re the kind of person for whom music is fundamental, who just wants music with you everywhere, and will dip into the audio stream when, where, and however often you can, then the shuffle is a pretty nice product, and the new shuffle is (I suspect) better than the prior versions.

Having to use the new headphones to control the device does seem like a temporary hardship, until more 3rd party headphones have the controls. But moving the controls, and reducing them, is part of the iteration towards the shuffle’s Platonic ideal form. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it—but I suspect they will do quite well.

Posted by Alderete on March 11, 2009 at 10:57 PM (CDT)


Note: Alderete drinks the kool-aid.

Since most players in the shuffle’s class have screens, and those that don’t cost about a quarter of what Apple is charging, I don’t think anyone was smoking anything, except possibly you, but personally I’ll blame the having had your head up Steve’s arse too long to remember there is a world filled with products that don’t have fruit logos on them, and Apple, whether you or their board of directors like it, are in competition with them. This product was produced as though Apple operated fully within Steve’s rumored RDF, where no other headphones existed, where no other micro sized players existed, where Apple was free to make, literally, anything and it would succeed…

Posted by Code Monkey on March 12, 2009 at 1:45 AM (CDT)


Wow, the best retort you can make to a reasoned argument as to why the Shuffle is designed that way is to tell the guy his head is “up Steve’s arse”? Not exactly the cut and thrust of intellectual debate, is it?

Posted by Al on March 12, 2009 at 6:30 AM (CDT)



Yes they make the 2nd gen , but have dropped the 2gb version…4gb of the new version (I don’t care for the earbuds either, and it seems more complicated than the very simple, intuitive 1st and 2nd gen) and 1gb 2nd gen. Should have dropped the 1gb in favor of the 2gb and 4gb, IMHO.

Posted by jimlat on March 12, 2009 at 7:25 AM (CDT)


This reminds me of the original iPhone…which I never used as an iPod until I forked over $100+ for one of the first iPhone-compatible earbuds not made by Apple.  I’m not even that picky about about the sound quality (no expensive Etymotic’s for me), they just need to be comfortable.  Apple rocks at so many things, why, oh why can’t they realize how awful their earbuds are?  Have they tried wearing them for any length of time, or on a treadmill?  Doesn’t work.

For me the new shuffle is a neat idea and that’s it. Anything that requires those god awful earbuds is an automatic deal breaker.

Posted by CM on March 12, 2009 at 9:37 AM (CDT)


“Wow, the best retort you can make to a reasoned argument as to why the Shuffle is designed that way is to tell the guy his head is “up Steve’s arse”? Not exactly the cut and thrust of intellectual debate, is it?”

There was nothing reasoned whatsoever about his/her post. It was pure “Head up Steve’s Arse” garbage that I’ve been reading variations of going back over a decade. It’s pure madlibs nonsense. Just insert whatever Apple product you want into to the blank spots and get the same sort of delusionary mindset.

The premise is that Apple can do no wrong, therefore Apple did no wrong, nor are there any other products in the world which we might draw comparisons to what Apple did so stop your complaining and go buy an Apple product already.

Excuse me if I’m not that stupid and don’t feel like writing pretty words to people who assume we must be that stupid.

Posted by Code Monkey on March 12, 2009 at 10:36 AM (CDT)


You know if they just took the controls on the headphones and put them on one of the sides then they could have avoid all this negative feed back. Seems like something so simple….

Posted by Sid32 on March 12, 2009 at 11:53 AM (CDT)


And yet, I expect they’ll sell like gangbusters.  Time will tell whether I’m right on that or not.

Definitely not for me since (a) I only use a shuffle for the gym, (b) Apple earbuds don’t stay in my ear in the gym, and (c) I already have a 2nd gen shuffle which works great and is plenty small and light (and all aluminum).

That said, I really enjoy the convenience of the iPhone earbuds to control music playback and take calls on my iPhone while I’m out and about, even though I don’t really like the fit of the ‘buds (I’m ambivalent about the sound quality since I only listen with them on the go and outside noise precludes an audiophile listening experience and my ears aren’t that great anyway).  I’m looking forward to a new iPhone version that will enable volume control as well (like all the current gen iPods have) and I won’t have to take the iPhone out of my pocket at all.

Posted by Dyvim on March 12, 2009 at 1:09 PM (CDT)


“There was nothing reasoned whatsoever about his/her post. It was pure “Head up Steve’s Arse” garbage that I’ve been reading variations of going back over a decade. It’s pure madlibs nonsense. Just insert whatever Apple product you want into to the blank spots and get the same sort of delusionary mindset.”

Let me explain it to you since you are obviously a dense son of a bitch. The shuffle is made for a certain market. Is that simple enough for ya? Why the fuck do I need to see what is playing on a screen so small & cheap it makes your eye’s bleed. Why should I have to pull the damn thing out of my pocket to change the music? Why do I need to see what is playing, when I can hear it? The only bitch here seems to be the headphones. Which actually seem like an easier way to navigate a “SHUFFLE” music player. This will also be useful for the visually impaired. I don’t have to fiddle to find the back or forward buttons. I’ll wager in less than a month there will be a plethora of third party headphones. Go buy whatever cheap ass player that you want. Maybe you should pull your head out of that visionary Bill Gates’ ass. Hey, why don’t you regale us with stories of how a GUI on a computer makes it a toy.

Posted by Splint on March 14, 2009 at 11:39 PM (CDT)


The one-button control scheme did not originate at Apple. It was last seen on a very long string of Panasonic cassette walkmans over a decade ago. The timeframe is just right to make me speculate that Panasonic had some sort of patent on it, and it happened to expire on the eve of the iPhone launch. Even as Panasonic added another 5,6,7,8 buttons onto their later remotes, they often retained this control scheme for the main button, well into the late-90s. People over in Europe may have an impression of these remotes; most of them never made it to the US, because the mentality towards expensive portable audio was very hostile in the pre-iPod years.

People like Sharp, and perhaps Sanyo, have also made casstte walkmans that had no controls on the unit itself. This would’ve been even earlier, probably in the late 80s.

So my point, you see, is most definitely NOT that Apple can do no wrong. Apple has done my self-righteous self wrong plenty of times, more so with each passing year, and I’ve left angry messages about a few things they do around here. I have ordered a new shuffle, but I may yet cancel (it’s not shipping in my locality yet, pending some sort of electromagnetic testing), because the crass side of me who’s a wal-mart virgin and yet longs for the cheapness, really isn’t so sure about the purchase. :P

I want to make one point, though. My point is that if electronic gadgets are really a fascinating field for you, a hobby for you, then you will be naturally predisposed to finding this particular shuffle interesting, intriguing, in spite of its usefulness. I know I saw “73mAh” and I was hooked, even though that would mean a reduced longevity in the long run, compared to a larger battery. It’s fascinating to watch Apple take the Panasonic scheme, and finally giving it the possibility to fast forward and rewind. It’s a lot of fun to watch history repeat itself. It’s good to see the player becoming not a player, but a mere extension of the headphone cord. The 2G shuffle was already dangle-able from the cord, this will be even better. This is a form factor real gadget fans (not just sites with G, D, T in their names) would have fantasized about for years, and it’s just nice to see someone bring our fantasy to a logical, if Utopian and impractical, conclusion.

No matter how zen Apple appears to be, I believe it is in fact the most quintessentially American company in industrial design and interface - a US versus Japan comparison will very quickly reveal that Apple’s (at least previous?) emphasis on simplicity and ease of understanding is very much matched to the American culture, as opposed to Sony’s much more Japanese take on product development.

So I think even as an obvious way to squeeze profit (returning the shuffle to its late-2006 price point),  it’s not easy or natural for an American company to launch this. I think it was a conscious decision, and someone had to have anticipated the backlash (Tim Cook?).

And there’s something else. I have the Sansa Clip, but it disappoints me in quite a few ways. It fails to do everything as advertised. I have the Zen Stone, and it is an epic fail too in some ways. I tried the Samsung Pebble in store, and you know what, I couldn’t buy it. FF/REW is slow and the progress is not audible, which also makes it less than ideal for podcasts. Not to mention I don’t get the cheap US price for any of these things; the Pebble is still a rock solid $40-50 US in my locality. I don’t even get to forgive their faults on a “at least it’s $20 less” basis. I found the 2G shuffle much better than any of these caricatures. the shuffle is more responsive to your input, drives hi-end phones better, and uses a smaller battery to offer what ilounge has found to be longer battery life.

So you know, I think you get what you pay for, no exceptions. Apple do profit from us excessively, but more often than not, I think they do deliver on crucial refinement, which people all too often overlook because they assume all firmware are equal. I like Apple less and less with each passing day, but I do come back to them, and that’s why.

Posted by Leon, formerly of Buffalo NY on March 15, 2009 at 8:52 AM (CDT)


I’ve created a facebook group to protest Apple’s improper attempt to extend its monopoly.  Please join.

http://www.facebook dot com/groups/edit.php?gid=70580714816

Posted by j on March 17, 2009 at 11:00 PM (CDT)


If they would have put the new features on the existing form factor, I would have bought one yesterday.

My only real complaint about the last model was that it needed a way to use playlists, which in my case would have only been two(gym & running).


Posted by Brian on March 19, 2009 at 1:14 PM (CDT)


the new shuffle is bull…  they should let you know that you can’t use it in your car and it is for only people that need a small extra ipod for jogging…

what a complete waste of money….

the voice feature with the playlists is cool…  but it doesnt make up for the lack of controls

Posted by akasha on May 24, 2009 at 11:02 PM (CDT)


I hate the new shuffle, the ear phone controls are a pain in the ___!

Posted by rainer on January 2, 2010 at 5:51 PM (CST)


just lost my 2nd gen shuffle and now am stuck—no way I can use apple earphones—I run and walk with them and they will not stay in ear.. What a stupid mistake they made with this! I am betting they will put controls back on unit in next generation. Unfortunatey I need one now. Am going to have to go with another brand.

Posted by cloe on January 24, 2010 at 4:34 PM (CST)

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