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Report: iPod shuffle 3G controls fail during workouts

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Friday, April 3, 2009
News Categories: iPod shuffle

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]

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Comments

21

I bought the Belkin Shuffle 3G adapter to use the controls with my own headset, because Apple’s buds do not fit my ears. I’m experiencing the same problems as above… so I’m not sure if it’s the dongle or the unit itself that’s causing the problems. Seems coincidental that both the OEM *and* third party adapter would cause the unit to stop playing.

Posted by Harv on January 19, 2010 at 3:22 PM (PDT)

22

Same problem here, after cycling on my indoor trainer on my road bike after about 30 to 40 minutes (sweating good now), playlists change automatically and songs are being announced left and right, quite annoying when this shuffle will be used by many during workouts. Apple should come up with a fix for this, sounds like anyone who sweats has this problem.

Posted by Alex on January 21, 2010 at 6:36 PM (PDT)

23

I have had my shuffle for three weeks now and it is completely dead.  Did during a work out while I was sweating.  Nothing ticks me off more than losing my music during a workout.  Love Apple products but hate this thing.

Posted by Adam on February 15, 2010 at 6:47 PM (PDT)

24

Ditto here, I don’t complain though, if I end up with a poor product I just never buy that brand again, good bye apple grin

Posted by Dale B on March 3, 2010 at 2:28 PM (PDT)

25

Having the same problem, extremely frustrating as I bought this thing expressly for working out. Interestingly, when I substitute my iphone headset with similar three button controls (but it also has a microphone and is built slightly differently) I don’t have this problem. Bad job, Apple.

Posted by Larry on March 7, 2010 at 7:28 PM (PDT)

26

This just in from Steve Jobs:

“Tough.  Buy my new iPad.

Sent from my iPhone.”

Posted by jonnyonenote on March 8, 2010 at 12:24 PM (PDT)

27

What about other Apple products with remote buttons on the headphones, like the iPhone?

Is this problem unique to those headphones with volume buttons - the Shuffle 3G and iPhone 3GS - or could my iPhone 3G (without volume buttonson the headphones) be affected too?

Posted by Pitmonster on March 8, 2010 at 2:17 PM (PDT)

28

GOD, I hate it when I can’t control the volume! It’s just extremely frustrating.  Don’t get me wrong, the device is genius, but the earphones suck!

I wish they had them waterproof.  It would be much more practical, really.

Posted by Fatma on March 19, 2010 at 5:53 PM (PDT)

29

I bought a 3g Shuffle at the weekend and the buttons conked out in it’s first gym session.

However, I plugged the headset in to my iphone, and the controls work, so this is clearly a problem with the unit, not the headset.

Posted by Rich on March 22, 2010 at 4:09 AM (PDT)

30

Exactly the same problem here. First breakdown within a month and the second 2 weeks after replacing the headphones. The lovely man at the apple warranty service counter first tried to tell me that it is only marketed as suitable for walking not running then when I showed him the website he suggested that as he works out with his all the time and has had no issues, the problem would not occur from sweat and the water damage must have occurred some other way. Don’t you love it when a company with a faulty product (or at least grossly misleadingly marketed product) calls you a liar!

Posted by Nik on April 1, 2010 at 3:57 AM (PDT)

31

I am having the same problem.  The volume slowly turns do then off.

Posted by Richard on April 14, 2010 at 9:45 AM (PDT)

32

Same issues here.  The bad part for me is that I am in Afghanistan so i dont have the luxury of going to a local Apple Store to complain about it. 

Anyone have a workaround for this issue besides using tape to cover the remote?

Posted by Herman Cruz on April 27, 2010 at 4:07 AM (PDT)

33

I’ll add my complaint to the litany of other ones. I’ve had the thing a week and it cuts off, suddenly, for no obvious reason. Also the in-line controls don’t consistently work. It’s a real piece of junk.

Posted by Lodge on May 30, 2010 at 3:34 PM (PDT)

34

Yeah, pretty disappointing isn’t it folks? You buy this product designed towards working out, and it fails because you are sweating? Great concept idea for apple, bad functionality testing.

After looking at solutions for this, right now the best option seems to be the Belkin adapter that has controls on it.  Adapter puts the controls down by the shuffle unit, you can use some more secure workout friendly earphones with it.  Please let us know if anyone finds a good pair of workout phones with the controls built in and shuffle compatible.

Posted by Mike on June 2, 2010 at 2:00 AM (PDT)

35

I’m having the moisture problem with my shuffle as well.  I’m not sure the Belkin adapter is the solution though.  I bought one and it seemed to work for a couple of weeks then the problem re-occurred. It does let you use non-Apple earphones though.

I’m going to buy a 2nd generation shuffle and throw this piece of crap in a drawer.

Posted by PaulH on June 5, 2010 at 5:07 PM (PDT)

36

I had the same problems with my 4G shuffle after 2 runs.  I fixed the problem by wrapping the earphone controls in white teflon tape that is used for plumbing connections like a shower head or pipe connection.  This encased the vulnerable spots and I can workout with volume control again.  It also blends in nicely with the white cord and is not bulky at all.

Posted by Jacob on June 17, 2010 at 1:07 PM (PDT)

37

I’ve been reading about waterproof ipods & earphones from a company called swimman - made for people swimming laps, so a bit over-engineered for me as a runner - you can buy the earphones seperately though.  Has anyone tried them?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Posted by Tanya on June 22, 2010 at 7:06 PM (PDT)

38

I have the new ipod shuffle,worked fine for the first time i tried it, then the problems started, the controls on the headphones stopped working, the playlists would not change, then after that the volume control would not work, i then spent more money on new headphones to now have the same problem, this problem is totally unacceptable, and the only reason i bought the shuffle was that my ipod nano has never worked properly since i purchased it, its problem was that it never wanted to turn on and i would spend up to 15min trying to turn the thing on. I will now be going to buy another player and most definatley not apple they are just a waste of money.

Posted by Gavin on July 18, 2010 at 9:08 PM (PDT)

39

Over the past 3 years I have purchased the ipod 2nd gen and 3rd gen shuffles with a warranty each time. The 2nd Gen’s were recycled every 3 months, sometimes less, because of my Hyperthyroid (rapid sweating) and caused me endless frustration.  The 3rd gen is far worse because you can’t see anything or understand where the fault is without tinkering (voiding the warranty) which compelled me to buy the Scorche adaptes, an invention seemingly send from God. Sadly, the shuffle is so capricious that that too soon failed, leaving me to exchange my ninth ipod shuffle under warranty. Screw these things; they are just advertisements for buying zoons.

Posted by Otama on July 26, 2010 at 11:42 AM (PDT)

40

Wish I had read some of these comments before buying the new shuffle in June. I use it almost exclusively during exercise and the Apple earbud/control apparatus went useless in a matter of weeks. I bought the Belkin adapter and it worked fine for several months, but is now beginning to have the same problems; can’t control the volume; it’s either too loud or almost unhearable. I don’t sweat that much and try to wear the unit and control in position that doesnt get as much moisture. Same thing happened to a previous Nano; think this will be my last iPod.

Posted by Hanale on September 26, 2010 at 8:21 PM (PDT)

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