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.”

Charles Starrett

Charles Starrett was a senior editor at iLounge. He's been covering the iPod, iPhone, and iPad since their inception. He has written numerous articles and reviews, and his work has been featured in multiple publications.