Apple Releases New iPod Shuffle With Speech Capabilities
Following up last week's new desktop announcements, Apple today released a redesigned iPod Shuffle. Even smaller than the last one, the new iPod Shuffle has no playback controls on the player itself--instead, the playback controls are on the headphone wire. This change does beg the question: What happens if you lose the bundled headphones? Does this rule out using third-party headphones?
The big new feature is the iPod Shuffle's inclusion of Apple's VoiceOver technology. VoiceOver on Mac OS X is Apple's built-in screen reader for the visually impaired. On the iPod Shuffle, VoiceOver will read you the current song's title and artist information with a touch of a button. The function was added to iTunes last fall.
According to Apple, VoiceOver now makes it possible to switch between playlists on the iPod Shuffle. The iPod Shuffle is multi-lingual, and knows how to speak 14 languages, including Spanish, Japanese, Greek, and Dutch. This begs another question: What happens if you play a song tagged as explicit? Apple's press release makes no mention of what happens, but wouldn't it be amusing if it spoke a warning to you? Imagine: "I'm afraid I can't play that, Dave."
The new iPod Shuffle costs $79 and stores 4GB worth of music, or roughly 1000 songs. If you want one, you'll need WIndows XP SP3 or Windows Vista (or Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher), and iTunes 8.1.