Apple Jumps the Shark With New iPod Shuffle
It seems Apple’s pursuit of simplicity in their devices never ceases, and it’s proven all the more true with their latest rendition of the iPod Shuffle which forsakes all the controls on the gadget entirely. The only “controls” on the small aluminum sliver is the On/Off switch that also dictates whether to play the songs on the iPod in order or randomly. The audio player is fully controlled through the headphones, which brings up the newest “feature” Apple has so graciously provided: the ability for the iPod Shuffle to talk back to you (yes, talk!) via VoiceOver which, at the push of a button, speaks the song title.
The absurdness of the device almost has me at a loss for words, I mean, it looks like Apple’s next iteration of the Shuffle line will resemble that of the iPod Flea. I’ve already dubbed Apple’s latest creation the iPod Leech, in the sense that it basically does nothing besides suck your money away. At $80 for 4GB of storage, there are plenty of other small mp3 players that have a physical LCD screen as well as controls to boot in the $50-$100 price range.
Apple gears their newest iPod Shuffle as a “tech-cessory” meaning “a device for those that don’t care and know nothing about technology but want to look cool and upbeat wearing this small piece of metal anyway.” The usability of this device to anyone that has previously owned any other iPod in the this physical plane of existence will be next to none for the sheer lack of any real interface. A major drawback deals with the cheap proprietary headphones that are required to operate the Shuffle. This is definitely not a device for audiophiles for the fact that you cannot use any high-quality headphones to listen to your random playlist. To be honest, I can only see teenagers using this device. Its random choosing of songs as well as the ability of holding up to 1000 songs at 128kbps quality is more than enough for a kid who doesn’t care about his hearing to pour into his head at full blast across the crappy Apple standard headphones.
The only redeeming quality I find in the new iPod Shuffle is its rediculously small size, which will make numerous hacks and mods inevitable. Just like the Gen1 iPod Shuffle Juicy Fruit hack, I can only imagine where hackers will find to put this thing, such as in a BIC lighter, a breathmint case, or perhaps even combine it with a bluetooth headset in some way. I also have to give Apple kudos for making the first iPod that someone can feasibly swallow. I can only imagine the news story of a dancing teenager tripping in his house while listening to this thing clipped to his shirt and it accidentally falling in his mouth and down his throat. I will secretly pray that it happens just so I can see a picture of the x-ray.
The bottom line: It looks like Apple has finally jumped the shark with the iPod Shuffle line, which, it seems, is slowly becoming a trend across all spectrums of the Apple iPod genre. First it was the iPod Nano when Apple released the “Nano Fatty” as coined by the interwebs, which a little later became the iPod Nano it is today, which is exactly the same device that has the original screen turned on its side, a more curved look, and the Shake-to-Shuffle feature. Not to mention there hasn’t been an update to the original iPod line in quite a while. Leo Laporte relates this trend in a good way by saying that Apple is becoming like a car manufacturer by creating newer models that are exactly the same as their older models, but the newer models have “fins” such that to differentiate themselves from the older models. It looks like this is all Apple does now with most of their iPod line – adding fins as features.
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