Friday, March 13, 2009

Apple does the Shuffle (again)

Apple unveils a new, talking iPod shuffle with 4gb of memory. I'm glad I made the decision to get the 30gb 18 months ago; I've still got something like 5700 songs to go. (BB Gadgets)

Apple's business is built on creating simpler, better user interfaces, so we come immediately to the simple question of whether it's better than the last model.

The short answer is an equally simple "no." The new iPod Shuffle is Apple's worst product in years. Its headphone module-interface fails because it's really about physical appearances: it does nothing to improve the experience of listening to music, and is in fact irritating until you've learned how to use it.

The long answer, however, is that it's just not that big of a deal, and the worst Apple music player is still not a bad one. Beyond this flash-point issue, the new Shuffle is a tiny and inconspicuous metal sliver with generous storage and at least one cool novelty: Voiceover, an androgynous robot voice that tells you information about the tracks loaded onto the machine. It's not completely dumb text-to-speech, either: It pronounced Saint Etienne correctly!

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