I remember buying one of the original iPod shuffles, thinking it might come in handy for walking about with, rather than ‘risking’ my expensive chunky iPod photo. In the end, the iPod photo sat unloved in a drawer (and, eventually, got wired into my amp), while the shuffle laughed heartily on its victory.
Far from being bothered by the perceived restrictions of the device (no screen, basic controls), I loved the shuffle’s durability, and due to an OCD-like iTunes set-up where everything’s rated, I could fill the tiny iPod with tracks of a certain length and quality, and then set off to town knowing that I had a selection of what I considered great music with me.
When the new shuffle came out—the one that’s a tiny clip—I bought one of those, too. The old shuffle was relegated somewhat (although it’s still dug out for long flights), because the new one’s sheer tininess made it a real winner. Again, no screen, but the competition’s tiny displays didn’t seduce me in the slightest.
Today, Apple went a stage further, with the latest version of the shuffle, and, yeah, there’s going to be a third one rattling around this house soon enough.
Amazingly, the device is even smaller that its predecessor, tinier than a door key. Because of this, the controls have shifted to the headphones (the one negative, since this means you’re stuffed if they break or you want to use non-Apple headphones), and VoiceOver has made its debut, making the lack of screen a non-issue. Now, the iPod shuffle, apparently conversant in 14 languages, can tell you what you’re listening to, and which playlist you’re playing.
Again, this highlights Apple’s desire to innovate, rather than just looking at the competition and doing something similar. It also shows that giving people what they want rather than what they think they want can pay dividends, in terms of features and industrial design. Most importantly, though, it appears that without Steve Jobs at the helm, things can continue, what with unknown devices still being in the pipeline. Take note, idiot reporters.