Now the iPod shuffle talks back, but why?

By andy

Apple is surely running out of things to put on its iPod, given that its latest “innovative feature” is that the new iPod shuffle will talk to you. In fact, it’s the first music player that’ll talk to you.

There’s a reason for that, Steve. No-one else would be silly enough to put that feature on their players – and even if they did, they wouldn’t shout about it.

OK, it’s a lot smaller as well, but it’s only a 4GB player so, really, what’s the big (or should I say small) deal there?

No, the amazing feature is that Apple is using VoiceOver technology (presumably in the same irritating voices that come in Mac OS X) so that the shuffle can tell you the name of your tracks, artists and playlists.

Of course, the main reason that you’d need this is because the shuffle has no display. Seriously, though, is anyone going to put on four gigs of music onto their shuffle and really not have a clue what they’re listening to?

Part of the problem is that the shuffle is trying to compete with higher capacity models. Back when it only had 512MB, it was unlikely that you were going to need to worry about playlists and huge swathes of songs. Now it’s got 4GB, it’s more complicated to find out exactly what’s on the SSD when you’re away from the computer.

I can see this being used for practical jokes by renaming playlists and songs on iTunes and then giving it to an unsuspecting friend who then gets sworn at by their new toy. Or, imagine if the shuffle could get viruses (I think it’s impossible, but just imagine) – something a bit like that virus that appeared on PCs that told computer users they were idiots, then farted at them. Now that would be much more fun.

Still, if you like the idea you can get the new shuffle for $79. You don’t have to turn VoiceOver on.

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