It’s here, the new iPod shuffle has just made his first appearance on Apple’s website, featuring a 4GB player instead of the previous 1/ 2GB capacities. Other than that, Apple has removed the control wheel from the device itself and the only remaining button was shifted to the attached earphones. Sized at 45.2 x 17.5 x 7.8mm, the new shuffle can easily get into the category of “the world’s smallest music player”, and without having an LCD screen, Apple has implemented the VoiceOver feature, which will read out the names of the playing song, artist/performer and even your playlists, at a touch of a button. Battery wise, you’ll be able to play up to 10hrs of continuous playback, either you choose buying the silver or black flavors, both priced at $79. Mind you, the VoiceOver supports English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Checkout the official announcement, together with some other images after the break.

Update1: The guys at iFixit already managed to dissect this little creature.  Check out the images after the break or visit their website for a full coverage.

Update2: This is bad, really bad. According to iLounge the new iPod Shuffle can only be controlled by special earbuds with a special authenticating chip from Apple. The meaning is that third party manufacturers who want to sell Shuffle headphones, will have to pay Apple a special fee, just for making them available – and you guessed it right – you’re the ones to pay the price. This all thing makes us wonder why in heaven Apple would like to lock down its own customers by limiting the number of accessories. First reason we can think about is the recession. If Apple will be the sole provider of Shuffle headphones then more money will make its way to Cupertino, but then again, who’d like to buy a player with proprietary headphoes. Second reason, relates to Apple’s policy and the endless story of frustrated fanboys who play mouse-and-cat chasing game, trying to unlock the iphone back and forth. Clearly, there’s nothing new in this latest decision and Apple has already locked down its users before – policy, remember? Bottom line, Apple might have long sleeves, hiding strong PR and marketing tricks, but consumers ain’t dumb anymore – you got that El Jobso?

Update3: Apple confirms there’s a proprietary chip inside the new Shuffle’s headphones, but the chip isn’t encrypted and third party manufacturers might be able to clone it.

Update4: Now, with the assistant of “Compuer Choppers” you can get yourself a customized Shuffle, plated with colorful designs, instead of those dull silver/black ones from Apple. To do so, just hit the link and choose your favorite hue for a starting price of $20.

Update5: If Apple’s new shuffle has been removed from your birthday “wish list” just because the VoiceOver feature could not pronounce your favorite band accurately, mind you that Cupertino has just released the VoiceOver Kit 1.0.1, which is already available via Mac OS X software update (17MB) and suppose to fix the pronunciation problem for most of the names, but not all of them. Clearly, Apple hasn’t said a word about which names were fixed but you can try them yourself to feagure out.

[customized shuffles]

Press Release:

Apple Announces Incredible New iPod Shuffle

World’s Smallest Music Player Now Talks to You

CUPERTINO, Calif., March 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Apple(R) today introduced the all-new iPod(R) shuffle, the world’s smallest music player at nearly half of the size of the previous model, and the first music player that talks to you. The revolutionary new VoiceOver feature enables iPod shuffle to speak your song titles, artists and playlist names. The third generation iPod shuffle is significantly smaller than a AA battery, holds up to 1,000 songs and is easier to use with all of the controls conveniently located on the earphone cord. With the press of a button, you can play, pause, adjust volume, switch playlists and hear the name of the song and artist. iPod shuffle features a gorgeous new aluminum design with a built-in stainless steel clip that makes it ultra-wearable.

“Imagine your music player talking to you, telling you your song titles, artists and playlist names,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPod and iPhone(TM) Product Marketing. “The amazingly small new iPod shuffle takes a revolutionary approach to how you listen to your music by talking to you, also making it the first iPod shuffle with playlists.”

iPod shuffle is based on Apple’s incredibly popular shuffle feature, which randomly selects songs from your music library. And now, when you can’t remember the name of a song or an artist playing, with the press of a button iPod shuffle tells you the name of the song and artist. iPod shuffle can even tell you status information, such as battery life. With the ability to hold up to 1,000 songs and the VoiceOver feature, you can now easily switch between multiple playlists on your iPod shuffle. iPod shuffle can speak 14 languages including English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

The new iPod shuffle comes in silver or black and features a sleek and ultra-wearable design with a built-in stainless steel clip. iPod shuffle is the smallest music player in the world and is incredibly easy to clip to almost anything and take with you everywhere you go. iPod shuffle features up to 10 hours of battery life.*

Pricing & Availability

The third generation 4GB iPod shuffle is now shipping and comes in silver or black for a suggested price of $79 (US) through the Apple Store(R) (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. iPod shuffle comes with the Apple Earphones with Remote and the iPod shuffle USB cable. iPod shuffle requires a Mac(R) with a USB 2.0 port, Mac OS(R) X v10.4.11 or later and iTunes(R) 8.1 or later; or a Windows PC with a USB 2.0 port and Windows Vista, Windows XP Home or Professional (Service Pack 3) or later and iTunes 8.1.

*Battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings. See www.apple.com/batteries for more information. Song capacity is based on four minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding; in 256-Kbps AAC format, song capacity is up to 500 songs; actual capacity varies by encoding method and bit rate.

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Nir Ben Yona Shein
Internet freak and technology geek; Aspiring screenwriter, devoted tech blogger & Technologer chief editor . Early adopter with a keen interest in gadgets, technology, internet and mobile.