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New iPod Shuffle Gets Really Tiny, Loses Control

How often does Apple launch a new product without making a big event out of it (with the media in tow)? Almost never. But that’s exactly what happened with today’s reveal of the new iPod Shuffle.

Apple today quietly (relatively speaking) introduced a completely new iPod Shuffle that’s nearly half the size of the outgoing model. In fact, Apple describes this new third generation iPod Shuffle as “significantly smaller than a AA battery.”

As part of the miniaturization process, all on-device controls are stripped from the new iPod Shuffle and moved to an inline unit on the earphone cord. The concern here is that without the special set of earphones, the iPod Shuffle is practically useless. Apple did tell Gizmodo that it does plan to offer and adapter so that those who wish to use their own headphones can do so – but keeping the adapter is vital.

The new iPod Shuffle also takes some of the mystery – but none of the randomness – from the device. A new voice feature speaks to the user, providing information on the name of the song and artist, and even tells status information, such as battery life (estimated at 10 hours).

iPod shuffle can speak 14 languages including English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

"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 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."

While all the colors of the rainbow are inevitable for this Apple music player, the initial batch comes only in aluminum-constructed black or silver with 4 GB internal flash.

The third generation 4GB iPod shuffle is now shipping for a suggested price of $79 (US).