Apple Launches Talking iPod Music Player - InformationWeek

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Apple Launches Talking iPod Music Player

The refresh of the iPod Shuffle is the size of a AA battery but stores 1,000 songs and supports playlists.

Apple iPod Shuffle With 'VoiceOver'

Apple iPod Shuffle with VoiceOver
(click for larger image)
Apple on Wednesday introduced a new version of its lower-end iPod Shuffle that's half the size of previous models and can speak artist, song, and playlist names.

The Shuffle gets smaller with every release. The latest is smaller than a AA battery, or about the size of a tie clip. It also comes with a stainless steel clip so it can be worn.

"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," Greg Joswiak, VP of iPod and iPhone product marketing, said in a statement.

The device has no screen, so it's only for playing songs, podcasts, and other audio files. Because of its size, Apple has placed the controls on the earphone cord. Users press a button to play, pause, adjust volume, or to hear the name of the song or artist. The earphones ship with the device.

The controls appear to be inspired by the Apple iPhone. The smartphone also has controls on its earphone cord for taking a phone call, hanging up, and performing other tasks.

The latest Shuffle has 4 GB of memory, which is capable of storing up to 1,000 songs, and a new aluminum design that comes in silver or black. The device can last 10 hours on a charge and its "speak" feature is available in 14 languages. The gadget is priced at $79, which likely is low enough to be attractive to people in a down economy.

Apple apparently didn't plan on immediately replacing the prior Shuffle with the new model. The older version was available on the Apple Web site for $49 with 1 GB of memory, which is able to store up to 240 songs.

Apple's iPod line is the leading portable music player, accounting for more than 70% of the market, according to analysts. Microsoft competes with the Zune, but has failed to make a dent in the iPod's popularity.

Apple unveiled the latest iPod about a week after launching a refresh of its iMac and Mac Mini desktops. Apple introduced faster processors and better graphics in the systems while maintaining the same price range as the older models.

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