Apple’s Screenless iPod shuffle Gets Chatty

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Apple has rolled out a new version of its diminutive iPod shuffle music player—and while the device still doesn’t sport a screen for managing tracks and playlists, the third-generation iPod shuffles sport 4GB of storage and a new VoiceOver feature enables the iPod shuffle to announce songs, artists, and playlists names—in 14 different languages. Apple is billing the new shuffle as the “first music player that talks to you.”

“Imagine your music player talking to you, telling you your song titles, artists and playlist names,” said Apple’s iPod and iPhone marketing VP Greg Joswiak, in a statement. “The amazingly small new iPod shuffle takes a revolutionary approach to how you listen to your music by talking to you.”

Although the 3rd generation shuffles are bigger than the earlier models, it’s not by much: they’re still smaller than a AA battery at 1.8 inches tall and 0.3 inches thick. The new shuffles also feature a new aluminum case design (in silver or black) with an integrated stainless steel clip.

The VoiceOver feature works with a press of a button; the iPod can recite the name of the current song and artist; the VoiceOver feature can also speak status information, such as remaining battery life—and the feature is available if 14 languages: English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.

Perhaps more important to serious shuffle users, the third-generation iPod shuffle now supports multiple playlists, synced over from Apple’s iTunes application. Users can set up playlist for workouts, commutes, downtime, or serious tune-out-the-workplace-I-don’t-want-to-hear-you needs.

The new iPod shuffles are available now in 4 GB capacities in silver and black for $79; they come with Apple’s Earphones with Remote and a USB cable for syncing with USB 2.0-equipped computers.

A downside to the new shuffle is that it appears it will only work with Apple’s supplied headphones; no doubt third parties are already planning their own compatible headphones and earbuds.