Apple kills another iPod

I have the worst iPod ever.

Though apple doesn’t report sales of individual iPods, it’s been clear for years what their least favourite version was. It’s the 3rd-gen iPod shuffle, and Apple just killed it.

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The 3rd gen iPod shuffle was too simple. It had no buttons on its body. It was almost as small as a vitamin. Its only switch turned it on, and allowed music to play in order or shuffled. That’s it.

How it controlled was via the toggle available on iPod headphones. There, you could change volume, pause, play, and change tracks. It was the strangest user interface Apple ever produced, since it was entirely based on muscle memory. Here’s how crazy it was:

Tap once to play or pause.

Tap twice to skip to the next song.

Tap twice and hold to fast forward.

Tap three times to go back.

Tap three times and hold to rewind.

Tap once and hold to hear voiceover tell you the song that’s playing.

Keep holding to get a menu with playlists and podcasts.

Tap once to select any playlist or podcast after that.

Absolutely none of this was obvious from the headphone, and only the volume buttons had any indicative quality. But I loved this little thing. It took me about an hour to get the choices down, and then the 3rd-gen iPod became my favourite cycling, public transit, and working accessory. I’ve used it almost daily for the last few years. In my opinion, itt’s the purest, simplest, and toughest thing Apple has ever made.

I’ve never really liked the iPod headphones, and I hate the iPod in-ear headphones. So, when Apple announced the brand new earphones, I was really excited. Finally, after all these years: an upgrade. I was quickly disappointed.

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The new earphones are compatable with every single iPod from 2003, except the 3rd-gen iPod shuffle. For now, they’re still selling the old headphones, and likely will for a long time. They’re still selling the Mighty Mouse, after all.

I’m not bemoaning Apple for this. My favourite iPod was a failure for them, and they replaced it with an apology. I’m probably due for a new shuffle, and the new colours are neat. But the new one is clearly a study in concision. It has 6 buttons that do the same job that 3 did on mine. It’s larger than mine, because it needs a face full of buttons. It exists in a way that mine doesn’t, but it has half the storage (I splurged for the only 4gig shuffle Apple ever offered). You can’t totally ignore it. Mine was essentially invisible, and I’ll miss it when it’s really gone.

Apple music

September 16, 2012