Apple Debuts Talking iPod Shuffle

Apple introduced a smaller version of its popular iPod Shuffle music player on Wednesday with a new feature that announces songs to its user.

The new 4 gigabyte Shuffle is priced at $79 and carries up to 1,000 songs, twice as many as the last generation of Shuffles.

Users can control their songs and playlists from an earphone cord using a new VoiceOver feature, which announces the songs to users in 14 different languages. The feature is particularly useful on the Shuffle as it does not have a display screen like most iPods or other digital music players.

“You previously couldn’t have multiple playlists on the iPod Shuffle because you couldn’t really switch between them as there was no way to know how you would switch,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) vice president of iPod marketing, in an interview with Reuters. “So now instead of seeing you get to hear.”

The VoiceOver feature works by synchronizing with a user’s iTunes software, which installs a voice kit on the user’s computer. VoiceOver can also tell a user how much battery life remains.

Joswiak said this third generation of iPod Shuffle will be the world’s tiniest music player, smaller than a AA battery and comes in two colors, silver and black.

He said the company will continue to sell the second generation version of the 1 gigabyte, 240-song Shuffle for $49 but phase out the 2 gigabyte Shuffle, which currently sells for $69.

“We are innovating in that sub-$100 space where everybody else is worrying about cutting quarter here and a dime there and we’re trying to bring additional value to our customers,” said Joswiak.

The iPod music player has been widely credited with playing an important role in the revival of Apple’s fortunes. The company has sold more than 200 million iPods since they launched in 2001. It launched the first Shuffle in January 2005.

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