While ordering Apple's new iPod Shuffle online, a strange thing happened as I was checking out: Apple recommended some headphones to me that seemed incompatible with the Shuffle. The way I understand it, the latest third-generation iPod Shuffle has migrated all of its playback controls to a remote on the headphone cable, which means that replacement headphones will need to include a similar remote in order to function properly. Sure, you can probably get away with plugging any pair of headphones into the new Shuffle, but if you want control over volume, pause, and skip, you'll need something a little more specialized.
So then why is Apple saying that some of its basic headphone models are Shuffle 3G compatible? For instance, I'm pretty sure these Nike Sport Flow headphones Apple recommends don't include an in-line remote, but the compatibility chart at the bottom includes an icon specifically for the third-gen Shuffle. Same goes for these JVC headphones, which are also labeled as compatible.
I'll give Apple the benefit of the doubt and chalk this up to mislabeling (tell me if I'm missing something), but for the time being, I think the Apple Store may be misleading people into thinking there are plenty of third-party headphone upgrades for the new Shuffle. Not true. Plenty of manufacturers have made iPhone-compatible headphones, but those models don't include a volume remote, since the iPhone doesn't support remote volume control. Without in-line volume control on your headphones, there's no way to adjust volume on the new iPod Shuffle.
Discuss: Is Apple wrong about Shuffle earbud compatibility?