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New 4GB iPod shuffle: Talks to you, kind of

Apple has launched a new 4GB iPod shuffle today, which is smaller than an AA battery and yet still speaks 14 languages -- sort of

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Richard Trenholm

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The Apple Store was down earlier, and that means a new product: it's a redesigned 4GB iPod shuffle! It's absolutely tiny, and is claimed to be the first talking iPod.

iPod shuffle 4GB

It's smaller than an AA battery. Being that wee, there's no room to add a screen, so Apple has come up with the VoiceOver feature, which allows the shuffle to tell you the title and artist of the song or playlist you're listening to. It'll even tell you status information, such as battery life, and how great your bum looks in those skinny hipster jeans, presumably all in that soothing Cupertino drawl. This isn't entirely new: VoiceOver began as a Mac accessibility feature, and iTunes already adds speech information to tracks for the nano, to help blind and partially sighted users.

Interestingly, Windows and Mac users will get slightly different voices, with a predictably more mellifluous lilt for Macheads and a grating metallic tone for the rest of the world. Have fun with language at the VoiceOver page, where there are samples for your listening pleasure.

The shuffle's 4GB memory will hold up to 1,000 songs, according to Apple, and has 10 hours of battery life. It also speaks 14 languages, kind of.

In a sure sign that Apple has taken the design lessons of the Mactini to heart, the controls are placed on the earphone cord, where you can play, pause, adjust volume, switch playlists and hear the name of the song and artist. You double-click to skip, or triple-click to go back. It's possible to shuffle, play songs in order or turn the shuffle off with a small switch on the top of the player itself, which is similar to the power switch on the third-gen shuffle.

This does mean, however, that you can't use those £100 headphones you've just bought -- you'll need to pay for new third-party ones if you want better sound quality than you'll get from the bundled earphones.

The new shuffle is available to order now from the Apple Store at the rather steep price of £59.

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The new fourth-gen shuffle is available in silver or black.
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The controls are on the earphones. This means you're locked into using the pathetic bundled Apple headphones at first, but we're sure headphone-makers will leap on to this as soon as possible.
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The new shuffle is smaller than an AA battery. Coo! Although you can't see it here, there's still a clip to attach to your black turtle-neck or ironic blazer.
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The 4GB shuffle retails at £59, and is on the Apple Store now. Here it is with its big brothers.

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