March 13, 2009Call it anti-social if you like, but a lot of people listen to portable music players to avoid being spoken to. This hasn’t stopped Apple adding a new VoiceOver feature that speaks song titles, artists and playlist names to the latest iPod shuffle while also shrinking it to nearly half the size of its predecessor.

The third generation Shuffle can store 4GB (around 1,000 songs) worth of music in a unit that is smaller than an AA battery. This reduction in size has seen the controls moved from the unit itself onto the included earphone cord. This means that if you don’t like Apple’s earphones you’ll probably have to shell out some cash to third party accessory makers. The featureless aluminum design includes the usual built-in stainless steel clip for wearability, but the feature sure to get the most interest is VoiceOver.

VoiceOver tells users song titles, artists, playlist names and even status info like battery life by voice – male for Mac users and female for Windows – with multi-lingual abilities in 14 languages. Boasting a battery life of up to 10 hours the third generation shuffle retains the random song selection feature that gives it its name, but for the first time also includes playlist support.

The third generation 4GB iPod shuffle is now shipping and comes in silver or black for a suggested price of USD$79.

Darren Quick

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