The Third-Generation iPod shuffle (2009)
In 2005, Apple diversified the iPod lineup with a new ultraportable player known as the iPod shuffle. The idea was to create a simplified player for those who just wanted to carry around a single playlist of a few hundred tracks in their pocket and listen to them in any order. Hence, the name “shuffle.”
The original iPod shuffle looked much like a USB flash drive with buttons. By 2006, the second-generation version had changed that up to the classic look the most of us are familiar with — a small rectangular device with a round set of controls that closely resembles the modern-day Siri Remote.
There was one significant outlier in the middle of this, however, in the form of the 2009 third-generation iPod shuffle. In what we can only assume was an effort to go as minimalist as possible, Apple’s engineers and designers got too clever for their own good. The result was a nearly buttonless device that was needlessly complicated and required the use of Apple’s own headphones — or an expensive third-party adapter.
Specifically, in its effort to get as small as possible — the 2009 iPod shuffle looked like a piece of chocolate — Apple moved all the controls onto the headphones. The only control on the body of the unit was a three-position switch to choose between off, repeat, and shuffle modes. Pausing, playing, adjusting volume, and skipping tracks all required you to use the controls on the headphones.
This meant that using your favourite headphones was out, as was connecting it to your car stereo or another set of speakers. Third-party adapter cables eventually came along, but these had to be licensed under Apple’s Made-for-iPod (MFi) program, adding to the overall cost of using your favourite earphones with your iPod shuffle. By 2010, Apple had abandoned this idea and released the fourth-generation iPod shuffle, returning to the classic design of the 2006 model, with a smaller footprint.