Sean Carruthers takes a close look at the iPod Shuffle and demonstrates how the new control scheme works. He also explores
how to optimize your library for the new VoiceOver feature and explains how this third-generation Shuffle differs from its predecessors.
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Hi, I’m Sean Carruthers and welcome to the first of the three-part series on the new iPod Shuffle, the 3rd Generation of the iPod Shuffle. First, you got the previous generation up here, this is 2nd Generation, this is the third one. It’s a little bit narrower but taller, more in a shape of a stick of gum than before.
Taking a look at the back, it’s all clipped like beforehand so you can attach it to a shirt or a pair of jean short or something like so that you don’t lose it when you are exercising. The switches on this it’s found on the one side of it. This one has On/Off on the one side and also has a switch to switch you between loop mode and shuffle mode. This one actually integrates all three of them into a single form or into a single switch, so off on the one side then loop and then shuffle. It’s a little bit hard to make out the writing on there but it is right there.
So in doing the tutor of that, there’s really not much all on this one. And the first thing you may be wondering is, well how do I control it? Obviously, this one has the – the dial here that lets you play and pause, change your tracks and change your volumes. This one doesn’t really have that. So to with that, I’ll bring in the second one. This one also comes in black. In addition to the shuffle is the 4 gigabytes.
Now how they’ve gone around that problem is by integrating it into the headphone cable. Now the previous generation, you press the unit itself to play, pause or skip. And that wasn’t always convenient because you’ll be reaching down and not really looking necessarily to see where you going and remembering the orientation of the controls were sometimes a little bit challenged so you would have to memorize that.
This one right here, it assumes that your headphone is always up, so reaching down the cord, you’ll always have access to the volume control up on the top, go in control down on the bottom. So plus and minus acts as your volume control, just like on the iPhone. Now there’s a button in the center here. And what that does is it access your control for everything else, so you might wonder how a single button could do that. So we’ll just to try out here to press play, we just press it once. And now we have our music playing, press it again, it pauses it. Now we’ll get going again so you can see the next step.
Now to skip forward on a track or to go back, you have to press it multiple times. So to go to forward, you press twice. And that will go to the next track. Go back, you press three times [Demonstration]. Like so. In addition to that, this button also has other features. One of them called voice – now none of the iPhone or the iPod Shuffles have had an LCD screen, so you could never tell what was playing at any given time. Now, you think on the devices that small, you wouldn’t necessarily need to you know or be on it.
Now this is a 4 gigabytes, that’s a lot of room for things. And you may be jut having the – your iTunes libarary automatically fill this new little device with tracks. You might not know everything that you have on there, you may have bought a few things or you just may have forgotten. So, how do you got around this on this new player? Is by holding down the button, it’ll actually reroute the name of the track using your computerized voice. Now that’s through iTunes and it puts it on the device when you load the music into it. So, by holding it down, again it’ll tell you what it is.
When you press Pause and you fast-forward, every time you go to another track it’ll actually read it out. So you’ll know before you actually press Play or that’s the right one. And once you hear what you want, you just need to press Play.
Now the other feature on this is that if you hold it and hold it down even longer, it’ll read out the name of the track and it’ll be – and that would start reading out playlist. So previous generations of the iPod Shuffle didn’t have playlist thing, it was just one gigantic directory which is a little bit inconvenient when you are going back and forth and trying to find the tracks that you want. Now by having playlist, you can actually have several different types of modes on here, you know one for a warm up, one for a cool down, one that’s electronic, one that’s world music, whatever you want to listen to at any given time. And by doing that, you just hold it down until it starts reading out the playlist. Again, we’ll do that again sinking here a bit more clearly.
When you hear the playlist that you actually want, you would press the button and it’ll go into that. Now if you heard it down, you can actually skip forward by pressing the plus or minus really quickly and then by pressing that when you get to the one that you want. That’ll actually allow you to run through a whole of pile of them very quickly without having to listen to them for minutes on end.
Anyways, that’s the end of the first part on this. We’ll talk about playlist management and dealing with the iPod Shuffle if you don’t actually want to have to deal with these headphones on the two upcoming episodes.
This time around, we’re going to talk about Playlist Management.
Now with the new iPod Shuffle, let’s introduce a new feature called voice over which it reads out the name of the track that you’re currently listen to with a press of a button, it’s both of blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing for those of us who’re used to the LCD screen. Now with this new player, we can’t actually see what’s playing on the unit itself. So just a click of a button and the iPod will now read out what is playing. So that’s a bit of a blessing. It’s a curse in that – some tracks don’t work so well with this for a couple of reasons and we’ll go over three ways that you can deal with this.
The first thing that maybe causing a problem is long, long track names. So we got two ways to deal with this. Now the first track at the top here is a very, very long track. It’s a hip-hop track featuring a lot of guest artists and that’s you know, fairly common in the world of hip-hop and they’ll often put it to the name of the track. Unfortunately, they will reeve this entire thing out, every time you pres on that button. So you don’t necessarily need that to happen.
So you can just click in here, on the name of the track and get rid of that information there. Hit Return and there you go. Now, it’s so much shorter read. You can also hit Control I on windows or Command I on the Mac when you highlighted on something in – you bring up a list here of the various things that you can do with this track.
Now we’re going to click on Info. You can edit this information here. On the screen, you can edit the name of it and you can also edit the name of the artist to something a little bit shorter. So we’re just going to change that to Alabama, as supposed to the entirety of the name there. And we’ll click OK and that’s done. Or, if you want to do this with multiple tracks, you can actually just click Next to – going through and list all of the tracks on that album and jut shorten down on a one by one basis.
This is also a problem with podcasting, especially with podcast that feature in number of contributors for something like MacBreak Weekly. When you press the button on there and that reads out the name of the track and the artist, it unfortunately lists a great big long list of guest names here. So as much as I love Leo, Andy, Alex and Scott, I don’t necessarily want to hear every single one of their names every time I press on the voice over buttons. So I might just change this to MBW or the Twits or something like that that’s a little bit shorter and easier to you know listen to repeatedly when you press on that button. So that’s one thing that you can do, just shorten the names of the tracks. The ones that will affect you are the name and the artist. So you don’t really need to change album names or anything like that.
The second thing is language. By default, the voice over command is very good at reading North American English. There is an automatic setting on this – for voice over tracks that will try to guess what language is but it doesn’t always work it out as hope. So we’ve got an artist here by name, Jean Michel Jarre. He’s a musician from France. And you know, it may read it out Jean Michel Jarre, and that’s not what we want to hear. So,if you end up with that sort of situation, what you can do again, you can highlight the track, it’s Control I or Command I, go into it and instead of going for Info which is where we were before, we’ll actually go over to Options.
Now we’ve got a list here called Voice Over Language. Right now, it’s set to French because we’ve set that previously. But by default, it’ll come as automatic. So if you want to force it, we’ll switch you over to French. We’ve got a number of other ones here as well including a number of the ones that you’ll actually see up recent, for example so German, Italian, French and some other language including Spanish, Dutch, Czech, Japanese, but not everything obviously so hopefully they’ll add this. But a good chunk of different tracks that you’ll see in the world will be covered by this.
Anyways, that concludes part two. Stick around for part three. We’re going to be dealing with how to deal with the headphones that come up with the iPod Shuffle since it has the controls on there for controlling iPod if you don’t particularly like the headphones or if you want to use headphones of your own.
Now one of the problems we’ve noted with the iPod Shuffle in previous episodes in this series is the lack of player controls on the unit itself. We’ve got a 2nd Generation iPod Shuffle, the previous generation here and you’ll note that it has player controls right down the front so you can interact the volume, you can play or you can pause, skip tracks, all of that stuff.
Now the news to the generation of the iPod Shuffle has none of that, all it is a clip on one side, headphone jack and the On/Off switch and that’s about it. So, how do you interact with this player?
That way you interact with it is, with the headphones that come within. Now the headphones are in earbud style headphones and they actually have this little dongle up here that has plus/minus which is volume control and track skip and then a button in the center which you can use to interact with your playlists. You can also use that to get the name of the track that you’re currently playing.
Now, this is good for interacting with the player but unfortunately, not everybody is a big fan of this style of the earbud. I know I’m not because what happens with this is, if you have ears that are shaped like mine, it’ll fall out which is definitely not a good thing especially because one of the main reasons to have a player small as the iPod Shuffle is to exercise. Is to start jogging a little bit and pow, this come flying out. So you want to try to figure out a way to keep them in your ears. And one of the ways that you can do this – that’s a relatively inexpensive is through a product like the Acoustibuds. Now the Acoustibuds are little silicon sleeves that fit over top of the earbud itself and will help isolate a little bit. So you pull on to the package and then put them on to your headphones and when you’re done, it’ll look pretty much like this. So, you’ve got – you regulate your buds here and then you’ve got them with the silicon sleeve over top.
Now, this flange here will actually seal your ear a little bit so that the sound will be a bit better. It’s not going to be anywhere near as good as you’ll get with the hundred dollar set of sound isolating headphones that are actually designed for that purpose, but for $15 it actually allows you to use the current earbuds you already have and not have to spring for much more expensive set of headphones that have the player controls integrated, it’s all there in the side. Just slips off so you don’t have to use them but it is there in case you want them and it is one way like said – to use the player controls on the ones that you have.
Now if you don’t mind spending a few extra dollars, one other solution you can use is Apple’s in-ear headphones. Now these ones actually come with the player controls as well, plus they’re sound isolating. So they will fit into your ears and stay in there unless your ears are extremely oddly shaped. They come with small, medium and large shaped of buds that you can swap out. We actually had a microphone on this side, so you can use it with an iPhone too if you want to use it as a headset for that.
Now there are some other solutions coming down the other road in the near future. Etymotic Research has already announced that they’re working on a set of headphones that will work with the iPhone Shuffle as we put this together. The company Oshkosh which does a lot of auto accessories for use with the iPhone is also announced that they are working a few sets of headphones and an adaptor. So the adaptor will actually plug in to the iPod Shuffle. Put the player controls on the adaptor itself but then have a pass so it allows you to put your own set of headphones. So if you got a set of headphones like big cans or small in your headphones that sound really good, they really, really don’t want to give up, this is one way to do with that. The price on that is to be determine but the product from Oshkosh are expected to start coming out in around June or so.