When Humane’s AI Pin debuted final week, it sparked a complete new dialog concerning the elusive dream of making screen-less units. Nevertheless, it was Apple that first tried to enterprise into the realm of screen-less units with the third-generation iPod Shuffle means again in 2009. Though Apple not sells the iPod Shuffle, that one gadget was a precursor to what might presumably be the consumer interface of the long run, permitting you to clip the tiny MP3 participant to your shirt and management the music participant by an progressive voice-and-remote interface.
The iPod Shuffle entered the market at a time when Apple’s hip music participant had already develop into a pop cultural phenomenon. Gross sales of the iPod had been skyrocketing, and Apple was just a few years away from unveiling the iPhone. On January 11, 2005, simply minutes earlier than Apple CEO Steve Jobs concluded his Macworld keynote on the Moscone Heart, he addressed a packed viewers by saying the iPod Shuffle for the primary time as “Yet one more factor”. This gadget was totally different from the iPod we knew — it regarded like a pack of Wrigley’s gum — no click on wheel, no display, no arduous disk. One might need questioned if the Shuffle was even an iPod.
Nevertheless, in Steve Jobs’ thoughts, the Shuffle was geared toward low-cost flash memory-based gamers, providing not solely an enormous development alternative for Apple but additionally serving as an entry into the Apple ecosystem. The iPod Shuffle bought for $99 and $149, relying on the storage configuration. Whereas the Shuffle lacked a show to indicate what tune was taking part in, it did join with the iTunes software program, like different iPods within the lineup. Nevertheless, what stood out concerning the Shuffle was its capability to play a set of music at random, therefore the identify Shuffle.
Whereas many thought the Shuffle could be a one-off product for Apple, Jobs had one thing else in thoughts. Apple continued to launch the iPod Shuffle, beginning with its introduction, and the final important replace got here out in 2010. The second-generation iPod Shuffle was a departure from the first-generation mannequin. It was a lot smaller, and, in reality, one might put on it by a smaller clip. To cut back the dimensions and make it extra compact, Apple needed to convey a number of design modifications, like ditching the USB plug and changing it with a dock that synced information by way of the headphone port. That iPod Shuffle got here in a number of enjoyable colors.
However in 2009, with the introduction of the third-generation iPod Shuffle, Apple shocked everybody. That mannequin was not solely the smallest iPod Shuffle but additionally the primary buttonless iPod ever. It was 1.8 inches tall and 0.3 inches skinny, being half the dimensions of its predecessor whereas providing extra storage. The $79 third-generation mannequin got here with no show, like different iPod Shuffles previously, and had a premium design made from aluminum however ditched the bodily controls, changed by the in-line controls of the bundled pair of earphones, with the one exception of a small slider that allow you to decide between taking part in songs so as, shuffling, and switching it off.
From the very starting, the iPod was all concerning the consumer interface. The primary-generation iPod had a click on wheel, a easy and uncluttered technique to management the music. Looking back, the clicking wheel allowed customers to make use of the iPod with out trying on the display. The press wheel was a departure from how units had been managed even then, and to some extent now, which can have improved interfaces and use refined contact screens however require fixed consideration when you work together with them.
However like the unique iPod, the third-generation iPod Shuffle was the polar reverse — a breakthrough gadget, however sadly, Apple didn’t get a lot credit score. The third-generation iPod Shuffle introduced a brand-new text-to-speech system that helped customers navigate their music, in addition to a brand new distant management that Apple embedded within the earbud twine. Primarily, Apple eliminated the controls from the iPod itself and moved them to the distant on the headphones. It was a distinct expertise of utilizing the iPod Shuffle—a non-traditional means of how folks used to work together with their iPods. Press it as soon as to pause the music; twice to skip to the following monitor; thrice to go to the final monitor; press and maintain to listen to the artist and tune title; press twice and maintain to fast-forward; press thrice and maintain to fast-reverse. On paper, placing all of the controls on the headphones could sound nightmarish, however in actuality, the interface was very intuitive.
However the place the third-generation iPod Shuffle shone was its capability to be fully invisible in the best way you management and work together with the music participant. Apple launched one thing referred to as VoiceOver with that mannequin, which allowed the iPod to learn details about what’s taking part in, akin to studying you the identify of the tune and artist of the present tune, and giving customers the flexibility to decide on totally different playlists. All it required was an extended press on the distant’s heart button, and the Shuffle began studying the names of your playlists; launch it while you hear the one you wish to choose.
Not solely did VoiceOver make the iPod Shuffle an much more fascinating product, but it surely additionally, in a means, compensated for the dearth of a show to regulate playback. That being stated, VoiceOver wasn’t an entire alternative for what a show can do, and Apple understood it. The third-generation Shuffle met with a lukewarm response, and the explanation was fairly comprehensible. Regardless of being a forward-looking gadget, the Shuffle was restricted in options and functionalities; finding a specific tune was practically inconceivable, and the gadget wasn’t designed to kind all of the songs in alphabetical order; the Shuffle didn’t perceive the idea of albums.
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Positive, Apple was taking a look at a button-less future with the iPod Shuffle, however there have been too many complexities. Many individuals discovered the iPod Shuffle third gen complicated to make use of, and Apple had printed a 4-minute video tour strolling customers by the controls and options as a rescue measure. Nevertheless, one factor that irked many individuals concerning the third-generation mannequin was that there have been no different headphones in the marketplace that had playback controls on a distant that labored with the Shuffle.
Apple’s experiment with the button-less iPod got here to an finish with the fourth-generation iPod Shuffle. The corporate caved in and put buttons again on the iPod, although this time the mix of the distant and VoiceOver was truly profitable.
The screen-less gadget future had been within the works for years, but it surely’s not simple to crack, because it comes with many caveats. Humane’s AI Pin is taking the identical course as Apple as soon as did with the third-generation iPod Shuffle. As historical past tells us, it’s not simple to ditch buttons and screens on units but.