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The third generation iPod Shuffle was released on March 11, 2009 and is said by Apple to be "jaw-droppingly small" and "The first music player that talks to you" with dimensions of 45.2 x 17.5 x 7.8 mm (1.8 x 0.7 x 0.3 in). It is available with a silver or black brushed aluminum case similar to the second generation iPod Shuffle. This makes it the first iPod Shuffle that is available in black – although the black is more of a dark grey, especially in comparison to the black iPod Touch. It features VoiceOver technology that allows song names, artist names, album names and playlist contents and names to be spoken in 20 different languages using the Text-to-Speech incorporated in iTunes 8 and 9. It also has gained support for multiple playlists, in contrast to previous versions of the iPod Shuffle, which allowed only a single playlist.

The third generation iPod Shuffle features a polished steel attachment clip (very strong), adopting for the first time the polished steel finishing previously found only on the larger iPods, rather than the brushed aluminum used in the second-generation iPod Shuffle. It also no longer has volume or track controls on the device itself. Instead, the packaged iPod earbuds now include a three-button device on the right earbud cord. This adds the functions of changing between playlists, hearing the song title and artist of the track playing, as well as play/pause, track changes and volume control. It is not possible to change songs or volume with current third-party headphones, since they lack these controls. However, since the iPod Shuffle begins playing music automatically when it is turned on, third-party headphones may still be used in "autoplay" mode (with no volume or playback controls). Some future third-party headphones and headphone adapters will include full support for the iPod Shuffle. The official headphones contain a chip designed by Apple to control the device. DRM is not however present in the chip as there is no encryption used; third-party headphone manufacturers can reverse-engineer the chip although this will not enable their products to ship under the Made For iPod program.

On September 9, 2009, Apple introduced three new colors for the iPod Shuffle: pink, blue, and green. The 4 GB model is also available in Polished Stainless Steel, exclusively from the Apple Store.
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