The iPod Shuffle (trademarked, marketed and stylized as iPod shuffle) is a digital audio player designed and marketed by Apple Inc. It is the smallest model in Apple's iPod family, and the first to use flash memory. The first model was announced at the Macworld Conference & Expo on January 11, 2005; the current third generation model, introduced on March 11, 2009, weighs 10.7 grams (0.38 oz).
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Released on January 11, 2005, the first generation iPod Shuffle weighed 0.78 ounces (22 g) and was designed to be easily loaded with a selection of songs and to play them in random order. According to Apple, owners of existing iPods had often left the music selection to "shuffle", and the new iPod Shuffle was a way of implementing that in a much more cost-effective fashion. It relies on the use of an "autofill" feature in iTunes, which can select songs at random from a user's music library (or from a specific playlist) and copy as many as will fit into iPod Shuffle's memory. It can hold up to 240 songs (1 GB model, based on Apple's estimate, of four minutes per song and 128 kbit/s AAC encoding). It used the SigmaTel STMP35xx System On a Chip, a flash memory IC, and USB rechargeable Lithium cell.
It lacks a display and the trademark scroll wheel, playlist management features, and is missing the games, address book, calendar, alarm, and notes capability of larger iPods; it cannot be used with iSync. Due to its lower processing power, it is incapable of playing Apple Lossless and AIFF audio files.
The iPod Shuffle has a better bass response than a 4th generation iPod, according to one review published days after its release.
iTunes offers some new features for iPod Shuffle. One is the ability to reduce the bit rate of songs to 128 kbit/s AAC. The conversion is done automatically, with the original file left untouched on the computer and the smaller (lower bit rate) file sent to the iPod Shuffle. Older versions of iTunes allowed an iPod Shuffle playlist to be viewed and changed while the unit is not connected; the next time the unit is connected, it can then be updated with the changed playlist. This functionality is no longer a part of iTunes as of iTunes 7.
The front of the iPod Shuffle has buttons for Play/Pause, Next Song/Fast Forward, Previous Song/Fast Reverse, and up and down volume adjustment. On the reverse, it has a battery level indicator light (activated by a button) and a three-position switch to turn the unit off or set it to play music in order or shuffled. It plugs directly into a computer's USB port (either 1.1 or 2.0), through which it also recharges its battery, which has an expected life of around 12 hours between charges. The USB plug is hidden beneath a cap. The unit also comes with a lanyard that attaches to the iPod Shuffle via an attached cap and this allows the user to wear the iPod Shuffle around his or her neck.
The iPod Shuffle can also be used as a USB flash drive. iTunes allows a user to set how much of the drive will be allowed for storing files, and how much will be used for storing music.