Accessible Apple: RIP iPod shuffle

1st generation iPod shuffle

1st generation iPod shuffle

For my birthday in the fall of 2005, I received my first iPod, a 1st generation iPod shuffle. Its lack of a display made it the only accessible iPod at the time, as VoiceOver would not begin appearing on the rest of the iPod lineup until the 4th generation nano came out in the fall of 2008.

The iPod traveled with me everywhere. Its long battery life and small size made it both an ideal music player and audiobook listening device.

In the summer of 2006, a family friend warned me that supplies of iPod shuffles were drying up in our local area. Fearing that Apple would discontinue the iPod shuffle family, the decision was made for me to acquire a second iPod Shuffle.

2nd generation iPod shuffle

2nd generation iPod shuffle

As it turned out, Apple was not discontinuing the iPod shuffle, but rather was refreshing it for a second generation. I received a 1GB iPod shuffle for my birthday that year. Sometime before the release of the 2GB 2nd generation iPod shuffle, fear of the iPod shuffle being discontinued gripped me and I grabbed a second unit.

4th generation ipod nano

4th generation ipod nano

I did not receive another iPod for my birthday until the fall of 2008. This time it was an iPod nano 4th generation, the first iPod to include VoiceOver. The 16 GB capacity and playlist support addressed my two complaints with the iPod shuffle. 2 GB had always seemed to me to be too little for storing my audiobook collection and the lack of playlists meant that I had no way to segregate my audiobook and music collections. At the time, I was unaware that using the iPod shuffle's reduce tracks to 128 kbit/s feature would have shrunk my audiobook files without too much audio degradation.

3rd generation ipod shuffle

3rd generation ipod shuffle

When the 3rd generation came out in March of 2009, I opted not to get one. While I liked the fact that the new iPod included playlist functionality, I disliked the lack of physical buttons on the unit.

3rd generation ipod touch

3rd generation ipod touch

In late 2009, I received an iPod touch as part of Apple's back to school promotion. Because the 8 GB version did not support VoiceOver, I was allowed to upgrade to the 32 GB version.

4th generation ipod shuffle

4th generation ipod shuffle

In 2010, when the 4th generation iPod shuffle came out, I began toying with the idea of replacing my aging iPod shuffles. In my opinion, the 4th generation shuffle brings together my favourite aspects of the 3 previous generations: the single shuffle/unshuffle/off switch of the 1st generation, the size, controls and belt clip of the 2nd generation, and the playlist and VoiceOver features of the 3rd generation.

When Apple announced the 2015 iPod lineup last week, without fanfare or a press event of any kind, I began to wonder as to the future of the iPod. The iPod touch saw a significant boost in performance, but the nano and shuffle only received updated colour pallets. What does this mean for the once ubiquitous iPod family. Are we facing the phasing out of the nano and shuffle? If so, I think the time has come for me to stock up again on shuffles before I miss out on the chance to get my hands on my favourite music and audiobook playing device.

If the iPod nano and shuffle are indeed doomed, then Rest in Peace iPod shuffle! We will jam together for as long as your battery holds out.

What are your thoughts on where the iPod family is headed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.