The iPod Shuffle, Apple’s new portable music player, was announced today. The Shuffle is the first model from Apple to use flash memory in 512MB and 1GB capacities, and the first (of any player on the market, I believe) to lack a screen. Thus, it begs the question: How do you navigate tracks on the thing?
The design and marketing emphasis for the iPod Shuffle is on random song playback. There’s a big, dedicated switch on the back of the unit for Off, Shuffle Off and Shuffle On. The front controls feature what appear to be Skip Track Left and Right, Volume Up and Down, and Play/Pause in the middle.
With only an approx. 240 songs maximum for the 1GB version, it is likely you simply keep skipping forward through tracks until you hit one you like. If Shuffle is off, you would likely figure out where you were in your songlist based on the artist that’s playing. That’s assuming the 240 songs are auto-arranged alphabetically by artist on the unit.
In this case, any separate playlists or folder structure you may have had on your computer’s iTunes are not adhered to when transferring to the iPod Shuffle. The new Autofill iTunes feature automatically (and randomly, I assume) fills your iPod Shuffle to capacity. And while you can instruct Autofill to select from certain playlists, or from your entire library, or just drag and drop the songs you want, I think it just dumps them into the root folder for the iPod Shuffle.
If it is possible to maintain playlist or folder structure on the iPod Shuffle, perhaps holding down the Skip or Volume buttons would function as a folder/playlist selector, with some sort of audio confirmation, like a beep or chime, in your earphones to indicate you have switched. However, it would seem rather difficult to indicate exactly what folder or playlist you are now browsing to, though perhaps the first track that plays would be indication enough.
If you have an idea on how it works, please comment.