Apple iPod shuffle secret revealed: inspection shows five extra contacts on USB plug

“Close inspection of the [Apple iPod shuffle’s] USB plug reveals that there is something going on here… A normal USB plug has 4 contacts (5 counting the shield), but this one seems to have 5 extra,” Chipmunk International reports on a page they have posted that shows an iPod shuffle’s dissection. “There seems so be a secret extra something built into the iPod shuffle that can interface via the extra contacts hidden in the USB plug… This iPod shuffle is brand new and has not been plugged into anything since leaving the factory. Yet the middle of the 5 extra contacts has clearly been used. So whatever it is, the manufacturer is using the middle pin in the factory.”

Full article, with images here.

MacDailyNews Take: Calling all USB experts plug design experts! Any ideas and/or explanations?



  1. It’s to make MDN go crazy with rumors, speculation, and anger once we find out it has no meaningful purpose for the consumer.

    We’ll soon hear chants and sign petitions demanding Apple give us access to “The Fifth Pin”. Apple will offer us iPod FireWire cables that everybody wants, but nobody uses in exchange to keep us quiet from exposing the Conspiracy.

  2. Xtreme mac has an FM transmitter that plugs into the bottom of the iPod Shuffle. Maybe the extra contacts on the USB are to allow audio output to such accessories

  3. My guess is any or all of the following:

    Audio out – for dockable speakers as someone already pointed out
    Power out – to power addon accessories
    i/o interface – input/output for addons (LCD screens, input devices, etc.

    magic word: own. “I don’t own an iPod Shuffle, maybe one day I will…”

  4. The extra pins are for the car audio interface.

    Steve did specifically mention exciting developments in car audio and a Shuffle holds a lot more tracks than most CD auto changers do. It’s cheap enough to leave in your car too.

    Plug it into the special socket on the fascia, but see the track names on the radio display and control it via the steering column remote.

    ……… Well it might be true !

  5. If this takes off it would be cool to have T-shirts that say something like:

    “I have used the fifth pin” or “I KNOW what the fifth pin is for” or “What is the fifth pin for?”

    You would really have to be an insider to know what is is about. Right now we could have something like:

    “Cmd-opt-esc > Ctl-alt-del”

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