In praise of Apple’s iPod shuffle

“You may wonder why Apple is still selling the iPod shuffle. After all, when you can have an iPhone that runs apps, takes photos, records and plays HD video, and uses GPS to give you directions—or an iPod touch with most of those features—why keep selling a tiny little device that does nothing more than play audio?” Kirk McElhearn writes for Macworld. “Because the iPod shuffle plays audio and nothing more.”

“I’ve owned several iPod shuffles over the years,” McElhearn writes. “I often use my iPhone to listen to audio, but I still use the shuffle to listen to music or audiobooks when I walk, either outdoors or on my home treadmill.”

McElhearn writes, “It’s still very popular with people who use it when they’re active…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When walking or running, either outdoors or on our home treadmills, we use our Apple Watches to listen to music, of course. (And, we can even see the names of the artists and songs!)

With Apple Watches on our wrists, we can’t think of a single reason why we’d ever touch an iPod shuffle ever again, much less buy one. Oh, wait, we have one: If you’re building a sand castle and you need to listen to audio while doing do, you could clip the iPod shuffle to your shirt or cap and spare your Apple Watch from the abrasive sand and salt water. Here’s another: If you need some Taylor Swift while tunneling out of the federal pen with a spoon you stole from the prison cafeteria, you might want to go with an iPod shuffle instead. One more biggie: Audiobooks and podcasts aren’t currently compatible with Apple Watch, but they are with iPod shuffle. So, there’s your main use case! (Also, of course, it’s perfect for kids and costs much less than an iPhone and an Apple Watch.)

(Maybe with watchOS 2, audiobooks and podcasts will come to Apple Watch, too).

For our Apple Watches’ Bluetooth headphones, we chose JayBird BlueBuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones in Midnight Black. They work perfectly, stay securely in our ears while running, are sweat resistant, and they sound just fine during runs and while working out (better than many wired headphones we’ve tested).

Why Apple’s watchOS 2 is brilliant news for runners – June 13, 2015
How to calibrate your Apple Watch for improved Workout and Activity accuracy – June 4, 2015
How to store, listen to, and remove music from your Apple Watch – May 6, 2015
Running with the Apple Watch: Yes, you can leave your iPhone behind – May 1, 2015
For runners: The lightest possible Apple Watch / Apple Band combo – March 11, 2015


  1. I like the ipod shuffle as I consider it to be the first wearable device. The others were transportable, or movable, but with the ipod shuffle, it was designed to be a clothing accessory, a wearable.

    Mind you the watch is definitely wearable.

  2. What an asinine, conceited and elitist comment and attitude from MDN. What if people can’t afford a friggin’ Apple Watch or like me, just don’t need or want one? How about if they want their kids to have music, do they need to buy a seven year old an iPhone and Apple Watch? Grow up and get a clue you spoiled little pricks.

    1. I agree. Ugly comment. Makes me want to go offline and find something or someone sweet. Ice cream, good woman, laughing child… Who wrote that comment- the charming, hefty financial backer Rush Limbaugh? Similar strain of nausea I feel when I see his face or hear his words. Whatever point was being made is actually irrelevant after that delivery…

    2. I agree completely!

      MDNs take is ridiculous – am I supposed to give a nine year old an Apple Watch and an iPhone just so she can listen to music while she rides her bike?

  3. The Shuffle fills a small but very distinct niche. It is light, cheap and great for listening to an audiobook, podcast or selection of music. If you are working around the house or exercising where you don’t want want have an iPhone in harm’s way, the shuffle is perfect. Anyone at MDN want to paint a room wearing their iWatch?

    Thanks, Apple for keeping an inexpensive but very useful little gadget alive!

  4. I use mine when flying on Chinese domestic airlines.

    They will not allow you to use anything during the flight that looks like a smartphone. iPod Touch included. The flight attendants are very crabby about it.

    iPod Shuffle, no problem.

  5. I don’t have the current shuffle, but I own 1st gen and 2nd gen shuffles. And they still work, although battery is getting weak on older one. The white plastic 1st gen is my favorite shuffle design. It looks like the old Apple remote control; I would hold it in my hand and control music playback “by feel” (no need to look its screen or controls), which caused less distraction during my runs. And the 1st gen shuffle has remarkably good sound quality (noticeably better than 2nd gen shuffle and equal to the “big” iPod of its day).

    Later shuffle’s have a feature called “VoiceOver,” which is a great example of Apple’s innovation and cleverness (that is taken for granted). VoiceOver is the substitute for iPod shuffle not having a screen, with a voice speaking the song or playlist name and other info, “on command.” But such simple device cannot generate speech, so it seems “magical.” It works by having iTunes do most of the heavy lifting by creating audio data of the computer’s voice “speaking” song names, artist names, playlist names, audiobook names, and any other “things” VoiceOver might need to say. That audio data is synced to the shuffle when song files and other media are synced. When user presses shuffle’s button in specific ways, it plays back the appropriate bit of audio to give illusion of the tiny shuffle speaking to you “on the fly.”

    I’m glad the shuffle is still being sold as new. And the new colors are nice. But it should have been upgraded to 8GB of storage (8GB flash drives are practically free these days), and it should come with “EarPods” instead of the older design earbuds.

  6. Don’t get MDN’s lack of love for iPod. I have a 6th Gen nano (the square one) and a 2nd gen shuffle and still get plenty of use out of both. Simple system, feather-light, and the music and playlists on it are unambiguously mine. Gives me music when I’m trail running or mountain biking out where the Internet doesn’t roam. And I lose my shuffle (or run over it or drop it in a garbage disposal), there won’t be days in a fetal position at the loss of “my precious”. Agree that a higher capacity shuffle would be nice, but I’m glad Apple still has room in its product line for a simple, button-cute $50 product that does one thing very well — play music.

  7. I work in the Defense industry; my office & labs are in secured areas. The computer systems with which we work are tightly controlled. All software on them must be cleared by Security & installed by IT. I & my coworkers can’t take any electronics in those areas if they can send or receive radio signals of any kind. My 3rd Gen iPod Nano helps keep me awake & sane back there.

    Surely this isn’t the only class of workplace with severe restrictions on what consumer electronics are permissible in them.

  8. I love the Shuffle so much, I own two. One is for dance music and the other for trance. I can have both with me at the gym when doing cardio and because it’s so tiny and weighs nothing, I can pin it to my collar and run my heart out without feeling that great lump of the iPhone 6+ bouncing around.

  9. I don’t care for an apple watch nor shuffle… And the MDN take is juvenile at best. MDN is being very silly nowadays. It’s more of a propaganda site than anything else.. Wait it always was one…lol

  10. Maybe Apple still sells them because they’re profitable. Wow. There’s a thought. Profit. I usually agree with most MDN takes, but this time, they’re off the mark, and even insulting. I’ve got a 6th generation nano that I still use, and will continue to use until it dies. Why stop using it? I spent over $100 on it and it still works.

  11. Shuffles are a great little product. The only fault at this point is the capacity 2GB – why?
    Apart from their size and the many advantages mentioned above they also have the plus of NOT having a camera. There are many locations that cameras on devices are just not allowed.
    It seems MDN commenter leads a very sheltered / closeted / pampered life.

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