The iPod shuffle’s death marks the end of an era for physical buttons

The iPod shuffle’s death marks the end of an era for physical buttons

This week, Apple announced that it would be unceremoniously killing off the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle, two of the last vestiges of the iPod era. While the nano may have been the spotlight product (quite literally stealing the show from the Motorola ROKR when they were announced alongside one another), the shuffle has always been a sort of black sheep in the iPod family, remaining frozen in time while the rest of Apple’s lineup leapt forward into the future.

While Apple would iterate slightly on the shuffle’s design over the years — including the incredibly puzzling third-generation shuffle, which killed playback controls entirely — the product was a constant in Apple’s lineup since its announcement in 2005. It took the entire idea of an iPod and distilled it down to the purest essence of listening to music, with just a few physical playback controls on the front of the device (again, third-generation model not-withstanding).

ipod shuffle

There was no screen, no click wheel, no touch interface — just five buttons that you could use in the pitch black of a car at night or without taking your eyes off the running track. As someone who likes to just close my eyes and flip through a playlist of songs while riding a subway home, the iPhone — for all its high-tech smarts — lacks the tactile advantages of Apple’s most humble music player.

I’ll be honest, when I heard that Apple was canceling the shuffle, I almost went out and…

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