The iPod Shuffle (stylized and marketed as iPod shuffle) is a digital audio player designed and marketed by Apple Inc. It was the smallest model in Apple’s iPod family, and was the first iPod to use flash memory. The first model was announced at the Macworld Conference & Expo on January 11, 2005; the fourth- and final-generation models were introduced on September 1, 2010. The iPod Shuffle was discontinued by Apple on July 27, 2017.
Released on January 11, 2005 during the Macworld expo, the first-generation iPod Shuffle weighed, and was designed to be easily loaded with a selection of songs and to play them in random order. According to Apple, owners of existing iPods had often left the music selection to “shuffle”, and the new iPod Shuffle was a way of implementing that in a much more cost-effective fashion. It relied on the use of an “autofill” feature in iTunes, which selected songs at random from a user’s music library (or from a specific playlist) and copied as many as would fit into the iPod Shuffle’s storage. The first generation could hold up to 240 songs (1 GB model, based on Apple’s estimate, of four minutes per song and 128 kbit/s AAC encoding). It used the SigmaTel STMP35xx system on a chip (SOC) and its software development kit (SDK) v2.6, a flash memory IC, and USB rechargeable lithium cell. The STMP35xx SOC and its software was the most fully integrated portable MP3 playback system at release time and SigmaTel was Austin’s largest IPO (2003) capturing over 60% of flash based MP3 player world market share in 2004. In 2005, peak iPod first-generation Shuffle production occurred at a hundred thousand units per day, at the Asus factory. It lacked a display, the trademark scroll wheel, playlist management features, and the games, address book, calendar, alarm, and notes capability of larger iPods; nor could it be used with iSync. Due to the codec not being ported, it was incapable of playing Apple Lossless and AIFF audio files. Due to superior audio technology in the SigmaTel STMP35xx SOC and SDK, the first generation had a better bass response than a fourth-generation iPod, according to a review published days after its release. iTunes offered some new features for the iPod Shuffle. One was the ability to reduce the bit rate of songs to 128 kbit/s AAC. The conversion is done automatically, with the original file left untouched on the computer and the smaller (lower bit rate) file sent to the iPod Shuffle. Older versions of iTunes allowed an iPod Shuffle playlist to be viewed and changed while the unit is not connected; the next time the unit is connected, it can then be updated with the changed playlist. However, this functionality is no longer a part of iTunes as of iTunes 7. The front of the iPod Shuffle had buttons for Play/Pause, Next Song/Fast Forward, Previous Song/Fast Reverse, and up and down volume adjustment. On the reverse, it had a battery level indicator light (activated by a button) and a three-position switch to turn the unit off or set it to play music in order or shuffled. It plugged directly into a computer’s USB port (either 1.1 or 2.0), through which it also recharged its battery, which has an expected life of around 12 hours. The USB plug is hidden beneath a cap. The unit also comes with a lanyard that attaches to the iPod Shuffle via an attached cap and this allows the user to wear the iPod Shuffle around his or her neck. The first generation could also be used as a USB flash drive. iTunes allowed users to set how much of the drive would be allowed for storing files, and how much would be used for storing music.