Archive for the ‘Support’ Category

Apple iPod Shuffle doesn’t really shuffle!

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

Hi,

Today’s post is pretty much just a rant. It’s contains my personal opinion about an injustice.

I received a 512MB Apple iPod Shuffle as a birthday gift about a month ago. I spent extra money to upgrade it to a 1 GB model. According to the literature, I can load music on it and play it back randomly.

I use it daily and I thought it was working great. Then, I noticed that each time I turn it on, it starts back at the beginning of some unseen playlist saved within the Shuffle.

I use my Shuffle while walking to work across the city of Chicago every morning and night and I use it in “shuffle” mode. Their name for this device is the “Shuffle” and the idea of “shuffle” mode implies to me that I can listen to my music randomly on the device.

Their site makes the following statements about the device’s capabilities on theShuffle product page:

  • “Time to mix things up. Meet iPod shuffle, the unpredictable new iPod. What will it play next? Can it read your mind? Can it read your moods? Load it up. Put it on. See where it takes you.”
  • “Random is the New Order”
  • “As official soundtrack to the random revolution, the iPod Shuffle Songs setting takes you on a unique journey through your music collection – you never know what’s around the next tune.”
  • “iPod shuffle rejects routine by serving up your favorite songs in a different order every time.”
  • “Daily gridlock feels less mundane when you don’t know what song will play next.”
  • “Turn iPod shuffle over, flip the slider to Shuffle and mix on the go.”

It’s amazing what a corporate giant can get away with in its advertising. The last statement in the list above says it all about their product.

Well, it’s just NOT TRUE!!!

I contacted their technical support today and discussed my concerns regarding the Shuffle. It doesn’t seem to play music randomly. It seems like it has a playlist inside of it that’s shuffled when i download music. Blah, blah, blah…..

The truth of how the Shuffle works was revealed in my support chat. Here’s the actual transcript:

Agent:
[ 10:00 AM PST] Hello and thank you for contacting Apple Chat Support. My name is Richard. Please give me just a moment while I update your iPod information in our system.

Agent:
[ 10:00 AM PST] While you are waiting I would like to give you some information about your iPod Shuffle. Your Shuffle comes with one complimentary troubleshooting incident (chat or phone support) within the first 90 days of purchase and 1 year of hardware coverage. You have the opportunity to extend the support and hardware coverage with the AppleCare Protection Plan as well.

Agent:
[ 10:01 AM PST] Ok. And with that all done..How may I assist you today?

Kevin:
Well, I have a 1Gb IPod Shuffle that I’ve had for about 3 weeks now. I’ve loaded all my songs on it and reload it weekly with a new set. I listen to the iPod on the way to work in shuffle mode and then turn it off for the day. When I turn it back on, it starts back at the first song I heard in the morning. Is this a malfunction?

Kevin:
It seems to replay all the songs I heard in the morning.

Kevin:
…in the same order as well

Agent:
[ 10:04 AM PST] No. It is actually the way it was designed. Because the iPod Shuffle uses a “soft” Flash type of memory, it does not store the previous location when you turn the iPod off for more than a moment.

Agent:
[ 10:05 AM PST] That is actually one of the new features we have put into our newest iPod. The ability to use Flash memory, but still retain your settings and place in your songs.

Kevin:
But, what I’m saying is that the iPod is saving my previous starting point and replaying from that point.

Kevin:
is there a way to get around that?

Kevin:
I have 250 tunes on the iPod. I’d like to turn it on and get a new song.

Agent:
[ 10:06 AM PST] You stated previously that the iPod started back from the beginning, and replayed the same songs from the morning. Is that correct?

Kevin:
yes.

Kevin:
I’ve loaded the shuffle using Autofill the last two times to try to avoid this but, it seems to keep track of its own internal playlist in shuffle mode

Agent:
[ 10:08 AM PST] Unfortunately, you would have to simple skip through those songs manually, as I mentioned, the iPod will not remember what you have already listened to, and pick new songs. That is why I recommend our new iPod Nano to alot of folks with Shuffles.

Kevin:
You say “the iPod will not remember what you have already listened to” and what I’m saying is that it does.

Agent:
[ 10:09 AM PST] Autofill can be done randomly, or you can pick a specific playlist for the iPod to Update from, so if you wanted to edit your playlist with different songs, you could control it that way.

Kevin:
You say “the iPod will not remember what you have already listened to” and what I’m saying is that it does.

Kevin:
Recommending a nano does not solve the problem. I just got the shuffle. The Shuffle should “SHUFFLE”.

Agent:
[ 10:11 AM PST] If you sync 20 songs onto your iPod int he morning, and listen to 1-10 in the morning on yoru way to work, then turn the iPod off. When you come back to it, it will simply restart its playlist when you turn it back on. It does not record which tracks you played ealier.

Kevin:
These two statements contradict each other. …

Kevin:
“When you come back to it, it will simply restart its playlist when you turn it back on. It does not record which tracks you played ealier.”

Kevin:
So, you are saying that the shuffle creates an internal playlist when I add songs to it. Therefore, it will continually start that playlist from #1 even though I am in the shuffle mode. Is this correct?

Agent:
[ 10:13 AM PST] A standard iPod, when turned off, saves its position in a playlist. So that when you turn it off and come back, you continue at the sam point you left of. The Shuffle does not have the same ability. It restarts from the beginning of its list.

Kevin:
Then, what is shuffle mode as opposed to playing the list in order?

Kevin:
From what you are saying, the shuffle keeps only two playlists and restarts from the beginning each time I turn it on.

Agent:
[ 10:15 AM PST] When you autofill songs onto the iPod, the order they are in within the iTunes list, is the order they will appear on the iPod. Shuffle simpy “shuffles” that list so they appear in random order.

Agent:
[ 10:16 AM PST] It keeps 1 list. And the ability to play that list in Standard “Continuous” order, or Shuffle “Random” order.

Kevin:
But, as you are saying, the shuffled list is only one playlist created when the songs are added to the shuffle. It does not actually randomize the list each time I turn on the shuffle.

Agent:
[ 10:18 AM PST] It does not reorder them, no. It is simply the “randomized” version of the Standard playlist.

Kevin:
okay. Now, what are the consequences of not turning the shuffle off after each use? Does it eat up more power even when not playing songs?

Agent:
[ 10:20 AM PST] It will use power as long as it is turned on, even if not playing a song, so your battery would not last nearly as long. But there are no serious issues that would cause, in terms of the device working.

Kevin:
Your advertising misrepresents the iPod shuffles abilities.

Kevin:
Here is a statement from your advertising literature…

Kevin:
“More roadster than Rolls, iPod shuffle rejects routine by serving up your favorite songs in a different order every time.”

Kevin:
This statement contradicts everything you just told me.

Agent:
[ 10:22 AM PST] That is a reference to the Autofill feature, which syncs songs at random from your library each time you sync.

Kevin:
I guess I can’t argue that.

Kevin:
It’s a slight rewording that misleads the consumer

Agent:
[ 10:25 AM PST] I wish that I had some way to work around it for you, so that you could reshuffle, etc, but it simply isnt something that the Shuffle can do right now. Perhaps that is something you can send us a feedback email about. Our engineers do actually value feedback and use that to improve our products.

Kevin:
Thanks. I’ll do that. But, like I said, it’s very misleading. The very name “Shuffle” implies randomness.

Agent:
[ 10:27 AM PST] I can understand your perspective, and I will also send up a feedback as well. Those types of things can cause a negative experience, and that is exactly the type of thing we are looking to resolve. We strive for simplicity with the iPods, and your feedback on this would be very vauleable.

— END of Transcript —

So, I have my answer and now you do too. Be careful what the advertising says because it can be very misleading and there’s not a thing you can do about it except return the product.

Thanks,
Kevin
“Woj”