This Is Not an iPod, this is a beta test

Apple's newest Shuffle (at almost 50 percent smaller than the previous Shuffles) could easily be mistaken for a stick of Trident. features no buttons and it pimps voice-identification technology.

. Shuffle 3.0 basically looks like a USB drive with a clip attached to it. Apple ditched the scroll wheel like a one-night stand and moved the controls onto the earbuds. A small plastic cylinder sitting six inches below the right 'bud is adorned with three buttons. Two handle volume up and down duties while the third button in the middle is kind of an uber controller. One click pauses the music, two clicks skip forward a track, and three clicks revert back a track. Hold the button down for a few seconds though and a feature kicks in that no one has ever seen or heard on an iPod before.............

.voice software.

Dubbed VoiceOver by Apple, it works like this: You press the middle button for several seconds and a disembodied Steven Hawking-esque voice tells you what track or playlist you're listening to. It's fairly accurate at telling you the track — just as long as the name is not terribly complex. Rolling Stones? Clearly chirped by VoiceOver. But Sigur Ros? The program garbled something that sounded more like "boozy roogs."

by all reports VoiceOver is about as refined as a gallon of crude oil.

They're essentially running a Beta test here. Once they get the software fine-tuned, expect it to roll out on devices like the iPod Touch and iPhone 3.0.

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