Apple's fourth-generation iPod shuffle mercifully brought the buttons back. Apple even lists "buttons" as a feature on its page for the iPod shuffle. In a rare departure from typical Apple design, the fourth-generation iPod shuffle is much larger than the third-gen; it's not that Apple can't make a music player the size of your thumbnail, but it seems like Apple realized that it shouldn't. So, the return of buttons to the iPod shuffle proves that Apple doesn't always emphasize form over function. Right?
Unfortunately, although the iPod shuffle proves that Apple is perfectly capable of learning from its design missteps, the new iPod nano and iPod touch both feature design compromises that are almost as boneheaded as the buttonless third-gen iPod shuffle. Click "Read More" to see the way these new iPods, nice as they are in some respects, are in other ways an example of a "one step forward, two steps back" design.