The store is back, and the rapid rumor ramp-up is vindicated: Apple introduced a new iPod shuffle this morning, billed as 'the first music player that talks to you' -- it features a VoiceOver interface that announces artists, songs and playlists on demand (the iPod nano features spoken menus as well, so that tagline may need some work).
Interestingly, the VoiceOver UI concept was mused upon by John Gruber last month. The shuffle now supports multiple playlists, which would have been difficult to manage without some sort of UI for controlling which one is playing.
The new shuffle expands to 4 GB of storage for the same $79US, but in the course of shrinking the overall size of the microscopic MP3 maven down to 1.8" high, 0.7" wide and 0.3" deep (45mm x 17mm x 7.8mm), the player controls were moved onto the headphone cord. This may not sit well with buyers who prefer other earbuds.
The shuffle is available in black and silver and is shipping in 3-5 days.