Have you ever noticed that the Shuffle option on iTunes or on your iPod isn’t truly random? For example, if you have a playlist with ten tracks and start off by playing, say, the second track, iTunes will always shuffle to the exact same next track, everytime.
Doesn’t seem much like “Shuffling,” does it? It is, though: Apple’s just thinking about Shuffling a different way than you are.
In an interesting thread over at Ask Different, Apple’s philosophy towards Shuffling is explained pretty well.
Here’s how it works: when you first select the “Shuffle” button in iTunes, iTunes immediately creates a randomly generated Shuffle order for your entire library. Apple will then keep this Shuffle order forever, which has the benefit of allowing the “skip to next song” and “skip to previous song” buttons to work the way they should without skipping instead to an entirely different random song.
In this manner, listeners can skip back and forward through a random playlist consistently. Unfortunately, it also results in pretty obvious patterns. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to tell iTunes to generate a new random Shuffle order: just tick the Shuffle button off, then on again.