Wednesday, February 02, 2005

An iPod Update

I've been living with my iPod for a while now and I continue to be impressed. I frequently think "it'd be really useful if it could…" only to find out that it can. The latest of these was when I wanted to rate the songs I was listening to; lo and behold, you click the select button twice and rate the song by using the scroll wheel to select 1 to 5 stars.

Nonetheless, there are some things that Apple could do to make the iPod even better – most of which could be accomplished by an update to the iPod software.
  • The main non-software update I'd like to see would be to the case. Yes, the shiny chrome looks really cool with the iPod's white front, but it picks up fingerprints and tiny scratches like crazy. Apple should either go with a matte finish or apply some sort of clear veneer to fend off smudges. I recently ordered an iSkin, so this is soon to be less of an issue for me.
  • iTunes has an option to "Group compilations when browsing" that Apple should really carry over to the iPod. I noticed that a lot of CD's are incorrectly identified as compilations by CDDB, so you may have to edit your library for this to work correctly. As an alternative, Apple could provide a setting that lets you specify the minimum number of songs for an artist to show up in the list.
  • The scroll wheel is way to sensitive for effective input of song ratings. Trying to dial in a three requires a lot more time and attention that it should.
  • I'd really like some way to specify an MPAA-style rating for songs, particularly if iTunes had a master list and was able to assign those ratings to your songs. As a parent of young kids, I'd like to be able to screen out some of the more "colorful" songs in our collection when we're all riding together in the car.
  • Lastly, I'd like to see Apple come up with some way of allowing you to shuffle playlists – either by invoking something from the playlist itself, or by extending the "Shuffle Songs" option to allow you to select "all" or one of your playlists.
My final beef is not really for Apple, but a plea to the Mozilla community. I would really like something that could sync my contacts & calendar from Thunderbird to my iPod. Maybe if I weren't spending 2½ hours a day on the road I could take the time to learn XUL and write one myself, but for now...

Update: My Apple-hip bro-in-law pointed out that you can actually shuffle playlists by setting the "Shuffle" setting to songs and then playing the playlist; my sis then came up with an excellent replacement: being able to access a "more from this artist/album" option when playing back songs -- particularly during shuffle mode! I've also sent these suggestions to Apple via their feedback page.

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