The iPod is nice, but…

So, I drank the Kool-Aid(tm) and bought an iPod last Sunday. I bought what at the time was called a “60GB iPod Photo” for $449, but now a few days later is simply called a “60GB iPod” for $399. (The “Photo” moniker and $50 were dropped.)

Since I bought mine at a local store, I didn't get the laser engraving on the back, but now that the price has dropped, I may go ahead and return it (paying a $50 “restocking” fee), and order one online with my email address engraved on the back.

Modern iPods don't come with a doc, firewire cable, remote, belt clip, or much else (you get the iPod itself, charger, USB cable, and ear buds), so I forked over another $40 for a doc. I wish it were all included, but then, those that don't want them would be forced to pay for them, so it makes more sense that they're separate (if the price has been lowered accordingly, of course).

As nice as the iPod is (and its companion iTunes software, which completes the iPod experience), there are some very annoying design flaws...

  • The ear-bud “headphones” have virtually no visual or tactile indication as to which is for the left ear, and which is for the right. That means that you must inspect them each time you pick them up to see which has the tiny little “L” and “R”. This is absolutely moronic, and another case where Apple puts form over function. Apple's form, in general, is very nice, as is their function, but I wish they'd made one ear-bud a different color from the other, so you could tell at a glance, without having to use many neurons, which is which. I guess I'll try to find colored foam covers or something.

  • Why can't I watch videos on my iPod? It has a nice 2" color display for pictures — I'd like to have some baby movies on there as well. I'm hoping Apple will eventually add this capability.

  • The iPod is all about recorded sound, so you'd think that adding a small built in microphone wouldn't be that hard. You could then use it to make audio notes to yourself (perhaps for later plodcasting), record lectures, etc.

About the iTunes/iPod software....

  • The shuffle style should be able to be set on a per-playlist or per-genre, etc. basis. Except in rare situations, I always like shuffle play. However, with classical stuff that has movements, I want the movements in order. If I make the album unique, I can put the shuffle mode onto “album” and the movements therein will go in order. But I want that only for classical.

  • For playlist maintenance with iTunes, it would be nice if, as you went through your Library (the actual songs from which all playlists are composed), the playlists which include the song would be highlighted. As it is, there's no easy way to find out what playlists a particular song is in. This is a no-brainer UI component; it's pretty shocking that they don't do this.

  • There should be a “list all songs not in any playlist” feature. Similarly, there should be a “list all songs not in this playlist” feature, so you can easily scan for missing items.

  • There's no way to turn off the annoying “do you really want to delete this song?” dialog that pops up when you try to delete a song.

  • I'd like to be able to mark a song and/or playlist as “don't export to iPod”. I know that I can move out of the auto-update mode at which point only playlists I mark will get copied over, but I'd like a simple “don't copy me” override to the automatic updates.

  • The iTunes “help > provide iTunes feedback” menu item brings you to a “request iTunes Music Store music” page (e.g. “I want the music store to provide more Falco songs”). Fishing around on the web site brings up a “provide iTunes feedback” link, which brings you to the same “request music” link. I guess they're not interested in bug reports.

  • The bricks-and-mortar Apple store I went to sold a bazillion different belt clips (from both Apple and third parties). But none of them were available to see and hold, to see how they felt. You could look in the shrinkwrap and try to guess how it might look and feel, but that's it. How do they expect to sell any of theses? (Can anyone recommend an iPod carrying solution?)


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

I’ve been going through your back entries and bumped into this one and wanted to make a few iPod/iTunes-related points:

> For playlist maintenance with iTunes, it would be nice if, as you went through your Library (the actual songs from which all playlists are composed), the playlists which include the song would be highlighted. As it is, there’s no easy way to find out what playlists a particular song is in. This is a no-brainer UI component; it’s pretty shocking that they don’t do this.

While it doesn’t highlight, you can right-click a song in the library and move down to “Playlists” to see which playlists a specific song is a member of.

> There’s no way to turn off the annoying “do you really want to delete this song?” dialog that pops up when you try to delete a song.

Really? This may be a recent addition, because I’ve always wanted a confirmation as I’m a bit of a quick draw on the Backspace button, but an option to not show the message again is in at least the latest iTunes.

> I’d like to be able to mark a song and/or playlist as “don’t export to iPod”. I know that I can move out of the auto-update mode at which point only playlists I mark will get copied over, but I’d like a simple “don’t copy me” override to the automatic updates.

Straight from the help (and I know it’s worked for quite a while now, although granted I don’t know how to apply this to playlists, just individual songs): To automatically update your iPod, iPod nano, or iPod mini with only certain songs, select the checkboxes next to the songs you want to copy in the iTunes window. Then connect your iPod to your computer and when it appears in the Source list, choose iTunes > Preferences and click the iPod button. Click the Music button and make sure “Automatically update all songs and playlists” is selected. Then select the “Only update checked songs” checkbox.

I hope I’m not providing excessive suggestions considering this was three months ago and you probably have figured out all this stuff by now.

— comment by Dave on October 21st, 2005 at 9:40am JST (12 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

More problems:

1) i wanted one track by the Hoodoo Gurus. I had a couple bucks’ credit limit burning a hole in my pocket. I went to Apple’s site to get the song. There doesn’t seem to be a way to check the iTunes website to see if the tunes you want are actually available before going through the trouble of downloading the whole thing. Ten minutes later I’m finished–and find out there’s no Hoodoo Gurus at all.

2) The main suck point on the software is that it is very unlike standard Windows programs. The killer point of the original Mac’s wasnt the GUI, it was that ALL SOFTWARE WORKED THE SAME WAY. Now, iTunes (and the QuickTime app) look and act different from everything else. Imagine if that happened with the stalks on your steering wheel? The wipers would start every time you got to a right turn…

3) Apple has a lossless format, but apparently you can’t get iTunes in that format. You’re stuck getting sub-CD quality at no huge discount to CD prices.

So far they haven’t gotten a dime from me.

— comment by Frank Sheeran on January 31st, 2006 at 8:24pm JST (11 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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