Making the shuffle better

My geek squad (or is it nerd herd?) suggestion.

I have an a iPod shuffle (which BTW) I love. And, as many of you know, I’ve committed myself to walking at least one direction to any meeting I have in Vancouver, no matter how far. As a result, I end up in some long walks, which I use as an opportunity to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Shuffle

The problem is that some of the books, and even some podcasts, come as a single large file. If while listening, you accidentally push the forward button, you lose your place and have to spend the next 5 minutes fast forwarding through the mp3 to find your place.

I know, I know, I know… I could “lock” the buttons by pressing down the play/pause button for 3 seconds, but then I can’t adjust the volume – something that is essential when walking in the city and shift from busy main streets, to pleasant quiet side streets.

All this goes to say that it would be nice if the shuffle let you lock all the buttons except the volume buttons. Then you could increase and decrease the volume without fear of losing your place.

But then, I thought of something cooler. What if Apple let you reprogram their shuffle buttons however you saw fit? Say, for example, you only want your shuffle to skip to the next song if you click the fast forward button twice in quick succession… no problem, you just program it that way. Now that would be cool.

My assumption is that this type of reprogramming would not be that hard. Apple already allows you to limit the maximum volume of your shuffle. How hard can it be to hand over control of the other keys?

Anyone know anyone at Apple I could pitch the idea to?

4 thoughts on “Making the shuffle better

  1. R. Jesse McWaters

    Hmmm… “reprogram their shuffle buttons however you saw fit”

    You need to be careful David. The Apple acolytes that I spoke to the last time I was at an Apple store informed me that Apple products were perfect in every way and thus required no user modification. This idea may be seen by some as a heretical deviation from the “i-life.”

    Reply
  2. R. Jesse McWaters

    Hmmm… “reprogram their shuffle buttons however you saw fit”You need to be careful David. The Apple acolytes that I spoke to the last time I was at an Apple store informed me that Apple products were perfect in every way and thus required no user modification. This idea may be seen by some as a heretical deviation from the “i-life.”

    Reply
  3. Mike Beltzner

    It’s not hard at all, it’s software. The interface for such function can also be pretty easily done through the iTunes/iPod management view that they introduced back with iTunes 7.

    I doubt you’d ever find a home for this idea at Apple, though. Customization isn’t really what they’re interested in, and in fact is in many ways antithetical to their primary mission which is to provide a fantastic user experience for the 85% use-case. You see, the Shuffle isn’t meant to be used for AudioBooks. It supports it, but it’s not the primary use case (as opposed to other iPod devices which are better suited to within-track navigation tasks). They could have done a lot of things with the Shuffle UI to enable more complex navigational tasks (ie: double click brings you to an “audio menu” which allows you to navigate through playlists, etc) but doing so would add significant complexity to the UI, and that crosses a line that Apple’s unwilling to cross.

    Apple produces fantastic design entirely because they limit the use cases which they’re willing to support. God help you if you’d like to do something with one of their devices that they don’t think you should want to do.

    Reply
  4. Mike Beltzner

    It’s not hard at all, it’s software. The interface for such function can also be pretty easily done through the iTunes/iPod management view that they introduced back with iTunes 7.I doubt you’d ever find a home for this idea at Apple, though. Customization isn’t really what they’re interested in, and in fact is in many ways antithetical to their primary mission which is to provide a fantastic user experience for the 85% use-case. You see, the Shuffle isn’t meant to be used for AudioBooks. It supports it, but it’s not the primary use case (as opposed to other iPod devices which are better suited to within-track navigation tasks). They could have done a lot of things with the Shuffle UI to enable more complex navigational tasks (ie: double click brings you to an “audio menu” which allows you to navigate through playlists, etc) but doing so would add significant complexity to the UI, and that crosses a line that Apple’s unwilling to cross.Apple produces fantastic design entirely because they limit the use cases which they’re willing to support. God help you if you’d like to do something with one of their devices that they don’t think you should want to do.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s