How to Make the iPod Better

Well I finally made the leap and got a 40 Gb iPod recently. Thanks to RipDigital the process of digitizing my nearly 1000 CDs took only 1 day and I got it all back on a nice new 250 Gb Maxtor external drive (as well as a stack of DVDs containing a backup of all the new MP3s). After a few days of hacking around I got everything working and all my music organized, categorized into playlists and synched with my iPod. I also downloaded a useful little utility that I found on iPod Lounge that enables me to load all my Palm Desktop contacts onto my iPod addressbook too. The iPod is a fantastic innovation that is very well designed. After only a short time using I know I can’t live without it, and I can’t imagine how I surivived for the last year without one. Not only that but iTunes and the Apple Music Store are totally addictive. I’ve already spent quite a bundle on music there. But although the iPod is great, I do have a wishlist of features that I would like to see in a future version of the device and the software. I will list some of my suggestions for improving the iPod here. I will update it from time to time. Feel free to add comments with your own feature suggestions to this posting. Maybe Apple will notice it someday and use some of these ideas.

Improving the iPod Hardware

– The back of the iPod case should not be “chrome” or at least it should be scratchproof. The shiny chrome surface very quickly gets covered with scratches. I think a rubberized black or grey backing would be far more practical and durable.

– The iPod dock should have a toggle button that “locks” the iPod into the dock when it is booted so that it cannot be removed from the dock without “unlocking” it from the dock. This is essential to protect against removing the iPod when in manual synch mode or during a disk operation. When the unlock button is pressed it should cause the disk to stop writing, etc. and instantly eject the iPod so that it can be removed from the dock.

– The iPod wired remote should have a miniclip on it for coiling the wire and clipping it in coiled position for times when the user doesn’t want to wire to be so long.

– Put a wireless LAN chip in the iPod please.

Improving the iPod User Interface

– I find it counterintuitive that the center Select button and the Menu button both operate on Menus. To go into a Menu, which sometimes results in getting a new sub-menu, you use Select. To go out or to get a menu you use “Menu.” But why not just use “Menu” to get a context-menu at any point and then use the scroller to go left or right (in or out) of the menu? That would make more sense. The Select button should only be used to choose a menu item (it is the equivalent of “in” or “right” on the scroller). To go “out” or “left” you could therefore use the scroller or perhaps tap Menu twice instead of once. I think it would be clearer from a UI perspective to seperate the functionality of the Menu and Select buttons.

– There should be a way to adjust the text size, or at least scroll the right in the LCD to view long songnames.

– Why not have an audio menus option? The iPod could store a spoken version of every menu command, and could potentially even speak songnames. This would enable navigation of menus in the dark or without looking at the screen. The iPod should speak the message “battery low” over the current track when playing if the battery is dangerously low.

– From the Now Playing screen it should be possible to add the currently playing song directly to the On-The-Go playlist. Instead, it seems that the user can only add songs to the On-The-Go list by surfing out to the songname in the current playlist and then holding Select on the songname to add it to the list. Why can’t you easily add the currently playing song to the On-The-Go list?

– There should be a way to easily “include” or “exclude” a given album, artist or track from shuffle mode.

– There should be a way to easily assign ratings to an artist, album, or track — not just to a track

– There should be a way to easily add any song to any playlist directly on the iPod — perhaps by clicking Menu on the Now Playing screen to get a menu of options for that song (rather than causing the parent-menu to open)

– There should be a way to easily save the “Recently played” smartlist (or in fact any playlist) as a new playlist with a different name that can then be easily edited.

– There should be an easy way to rate the currently playing song, or any song, from the iPod remote.

– The Apple Music store, or someone else, should make a service that you can synch iTunes and/or your iPod with that updates all your music metadata and album art.

10 thoughts on “How to Make the iPod Better

  1. How to Make the iPod Better

    Nova Spivack:Well I finally made the leap and got a 40 Gb iPod recently. Thanks to RipDigital the process of digitizing my nearly 1000 CDs took only 1 day and I got it all back on a nice new 250

  2. I disagree in most terms.
    1. Why complicate the dock? The iPod tells you everything you need (“Don’t disconnect”)
    2. I didn’t get your point about “Select” and “Menu”. Their functionality IS seperated and they do exactely what they claim.
    3. For navigating in the dark, there’s the backlight-option. Easy accessible by holding the “menu”-button for 2 seconds – no need look at the screen!
    4. How often do you rate your tracks? How often do your change your mind about your rating? Ok, maybe it’s just me, but once they are rated (easily done in iTunes), it’s done. I don’t want those additional options, lurking in my iPod’s menus.

  3. Gwendo, in answer to your points…
    It would be better to have a toggle-lock on the ipod dock because, I don’t know about you, but I sometimes forget to eject the ipod when it still says “do not disconnect.” It’s a safety to protect your hard disk from human forgetfulness.
    As for Select and Menu — no they are confusing here is why: “Menu” should only be for opeining menus — but instead, in many cases, Select is used to open sub-menus. Also Select is used to call up menu-ish options, like to rate a song etc. I think Select should be used to select menu options, but not to call up menus.
    As for track rating — I do it once per track — but I have 6000 tracks… I would rather rate them as I listen to them in some cases — because without listening to them I don’t always remember what they are!

  4. You can already rate tracks on the iPod. While a track is playing, press the scroll wheel button a couple of times. Then use the wheel to select a rating.

  5. First, The Dock latch is not practical, because there is no way to predict how long from pushing the latch, to the OS being ready to release the drive. The only way for this to work, is to have a mechanical relay, or motor that will release the ipod when it is OK. This is what the Apple floppies used to have, a motor/relay based eject (in this case release not eject). It would add a lot of cost to the dock.
    They could have a “select” or other button request ejection, so you don’t have to use the Mac UI to request ejection. Just push the button on the iPod, wait for screen to indicate it is OK, then remove.
    Personally, I think the OS should have a “removable” flag for each drive. It should write everything to those removable drives immediately, so they can be removed without notice. That would benefit all removable drives, not just iPods.
    Second, the battery really needs to be user replaceable, using standard li-ion batteries. I am delaying buying one for this reason alone. This kind of device will have more battery cycling than almost all others, and they need to be cost effectively replaced.
    Third, they need more integration with car stereos. A dock for the car that instantly makes it part of the car stereo. One stereo vendor has promised such a thing, we need more.
    Fourth, I think they need a cheap one. I am simply not willing to risk losing a $250 or more player during many activities (like physical work where it might get damaged). It can be low storage, that is OK, but preferably with a standard FPROM card upgrade possible.

  6. you want an “aPod nano” and some serious add-ons, that’s what you want:

    Seriously, I think the iPod’s chrome back is very intentional, in the sense that it wears out like a Zippo lighter, which typically is the kind of object that gains character through wear and tear. I much prefer my worn-in-washed-out jeans over any new pair of trousers, I can’t wait before a new pair of white sneakers look a bit dust-grey and creased, no matter how cheap or expensive they are, but that’s maybe just me… (Spooky, I just realised I described Jobs’ preferred Keynote garb, other than the fabled black faux-turtleneck…)

  7. The chrome backing on the iPod is there for a specific reason. The iPod itself is basically a small computer with a spinning HD and all that. As in all machines with spinning parts (laptops etc.) they tend to create heat. The size if the iPod doesn’t allow for a fan so what to do? The stainless steel back cover cools the pod through heat conduction. Heat is absorbed by the steel, which is cooled by exposure to the air. Thats one reason Apple recomends taking the pod out of any case you may have before charging.
    Also adding a clip on the back to wrap cords around etc. would take away from its simple, smooth, sleek design.

  8. Imagine if instead of having a white background with black letters, they used a black background with white letters to save battery!!!
    Why not at least give us the option?

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