Editor's Blog: Susie's Wish List for Next-Gen iPods

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Editor's Blog: Susie's Wish List for Next-Gen iPods

 

I love my iPod. Always have, and I'm sure I always will. I acquired my fourth-gen buddy nearly three years ago via FreeiPods.com. Yes, it was free. Yes, I had to harass the heck out of my friends to get the five referrals the site requires. Yes, they forgave me (eventually). No, to my knowledge none of them went on to receive free iPods. Guess they're just not as tenacious (annoying?) as ol' Susie.

 

I won't say that the iPod changed my life. I can't even say definitively that it's the best digital music player ever invented. Although I've played around with some Creative players, and I've even futzed with the Zune, and I still think the iPod is better -- but that's just one person's opinion. And I can't say that the iPod is as good as it could be, because there are a few things I would change. And while I wouldn't send this list to Apple, maybe some of these suggestions will worm their way into future iterations of the pretty little players.

 

1. Support more lossless formats. Currently, iPods can play Apple Lossless files, but that's the only form of lossless compression supported. And Apple Lossless is proprietary, meaning it will only play on an iPod or in iTunes. If iTunes supported FLAC, for instance, my collection of live shows wouldn't need any conversion. OK, so converting the files isn't exactly difficult. But hey, I'm lazy.

 

2. Sell higher-quality songs in the iTunes Store. The iTunes Store is great for getting that one song you totally love but can't justify an entire album purchase just to own. "Emotional Rescue" by the Rolling Stones, for example. But you get them in 128kbps M4P (protected AAC) format. I rip my CDs to 320kbps AAC or Apple Lossless, depending on how much I like the music and whether or not I remembered to check the importing preferences first. Does the bit rate really matter so much for "Emotional Rescue"? Probably not. But would I buy more from the iTunes Store if I had the option of downloading a better-quality file? Definitely.

 

3. Aluminum casing. My second-gen, 4GB nano is so tough that I don't bother carrying it in a case. My regular iPod is so prone to scratches that it's never without a case -- I even have different cases to allow me to use it with different accessories. What if the big iPods came in the aluminum housing, like the current nanos and the minis of yore? Well, the iPod Economy would sell fewer cases, for one. But we'd have more colorful 'Pods and more money for the good stuff, like high-end earbuds. Which reminds me...

 

4. Better earbuds! I was at the event last fall where Steve announced the "5.5-gen" iPod. And I can't tell you how stoked I was to hear that the earbuds had been redesigned. And how bummed I was when I tried them out a couple weeks later. I'm sure it's very tough, as Steve explained, to design earbuds to fit such a wide range of ear sizes and shapes. But they could always try shipping the earbuds with different-size earpads, like some companies do, or even allow you to decline the standard pack-in 'buds for a small discount if you already know that you hate 'em and won't use 'em. I'm sure there's a creative solution somewhere, but these earbuds still stink.

 

5. Better playlist management on the iPod itself. The other day the fiancé and I were in the car, he had his iPod on Shuffle All Songs, and it turned out one of the best mixes I've ever heard a random shuffle play. Eight or nine songs in, I actually rewound it to the beginning so I could write down the track names in order, 'cause this would seriously make a stellar playlist. Has your iPod ever gotten on a roll like that, and you wished you could just "save" a shuffle for posterity or a future mix CD? Well, you can't, unless you're a big nerd like me who actually writes the songs down. (With a pen! So nondigital!) I also wish there was a way to add tracks to an On-the-Go playlist while the tracks were actually playing. As of now, you can hold down the center button to add a track, an album, or even a whole genre, artist, or playlist to an On-the-Go playlist, but you have to do it from a list. You can't do it from the Now Playing screen. It'd be cool if you could hold down the center button while a song is playing and get a menu that would offer to add the currently playing song to an On-the-Go playlist, or to another playlist. That would rule. Maybe when we get our multi-touch widescreen iPhone-without-the-phone iPod, it'll have contextual menus.

 

So that's five things I wish would improve about the iPod + iTunes experience, but like any truly talented complainer, I've got more where those came from. But what about you? What do you wish Apple would change about the iPod or iTunes? Hit up the comments!

 

And while I'm asking questions, is your iPod psychic? Mine definitely has Magic-8-Ball properties from time to time. Oh, and get this: The fiancé's been having a hard time at work lately, and yesterday when he fired up his iPod in the office for a little musical distraction, shuffle played, in this actual order, mind you, "Work" by Bob Marley, "Stop Complaining" by Lyrics Born, and a cover of "Take This Job and Shove It" by Golden Smog. Yes.

 

So maybe crappy earbuds just don't matter so much when we're talking about a device that can occasionally see into our innermost souls. (Still, better earbuds would be nice...)

 

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benet

Every little chat Salon 1000 ah!replica watchYou are my best's buddy
52fs

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Bip

I saw an article that Scott Steinbrink wrote to you about the new iPhone and the request for relay service programs.Great suggestion. I hope they do it. Then I read your article about Apple breaking the little girls heart when she wrote a letter to them with a request. Pretty sad. So now I'm here where suggestions are welcomed. Its not as good as Scott's but I would love to see the iPhone have a feature to block a specific caller. I know everyone has wished they had this feature at one point or another and its available for landlines. Why not for the new iPhone. Especially since you can listen to one specific voicemail from a specific caller.

Thanks for listning. Love the new mag.

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Michael D.

I love my 'Pod but there are definetly some things i would Change/add! when i first bought my gen 5.5 ipod (which wal-mart for some reason calls gen 6) i was surprised to see that the ear buds had changed! the old ones had such a nice original design. if they HAD to make them smaller couldn't they have kept the original design??? another thing that surprised me (in a good way) was the search feature, (although Iv'e never used it) I thought the type feature could be used for naming playlists or writing notes. That would be useful.
coverflow would also be awesome! especially for looking through videos. also, i think it would be cool to let third party developers create games (and apps) for the ipod as well. ect, ect,
dont get me wrong i love my 'pod
oh, yeah a updated interface theme would be nice.

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Benjamin Sadow

Susie - If your shuffle plays a great set just sync your pod. Then in your library sort by Last Played and you should have the track listing right there for you. Select them and use the Create Playlist from Selection feature. Wha-La!

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DrOct

I agree with you whole heartedly about the quality of tracks on the iTunes music store. I'd be a lot more likely to buy stuff there if I had the option to buy lossless tracks there. Especially for Jazz and Classical, which I refuse to buy in anything other than some sort of lossless format (hell if given the option I'll spend the money and do the work to find them in SACD or DVD-Audio. Yeah I'm an audio-nerd...). I also agree with you on giving us more lossless format options for playback. I don't have many things in other formats, but I may start getting more soon (I liked your last article on free music a lot!).
Finally, I hate the ear-buds too, but I hate all ear-buds. Apparently my ears are shaped weirdly because I have trouble finding ear-buds that stay in my ears. The few that do stay in my ears, hurt, a lot. So I just use over-ear headhphones, but that's just me.

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Timmeh!

If there is one thing I could say about the new earbuds... they're horrible!!! I have owned 3 sets of them and for some reason, the left one has always crapped out after a few weeks (reduced volume or static of some kind). I hope this issue is somehow addressed by Apple. Otherwise, they fit just fine in my shallow ears.

Oh, and I swear that my iPod knows my moods, too, by often playing songs that suit whatever it is I'm doing at the time (working, reading, relaxing in general). Its just creepy sometimes.

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Adam K.

I don't have an iPod yet, but iTunes definitely seems to be psychic sometimes.
For example:
Last year during one of the massive heatwaves, it decided to play almost every song in my library that had 'rain' in the title, all in a row.
If I'm having relationship problems, it seems to like alternating between Richard Thompson and Eels, with a bit of Aimee Mann thrown in sometimes.
It may be psychic, but it seems to like torturing me.

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Adam K.

I'm not sure if your fiancé is looking to add more songs to that list, but I've got one thing he might want to add.

'Work Work', by Pat McMahon. Originally written for 'Hub Kapp and the Wheels' on the 1960's TV show The Wallace and Ladmo Show. The version I have is by Jon Rauhouse (off his 'Steel Guitar Rodeo' album).

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Anonymous

My request isn't even all that complicated:

TEXT INPUT!

I love the notes section, but it would be really great if there were a better way then workarounds like TypePod to input text. Especially if you could do it for Address Book and then sync it back to your Mac.

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Hernan J.

...and make notes able to hold more than a 1,000!! Annoying I can't have all I want there!

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Michael

...and unlimited notes.

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Carl

Sentences that begin with "and"? I think not.
Is the editor sleeping?
How do you get a job writing for a magazine these days?

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Hernan J.

I agree mostly with all your suggestions. My biggest problem would be the song/playlist management, something that would get fixed with that "multi-touch widescreen iPhone-without-the-phone iPod."

But, adding to that, one thing that really annoys me is that I have to make a separate "Music Videos" playlist so I can see it in my videos category. I think the videos shouldn't be kept with the music. Create a separate category for them, that way I won't have videos playing if I don't shuffle my music.

Btw, I love your blogs Susie, keep 'em up!

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OsbottheRobot

Like many, I would like to see the iPhone touch and coverflow technology make it to the video iPods... but I'm more jazzed with the idea of flash-based video iPods.

No moving parts, no disk failure, less power consumption (so longer battery). All my wishes fulfilled!!

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