[Note: This post was split off from a post about ripping audiobooks.] Another bone I have to pick with Apple is that we still can’t program our iPod’s buttons to do what we want. See, to me, the rewind function of the back/rewind button is almost completely useless. With the way iPods are currently configured, it makes much more sense to rewind an audiobook using the click wheel to rewind, because trying to do so with the back/rewind button inevitably ends up with you skipping to the track previous more often than not, because to rewind you have to hold down the back button. The click wheel method is easy enough, but not ideal. So what I would like to do is reprogram the back/rewind button. Here’s what I’d do:
- I’d flip around the functionality of it: I would make the back function execute when you hold down the button, rather than just tapping it.
- I would do away with the standard rewind function and replace it with a “skip back 30 seconds” function. This is for audiobook listeners–sometimes you just miss what happened, or need to hear something again, and this would be the most efficient way of rewinding. (Ideally, you would be able to set the length of time it skips back: 15 seconds, 30, a minute, etc.).
- I would allow users to make certain playlists to ignore the shuffle command (so I can keep my music shuffled, but my audiobooks in sequential order); Users can now dictate that certain tracks be skipped during shuffle, but that just means you won’t get stuck listening to an audiobook when you’re shuffling your entire music library. If you have a playlist of all audiobooks, with all of the tracks marked as “skip during shuffle,” when you get to the end of the track, iPod goes back to the “end of playlist” screen (i.e., the main menu). Ideally, this would just take you to the next sequential track, but it doesn’t.
And while I’m at it, here’s a few other things I’m unhappy about, but don’t necessarily have anything to do with audiobooks:
- I want to be able to tag tracks, not just sort them into playlists. So if I want to, say, assemble of list of instrumental metal tracks, I could do that easily.
- I want to be able to tag and/or create playlists on the go. Yes, you can currently create on-the-go playlists, but the functionality of it sucks; you have to find the track in your library, then add it to the on-the-go playlist. What I want to do is listen to my playlist, and when I hear a certain song I want to be able to add it to a new playlist. Again, this is so I can do something like assemble a instrumental metal playlist. I can’t remember all of the tracks I have that are instrumental, but when I hear them come on, it would be very convenient if I could mark them on the go.
- iPods should come with integrated bluetooth, for users who want to use a wireless headset, or whatever else bluetooth can do
- On older iPods (15 gb models, say), you could control the backlight in the settings menu (i.e., have it set to be always on or always off, and there may have been a timer option also) and you could toggle the backlight on or off by holding down the Menu button; but with newer iPods, there only seems to be a timer option, or an always on option–and neither option allows you to toggle it on or off by pressing a button (at least not so far as I can tell). See, the thing is, sure I want to conserve battery power, so I don’t want the backlight always on…most of the time. But if I’ve got the thing plugged into my charger, like, say, as I’m driving, I’d like the backlight to be always on, so, you know, I can actually see what the hell is playing without having to take my hands off the wheel.
- Speaking of backlights, iPods don’t seem to let you adjust the brightness level of the “off” backlight. With the backlight off, my iPod screen is so dim, I can almost never read it. With my old iPod, it was much easier to read the screen when the backlight was off.
- And, of course, because I’m a big reading geek — come on! I want to be able to read stuff on the iPod. I think there’s a way to do it now, but it’s not easy or anything. I should be able to drag and drop files into iTunes, which it would sync into a reading folder or some such. And of course, you would need to be able to read while music is playing. I think the new iPod video screens would be good for reading. I can now read on my phone, which goes everywhere with me, so this is not much of an issue to me at this point, but still–it should be an option.
- And while on the subject of reading on my iPod, why don’t the albums I buy on iTunes come with lyrics? There’s a lyrics tab on every track in iTunes where you can enter lyrics, but you have to go hunt them down yourself. I’ve heard tell of third-party apps that hunted down lyrics for you and added them to iTunes, but I believe they all got shutdown (copyright violations somehow?). But the thing is, I bought my albums on iTunes; if I’d bought the CD, it would have (usually) had the lyrics inside. Why don’t my iTunes albums? It makes even more sense for iTunes tracks to have the lyrics encoded with the track, because then you could effortlessly read along with the lyrics when a song comes on. You can do that now, but, as I said, you have to enter the lyrics yourself, which is pain in the ass. Not to mention the fact that many of the lyrics sites out there (which I think are violating copyright) often have incorrect lyrics. They’re usually mostly right, but not 100%.