Shuffle and slide
Thursday March 12th 2009, 12:12 pm

Ah, the second guess. Province of the critic and the outsider, luxury of those not constrained by the realities of budgets, time, politics, and physics. Though no stranger to the art myself, I could never guess what combination of these challenges faced the designers and engineers at Apple that resulted in the curiosity known as the early-2009 iPod Shuffle, which MacWorld, in a fit of amusingly appropriate pop-culture reference, declared yesterday: “This is not Sparta. This is madness.” 

But I’m not here to guess. I’m here to second-guess.

The new Shuffle compresses a full suite of playlist controls into a single button, melded into the earphone cord. Click to pause, double-click to advance, triple-click to reverse, hold to listen to the track title, keep holding to enter playlist selection, and then, as the device begins speaking names of playlists, click again to say when.

Donald A. Norman would not be impressed. But further criticism at this point would border on the tiresome—I propose instead a solution.

Is the functionality evident? Perhaps not immediately, but the training seminar should be considerably shorter. Here is the theory: The existing design does not fully take advantage of the linear controls that are the volume switches. I have repurposed them to not only control volume and sometimes playlist selection, but track selection as well, moving all three to the same level of hierarchy. The context is determined by a three-way slider switch not unlike the shuffle control on the player itself. 

Volume, most important, is at the top; track, second-most frequently accessed, is at the bottom; playlist, the tertiary feature, is in the middle (middle switch positions require greater manual precision to select).

Lastly, I have explicitly labeled the play/pause button, as it is no longer the play/pause/next track/previous track/tell me all the playlists button. The user now merely selects the playlist with the slider in playlist mode, either hits play/pause to begin that playlist, or moves the slider to track mode and advances through the track listing of the playlist, to hit play/pause there.

Madness no more.

Slide image by CarbonNYC


72 Comments so far
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First, I should mention I really like your redesign. A simple modification increases accessibility and vastly reduces the learning curve. But contemplating the genesis of the iPod Shuffle lead me to reconsider the context of the usability question.

The original Shuffle was the antithesis of user-device interaction (which is why I would never consider getting one–I want as much control as possible over my audio player). Apple seems to be caught between competing demands. I see the new scheme as an attempt to add controls to a device that wasn’t originally designed to have them, and in some ways isn’t meant to be easily operated. In a manner of speaking, then, the new iPod Shuffle delivers your music the way Apple wants it delivered, not the way you do, which, while operating against their general design philosophy, is truly in the spirit of the Shuffle.

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I’d like to change some money generic omeprazole I personally will never trust the honesty or integrity of a single business in this country again. I am too old and too poor to listen to the junk ads and business come-ons that fuel the doddering and fraudulent economy of this not so great nation and getting smaller all the time while it’s self inflating and, very frequently, bought with advertising dollars, puffs everything from politics to pampers. But when it puffs war it is a crime against humanity. It is murder for hire. It is paid for propaganda for the sake of converting some man’s blood into another man’s treasure. They preach a work ethic but don’t really mean it. They know that talk is for the suckers and anyone who can, builds a big pile of cash, anyway they can, and sits of it. They then spend inordinately amounts of time and money congratulating themselves on their bravery and hard work. People never tire of building gilded railings around their lives.

Comment by Denny 11.19.14 @ 11:30 pm



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