Apple and the art of compromise

Wherein “art” equals “compromise.”

My new iPod nano showed up today and, as expected, it’s quite a rad little machine. It’s tiny and lightweight, has a huge (well, relatively huge) screen and has enough capacity that I can actually put all the music I really want to listen to on it in a go. That’s good! It’s also a garish shade of metallic orange. That’s good, too, in a tacky sort of way.

But it also has some issues, all which stem from Apple’s continuing mission to disregard its own well-established user interface rules in favor of neat-o features. For starters: turning the device sideways causes it to switch into “cover flow” mode, which lets you thumb through album covers. It’s very slick-looking, but it’s also completely useless, because it prevents you from adjusting the music’s volume. So, unless the iPod is in an upright position, trying to change the volume will cause you to jump to another album. Great! And then there’s the pervasive album-shuffle flaw they introduced with the iPhone/iPod Touch, wherein it’s becoming increasingly difficult to shuffle music by album. The new nano lets you set the system to shuffle by album, keeping music together…but when you actually do shuffle, either with the menu or the silly new “shake to shuffle” accelerometer gimmick, it ignores your preferences and mixes songs without regard to album connections. Every time I mix music, I have to go in and reset that preference manually.

These are, of course, minor issues. But that’s the problem! Apple used to be good at getting the little things right. Sometimes it was all they did right. Yeah, maybe the hardware was overpriced and the operating system was a crashy piece of crap, but at least when everything worked it always worked exactly what you wanted. There was profound consistency within Apple’s design so that everything worked reliably and uniformly. It was great. Now they’re all successful and popular and have grown lazy and complacent and fail at their former specialties. Shameful.

So, uh, I guess the solution is that everyone needs to buy Zunes for a few years to knock Apple down a peg so they have to try harder. Like Avis!

Anyway, enough crankiness. The last big batch of games I’m trying to offload is up on eBay now. Very exciting! I’m really looking forward to being done with this grand sell-off process. The folks at the post office, I think, are getting tired of seeing my face.

22 thoughts on “Apple and the art of compromise

  1. ugh. I hate coverflow. that in itself is a deal breaker to me, even with the lovely orange candy coating. gah. guess my 2nd gen suiko nano is good enough.

  2. The good news is that no one likes the auto Cover Flow, so hopefully they’ll add the ability to turn it off in future firmware revisions.

  3. The idea that it automatically does that is bothersome, as my ipod is almost always at a wacky position, if not being jostled in my pocket.

    How sensetive is that accelerometer anyway? Will it shuffle my songs every step i take?

  4. Nah, the shake feature isn’t ridiculous. You have to give it a good jostle to shuffle things, and it won’t activate once the screen is off.

  5. Man, that’s an excellent collection of PS1 games you’re selling off. Should you bring a nice haul. Too bad I’m poor.

    Also a nice collection of Essentials… I much prefer my comics in color, but Masterworks are too ridiculously overpriced, and I’ve grown to like that cheap paper. Too bad I already own most of the ones you’re selling.

  6. Maybe they’re busy working on figuring out what the red/yellow/green buttons in OS X are supposed to do and don’t have the resources for their iPod division.

  7. I hear you about the post office. I do far less business on eBay than you do and I still get dirty looks. I have taken to using the automated system recently.

    I may be putting in a bid for that Luke Cage Essentials book. Sweet Christmas indeed!

  8. Wow that’s an interesting wad of games sitting around on eBay there. Seeing Koudelka for less than $5 has me half-tempted to bid just so I can twist two people’s arms into playing it at once.

  9. Also, everyone should get a Zune because they’re pretty damn good. Got mine over the summer, and I pretty much love the thing. I actually like the interface and navigation to be a lot better (and I guess consistent…) than the iPod’s.

    Plus, as far as propietary software goes, I like the Zune thing a lot more than iTunes. Both get points off for forcing you to use one program, though…

    Anyway. I know the internet likes to completely dismiss the Zune, but anyone in the market for a 80/120 GB player should really take a good look at it. (I don’t know much about the Nano range of flash drive based players since they’re way too small for my needs, but I understand there’s a lot more competition in that market…)

  10. Man, if I hadn’t gotten Blaster Master: Banal Addition out of morbid curiousity a few years ago (I would have rented it, but the rental place was selling it AT the rental price) I would bid on that now. Gave me ideas… which were obliterated from memory once I saw someone else’s ideas:

    Too bad none of that’ll ever happen.

  11. Egads, the current bid for Marvel vs. Capcom is $41. I thought the true fans avoided the Playstation version of it.

  12. I’ve been using an old Zune30 for almost a year now and even though I’ve had my ups and downs with it, I love it overall. Especially with the new Zune software update adding games to my Zune, I really can’t complain. I have all my music on it with a few videos and a bunch of pictures and I haven’t even used half the space. I can’t even imagine owning one of the new 80 gb Zunes.

  13. I would totally have already bid on the Gunnm game if I could play it. I wouldn’t even care if it was a terrible game.

Comments are closed.