Four Things that I’d Like to See iTunes do…

The iTunes Source List Following on from my last post about Smart Playlists, I feel like I need to get a few feelings off my chest about iTunes. It’s a fantastic bit of software, but there are a few things that I really wish that it would do. In no particular order, here are my top four things that I’d like to see iTunes do:

Allow more than five users a day to stream from iTunes

When I go back home to stay with my family over the summer there will be 6 computers in the house which use iTunes. Under the system introduced in iTunes 4.7, it will only just be possible to hot-desk around the house and listen to my music on any of the computers that I choose. Once my brother buys his new computer it will no longer be possible to do this without a care or a whim in the world. Which will be annoying.

Of course, my family is not the run of the mill family in that it has that many computers (more computers than people living in the house over the summer, as it happens), but that’s not the point. Five computers seems a little low, especially once you do take into account tech based households who have decided to live together after university. It’s fairly obvious that this restriction was added in order to cut the likelihood of Students (well mainly Students, I’d imagine) using packages like ourTunes to “liberate” music from the shared libraries of their peers. I can understand this, it just doesn’t make me very happy when it stops me legitimately hot-desking through my house.

Collapsible Playlist Grouping

I’d absolutely love to have Collapsible Playlist Grouping in iTunes. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I have a lot of Smart Playlists. At the last count, I have thirty-eight of the beasts, all of which are grouped by name so that I can find them easily. I have categories such as “Period”, which contains “1970s”, “1980s”, “1990s” etc; “Recently Added”, which contains “Today”, “Today and Unheard” and “Unheard”; and “Bad Data”, which contains things like “No track number” and “Unknown Artist”. These are all playlists which I actually use. Some I use more than others, some are just used as a base criterion for another playlist, but they are all used.

The problem that comes with having this many playlists (and I haven’t even mentioned my manually prepared playlists), is the amount of space that they take up in iTunes’ Source bucket. I’ve currently got iTunes maximised at 1280x1024, and I’ve still got a vertical scroll bar!

What I would like to see is the ability to create proper groups of playlists which can then be expanded and contracted at will, in much the same way as the “Music Store” and “Shared Music” sources do at present. If this was possible, then instead of having thirty-eight Smart Playlists visible in my Source bucket, I’d simply have eight groups. Much easier on the eyes.

Store full play information about songs

Storing full play information about songs would enable users to create much smarter Smart Playlists. Currently, the only information available to a user about when a song was played is the last played date and the number of times that the song has been played. Contrast that with the situation where iTunes can tell you every single date and time that you played a particular song. You could create Smart Playlists based on the music that you listen to at night when you’re going to sleep. You could create Smart Playlists based on the songs that you have played a lot over the last couple of weeks. You could even relive your musical choices from that last time you were really feeling upset if you wanted to be masochistic. Having full play information would really increase the possibilities available for creating a Smart Playist. (Incidentally, this is something that you can do with the MoodMusic application that I’ve been working on for my dissertation. I’d still love to see it integrated into iTunes though.)

Prompt me if I add the same song to a normal playlist twice

It happens to us all. Sometimes you just end up adding the same song to a playlist twice. Even though it’s now possible to check for duplicates in any Source using the “Show Duplicate Songs” function, how many people actually check that as a matter of course whilst they’re creating a big long playlist of favourite songs? I know I don’t, that’s for sure. It would really be handy for me if when I added a song to a playlist for a second time I was asked if I was sure that I wanted to do that. Yes, it’s hand holdy, but for me it would be darned helpful.

So, that’s what I’d like to see. What would you like to be added to/changed about iTunes?

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  1. by groolover on April 11, 2005 09:31 PM

    I use iTunes very differently from you, I think, so it may not be immediately apparent why I want these features… but there are a few things I’d really like it to be able to do. In no particular order:

    1. Lock playlists so that I get a warning if I try to delete a song from the library that’s on a particular playlist.

    2. Remember playlist orders so that if I delete all the songs on a playlist (from the library, not the HD) and subsequently re-add them, the playlist keeps its order.

    3. When converting selections to mp3, have the option of automatically deleting the original m4a or aiff file from disk once the copy has been made.

    I’m sure there are more, but those are three features that I REGULARLY wish for!

  2. by Neil Crosby [TypeKey Profile Page] on April 11, 2005 09:56 PM

    I definitely like number 3 - that’s something that I could do with regularly.

    I like the idea of number 1 also. Even though it’s not something that I’m likely to use very often (since I very rarely delete stuff), it could really come in handy sometimes.

  3. by groolover on April 11, 2005 10:34 PM

    The reason for the deleting is that I have a very old iPod which is only 5GB, so I only keep that much in my iTunes library at any one time so as to faciliate easy syncing. But obviously I swap stuff every week or so, hence the need for features 1 and 2.

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