Six Things I’d Like to See iTunes Do

A little over a year ago, I wrote about some of the things that I wished that iTunes would do. Soon afterwards, collapsible playlist groups actually were implemented and I came away a happy boy. Over the last month and a half, since I bought myself an iPod, the way that I use iTunes has slightly changed once again, causing me to revisit that iTunes wishlist.

So, what doesn’t iTunes do yet that I wish it would? Here goes…

Let me specify individual attributes for podcasts
Until I got my iPod I wasn’t really using podcasts much, so the inadequacies of the iTunes implementation hadn’t really hit me fully. Since getting my iPod, however, I’ve started to subscribe to a few and there are some things I’m just not too happy with. Most importantly for me is the fact that you can only set a few global attributes which are applied to everything which then cannot be over-ridden for individual podcasts. Specifically, I’d like to be able to say that some podcasts (hour long ones, with lots of talking) should remember their playback position and by skipped when shuffling, but others (songs) should not. Is that too much to ask? Currently, if I was using iTunes to manage my music podcasts, I believe I’d have to manually change those settings on each and every file which got downloaded. What I actually do instead is to get NetNewsWire to handle my song podcasts and automatically add them to iTunes for me. iTunes sees them as just plain old songs and acts accordingly.
Don’t change songs’ album names when they come from a podcast
This pretty much comes under the same heading as the last thing. I want to be able to tell iTunes that some podcasts should be treated as just plain old songs and be added to my library as though I’d clicked ‘add files’.
Let me add an entire folder full of playlists to my iPod in one fell swoop
iTunes itself has the ability to put a group of songs into a single folder. Why then does the interface for adding playlists to my iPod split them all out into a single alphabetised list again? Carrying on from that, why can’t I add one of those folderised groups of playlists to my iPod in a single operation? And why can’t I right click on a playlist in the normal iTunes interface and choose to add or remove it from the currently connected iPod?
Show me the name of the selected playlist in the “song information” panel
This one’s annoying me quite a bit at the moment. When the “song information” panel is not being used for anything else (e.g. when iTunes isn’t playing anything) it would be very nice if I could be shown the name of the currently selected playlist. At minimum, I would like to see the playlist name up there when I change playlists.
If I’m creating a manual playlist, alert me if I add the same song twice
This should be self explanatory. I know that I can use the “show duplicates” feature, but it would be nice if I was alerted to the fact that I had manually inserted one. It’s not a bad thing to have your hand held sometimes.
Please! More information about when songs were played
Finally, my biggest bugbear with the iTunes system - it doesn’t keep information about every play of every song. Instead, all you get to do is query when the last time was that a song was played. Think of the possibilities of knowing what you were playing at any given time. In an instant you could put together a Smart Playlist of songs that you enjoy listening to at bedtime. You could re-live the music that you were listening to the week you met your wife. The possibilities are endless. I know that it would mean that it would be a bit more computationally expensive to create the Smart Playlists and that it would mean that a bit more disk space would be taken up. Really though, those are minor concerns. The amount of extra data would be negligable - you’d only have to store a song id and a datetime for a basic implementation - and the benefits would be huge.

So those are my six things I’d love to see iTunes do. What are yours?

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Neil Crosby now blogs at The Code Train and also runs, The Ten Word Review and Everything is Rubbish.