The Next iPod: Our Top Ten Requests (and Yours!) | iLounge Article

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The Next iPod: Our Top Ten Requests (and Yours!)

We should be used to it by now, but we still get excited whenever a new iPod is due to be released. All signs point to something happening in the near future - it could be a small, sporty iPod, a high-end video player, or something in-between. While we wait for the official announcement, the big question is: what new features will the fifth-generation “iPod” contain?

While it’s obvious that Apple will continue to enlarge the iPod’s capacity - 80 GB hard iPod-sized drives are already available - and will probably improve battery life, we’ve focused on ten other features that we think would be both useful and marketable in a new iPod. No matter how much people beg for an obscure feature, Apple’s decision to include it will depend largely on the bottom line - and the company’s ability to make it easy to use.

So without further ado, here are the top ten features we’d like to see in the next iPod. Once you’ve looked over the list, add your own suggestions to the comments thread below!

1. User-Replaceable Battery. Until recently, the biggest complaints about iPods were always focused on their batteries: that they don’t last long, both per charge and in overall life. A user-replaceable battery, as found in most portable devices such as cellphones and competing MP3 players, would change the design of the iPod, but allow iPod owners to replace dead or discharged batteries easily. This would not only delight the legions of iPod users who want much longer battery life, but would also sell lots of batteries.

2. Gapless Playback. Another common complaint is that the iPod cannot play back songs without gaps. To be fair, most MP3 players can’t do this either, but it’s still annoying, especially to fans of classical and live music. There’s are workarounds - ripping entire albums as single tracks, or joining tracks together - but these are hacks, since you can no longer view their contents or access individual tracks. This needs to be fixed.

3. Crossfade Playback. Crossfade playback makes songs segue rather than stop and start abruptly; if your playlist is carefully constructed, this makes for a non-stop musical experience. You choose a length for crossfading, in seconds, and the first song fades out for the same number of seconds as the following song fades in. iTunes already does this, so why can’t the iPod? There are technical answers, but a solution needs to be found.

4. More Interactive Entertainment - Downloadable Games. Why not add game play to the iPod? Not just the few simple games that come on the iPod already, but downloadable games, sold inexpensively through the iTunes Music Store, that can be installed and played on the iPod? This may require a bigger screen, but if Nintendo’s hugely popular Game Boys are any example (they are), perhaps not. The biggest challenge here: controls. Apple’s current control scheme is heavily biased towards rotary (wheel) controlled games, which were never as popular as games with joysticks and buttons. iTempest 2000, anyone?

5. An Open Platform. Many software developers and publishers would like to see the iPod become an open platform so they can offer software to extend its functions. But there is both good and bad in this idea. On the pro side, this would quickly allow the iPod to do much more: imagine better PDA-like features, or document security features for backing up files and transferring documents, or other innovations from third-parties. The con side, however, is that the iPod would be like any other platform, and crashes and software incompatibilities would be inevitable. It seems more likely that Apple would choose a very select group of companies to provide iPod software, and not open the platform entirely.

6. Video Playback. Steve Jobs has said that people don’t want to watch videos on a small screen. But he has never said that they don’t want to watch videos on an iPod, especially an iPod with a new form factor. Video seems an obvious extension of the iPod’s capabilities now that iTunes supports video management and playback. But what would a video iPod look like? Here are some concepts submitted by iLounge readers:

 

 

7. Radio Receiver and Transmitter. This encompasses several functions. First, a radio receiver (AM/FM) would allow iPod owners to listen to programming other than their own music - it could be nice to be able to listen to sports or news on an iPod from time to time. While satellite radio or DAB (digital audio broadcasting) could be nice, they’re not popular enough to be likely iPod pack-ins. As for FM transmission, this would simplify in-car iPod use. Instead of buying an aftermarket FM transmitter, having one included with the iPod would mean that anyone could use their iPod in a car at any time. We think that Apple’s much more likely to include AM/FM reception than a transmitter, though, because of…

8. Bluetooth and/or WiFi. Bluetooth - specifically the increasingly common Bluetooth 2.0 standard - would allow users to finally get rid of pesky wires and use wireless headphones, a much dreamed-about iPod feature. But there’s more. Built-in Bluetooth discovery would allow iPodders to connect with each other in public places: say, buses, trains, or coffee shops. If there was a way of making contact with that user (say, sending a signal that pops up on their screen), that could turn the iPod into a social device. By comparison, if the iPod had built-in WiFi, it could stream music directly to an AirPort Express, and perhaps allow for wireless syncing with WiFi-enabled computers. The transfer rate would be slower than FireWire or USB2, but unless you have a lot of music to sync, it would be acceptable.

9. Adjustable Equalizer and Support for Custom iTunes EQ Settings. iTunes lets you adjust its own equalizer to your preferred settings, in addition to the presets that it provides, but the iPod doesn’t support custom EQ tuning. Adding support for these custom settings, and providing a custom EQ interface on the iPod, would greatly improve apparent sound quality, allowing users to fine-tune audio to their specific headphones or speakers.

10. Reactive Volume Control. When walking through a city or riding a bus, you’ll hear your music perfectly for a while, then notice that it fades away as background sounds get louder. If the iPod had a reactive volume control capable of detecting ambient sound, it could increase the volume as background noises get louder, and decrease it when ambient sounds get lower. However, this would have to be limited to protect users’ ears; a sudden burst of volume around you (such as a siren or jackhammer) shouldn’t increase the volume of the music more than a few decibels.

Okay, we promised a top ten list, but here’s one more.

11. More Special Edition iPods. Specially engraved iPods may not be all that exciting, but unique casings definitely are. We could easily imagine a Grateful Dead iPod with the band’s signature lightning-bolt skull and accompanying “digital box set” from the iTunes Music Store, a Coldplay iPod or a Rolling Stones iPod. Regardless, any addition to the band-specific model, which has so far only seen a U2 iPod, would be welcome.

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Comments

1

I’ll take a Phish iPod, but will skip the video version. I think that’s what my TV is for. Great list, Gapless Playback is my number one. The photo didn’t get me to buy one, but a gapless 80 gig would make me give up my “plain” 40 gig.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 3:08 AM (CDT)

1

i want a cellphone with the ipod.

oh, wait.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 3:39 AM (CDT)

1

How about some sort of search function? You could select the characters and search criteria by scrolling through options displayed as a table on the iPod, sort of like you scroll through the photos on an iPod Photo…this would really be awesome for people (like me) who have biggish libraries, and want to find that one song fast. Apple, you listening?

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 3:58 AM (CDT)

1

#1
Digital PLAYBACK! YES NO AUDIOPHILE WILL ACCEPT THE IPOD UNTIL THIS IS MET! And it better be true 24bit digital output! this is not an expensive feature and could be incorporated into one of the dock even. In fact, its pretty much unless without a dock because all the devices that would take digital are home devices. People with stereos and hifi equipment would LOVE to see this feature as they could then use their expensive stuff to handle to sound quality.

#2
192hrz DAC.
The DAC on the ipod is not any better than my old Santa Cruz sound card. My M-Audio Revolution or my Older Audigy 2 absolutely smoke my ipod for sound quality. I can hear this difference even on low bit mp3 files such as 128kbps though I usually use 320kbps.

#3
Improve iTunes by getting rid of that god damn quicktime dependent crap and all those hidden ipod services. I don’t use itunes for this very reason. I use ml_ipod for winamp. It does just about everything itunes does in less that 30k and no background processes to take up cpu time and memory. iTunes is boardline bloatware. Its for the newbies!

#4,
Like they said….make the battery
removable…

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 5:14 AM (CDT)

1

Is Apple really going to come out with an 80gb at the next revision? The 60gb Photos haven’t been selling very well…

I, for one, don’t want a removable battery. I would like a better battery, and a cheaper battery replacement service. Perhaps Apple’s industrial design department will be able to miraculously enable a removable battery without adding to the bulk or detracting from the lines of the case, but I doubt it.

Search would be totally cool, as would more custom iPods. I’m not at all looking to upgrade at the moment, but if Apple came out with an Underworld or DJ Shadow iPod, I would snap it up.

Better text functionality. Synching through iTunes, ability to handle larger files, rich text functions, especially on the Photo. And links from text files to photos. Podcasting possibilities would blow up.

Gapless playback. Gapless gapless gapless. I can’t stress this enough.

And would Apple PLEASE get rid of that ridiculous “feature” that pauses the music when the headphones are removed. Many 3rd-party headphones trigger the pause simply by wiggling or twisting in the jack and it DRIVES ME MAD. At least make it an option so I can turn the damn “feature” off.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 5:47 AM (CDT)

1

What about the Itunes visualiser displayed on the ipod screen when music is going???
...JUST A THOUGHT!?

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 6:06 AM (CDT)

1

Who needs a replacement battery in a disposable product, how many ipod owners would seriously still have there 3gen ipod when a 6-7th or 8th generation ipod is released? (not many me thinks!)

a good new feature would be a better power indicator, maybe the 5th gen ipod could have a percentage out of 100 for how much battery is remaining

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 7:15 AM (CDT)

1

you lost me after #3.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 7:28 AM (CDT)

1

#1: I’ll vote for the FM receiver, probably with radio recording capability.

#2: An option to turn off screen after a while would be nice, and power saving.

#3: Flash player. This will boost iPod games, short movies, etc.

I’m not sure about voice recording. Everyone with an iPod will be suspect of recording what I say. :)

The reactive volume control may be cool, but even dangerous. You cross the road, some car honks at you and you just listen to your tune louder.

#4: I would also like my iPod to play stray MP3s.
I want to transfer an album from my home computer to office computer. I can copy MP3s directly to my iPod as I can with every other filetype. But in order to be able to listen to them on the go, I have to add them a second time via iTunes.
A dedicated folder inside iPod, that would enable direct copying of MP3s and displaying them in the iPod playlists, would be great.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 7:38 AM (CDT)

1

This is probably off topic but i can’t get my i pod to come up on the itunes sources colum. any suggestions?

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 9:11 AM (CDT)

1

Most DEFINATELY - search feature and gapless playback. 

The other feature I’d like to see is for long artist/album names/titles to scroll across the screen like the song titles…I hate the stupid “...” truncation - come on Apple, do it right.  Other players do this - so can you. 

I’d also like to see the “total time” of any playlist that I might be playing, be it an album, genre, artist, or a playlist that I made…just a nit noid that I like to have. 

Another thing: instead of having the current time or “Now Playing” displayed at the top of the screen, how about the Genre or the name of the playlist that I’m listening to…

One last thing: the ability to add more than 1,000 tracks to the On-The-Go playlists…

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 9:12 AM (CDT)

1

Well, I have two first gen iPods, actually, a 5gb (which I use just for audio books - audible rocks in this regard) and a 10gb which has plenty enough space for my music collection.

The only things I think I’d like to see, since I don’t want to play games, watch movies or do anything other than have it focused on music, are:

- a much longer lasting battery. A few hundred hours would be really nice…

- a better way to interface with a car. I’ve tried a bunch of the radio tuner devices (most recently the Belkin) and they universally work terribly for me. I’m *still* using my original cassette adapter, which is just lame.

Oh, one more:

- a second headphone jack would be nice too.

Clearly, I’m not an aggressive power user of my iPod, but I *do* use one or the other almost every day!

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 10:26 AM (CDT)

1

Grateful Dead iPod!!!! Maybe the best idea you guys have ever had! This would require gapless playback because, as every deadhead knows, it’s all about the live music.

I think Bluetooth would be the next logical step in the evalution of the iPod as it could also help car integration.

My other request, though not very likely, would be more PDA type features including a touch screen and maybe a newton type of interface that wuold allow the user to take notes, change the calander, and add contacts.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 11:33 AM (CDT)

1

Bluetooth would be an awesome addition to the iPod, never even thought of it.

Games, ofcourse.

Gapless playback is definitely a must over all.  I listen to alot of Dj mixed albums and have a great build up to a new song suddenly stop is really annoying and kills the whole album.

VIDEO!!  I for one am all for a video feature.  I doubt I would watch movies much at all on the small iPod screen, but that doesn’t mean I’ll hardly use it to watch movies.  What I’m looking forward to is the ability to upload movies, shows, videos, etc. onto my iPod and take them to friends houses and such.  Then plug the iPod into a TV w/ an A/V cable, like you already can on iPod Photos, and watch the movies on a TV.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 11:58 AM (CDT)

1

I’m sick and tired of upgrading everytime Apple comes out with another iPod.  I have purchased over a dozen iPods the past 3 years and currently own 3 (60 GB photo, 3rd Gen. 40 GB & 1 GB shuffle).  It is so much work adding songs to an iPod.  I have almost a terabyte worth of music so I have to painstakingly pick & choose what to add.  My wishlist for the next generation iPod is an FM tuner, 80 GB hard drive, video, PDA & WiFi.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 12:04 PM (CDT)

1

I’d like to be able to play the time-limited wma files that libraries now use for downloaded audiobooks. I am annoyed that the player with the biggest market share is excluded. My library says it is because Apple does not give them a way to limit the time a file can be used.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 12:22 PM (CDT)

1

For iPod photos, I would like to search from a screen of thumbnails of album art.
When you add album art to all of your iTunes tracks, I find it much faster to look at the art when scrolling. The art provides more information at a quick glance. Tells you artist, album and tracks once you begin to recognize them.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 12:30 PM (CDT)

1

1. Digital output.  Many people would like to connect the iPod directly to another DAC at home.

2. Kill the basic iPods and replace them with a video iPod.  So that way, you have the shuffle, audio (current mini) and video.  The capacity will keep increasing on the mini so that this is no longer a problem.

3. A screen for the shuffle.  The random gimmick only goes so far.  People want something more: the ability to see and select what they play on the shuffle.  I know of several people who would have bought a shuffle if it had a basic display.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 12:49 PM (CDT)

1

1. Gapless playback, a must have

2. Bluetooth and an optional Bluetooth in-car receiver for integration with the in car audio system, that would rock!

3. Bigger screen to display video and larger album art

and if so…

4. Virtual clickwheel. What I mean is get rid of the fysical clickwheel, make a touch screen the size of the entire device (like in the example pictures above) and project a virtual clickwheel on the screen as soon as it is touched. Touch screen technology should make this possible. Maybe one day I will be sorry I didn’t patent this idea :)

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 6:00 PM (CDT)

1

Hi - some good earphones that last longer than a couple of months would be great!  Wireless even better!

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on June 20, 2005 at 10:06 PM (CDT)

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