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

Article

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

Author's pic

By Kirk McElhearn

Contributing Editor
Published: Sunday, June 19, 2005
Articles Categories: Features

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.

« First Looks: iCarrier, Audio Kit, iBoost, Crystal Case

Book CDs won’t appear in audiobook playlist »

Related Stories

Comments

101

Another suggestion: It would be awesome to be able to add a song that is CURRENTLY PLAYING to the on the go playlist! If you are like me and shuffle all your music on a regular basis, you’d appreciate this improvement.

Posted by celerityfm on June 27, 2005 at 7:00 AM (PDT)

102

Addendum: add a song that is currently playing WITHOUT having to go find it in under the Music menu. It’s already “selected”, so why do I have to go find it and select it again?

Posted by celerityfm on June 27, 2005 at 7:01 AM (PDT)

103

Gapless, of course. That alone would make me upgrade, and should have been listed as #1. I’ll pass on the FM transmitter - don’t make my iPod bigger/more expensive for such a waste of space! FM transmitters are pretty much scams, with quality so poor it’s unbelievable that anyone would actually like them.

Posted by sjonke in Maryland, US on June 27, 2005 at 9:29 AM (PDT)

104

Software revision to update current models with…

1. Compilation support
2. Easy way to shuffle a playlist (key combo)
3. Sort an artist’s albums by date OR name (selectable in settings)
4. Flag for delete (negative star rating)
5. Gapless mode in iTunes (one long m4a for an album, bookmark it for tracks) compatible with iPod. (audiobooks can do this already right?)

For the new 5G models…
1. Dedicated shuffle button to shuffle whatever you are currently playing
2. Resist temptation for feature bloat (pda functions, wireless, video, card slots)
3. DO NOT change to a user serviceable battery.  Skilled users can still DIY with a kit.
4. Capacity bump
5. Dump the monochrome screens (let hp sell those for you), all apple branded ipods + minis get color screen.

6. If you must pork the thing up with features.. Fork the line again

  shuffle < mini < ipod < crazy ipod


Misc.
1. Lemme use the same dock for iPod + mini
2. Integrate a dock on the mac mini or imac.
3. Sell iPod games on iTunes Music Store like cell providers do.
4. I still want an ipod phone, not a phone that plays music, but an ipod with an antenna inside, and simply plug a headset where the headphones and remote go now.  The exterior would change very little if at all, and I would be a happy boy to chuck my stupid cellphone in the river.

Posted by mrgibbysworth on June 27, 2005 at 11:46 AM (PDT)

105

mrgibbysworth: you just described my dream phone!!!

Posted by iamaclogger on June 27, 2005 at 12:50 PM (PDT)

106

the ipod is not a PDA or a cellphone, its an DAP (digital audio player). get over it, and go buy a cell phone and a pda, if you oh so dearly want one.

Posted by the_commanche on June 27, 2005 at 3:45 PM (PDT)

107

The thing I want from the new iPod is really just somthing new. The mini, iPod, and Photo are all pretty much the same thing. They all have the exact same software. Thats why I was kinda dissapointed about my 30 GB Photo, its great that its color, but theres nothing that really takes advantage of that (I dont see why Id want to look at photos on an iPod anyway). The OS on Photo is the exact same thing as the other iPods (Obviously not including Shuffle) and it doesnt really change anything.

On a related note, I wouldnt want to have the iPod be able to play movies. The price would go through the roof, and nyko’s already fixing the video problem for everyone who wants it. If you’re willing to buy a whole new iPod for video playback, why not just get nyko’s cheaper add on with a bigger, higher resolution screen, and keep the iPod you have now?

Another thing that would suck is 3rd party downloadable content. Stuff from apple I would be fine with, but when other people start making stuff, problems undoubtibly follow. I have a Palm PDA, and its crached countless times because of 3rd party apps, its areal pain in the ###…

Posted by demonic_bunny on June 27, 2005 at 5:25 PM (PDT)

108

Yeah… how about a cheaper price for all of the iPods…
I am sick and tired of electronics jumping on this inflation train. I want to be able to carry all the cash it will cost to buy another iPod in my little wallet. Until then, I will take this 4G 20gb iPod (that can’t hold a charge worth trash) back to Best Buy, use my replacement plan, and walk out with a nice new battery in an iPod photo…

I WOULD like a few more features in a new iPod, but not if it will run me $500-$1000…

1. REPLACEABLE BATTERY
2. Video playback
3. New games (and ability to upload more games without using Linux)

4. Playable files that haven’t been imported into iTunes

5. A NEW feature for ebooks, instead of using the Notes feature with its stupid restrictions.

6. RADIO AM/FM receiver and recorder (everyone else has it… why’s the iPod so far BEHIND?)

7. Gapless playback

8. A tiny external speaker for situations that you don’t want to use headphones

9. Intigrated FM transmitter

10. EQ

11. Screen Sleep mode

HOWEVER… lets be reasonable. If a lot of this stuff is integrated, the price will go through the roof and the battery won’t last well. What strikes me as odd is that many other players have a lot of these features already, and they ARE reasonably priced. AND phones are playing videos and mp3s already. Soon, I may decide to get rid of my iPod and just use a phone.

Posted by starperformer in Fort Worth, TX on June 28, 2005 at 9:35 AM (PDT)

109

“Get rid of the proprietary apple jack for a simple usb2 mini jack.
This jack is just a cash-grab excuse for making $20 cables. If the ipod had a normal usb jack, I wouldn’t have to drag my cable around everywhere for charging/transfers. Of course this will never happen.” -yoghurtgoblin

Excellent suggestion!!  I wish that all portable electronics companies agreed on this standard and then we could easily connect device-to-device and force third-party companies to innovate morethan just making proprietary cable systems.

Posted by Pride Of Lions on June 28, 2005 at 3:20 PM (PDT)

110

“Get rid of the proprietary apple jack for a simple usb2 mini jack.
This jack is just a cash-grab excuse for making $20 cables.

Apple is famous for using proprietary connectors, then abandoning them.  Let’s just hope the current dock connector stays around for a long time!

Other wish list items:

-brightness control for the screen - a fully backlit iPod photo at night is painful…

-location manager (aka profile settings) (agreed) - to adjust things like brightness, volume, etc., whilst being portable

-gapless playback (agreed) -  if the extra blank frames at start/end of MP3 files are indeed standard, this can easily be accounted for with a real time crossfade option between cuts

-FM receiver (agreed) - jeez, my Nomad II had this in 1999… and my Walkman 20 years before that…

-black iPods - full and mini, but with standard, subdued grey click wheels (not red)

Posted by oakbog on June 28, 2005 at 5:59 PM (PDT)

111

EQualizer!! And with it, the ability to have different EQ settings for the same song in different Playlists. I listen to my iPod in my car via FM transmitter, and I have to always change the EQ preset so I don’t get distortion. This way you could set up an “In Car” playlist and have the songs preset for the car. This of course will be useless once I get a hardwired iPod reciever, but I digress…

Also a replaceable battery, and better (downloadable) games, and more colors. Seriously, I want a metallic orange (copper?) iPod Mini.

Posted by Instynx on June 29, 2005 at 8:17 PM (PDT)

112

Gapless playback is a must

FM receiever with some kind of record function would be good too.

Also, maybe I’m just being a bit dumb and you can already do it, but it’d be good if I didn’t have to put the same song on my ipod more than once to have it included on multiple albums (For example if its on the artists album, and a compilation). It’d only save a little space but surely the ipod could just use the same file on both albums.

Posted by Fletch101 on June 30, 2005 at 12:28 AM (PDT)

113

Here are some of my suggestions (not in a particular order):

How about a replaceble / upgradable harddrive. So you don´t need to buy a new iPod when you want to upgrade from e.g. 60 Gb to 80 GB. Maybe the iPod had to be 2mm thicker or something like that, but being able to upgrade outwieghs that downside.

Replaceble battery. Speaks for itself.

More options for categorizing your music. If you have for instance 577 album and 300 artists you have to scroll through a lot. Being able to subdivide them by e.g. alphabet would be pretty neat. So first select e.g. Album then the first letter and finally the album you want.

Gapless playback. The user should be able to join music files at least through iTunes, e.g. by selecting the files and marking them form joining. A user should be able to enable and disable this. Joining music files on the go on the iPod would also be a neat feature.

Better integration with car stereo (e.g. blue tooth) esp. European cars (e.g. French cars like Citroen and Peugeot). Integration should be possible for seperate car stereo and for totally integrated car stereo.

The option for showing the songtext while playing a song (e.g. though some sort of ticker tape) or just by slecting a specific songtext. You should also be able skip through the text. Synchronize the text with the song so you can also automatically return to where the song is during playback.

While integrated or connected to a stereo system the user should be able to bookmark a song when he hears it playing on the radio so s/he can download it later through iTunes when docked.

Digital output.

Posted by chromeboy23 on June 30, 2005 at 1:40 AM (PDT)

114

Here are my top favorites:

1) Larger flash memory - at least 45 minutes worth of storage.  I use the ipod when I jog and my average run is about 30-45 minutes.  Usually, 15 minutes into the jog, it gets confused and shuts off.  This would improve the battery life quite a bit, plus, flash memory is cheaper now.

2) Lyrics!  Have a screen where you can scroll through the lyrics to the song.  It would be perfect for people who are trying to learn to sing.

Posted by nonstopdigital on June 30, 2005 at 8:06 PM (PDT)

115

link songs together, so i wouldn’t have to hear (for example) “mean mister mustard” without it being followed immediately by “polythene pam.”  or the last song on mars volta’s frances the mute would just play through.  gapless or not.

“shuffle after this song finishes” feature would allow me to chose a song, then let my ipod resume shuffling after it finishes, instead of just playing the next song on the cd.

Posted by youdontsmellbad on July 3, 2005 at 4:13 PM (PDT)

116

#1 Allow 32bit audio recording. I have an iTalk, and it’s great, but the iPod limits it to 8bit (software wise, it can and has -with Linux- record in full 32bit glory).

#2 More games through ITMS, they can all be developed by Apple for all I care.

#3 Not the iPod itself, but Apple needs to make a car stereo head unit, every single solution (BMW aside) has massive short-comings. If Apple made a head unit designed specificially for the iPod, it’d be a smash success.

Posted by nonother on July 10, 2005 at 10:07 AM (PDT)

117

i would love a phone attachment…that would be the greatest…and i would like the wifi thing and downloadable games because i use my ipod on the road alot and i get bored of solitare and brick attack and parachutes…COLDPLAY SPECIAL EDITION! that would be great…anyone for a green day special edition? that would be fantabulous!

Posted by tracy xx on July 15, 2005 at 8:17 PM (PDT)

118

There is really only one feature I am really interested in for future iPods - WiFi.  I do 75%+ of my listening in my truck during my commute.  As such, I keep it attached to a cassette adaptor and a car charger.  Thus, unless I need to get new audiobooks onto my iPod I do not usually bring it inside.  Thus, I get way behind on updating Podcasts and serial Audible subscriptions like the Wall Street Journal.  I would love to be able to pull into my garage, have the iPod connect to my WLAN and sync up with iTunes.  Then I would be up to date more often.  The rest of the suggestions, I can take em or leave em but the WiFi would almost force me to upgrade.

Posted by GraysonBuzz on July 25, 2005 at 3:41 PM (PDT)

119

How about a HUGE jump to the future… wireless charging… come on guys it has to be possible some how, you know transfering electricity through the air eh ehh? Im expecting blue tooth to be the next upgrade on the next Gan absolutley… but I ust got a new Color 20g… so i won’t be changing anytime soon.

Posted by JeremytheIndian on July 27, 2005 at 8:21 AM (PDT)

120

If and when Apple decides to offer video playback (which the recent iTunes upgrade suggests is soon), I bet they will ditch the screen/clickwheel in favor of a fullsized touchscreen (or a larger rectangular screen flanked with controls). This would not only allow for games, iApps, better syncing, AND perhaps a miniOS (remember Newton?), but would not sacrifice the simplicity of the iPod. Although Bluetooth is the obvious choice, I would mind an FM transmitter, or some BETTER opption for playing music in the car (although that would trash the BMW thing).

Posted by pandamoni7 on July 28, 2005 at 1:18 PM (PDT)

121

How about the ability to have cover art cover the entire screen for chapter enabled podcasts, instead of a 300 x 300 area, and the ability to keep the image on the screen until the enter button is pressed, and not have it go away after a couple seconds.

Next, have the comments of the id3 tag viewable.

And lastly, allow the Notes feature to link to mp3 and m4a clips. See http://www.podsites.com  Perhaps there can be a way to encode a podsite into a single file, similar to an enhanced m4a podcast with changing photos that ChapterTool creates.

Posted by deepsignal on July 30, 2005 at 10:23 AM (PDT)

122

Mp3Pro Compatibility

Posted by jlp4777 in Northern California on January 8, 2006 at 9:47 PM (PDT)

123

I know this may be a small market for Apple but who knows. I am hard of hearing. How about a microphone for input and use the ipod to amplify the sound? My grandmother had one like that and it worked for her? This way I could listen to my music and people with the same gear. Might be a lot less embarrassing to wear than a hearing aid. Just a thought
oldschool

Posted by oldschool on February 16, 2006 at 10:51 AM (PDT)

Page 2 of 2 pages  <  1 2

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.

Email:

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Shop for Accessories: Cases, speakers, chargers, etc.