Wishing for a play queue for iPod | iLounge Article


Wishing for a play queue for iPod

I had a party at my house a couple days ago. It wasn’t really a party, just a handful of guests, enjoying beverages, snacks, and good music. All of the music was provided by my 20GB iPod, which was attached via RCA cable to my stereo receiver.

My guests thought that it was the neatest thing; they would just pass the iPod around, and each of them would play a song or two. It took each guest only a couple minutes to master how the iPod worked. There were even a couple friendly “fights” over who would get to play the next song. As a whole, my iPod was a smash hit amongst my guests; they loved having control over the music and throughout the evening, I had heard many comments like “That is such a cool device” and “I’ve got to get me one of these!”

I found myself wanting two things more for the evening. First, I wanted to go cordless. I put an iTrip on my future shopping list, so that the next time I have a party, we could still play “pass the iPod,” but with no cord. Of course, my roommate suggested that since there was a cable on the iPod, I wouldn’t have to worry about it “walking off” - something that I would have to worry about if it were cordless via iTrip. No worries, I’ll just implement some simple background checks on my guests before my next party; I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

Second, and most importantly, I found myself lamenting the iPod’s lack of a play queue. I had to explain to each user that they would have to wait until the currently playing song was over to play their song. There were several times that one of them would forget and start playing their song immediately, cutting off the currently playing song.

Most guests knew what was up. When I was showing them how to use the iPod initially, several spoke up and asked me “So, does it just play, or does it queue the song up?” Of course, it just plays it. So, I would advise them how to best “hover” over their choice of song - navigate to it, leave the iPod alone, and when it was time to play, hit “Menu” and then hit the select button. Crude, but it works.

The worst part about using my iPod in this particular party environment was that you could only select one song in advance; you couldn’t queue a few up and then pass the iPod to the guest on the left hand side. And when you were passed the iPod, you had just a few minutes (or until the song that was currently playing was over) to browse through all of my music and make your selection.

So, not having a play queue wasn’t a deal breaker. The iPod was a hit at my party. But there was a noticeable hole in the experience, and it all revolved around the fact that my guests couldn’t queue music up.

If I wanted a play queue bad enough, I could have arranged it. There are a ton of media players available that all have playqueues: Winamp, J River’s Media Center 9, Windows Media Player, and so on; I could have just set up a computer with my music library. If I had owned a different portable music player, perhaps one made by Creative that has a play queue, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Sure, it was my choice to use the iPod instead of one of the iPod’s competitors, but I didn’t.

I’m not the only one who wishes the iPod had a queue. Browsing through the iLounge.com forums will turn up several discontent users, all wishing that their favorite digital music player had this most basic of features. I can’t understand how a queue hasn’t made it into the iPod’s controls yet; everyone else seems to have one.

It’s not just about convenience, either. Depending on a user’s needs, it is almost a necessity. If the iPod could hold only two or three full CDs worth of music, it wouldn’t be an issue at all. Users would be happy enough browsing through the playlists that they have created.

But my iPod has, at this moment, 3438 songs. That is an incredible amount of music. It is just impossible to come up with a playlist, or even a smart playlist, that could fit every mood and every occasion. Even the most staunch members of the “just construct your playlists with care” crew must submit that with the staggering amount of music that fits onto a device like an iPod, it is completely irrational to suggest that playlists, even smart playlists, can be a substitute for a working play queue. You just can’t plan ahead for times when the “What I want to hear next” bug strikes.

I’m not here to tell Apple how to implement it, either from a back-end perspective or from a UI perspective. There are developers at Apple who get paid well enough to make a much better decision on that than I possibly could. I would just like to raise my voice as an ardent proponent of adding this functionality. A play queue would be an excellent addition to an already excellent product. It would add an enormous convenience factor.

To be frank, I can’t imagine how this feature isn’t already included. With the expansive capacities of iPods, coupled with the ongoing outcries of iPod users and with the fact that this feature has implemented in the iPod’s competition, I am shocked that Apple hasn’t stepped up to the plate and implemented a play queue.

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“...I am shocked that Apple hasn’t stepped up to the plate and implemented a play queue.” - Kurt Young

They’re perpetuaing a track record of similar business decisions.  Thinking different, and acting different are not the same. =(

Posted by AMG in Irvine, CA on April 25, 2003 at 10:33 AM (CDT)


You know, this is a very good idea.  I use my iPod everyday and its a pain in the butt when you’re distracted during your commute by a bus, train, whatever while trying to queue up the next song. 

Sometimes you want to improvise a certain flow that wasn’t programmed in your playlist.

A playing queue would be a great feature that firmware could add.

Did you send this article to Apple? You should.

Posted by deepkid in Irvine, CA on April 25, 2003 at 11:10 AM (CDT)


GOD yes, please give us this!  I had a Nomad Jukebox for a week (until it busted and I ordered an iPod) and it’s a great way to “DJ” in any situation.  Just put it on random, add a few songs and let anyone around add whatever they want.  Plus if Apple would give us a way to save the playlists you can make a mix while you’re waiting at the laundry!

Of course what I really want is a way to dump photos off of CompactFlash…

Posted by Ken in Irvine, CA on April 25, 2003 at 12:59 PM (CDT)


Thanks for the comments, guys!

Those who know me also know that this is one of my few personal “crusades.”  I just won’t shut up about it.

So, with that in mind, here’s more discussion on this topic in our new forums.

Posted by c.c.r. in Irvine, CA on April 25, 2003 at 1:42 PM (CDT)


As far as wireless is concerned, this little device has just started shipping:


Posted by ZeroVince in Irvine, CA on April 25, 2003 at 1:45 PM (CDT)


There should be a queue feature and this is how it should work…

You select a song when one is already playing.  It then asks you add to queue?  or   play now?

Easy and straight forward.

Posted by MLWings in Irvine, CA on April 28, 2003 at 8:58 PM (CDT)



Apple has indeed taken my article to heart and implemented a playqueue (what they call the “On the go” playlist) in version 2.0 of the iPod firmware!

I’ll go ahead and take full credit for this development.  Here’s to me!!


Posted by c.c.r. in Irvine, CA on April 29, 2003 at 3:37 PM (CDT)


Ah yes. For those of you with service contracts, esp at BestBuy, find fault with your existing iPOD, and trade up to the new button models. They should be able to likeforlike it with the new models since the older ones are out of stock.

Posted by pianoplayer in Irvine, CA on April 29, 2003 at 6:53 PM (CDT)


Unfortunately, Apple has now come out and said that 2.0 won’t work on legacy iPods.  Anyone who’s purchased an iPod prior to 28 April 2003 will never have a playqueue on it.

Pathetic.  My opinion, of course.


Posted by c.c.r. in Irvine, CA on April 30, 2003 at 12:29 PM (CDT)


well, yes, they implemented the playqueue but this is only available for New iPods!
Apple should really come up with a version 1.4 for older iPods WITH the playqueue

Posted by frederic bonn in Irvine, CA on May 1, 2003 at 2:01 PM (CDT)


And, I think they can if they wanted to. It is all software, which can be changed again and again and again…...................

Posted by Sux89 in Irvine, CA on May 2, 2003 at 9:38 AM (CDT)


I second firmware version 1.4 with playqueue.

I wish that damn thing would be open source. I could whip it up in 1-2 days.

Posted by pbox in Irvine, CA on May 2, 2003 at 4:47 PM (CDT)


Apple has become microsoft.

I am selling my powerbook.

I am disgusted with this shameless grab for cash.

Posted by Screaming Baboon in Irvine, CA on May 2, 2003 at 11:24 PM (CDT)


Apple is stupid if they don’t create a firmware update with playqueue.  I am sure they will eventually.  The real question is WHEN???

Posted by MLWings in Irvine, CA on May 3, 2003 at 8:37 AM (CDT)


so why dont they make it open source….  its not like anyone ‘buys’ the software… so they wont loose any money.. and its not like you can use the software for anything other than an ipod….

making it open source would make ipods all the better because we would actually have decent software then

Posted by Jay in Irvine, CA on May 4, 2003 at 7:16 AM (CDT)


indeed, just like the open source OS that they claim is so fantastic.

may I be a smart ass and draw an opensource line in the sand?

marketing department vs consumers

Posted by Oliver in Irvine, CA on May 4, 2003 at 7:31 AM (CDT)


I love the “On the Go” playlist on my new iPod.  As this 30GB model is my first, I never knew the old ones had no ability to que songs. You just start playing the playlist and find songs (or folders of songs) and hold the middle button until the title flashes.  Now its on the end of the playlist, jukebox style (you could have the shuffle on, also). That makes me really scared that Apple will come out with the next generation of iPods in a few years with some really cool software improvements and never upgrade my “old 30GB”.  Are there at least 3rd part software hacks, that address this seemingly simple programing issue?  Rock on iPod peeps!

Posted by Mike in Irvine, CA on May 4, 2003 at 10:45 AM (CDT)


Great ... nice to let us know mike ... but you’re missing the point

We’ve spent enough money on our first iPOD and don’t really feel like spending more on a new one ... we want the PTG option on the *cough* ‘old’ *cough* iPods ...


Posted by Oenie in Irvine, CA on May 5, 2003 at 12:38 AM (CDT)


I’m seriously dissapointed by the iPod’s lack of queue ability.  It seems like they took everything else into consideration and somehow were too damn close to the forest to see the trees.  I really wish that mac would get in line and put forth an update ASAP.  Furthermore, what’s up with the new design…now the iPod looks like every other bourgious gadget on the market.  Although it sounds silly, the iPod’s sleek, minimal and contemporary design is what first drew my attention to it.  Not only is the original design an aesthetic wonder, it’s also quite intuitive and makes exploring mp3s a breeze.  The iPod is on the verge of becoming the benchmark in MP3 players, its too bad mac keeps tripping over their own feet with this one.

Posted by pOly in Irvine, CA on May 5, 2003 at 2:50 AM (CDT)



What are the other “bourgious” gadgets the iPod looks just like now? I just got a new 15GB, and if it can’t be describd as “sleek” and “minimal,” I don’t know what could… Same thing with your implication that the iPod is somehow no longer intuitive.

Posted by hexgrd in Irvine, CA on May 5, 2003 at 8:51 AM (CDT)

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