Zune interface, features detailed | iLounge Backstage


Zune interface, features detailed

imageIf you’ve been wondering how the Zune’s user interface will compare with the iPod’s, we have some real answers for you this morning: the similarities are significant, but Microsoft has made a number of changes that range from cool to not so cool.

That Wheel Thing: Not so cool. Turns out that there’s no touch-sensitive scrolling feature here - it’s shaped like a wheel, but it’s really just buttons. Zune has a menu button on the left of the circle, scroll buttons within the circle, and a play/pause button to the right of the circle. There’s also a hold switch just like Apple’s on the unit’s top, near the headphone port. You press up and down on the “Wheel” to scroll up and down through menus.

(Photo from Gizmodo)

General UI: Cool-ish. Think iPod, but in reverse: white text on black screens, but with a very iPod-like menu hierarchy. A white and gray gradient highlight bar fades in and out as you transition from level to level of the menus - a slightly futuristic and definitely nice visual effect. There’s also user-customizable wallpaper, which could compensate for the fact that the screens otherwise look pretty boring - there aren’t any dividers for top, bottom, or side interface elements, just text.

Scrolling UI: Cool-ish. When holding the scroll button to run through a huge list of songs, the screen superimposes the current alphabet letter over the right side of the song list to let you know quickly how far you’ve moved (right).

Album Art: Cool. Zune displays album art in a full-screen-width cube at the top of its screen, leaving room for an MTV-style black track details bar at the bottom, along with a battery life indicator. The album art is significantly larger and more detailed than the iPod’s largest such display, thanks to the size of Zune’s screen.

Integrated FM Radio: Cool-ish. Yes, like virtually every other iPod wannabe out there, it has one. Like the fading gradient highlight bar, however, this one is stylish in a minimalist way - large numbers on the screen, with a fast-moving bar and numbers representing the FM dial. Think Apple’s iPod Radio Remote interface, but with more motion, no background art, and no preset details at the bottom - you can pick North American, European, and Japanese frequencies.

Wi-Fi: Eh. Apparently you can use the Wi-fi feature to “loan” other Zune owners music for some short period (a day), giving them the opportunity to buy the tracks themselves from the Zune music store. While this is a cool idea, and could work well for ubiquitous iPods, it gets an “eh” here because you’re unlikely to randomly bump into other people who have Zunes, and unless Microsoft actually gives away music, you’re even more unlikely to find people who are willing to purchase tracks from its latest music store. You may also be able to spool Zune music to a Wi-Fi-enabled Xbox 360, which again is a cool idea, but requires a $100 wireless adapter and the $300-400 console. (It’s unclear as to whether the hard disk - part of the pricier $400 package - is required.)

Other Details: Not so cool. Zune is a bit bigger than a standard 30GB iPod, and apparently made entirely of plastic. In addition to the Music menus, there are Videos and Pictures playback interfaces, which aren’t as simple as Apple’s. Rather than using the iPod’s single-line Rolls of Film + (#) display, photos can be shown in a list of individually-named folders with a second line indicating the number of pictures per folder, which unnecessarily uses up screen space. Other views are available. Videos also use two display lines a piece. An Extras menu provides access to the Radio feature, and presumably features added by future attachments or firmware. Settings lets you adjust the menus, the internal LCD screen, sound effects, the radio’s frequency tuning, and more.

The big question being asked around these parts right now is whether Zune has any feature so compelling that it can really rival the iPod juggernaut. Right now, the feeling is that Microsoft may have gotten a few things closer to right than normal, but neither any individual part of the package nor the complete experience will truly rival the iPod’s super-simple, mainstream experience. At best, we’ve heard predictions that Zune will fight for the same fraction of “tech geek” market share (15%) that Apple hasn’t yet taken; at a $300 entry point with a 30GB hard drive, it’s hard to imagine that Zune gains traction in the iPod’s strongest market, the iPod mini- and nano-loving $250-and-under tiny device buyers. We’ll just have to see.

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Anti-luddite, there are so many things wrong with your arguement.

First “made for zune” um… hello the iPod has its own proprietary connector as well.

Secondly, I hope you aren’t seriously thinking microsoft is going to try making their own proprietary headphones, because that would be ridiculous. All headphones will work with the zune that work with the ipod

Thirdly, there will be accessories just not as many as with the ipod, because the ipod has been on the market for years.

Fourthly, the Zune isnt designed against the 5th generation ipod, because it has features that are well beyond the capabilities of the ipod.

Fifthly, no player works with the itunes music store besides the ipod because it’s apple’s fricken music store. They aren’t going to let anyone but ipod users use it!

Sixly, it is possible that you might not be able to use the zune with your mac at release. But someone out there will release an application so you can. Just like there are a bunch of programs to let you use something other than itunes to transfer songs to your ipod.

Lastly, I doubt songs that aren’t DRMed when you transfer them are not going to be DRMed

Posted by Justin on August 20, 2006 at 11:46 AM (CDT)


“Fourthly, the Zune isnt designed against the 5th generation ipod, because it has features that are well beyond the capabilities of the ipod.”

Yes, actually it is. There are only two features it has that the iPod can’t do. And one of them is possible with the use of an accessory. Also, if you haven’t heard, there is a strong possibility that video playback will be taken out in order to make the Zune cheaper ($299 instead of $399).

“Sixly, it is possible that you might not be able to use the zune with your mac at release. But someone out there will release an application so you can. Just like there are a bunch of programs to let you use something other than itunes to transfer songs to your ipod.”

Unlikely. If the Zune is not made to be used with a Mac, then it’s most likely it won’t be compatible. Just like how Apple had to make a 2G iPod that was compatible with Windows.

Posted by God on August 20, 2006 at 2:53 PM (CDT)


THIS SOUNDS LIKE IT SUCKS BAWLS !!! i think that apple will probably try to sue microsoft for this !!

Posted by xbox360forums.cjb.net on August 20, 2006 at 6:47 PM (CDT)


Album art: Cool.

WTF? Do people really stare at the album art for the full 3-5 minutes of each song? who cares how big or clear it is. I dont even take more than a quick glance at the art on my iPod before going back to work/play.

Bottom line: No “Cool” features. (according to the article)

Posted by alex on August 21, 2006 at 10:50 AM (CDT)


It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew translation of Zune is f*ck.

Posted by Nobody on August 21, 2006 at 12:04 PM (CDT)


Well, I’m an avid Windows user. I’ve tried using macs and I don’t find the interface pretty or easy to navigate at all.

But I LOVE my ipod. And I think the Zune looks kinda like crap. the little control wheel is in a bad spot, and it seems like it’d be inconvenient to hold horizontally. My ipod fits wrapped in my hands perfectly while I watch videos.

Meh, it’ll do okay, but there is such a HUGE market for the ipod already. it’s hard being the new guy.

Posted by nikki on August 21, 2006 at 6:43 PM (CDT)


I love my ipod and wont become it’s traitor but i think that apple should look into things like the magnetic earbuds and all of the other extra’s that the ipod dosen’t have AS of right now.

Posted by Jeff on August 21, 2006 at 7:15 PM (CDT)


Why the hell would anyone want magnetic earphones? Almost all earphones come with some sort of carrying case/spool that you can store your earphones in. I know, you’re probably going to ask, what about the earphones that come with the iPod? Here’s my advice: get rid of them. Seeing as how the white “iBuds” have become symbols of the iPod, they’re practically screaming, “MUG ME!!!”

The only things I would like to see in the new 6G would be better video playback (more formats, perhaps a bigger screen, although I wouldn’t want to have to hold my iPod horizontally) and built in Wi-fi. I’ve been itching to upgrade my color 4G but I’ll wait until the new 6G comes out.

Posted by Nobody on August 21, 2006 at 8:33 PM (CDT)


c’mon, face it: apart from some XBOX-freaks, people wil still be buying iPods,

i do not see any advantages towards the iPods.

Posted by Glenndavid on August 22, 2006 at 4:28 PM (CDT)


It beats iPod on a couple of things, and it loses on a coupe of things.

It looks awful (IMO), and it sounds like they’re going to build it with cheapie plastic. The white on black text sounds nauseating.

A built in FM receiver wouldn’t hurt the iPod though (the FM transmitter is useless to me, as in the UK you need a license to transmit over FM), and I’m very interested about this Wi-Fi business. I just don’t see how useful the Wi-Fi is going to be. Borrowing songs? I can live without that. Streaming to my nonexistent 360? Not gonna happen. Allowing me to access a music store in any Wi-Fi enabled area? Sounds like a good idea, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see if/how that will be implemented/used.

I’ll stick with my iPod until anything else is as Mac friendly (don’t see that happening!), available in 60GB+, is as simple to use and looks like the dogs b*******!

Posted by Levi on August 29, 2006 at 9:30 PM (CDT)


This is so weak…I’m surprised that Microsoft is even wasting their time trying to capture a slice of Apple’s 84% market share in mp3 players. Geeze, they have a good thing going with the xBox360…they should put more money into game console R&D and not waste time trying to butt-into and already saturated market…one in which Apple already totally owns. Gates needs to get over the fact that they can’t do everything…focus, focus, focus!!!

Posted by Mike on September 15, 2006 at 10:56 PM (CDT)


I saw a later Zune prototype - MUCH SMALLER, not clunky at all.  Also, it has speakers, actual high-quality speakers that you can hear outside with cars whizzing by.

Posted by zuger on September 19, 2006 at 4:32 PM (CDT)


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Posted by Ahmed on October 11, 2006 at 11:07 AM (CDT)


Geez, I can’t believe there are actually iPod fanboys. Though I suppose if there are so many people out there buying Macs just to be trendy, this shouldn’t be a surprise either.

In any case, I have a 5G iPod and do love the device. I love the look and don’t think anything will ever beat-out the genius and simplicity of the click wheel. However, that being said, I absolutely loath iTunes and all other products backed or made by Apple. I think their Mac books are a complete rip-off given that you can get the same hardware in a PC for less than half of the price of the Mac, and with a better OS than stupid Tiger. I love how Apple disses on PC’s (and basically Windows) in thier commercials, but still uses crucial software elements from Windows like MS Office. iTunes, to me, has made the iPod like everything else from Apple. Steve Jobs is so insanely money-hungry that I think it will be his doom in the end. After the Mac trend becomes old and tired, and people realize that they can’t get CD’s from iTunes for 9.99 anymore, or buy tracks individually from said music store (more and more “Album Only” songs popping up), and have to pay 30 dollars just to charge the iPod on something other than a computer, then the Zune will win. But as long as people choose reputation and status over functionality and practicality, Apple and iPod will continue to dominate the market.

Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, it’s going to be 250 bucks, so quit bringing that up.

Posted by Rcast28 on October 12, 2006 at 6:23 PM (CDT)


everything ive read and seen about the zune is sweet but…ive heard its plastic…im not sure i like this but its an advantage cuz it wont scratch much. unlike the ipod where it scratches for having it 2 seconds in your pocket. but what kind of “plastic” are we talking here? the kind of plastic thats shitty and breaks the first time you drop it cuz if thats the case i really dont like the idea….??

Posted by SCOTT!! on October 14, 2006 at 7:40 PM (CDT)


well people, about the background feature and so on, just put ipodlinux onto ipod and there you go. games, colors, videos, pictures… all you want. with every ipod generation. so no reason to get excited about that thingy from microsoft. read the wikipedia article. there’s so much “restriction”, “limitation”, “drm” and all that stuff there. don’t like that at all…

Posted by dante on November 14, 2006 at 1:16 PM (CST)


the zune has just arrived on the market and ipod has been out for how long?? my uncle works for MS and supervises some parts of the Zune project.in the future, zune is supposed to be able to search the web and access windows messenger. by the time zune has had more time to develop, ipods could just as well be used as beverage coasters. how ya like them apples, sonny??

Posted by Nicole on July 10, 2007 at 2:32 PM (CDT)


I have had both an ipod and a zune. Currently use the Zune.

An all plastic-case? YUCK!
Just “wow” to anyone who thinks this. Are you making a fashion statement when you buy an mp3 player or do you just want to show it off?
I use it to listen to music/radio and watch videos. And look at photos. I wear a plain cover on it to protect it. For size, I say who cares? If you are watching videos/pictures, wouldnt you want them to be big? It fits in my pocket. My mp3 player doesn’t need to fit under my tounge.

Although the ipod offer more types, the zune is perfect if you want to watch videos or pictures.

So far the zune beats the ipod in my opinon. Lets look at price difference.

For $200, you can get:

8gig very small screen ipod nano.

30gig big screen zune

I LOVE the huge screen, the ipod video and nano are too small, the Zune is so much more helpful.

I guess the magnetic earphones are sorta cool.

The wi-fi is something there if you can. Most people won’t use it, but some friends can take advantage and share music just when hanging out. Just a little add-on no biggie.

Over all, Zune wins over me.

Ipod is just been out longer and more people just plain KNOW about it. Thats why is suceeds.

Ipod beats zune in acessiories though, i dont mind anyways.

Posted by Fred on September 23, 2007 at 10:40 PM (CDT)

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