Monday 17 December 2012

11 points to improve iTunes (versions 11.2 and beyond)

Written for Apple iTune's developers and their future users. 

iTunes 11 featured many improvements from version 10. Coming soon after a version 11.1 update, here's my eleven points worth on improving aspects of the user's experience (which I just submitted to the iTunes team on

1. Add functionality to import wishlists from one's previous iTunes Store.
For those customers moving from one country's iTunes Store to a newly-opened one, consider providing them with the ability to copy their wish-list from their original Store to the new. In the ideal world, these could even be cross-linked; highlighting which content is only available in a particular iTunes Store.

2. Make artist labeling more idiot-proof.
What is the difference between 'Fleetwood Mac' and 'Fleetwood Mac '? Well, one hard to spot space at the end of the name, that's what. And these are then considered "different artists". There are more easy to spot variations, such as; 'The Jacksons', 'The Jackson 5' and 'Jackson 5', but which is the best option to replace all names with? It would be useful if iTunes could help prevent duplicate artists popping up by flagging commonly misnamed ones and suggesting the 'official spelling'. {Also, where names are duplicated, how about a 'country' tag to differentiate them?}

3. Multiple lines for artist names.
In cutting-and-pasting, I noticed by mistake that one can enter a paragraph-long entry for an artist's name? Not sure who uses this, but if it's as useless as it looks like, please remove the multiple lines option for an artist's name. Or let me know what it's for, ta?

4. Provide an override for auto-corrects to artist album or names 
While iPhone auto-corrects can be hilarious (as proved on, it's not so funny when every time you try and correct an incorrectly-named-album-or-artist and it just keeps defaulting to the prior, incorrect name. The work-around of typing the correct entry in another field and copying-and-pasting it into the correct field is a bit of a schlep. So, please give users like me an override option, thanks.

5. One step forward, two scrolls back.
I'm unusually detailed (yes, that's the nice way of saying it) in wanting accurately-defined iTunes song labels and recently spent a few hours ensuring my artist list didn't feature 'one hit wonders', et al., so that I could readily select the more prolific using the 'Music > Artists' view. However, this was a time-consuming process; after changing a song or multiple songs' information, I was bumped back to the start of my Music Library and returning back to where I was could take a few scrolls or keystrokes. So, kindly give the user an option to stay where they are, after making changes to song information, too.

6. Suggest a shortcut.
The shortcut to quickly move through the 'Music > Artists' view is to 1. select an Artist's name, 2. Press down the shift key, immediately followed by the artist's name's letter(s) i.e. TKZ. It would be very helpful to highlight shortcut tips where I selected the same style of operation via the long keyboard way round! {And while you're at it, how about a shortcut function to quickly navigate through album titles?}

7. Please can I hide that artist, song, album or whatever?
In going through my iTunes song list, I was shocked and amazed to discover that it featured a remix of a Paris Hilton tune and some song by that woman-beating Chris Brown… or other. And then there was even Blondie's "Greatest Hits". Who added that; it could't possibly have been me :) ! As an alternative to deleting them, how can I prevent my (few) hipster, synth-playing friends spotting those trashy tunes and ridiculing my terrible taste? Well, I can't until iTunes gives me an option to hide them…

8. Where is that playing from?
While iTunes gives you great access to a range of media, the flipside is that it's sometimes hard to remember where you've been and to easily get back to what you're currently playing. Especially if it was viewed via the 'Music > Artists > In the Store' route and one's subsequently moved into the deep recesses of your Music Library. It'd be neat to have a show 'Currently playing in the iTunes Store' shortcut.

9. A best-practice user guide
In adding new music to iTunes from non-iTunes Store sources, it'd be useful to have an online reference showcasing the best ways to: title a single versus an album; assign a song to multiple artists, etc.

10. A 'request that song' function
I was searching for Qkumba Zoo's 'Cloud Eyes' under the South African iTunes Store and it wasn't available. It would be useful if I could add items that aren't currently in the store to my wish list, as a variety of 'back-order'.

11. More user-friendly network error messaging
Coming from a bandwidth-constrained, developing-world country, I'd appreciate better error-messaging around network issues. While 'Can't access the iTunes store' is accurate, it doesn't give the user much to act on. For example, warning the user not to 'simultaneously stream music, download songs and order new ones' would be more so...

N.B. Apple's iTunes team don't normally provide individuals with feedback, but I'll add it as a comment to this post, if they do.

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