iOS7 Music Annoyances
(Solutions To Follow!)

Posted in Music, Technology on July 31st, 2014 by Tom

Greetings, blog readers! It is tonight I once again make my Nth triumphant return to the medium. It’s been quite a while since May, but I’m dusting off the ol’ keyboard and getting right back into it. Well, maybe not right away. Today’s post is more of a process story.

‘Process’ in the sense that the act of consuming music presents a unique set of challenges, ones entirely distinct from simply finding good music to listen to, which is the concern we typically address here.

God forbid you just wanted to listen to 'Separator'...

God forbid you just wanted to listen to ‘Separator’…

I guess, in what’s now Part 1 in my series titled Why Does the Apple UX Team Hate Music?, I’ve already started part of this discourse. Start there.

Briefly, the native Music app on the iPhone was pretty much terrible for even a modestly-sized library until iOS5, when it became marginally less terrible.

iOS6 saw exactly one (1) update to the music app, and if I recall correctly it was that the faux aluminum slider knob was given a ‘sheen’ lighting effect making use of the accelerometer data. ‘Neat.’ As stated previously, I’ve given up hoping for a customizable Music app. Audiophiles, or at the least library-organization-nuts like myself, are not, and have never been, the force driving changes to Music or iTunes.

If you don’t believe me, look at any substantive update to either since in the last 3-4 years. We got Coverflow, which made a lot of really cool commercials, and is fun to play with until you realize every single non-album track is it’s own gray music-note tile; and the new organizational scheme thrust upon iTunes in recent years which has a pretty slick adaptive color pallet that’s too beautiful (and it is beautiful, don’t get me wrong) to be cluttered with any useful metadata ever; and the Browser is gone, too; remember Ping?; Match sold some people more songs, and Radio is working as hard as it can sell even more… iCloud serves some purpose I’ve yet to divine. They did fix the search bar from resting the list view when you cleared the field, which is a small victory.

Admittedly, there are some shrewd business moves in there, and credit must be given to the graphics crew- it’s all gorgeous. But it doesn’t do anything. Form is supposed to follow function, but instead function is left to fend for itself while iTunes gets all tarted up for its photo shoot. Long story long, there’s no recourse for people who want to sort large libraries in specific ways that are not the obvious defaults configured for a music library consisting of: 6 full albums (Journey’s Greatest Hits, Queen’s Greatest Hits, Some Nights by FUN. because you really liked ‘We Are Young’, American Idiot, The Joshua Tree, and whichever Black-Eyed Peas album had “Pump It” on there), and over 100 singles (mostly KeSha) purchased from the iTunes store or imported from [p2p client c. 2005].

And whatever. That’s what most people do and that’s fine. Hell, I have my own obligatory KeSha single somewhere in there. But I also have every studio record (except Pablo Honey, shame on me!) from Radiohead’s entire career. So you can imagine then why the recent iOS7 update, wherein albums no longer get their own submenu, would be a Pretty Bad Scene for me (see, right). You click ‘Radiohead’ which may or may not be accompanied by the cover of an album -sometimes it’s one you hate, sometimes it’s one you don’t even own!- and sometimes it’s a picture of the band that you may or may not have ever seen in real life, making the functionality of some visual association aiding in search all but excised from the damn thing.

Thank goodness we got rid of all the skeuomorphisms though; what are we, savages? (Jokes on me, though. In a rarity for a native app, there were none to be found in any iteration of Music, excepting the aforementioned ‘shinny’ volume slider.) Has anything improved? No. Nothing has improved.

I parenthetically promised solutions, and they will follow this post shortly!