I’m writing this post from my new iPad using the WordPress App. Pretty impressive.
The more I get to know my iPad the more I come to expect it to have access to ALL my data, regardless of whether or not it has been synced from my home PC or not. I have instant access to content from all over the Internet as though it was local, and yet I have to sit in front of my desktop to plan what data I want to sync from my home Mac to have it available on the iPad.
So, how do we fix this?
I think Apple should make it seamless to be able to browse your own content from nominated Macs from your iPad as though it was an extension of the locally stored data in the iPad.
I imagine you would give permissions on your Mac for selected iPad and iPhone devices to be able to access selected libraries of content from you Mac. For example permissions to your:
- iPhoto library
- Document directory
- iTunes library
You would be able to grant permission to access on the same local network, or across the Internet (the later obviously being much more of a technical challenge to do securely, however nothing Apple couldn’t solve).
Once granted, the user should be able to natively see this content in local apps like Photos, iPod, Pages, Numbers, Keynote. The iDisk application could also browse your Mac’s local filesystem (from the directories you chose to share) from where you could open a file using any App that supported the doctype.
As an aside, I played with Keynote today and was amazed I couldn’t import a file from my iDisk within the App. It was easy enough to open the iDisk App and open the file, however this kind of “suggestive integration cross-selling” is something I have come to expect from Apple.
Now, once the content is browseable from my iPad without jumping any hoops or any new learning curve in the wonders of networking, there are some specific functions that I would love to be able to perform on my content from the comfort of my couch, bed, coffee shop.
Photos – basically the ability to manage and clean up my library from the iPad
- rating my photos
- adding face detection
- hiding or deleting photos
- creating an Album
- publishing photos to the Internet
Oh, and if I had an Apple TV (I do) I would like the exercise to be visible on my home TV so that the process can be a social experience.
iTunes – the ability to manage what it synced to my iPad from my iPad.
- tagging new songs, playlists, photo albums, videos, etc on my Mac to be synced to my iPad (and iPhone) while using my iPad on the couch or on the bus.
- ability to subscribe to new podcasts.
- ability to initiate a download of large content from iTunes from my iPad (e.g. perhaps if I’m using my iPad on 3G and I find a movie I want to buy, I should have to option to download it to my (nominated) home Mac rather than my iPad) for viewing when I’m next at home.
- Aside: in any of the local Apps where I can browse/stream content from my home Mac, I should also be able to tag that content to remain in sync and therefore flagged in iTunes as a permanent sync item (perhaps this is automatically assumed for simplicity).
I would love to implement something like this myself, however it’s only truly going to work as a deeply integrated experience that is core to the iOS, iTunes and OSX software, so I would prefer to see Apple do it right.
In summary, I see the iPad as a ultra portable window to my whole computing world. I don’t want to have to think about the barriers between where my content is stored, in particular my own content. Applications need to evolve to be available in different form factors around your content, not the current method where the content needs to follow your apps.
If anyone from Apple is reading this and would like more of these ideas, I’m always available to talk about jobs:)
Here is a suggestion I posted to the Apple TV feedback site today:
I suggest you develop an iTunes “favicon” that becomes common place to host on pages that reference topics related to content that is available in the iTunes store (e.g. like icons for Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Readit, etc). Clicking the icon would either:
a) take you to the related iTunes store content for that related topic (e.g. an article about U2 might take you to the iTunes Store home page for U2).
b) might add reference to that content in some kind of “inbox” or “playlist” or “favourites” within iTunes to refer to the next time you use iTunes (Mac/PC), your iPhone/iPad iTunes, or available in a “watch queue” on your Apple T
This link could apply to references across any web site to the iTunes Music, TV Shows, Movies, Apps, eBook, Podcasts content. The link could also apply to any such content that could be viewed through Apple products (e.g. Safari, iTunes streaming, Youtube on iPhone/iPad/AppleTV). The link would allow you to open that content directly (e.g. the movie, photo, music, online video), not surrounded by a web page. It provides a convenient way to add content to a “to-be-consumed playlist” in your devic
The act of adding items to playlist might cause a Push Notification to your iPhone/iPad, or display the “ready to watch/view” dialogue box on your AppleTV (i.e. like ready to watch rented movies) to allow the user to immediately start playback on their current device if desired. This is all from clicking a link in a third party website. Taking this to the extreme, you could immediately start playing music on your home stereo (via AppleTV or similar) by clicking links on any 3rd party web site that support the iTunes favicon lin
You may support combine this with an affiliate program to give a small percentage of any potential iTunes Store sale (if relevant) to the link source. This would encourage such links to be added to third party web sites as a potential revenue source. It would drive traffic for content consumption/purchase to the iTunes store for Apple. Take the affiliate program further, you might allow individuals to host the iTunes favicon to the iTunes Store in return for iTunes Store credit (e.g. to spend on Apps).
Example Use Cases:
1) A news article about a band might link to mentioned songs, album, band in the iTunes Store. Clicking the iTunes icon would not open iTunes (although this could be a secondary option), but instead queue it to to “to listen” playlist. The user would then see this from their iPod/iPhone/iPad/AppleTV in a format friendly to immediately listen to or purchase the musi
2) A site like TED might include an iTunes icon link beside each online video on their web site. Rather than watch online, the user may want to browse talks online, adding them to their “to watch” queue, to later watch from their couch via AppleTV.
3) A blog post about an iPhone/iPad App might link to an app on the iTunes Store via this iTunes icon. Like today connecting to the iTunes Preview web site, clicking the link would (indirectly) open the App Store to purchase the application. However this icon provides an “official” graphical link (i.e. not a text based URL) and, if applicable, may provide a commission to the affliate web sit
4) A tweet might include a shortened URL to the equivalent of the iTunes link to achieve the same result (i.e. just without the graphical iTunes favicon). The linker gets affiliate compensation. The user immediately adds content to the to-watch inbox. You may have a format of the link that would directly open the content in the local applicatio
5) If Apple ever enhanced Apple TV to be more of a web consumption device (e.g. to read blogs, RSS feeds, etc) the favicon icon could be supported in a “TV remote” style of browsing to easily allow adding related content in the article to your “to watch” queu
I’m sure the smart people of Apple are already thinking of this, but since they are so often late to the party maybe they need a little prompting.
iTunes is an OK media library. It has the best backend store I’ve used (only one), integrates well with my iPhone and Apple TV — making my media almost seemlessly follow me — however the UI is pretty much designed like a boring filesystem. I can browse by many tags and search, but as my library gets bigger and bigger, I just don’t know what to watch/listen. I use Genius Playlists a lot for this reason – to pick a genre to match my mood, then play.
However iTunes could be much more. Assuming people opt-in, iTunes could know what lots of people are watching/listening to right now, then create a far more dynamic and engaging experience to sit back and watch/follow others. For example, if lots of people are watching a Video Podcast right now of Diggnation, show me this on a live homepage. Obviously filter the updates to my tastes (e.g. I’ve previous subscribed to same/similar podcasts).
Similarly, suggest music on my iTunes library, or related music on iTunes Store, based on what others are listening to. If I like Coldplay but the next thing others that like Coldplay are listening to is, I don’t know (because I’m trapped in the year I stopped listening to radio), Radiohead’s latest album. Put it in prime position on my home page.
Same applies to TV Shows and Movies. If I watched “Up”, and particularly if I rated it (ask me when I finish every show/movie, like rating an App), then my live homepage should show me related movies.
Now, let’s get interesting….
Next make different channels that I might want to watch (ala YouTube) that can pretty consistently give me content that follows a theme. So I could sit down on the couch and watch podcast, TV and movies back-to-back instead of live television. Keep track of the TV shows I have watched, and present me with the next episode in that series.
This is basically taking the current personalised iTunes Store home page and making more a consumption page rather than an online store. It must be available on my Apple TV though and constantly be showing something. Don’t just have a static “sales/suggestions” page — work with the TV studios to always be streaming something related to that “channel” (e.g. in the top corner). It might be free, but if I want to watch it full screen then I must pay (if you insist). Alternatively the studios may agree to give away the episode for free while in streaming mode (i.e. free if I’m happy to watch live now and, hey, it might actually entice me to buy the next episode).
It seems to me that iTunes is sitting on a goldmine of social data about peoples preferences, yet doesn’t seem to exploit this to a content stream. Assume people are lazy and unimaginative – if you don’t “tell” then watch to watch/listen, they won’t necessarily go looking.
As I said, I’m sure Apple are already light-years ahead of me.09.14.09
Here is a suggesting I posted to iTunes Feedback tonight…
Could you add a “Now Playing” page to iTunes that only displayed details of the current track, much like on the iPhone’s iPod. With so much music, it is often hard to find exactly what track is playing (e.g. in shuffle mode) and the “Go to Current Song” sometimes only highlights the Genre Folder of the current song.
The “Now Playing” screen would be an alternative view to watch while listening to music and may show options like:
- Song, Artist, Album (clicking on any while just to browse mode for that Artist or Album”
- Ability to rate the current song
- Display artwork (click to maximise artwork to full view (or full screen if already in full screen mode)). Maybe show Cover Art in a Coverflow style (I think helping you visually see your albums like a real collection is important to extending the metaphor to digital music).
- Perhaps have a link to jump to a Genius Playlist based on current song
- Perhaps a “Add to Playlist” dropdown (or similar)
- Go ahead and add a link to the iTunes store to buy more from the current artist
- Potentially show the track names of the previous and next, say 5 tracks so you can look up and see what you have just heard and potentially change what is coming next (i.e. like a Jukebox).
- On the topic of the Jukebox, I think iTunes DJ does this, but I think you should make queuing tracks a more typical / accessible way to select music. For example, perhaps Option + Click would add a track to queue without interupting current song – but you wouldn’t need to be playing the iTunes DJ “playlist” before trying this. The idea is you might select 10 songs in a row inspired by the current song, but not interupt finishing the current song.
This “Now Playing” page could potentially be accessed:
- similar to the iPhone (e.g. Right Arrow from current browse view)
- by clicking the current Album Art in bottom left
- double clicking a song when you select to play may automatically start in “Now Playing” page (with back button in top left to return to music library, like iPhone).
- View | Now Playing
You may also want to jazz up the Now Playing page with some subtle animations to make it an interesting but not distracting animations. For example:
- Subtle visualisation (e.g. background may be bouncing bars of a graphic equaliser – very subtle though)
- Maybe stream additional content from iTunes store (e.g. additional images, lyrics, related news or suggested songs). Perhaps this is a feature only of iTunes purchased content as a “value add” against privacy (but does not require the LP version)?
One of the key requirements here is that as you listen to music, you get the opportunity to immediately improve on your library such as rating, managing playlists, maybe send to a friend, etc.