Full screen Party Shuffle in iTunes

It seems that Apple constantly makes it difficult to queue songs on the fly, meaning that users can add songs to the playlist without interfering with the song currently playing. It took a long time before such a feature was even included in either iTunes of iPod and the implementations are satisfactory at best.

The iTunes’ take on the issue is the so called Party Shuffle feature. One item on the sidebar acts as the party shuffle playlist, where people can insert songs by dragging them from the library. The problem is that the feature is hardly intuitive for the users who have not seen it before. Dragging can also be considered tedious by some but no keyboard shortcut is provided. It is illustrative that the feature is so hard to figure out that Apple has decided to explain its usage with an OK dialog.

Party List Dialog

In a party context it is common that guests want to add their favorite songs to the playlist but I have never seen it happen that users would respect the Party Shuffle mode and act accordingly. What usually happens is that people end up using the library for browsing the songs and either accidentally or purposefully double-click them, ending the song currently playing.

Nowadays iTunes also boasts a full screen Cover Flow view which looks great but is rather useless. Certainly, it would be great to have a kiosk-like full screen interface that makes the task of managing songs easy for novices and looks great while doing it. The current full screen view lets one pick a song but does not provide any means of doing this without ending the one currently playing. I spent some time with Keynote and put together a little mock-up that demonstrates how the full screen view could be made more useful by adding a queue function akin to the Party Shuffle. The flipping CD covers are borrowed from the iPhone and do not necessarily directly fit to a mouse-driven environment.

(It seems that YouTube somewhat messed up the synchronization of audio and video)

This video only shows how one can manually manage the playlist. Shoud the list become empty, it could automatically be filled, like the current Party Shuffle does. A search function would be helpful, too, but this has not been done in the video. Moreover, it would be useful to show the titles of the songs on the playlist when hovering on the album covers with the mouse but this has not been implemented due to the limitations of Keynote. It can be argued that it is misleading to use album covers to represent individual songs but Apple has done this in other areas of iTunes as well as on the iPhone, so this should be well in line with the existing design decisions.

(The Cover Flow view of iPhone is equally disappointing. By its nature, it is highly suitable for going through the music collection, looking for an inspiration for the song to play but the inability to select songs without ending the currently played makes it rather unusable for this purpose. The only way that iPhone lets one add songs to playlists is through a cumbersome list, which is only sortable by the song-name.)

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6 kommenttia artikkeliin ”Full screen Party Shuffle in iTunes

  1. Very good explanation about the Party Shuffle problem in iTunes. And rather good guide which way Apple could solve it!

    Thanks for this man, I have been troubled with this too for too long. Every party everybody double clicks their favorite song and current music stop.

    It could be also that every time Party Shuffle is used and a song is played through it iTunes would understand that double clicking should put selected song to Party Shuffle list or played next on Party Shuffle AFTER the current song.

    Hope a lot of folks at Apple sees your blog post.

  2. Thanks. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though. I posted the video to digg, too, but few have been interested… http://digg.com/apple/iTunes_Party_Shuffle_with_Full_Screen_Cover_Flow

    The double clicking idea of yours could also be useful. Especially if it was clearly visually communicated when the party shuffle mode is activated and there was some kind of animation that showed how the double clicked songs fly to the playlist.

    (Another related thing that I’d like to be fixed is the inability to use iTunes with dual monitor setup so that another screen would be used for full screen visualizer and the control window would be located on the other one.)

  3. A work around for a party is to use two computers. One computer is the iTunes server and has a manual (not smart) playlist called Party. The other computer (no local music needed but needs to be on a fast enough network to support remote iTunes) is connected to the audio gear. It runs iTunes remotely and is shuffling the playlist Party being served up from the computer holding the music. Users change the playlist on the server only. Nobody can mess up the current music playing unless they delete the active song.

    I know – it’s a hack – but it works.

  4. And I foolishly forgot to add that features like cover flow and lyrics display will note work on the host connected to the audio gear.

    Also – this must be done via iTunes not via a remote mount of the filesystem holding the iTunes on the server.

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