iPod Shuffle, For You

One of my favourite iPods ever was the white gum-stick iPod Shuffle. Not for its features — the iPod mini had a screen and was way easier to browse your music —  but due to one specific feature Apple added to iTunes especially for their new device: the autofill playlist.Instead of manually curating a playlist or creating your own smart playlists based on multiple criteria, the autofill feature of iTunes filled the iPod shuffle with a random selection of songs based on what you rated the highest, and it would replace your songs every time you connected the Shuffle to your Mac. I used the device a lot while cycling to school, and I rediscovered tons of good, forgotten, songs this way.

I moved on from Shuffle to Nano to iPhone, and the autofill playlist was replaced by a lot of music on my Nano, and then an unlimited amount of streaming music via Spotify. But while playing around with Apple Music’s curated Playlists I was reminded of this cool, forgotten, feature I had enjoyed so much more than a decade ago. (Granted, I had to look up its name and the specifics).

I’m still trying out Apple Music but I’ve found that the For You suggested playlist are just great. They more and more resemble my taste in music, and although they always contain one or two songs I frequently listen to,  they frequently contain a few long forgotten songs that get instantly added to my Loved playlist.

iPod Lineup, 2015

This refreshed iPod line apparently does not support Apple Music. Since it could be an easy way to circumvent restrictions and get a lot of music cached forever on an offline iPod, it’s somehow understandable. But it’s also confusing to customers. They now have a seemingly infinite amount of music available, but only a part of it can sync to their iPods. Try explaining this to the less technical inclined among us..

But worse, I think this is a missed opportunity and a shame. Apple created the iPod to enjoy all your music on the go, but cuts it off from a large part of what makes their Music Platform so great.

Instead of an iPod that only has access to the music you bought, imagine a new iPod shuffle that, each time you connect it to iTunes, gets filled with a few random playlists grabbed from your For You suggestions. Wouldn’t this be a great way to discover music on the go? A million songs in your pocket, one playlist at a time.

Make a decision

I’ve complained in earlier posts on my blog that I find that Apple doesn’t dare to look forward as much as they used to do. Instead of killing Photostream and moving on with Photos, they apparently still feel the need to support both. Instead of killing iTunes Match, and moving on with only Apple Music, they still support both.

And instead of only selling devices that fully support music in the cloud, they somehow still want to sell devices that sync via cable.

But if you have two separate music platforms, and two completely different lines of devices that can play some of that music, you know you screwed up and forgot the concept of ‘It just works’ somewhere down the line.