Observations and arguments.

iTunes 7 shows no love for (Video) Podcasts

A post this morning over on The Unofficial Apple Weblog gripes about a change to the iTunes UI that moves access to enhanced podcast chapters out of the application window and up into the menubar. It posits two possibilities for the change: 1) that different UI designers were assigned to the project, and simply made a bad decision; or 2) that Apple no longer cares about UI design.

Ok, option 2 is crazy talk. Apple may make some mystifying UI design choices, but it’s not because it doesn’t care about the choices.

No, I think you have to look at a third alternative: that as TV shows and now movies gain ascendancy in the iTunes universe, podcasts are being moved further and further down the functional spec sheet.

My own greatest annoyance with iTunes 7 (and why I haven’t upgraded on my main PowerBook) is that the shiny new album and Coverflow views aren’t available in the Podcast library. Currently in iTunes 6, video podcasts appear in the “Videos” library, with nice thumbnails that my two-and-a-half year old can point to when he wants to see the video of Magic Monkey Bob, or of himself running around with one of his pals.

In iTunes 7, these thumbnails are gone; because video podcasts don’t show up under “Movies” or “TV Shows”. I tried to create a workaround by creating a smart playlist of video podcasts–surely I could use Coverflow then. Except that all the podcasts from a particular source are treated as being from one “album”, so they all share the same artwork–a still frame from a random single video. I haven’t tried deleting the videos from iTunes and then re-importing them as random videos, but even if that were to work what a pain it’s going to be.

Of course, I will have to upgrade at some point. I can’t listen to shared music from my other machines in the house that are now on iTunes 7. And if I ever decide to download a TV show I’ll have to upgrade to even watch them.

And when I do upgrade, my boy is going to shout at me. Repeatedly. And at a loud volume. Because he’s going to want to know where his favorite movies went. And I’m not going to get very far with my conjectures and ramblings about UI and product road maps.

So thank you, iTunes, for that. So very much.


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