Music of 2008: prologue

28th January 2009 – 11.05 am

When I play music on my iPod Touch I really miss the album shuffle mode available on my old third generation iPod. When I got the Touch I didn't realise it was missing a feature that I used extensively and when I saw it was missing I didn't think I would miss it that much. It turns out that I enjoyed not having to pick what music I'm listening to. Every album that comes up in turn on my old iPod on album shuffle is a delight to listen to, but so many of them I would not have picked to play had I had to make the choice.

Too many times I find myself scanning down the list of artists or albums on my Touch wondering what to play next and passing by almost everything, as if I need to be in the right mood to choose what I am listening to. It seems rather that my mood is more often shaped by music than craving anything particular. I often skip past the shorter EPs or singles in my collection as well, simply because I don't want to have to make a new choice again so soon after playing them. Album shuffle serves me perfectly. I mentioned previously, when searching for a hidden switch to turn on album shuffle in the iPod Touch, why I like listening to albums but there is another drawback to missing an album shuffle mode.

I used to create playlists for new music that I bought, generally two playlists each year with all the albums I bought in the six month period collected in the playlist. I would then be able to play the playlist, on album shuffle of course, and listen conveniently to the new music I bought, without having to pick it out from my entire library or having to show a preference for one album over another. It can take a few listens before I become attuned to the music and I don't want to discard an album before I have given it a proper chance.

Since I got my iPod Touch I haven't created the new music playlists, because I am unable to play music back shuffling by album and I would either have to listen to all the albums in a set order or make a choice as to what I wanted to listen to. I supposed that it would be just as easy to select the new albums from my entire library anyway, so there was little benefit in creating the playlist. Trying to review the music I bought last year is a little awkward, because without the playlists I have not kept track of what I bought nor have I listened to the new music as much as would have normally.

It has reached the point where I am considering my options on how to listen to new music regularly again. I can start to create the playlists again and use them as a reduced library from which to pick albums to play, but I would like to be able to play them all in a random order with one push of a button, which is not possible on the iPod Touch. I could use my CD player more, but even though it holds six CDs at a time it plays them in order and I like a bit of variety, and it is not an option when I am at work. I started thinking about getting an iPod Classic, solely for use at work so that I could get back the album shuffle mode.

The problem with buying another iPod is that I feel like a mug. Album shuffle is now a basic feature and I don't think I should reward Apple with another iPod sale only because they left that feature off the iPod Touch in the first place. I could buy a new battery for my old iPod, which was an option back when I was thinking about buying the Touch. A drawback to that idea is that it would remain my only iPod capable of album shuffle and I have it playing through my entire library on that mode, which can take a few months to complete. If I also use it to play my new music I will never get around to playing my whole library.

What I really want is for Apple to pull their finger out and implement album shuffle on the Touch. So for now I'll simply create my new music playlists and keep picking albums manually, hopefully in an effort to highlight new albums. It is a shame, because the iPod Touch is a great device. I shouldn't be thinking about ditching it because it is missing such a simple feature.

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