It’s Official: Apple’s Stupidest Interface Innovation Ever

As you may have read in this article, I got my new 160 GB iPod classic today. I like it; a lot. I like its feel, all metal; I like its capacity; and I like the new interface. Well, most of it. There’s one part I don’t like, and I officially anoint it as Apple’s Stupidest Interface Innovation Ever. It’s this thing where you see, on half the screen, a menu, and on the other half, part of an album cover:

Let me explain how this works, for those who do not have new iPods. When you are on the main menu (the top-level menu), or the Music menu (which leads to Playlists, Artists, Albums, etc.), you see album art on the right half of the iPod screen. This is a random cover from your music, and it changes about ever 8 seconds. It also moves around; you know, like those annoying Flash ads on web pages that distract you so you can’t read articles?

I mean, what’s the point of this? Okay, they wanted to fill up space with something “dynamic”, and I guess I could find worse images than the one of Nelly Furtado in the graphic above. (However, my style, both of music and of eye-candy, would lean more toward, say, Hélène Grimaud:)

But the whole concept here is stupid: first, it chooses random art. Why do you want to see your album art at random? Perhaps if you could choose one album to use as a kind of wallpaper, that might be useful. But even if you could, this stuff is moving. Nothing is more distracting than a moving image, especially when you want to read text. There’s not much text to read in these menus, but when I see these moving images, I just want to drill down a level to get rid of them. Would that there were an option to remove this stupid feature.

Apple likes to be edgy and innovative, but this idea is just plain stupid (yes, I’ve used that word too many times, but repetition can sometimes hammer home a point). What were they really thinking? I’m curious as to how users will react to this; does everyone think it is as annoying as I do? Or is it just that I have a lot of music, and lots of album art, much of which looks totally out of place when displayed in this manner.

Also, comments I’ve seen on some blogs that have mentioned this article suggest that there are people who don’t want certain album covers to display; they may be ashamed of some of the music they own. Not my problem, but, hey, you never know.

Please, Mr. Jobs, give me back my iPod screen. I’ll pay you for a way to remove this hideous feature.

Update: I’ve turned off album art on my iPod, and instead of moving album covers, I see only a double-quaver (two musical notes joined together at the top) with the number of songs contained on my iPod below it. This speeds up the interface in general, showing that this album art makes the interface sluggish. I don’t really like not having album art, especially when I listen to music in Shuffle Songs mode, but for now, I’ll see if I can live without it. But what’s the point having all that album art in my iTunes library, and a color-screen iPod, in that case?