Thursday, September 15, 2016

user gripe: no musical star rating in ios 10

So, my current least favorite misfeature of iOS 10? The Music app no longer supports viewing or updating the "star" rating of a given song.

Previously you could tap the currently playing album cover and it would flip, revealing a simple interface to control the rating. With iOS 10,  the album cover doesn't do anything, but there's a "..." menu that lets you do a "Love" (heart) or "Dislike" (heart crossed out). You can tell Siri to apply a rating to the currently playing song, but I couldn't figure out a way of getting her to tell me what the current song was rated (other reviewers complain more about having to interrupt the current song playback in order to activate Siri and change the rating.)

I can almost hear the UX researchers defending this decision. "Users were getting confused about the difference between star ratings and heart/no heart!" "The hearts so much simpler, and more integrated to the Apple Music service!" "Do you know how few users actually USED the stars? [insert blah blah blah statistic here]%!"

And fair enough, the number of people who will miss this star access, or even star access if they drop it from the MacOS iTunes app, is likely a lot smaller than the number of people bemoaning the headphone jack. Apple is brazen in dropping features in the name of simplicity.

When I first ripped my music in 2004, I rated all of my 2000+ songs from 1 to 5 stars - admittedly this breaks the Don't Give Your Users S**t-Work guideline, but first and foremost it let me decide which songs  I wanted to include in the limited storage space on my device. (I'm definitely a "singles" guy, most albums consist of 2 or 3 songs people want to hear, and a lot of filler.) 3 stars were good and worthy of inclusion, 4 star songs I was psyched about, and 5 were my "most favorite ever". (Later I just got rid of the 1 to 2 star songs even on my desktop.) Apple smart playlists were a great way to manage my music into good/better/best.

For a long while I managed all my music on my desktop, not the phone where I do all my listening - then for a time I tried downloading straight to phone, but got into weird issues with the library on my desktop. So I guess I'm back to the desktop - and even if star management goes away from iTunes entirely, I could get 80% of the effect by manually juggling regular playlists -- the silver lining would be providing the excuse to break my dependency on Apple for acquiring music (before they dropped the DRM I was using Amazon for MP3s, and it seems like they have a better selection anyway.)

Ah well, I'm just a cranky old wanna-be poweruser. So many people prefer streaming, which I just don't get. It eats up bandwidth, you may have to juggle online/offline stuff anyway, and you have to KEEP paying rent for access to "your" music... or maybe it's about my relationship to music, I like to build a familiarity with specific songs so the appeal of the "custom radio station" paradigm for music is something I only understand in my head, not my heart.


  1. It's not just you. This music thing is killing me. iOS 10 has not made me happy.

  2. Ouch. I use the stars ALL the time.

    I guess I won't be upgrading anytime soon.

  3. This made me dump it and go with my iPod Classic. They're not upgrading that any time soon.