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One UI Does Not Fit All May 26, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.

To see the full-screen trailers of The Incredibles and Alexander, Apple is making you use iTunes, rather than its QuickTime player. (It uses QuickTime for the full screen version of Spider-Man II or Sky Captain.) After you view the trailer with iTunes, you end up at the iTunes store’s new trailers section. However, most of the trailers housed there drive you to QuickTime, rather than iTunes, as the media player.

I don’t believe that one UI fits all. Neither does Apple, usually. There’s good reasons that the UIs for QuickTime, iTunes, Safari, the iPod, and OS X are different, and tuned to the functions and medium they’re focused on. A browser is about browsing and searching. It accomodates viewing short media like music clips and trailers via plug-ins just fine. Music lends itself to playlists, sorting by artist, album, or genre, and, when portable, one-thumb scrolling and manipulation. Etc., etc.

The iTunes video experience exposes some flaws of the single UI approach. It’s probably just an implementation glitch, but with QuickTime you can skip ahead or back in the trailer; you can’t with iTunes. Tivo, who is very good at creating a TV UI, falls flat with its music and photo features. Microsoft’s Media Center implementations – both portable and TV screen versions – are similarly challenged, though Microsoft, for once, is not crippling them with too many Windows conventions.

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