Why isn't my MP3 more like Flickr?

by James Whatley on 2nd June 2010

The last great MP3 player (and I’m obviously talking about phones here) was the N73. I’m not talking about any old N73 either. I’m talking pre-internet edition, pre-music edition, I’m talking the original, the beautiful N73 v2 firmware.

Why? Because this player gave you a glimpse of the future – as well as the present.

But why is this important? And how does it relate to the question of the title?

Allow me to explain…

The N73. Classic.

Album art is all very well, visually appealing and – depending on the artist – sumptuous to feast your oculars upon.

However, since the N73 nothing has changed.

Consider the scene:

Our hero is strutting along the pavement, 32GB of his favourite tracks randomising every 3 minutes or so and he stumbles into some Kings of Leon. He hasn’t listened to them in AGES and decides that in fact, an afternoon of the best rock music the Kings can offer is most certainly in order. He takes out his device, hits the back button a few times, then hits search, then search by artist, types in a few letters, finds the Kings of Leon and then finally hits play (interrupting his current track in the process).

Not the most seamless of experiences is it? Yet we’ve all done it.

But where does Flickr fit in all this?

Flickr, for the uninitiated amongst you, is a photo-sharing service that you can upload your images to in chronological order, storing them in various albums etc.

You can probably see where this one is going already

A diagram by James Whatley

Empty Underground, a photo from Flickr

  1. This is your main image. This is the image that you are viewing right now. Look at it. It’s lovely.
  2. Here we have your comments field. Like the image? Leave a comment.
  3. This is your photostream section. Displaying thumbnails of images both before and after the one you’re viewing now (see item 1). This is good. Useful even.
  4. This part highlights what other sets, groups or albums this particular image belongs to. You can and close this with a single click and, if the inclination takes you, step off into a whole new stream.
  5. Tags. Pure and simple. Different photos are tagged with different words which then in turn, allow you to filter (and track) your images with ease.

Taking all of that into account, think back to my original point about the MP3 player. An album cover can only be pretty for so long; what we need now is a useful user interface.

What do you think?

  1. Album art lives here. We’ll keep it in along with the track details that are playing right now. Track length etc.
  2. Here we have the past and the future. With the words PREV and NEXT replaced with the track and artist name of the songs coming before this one and after.
  3. These two buttons are for diving into the albums that the current track playing appears on and also the playlists. Our hero will no longer suffer any problems when it comes to listening to his favourite Kings.
  4. Rewind, play/pause and skip. The usual fare.

It might seem busy at first, but there really is no real reason why a modern day MP3 player on any mobile shouldn’t look at least a little something like this.

Each track semantically linked to its individual playlist and album streams, creating a simple and easy to use UI that flows seamlessly from whatever track you want, to the next.

Now… Who wants to build it for me?

Image credit: N73 music player screenshot, WirelessInfo.com

Special thanks to Stefan Constantinescu of IntoMobile and Rafe Blandford from All About Symbian for their help in locating the N73 screenshot. Geeks. We love ‘em.

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