Count the questions you get asked before you’re allowed your drink at a Starbucks - 7 decisions you’re forced to take immediately after ordering a cup of Cappuccino. But this is not the only example of a poorly designed interface…
Designers often tend to talk about the pre- and the post-iPod era. Touch sensitive controllers, minimized into one jog wheel that intuitively allows all control you need to use a mobile music device became the role model. A blueprint of how content has to be accessible to the user on a slick device (even though the iPod has some control bugs).
Tomorrow you will not see many keyboard or knob based interfaces any more. It’s all becoming gestures, multitouch, intuitive, customizability.
The crucial question is, how will content like music be consumed and ‘handled’ in a touchscreen environment? It’s a matter of fact, that the fast developing screen technology and interface design is encouraging more interaction with the device.
Scrolling through tree-like menus, being asked to compile playlists in a time eating manner, tag and sort stuff will be a K.O. criteria as soon as new options to interact with content via your device create new habits and thus a new approach towards media consumption, and therefore towards the content itself.
Would you demand a house party with DJs that do no beat matching and mixing?
Would you demand a portable keyboard with your iPad/iPhone?
Would you ask for the sound being turned off at the movies because in former days you got used to silent movies?
All this sounds stupid, but is just habits based on new interface and/or screen technologies. There was no beatmatching before the crossfader - and as a result there is no single track any more in a DJ environment, just loops, parts, material.
Now think of music being presented not as listed separated items, like in a playlists you need to skip through, maybe not even as individual songs any more, but as raw material you can proactively interact with?
to give you an example, imagine the mass of pro or home made music videos you find at youtube. How about buying a song as a basic license for my iPad which allows me to play this song with all this various video edits? No ‘this video contains someone else property and is not available in your territory’ but the option to listen to this song plus enjoying all videos you want by simply swiping them over your purchased content.
Or a song that can be altered from a pop version to a singer songwriter, dub or karaoke version by a simple gesture you perform on the screen.
New - interface driven - user behavior will have a major impact on how recording industry will need to present their content in order to sell it in the near future.
It’s simply a matter of fact, that new interfaces / screens will change our daily routines in the next 1,5 years - so it’s time to start thinking about what to deliver to the users.
Klaus Gropper is a freelance consultant and runs De:Bug magazine in Berlin, contact him via his blog