Thursday, September 08, 2005

Doing the Smart Shuffle

Quoteth Paul Thurrott on Internet Nexus:

I've written several times in the past that, contrary to the stated goals of the products, the shuffle algorithm employed by Apple in its iPod portable audio players is not even close to being random. A number of readers have written in about this, with a few defending Apple's "randomness," while the majority have expressed similar experiences to mine. Now, in iTunes 5.0, Apple seems to be throwing in the towel. One of the new features of this release is Smart Shuffle, which lets you set the "randomness" of iTunes' shuffle feature on a sliding scale. So let me ask you something. If it was "random" to begin with, why was this feature needed?

I'm not sure why that feature needs explanation, since it gives itself away: "Smart Shuffle allows you to control how likely you are to hear multiple songs in a row by the same artist or from the same album." In other words, with iTunes 5.0 you can set it to be effectively less random than before by having it check to make sure that the song about to be played by luck-of-the-draw isn't one related to the song just played, either by artist or album. At least to the extent that is possible given the set of songs. Is it so hard to imagine that before such a feature existed you would easily get adjacent songs that were related?

Incidentally, I would have simply left this as a comment on his blog, but he doesn't have that feature enabled, even though the software he uses, Blogger, has a word verification feature that easily eliminates comment spam. I suppose any question he poses is thereby rhetorical, but oh well. Also, email sent to the address posted on the site bounces with a "554 Sorry, message looks like SPAM to me" message.

4 Comments:

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