16 Jul 2008

The iPod becomes software

iPhone’s iPod icon I bought an iPhone 3G this past weekend (and waited 4 1/2 hours for the privilege). One of its functions is to play your music/movies like an iPod. You access this feature through a button labeled “iPod”. It has a picture of an old, non-iPhone iPod on it. This struck me as funny (haha funny). I think of the iPhone as subsuming the iPod in a device with extra functionality. But to explain to the user what this button does, it has a picture of an old iPod on it. And it’s not called “iTunes” or “Music and Movies”, or “Media” — it’s called “iPod”. So the iPod has become a piece of software, and the hardware has just become an icon.

2 thoughts on “The iPod becomes software

  1. This is a very interesting post. Icons, it seems to me, often end up like this. Like “folders” on a “desktop” they are pictures of what used to be so that users can say, “Oh, I know what that button does,” but after a while, all they become are anachronisms.

  2. Good point, Alison. Icons that set your expectations perfectly are perfect icons, so I guess the iPod qualifies. The final irony is that what you get when you hit that button is completely different than what you see on an old iPod screen. The interface is redesigned for the touch interface and the visual similarity is zilch.