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I sent some feedback to Apple regarding the new UI for QuickTime Player. Here’s what I had to say. Notice I didn’t once mention York Peppermint Patties. York! The Freshmaker!

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The new QuickTime Player X interface is very cool on the surface, but it has some unfortunate limitations when compared to QuickTime Player 7 that make it less useful. I find myself opening most of my movies in QuickTime Player 7 so that my video is not invaded by UI elements, and so I can use some of the features now missing in QuickTime Player X.

1) Putting the title bar and controls inside the movie frame is not very logical for a computer screen-based interface. This is not a TV or iPhone I’m using where the elements have no choice but to appear over the video. It’s a Mac, and as such is capable of a better, more useful, non-frustrating UI. I was able to see the entire frame of my movies in older QuickTime Player interfaces without cruft. Now, if I want to see the entire frame while paused or take a screen capture, I can’t without the controller and title bar littering the frame. If I want to go frame-by-frame through the video, I have to move the silly player control around to find out where it will be the least obtrusive. And if anything is in the top of the frame in my video, forget being able to see it through the title bar. Likewise, having the Trim bar inside the movie frame is ridiculous, doubly so because it can not be moved. If I need to see anything behind that trim bar, I’m out of luck. There is no reason other than “gloss and flash” to have the controls where they are in X.

2) I used to be able to use standard key strokes for multi-speed playback in either direction. The J, K, and L keys no longer work in QuickTime X. If there is a practical reason why they have gone missing, I can not think of one.

3) Doing away with the half-size (⌘0) and double-size (⌘2) shortcuts makes no sense. Cycling through sizes with ⌘- and ⌘+ is a nice addition, but it can also be like TVs that don’t let you get to the input you want right away, forcing you to cycle through every input until you get to the one you need. The current solution is a weaker choice. There’s no reason the older shortcuts and the newer shortcuts can’t both be available in the new player.

4) The fixed-size timeline slider is much more difficult to use than the older, variable-length slider. In long movies, it was easy to get finer control in the timeline by expanding the size of the QT window. But now, no matter how big the window is, the timeline slider remains the same size, and becomes fairly useless for fine-grain control on long videos.

5) The vanishing title bar means no more playing multiple movies at once and being able to tell which one is which with a quick title-bar glance. A small hindrance, but I point out that there was no such hindrance until it was created for QT Player X.

6) Rounded corners? Why? Just because all Mac windows have rounded corners? But video does not have rounded corners. If this is not putting the sow before the silk purse, I don’t know what is.

Nothing has been gained by making the changes I’ve mentioned. Not a thing. Having all controls on the outside of the video is common sense, and vastly improves on the human interface of QuickTime Player. Again, this is not a TV or iPhone I’m using for watching video, and so there’s no need to make the video window behave as such. If you are really hot to have the controls and frame vanish automatically during playback, the same thing can be accomplished with controls outside the frame and a simple preference option to let users choose to turn that behavior off if they want to. A keyboard shortcut can be added, too, so we may make the controls appear and reappear at will if we choose. It seems to me, however, that the vanishing controls are only necessary because of the unfortunate addition of intra-frame controls. Hmmm!

Apple has set the standard for good, logical design and UI for decades, with certain exceptions, of course. Hockey puck mouse, anyone? Sadly, QuickTime Player X trades usability for coolness, and it just doesn’t work.

Thanks for reading!

1 Comment

Nevin Expounded Thusly:

I can’t agree more with the slider issue. I was able to have a finer control with a longer slider, but now it’s fixed-size and short. Unlike VLC where I can “fast step” but clicking a button, in X I can only drag that slider and hope I’m at the right position with luck.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 • 7:54pm • Permalink


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