The scrubber (left-to-right slider) is very difficult to use with podcasts, and was a poor design decision.
...The fact that Apple added the 30 second rewind and the following scrubber fixes is enough evidence in the "user centered" court of law to state the above.
Well, 3.0 has another kludge up its sleeve that I stumbled upon. Now, when you place your finger on the scrubber a contextual message appears instructing you to pull your finger down to adjust the rate at which the scrubber will move through the track- the further you move your finger down, the slower it moves through the track. Let me paint you picture: You put your finger on the scrubber button, the message pops up, you drag your finger down and as you, the rate of movement through the podcast will slow down. You then move your finger left of right to move as normal, all this without picking up your finger.
There's a couple points of discussion here:
- As I've said in the past- you have a dynamic, touchscreen UI, take advantage of that! They tried this with the gesturing, two dimensional scrubbing maneuver, but they still tie it to the traditional left/right scrubber!
- ...which is the silly design decision here- we're moving an object at the top of the screen but our finger is positioned (in the case of "fine") nowhere near it! I think "kludge" is the kindest word I can come up with for how this interaction works. I'm all for having advanced features that are "value add" as long as they don't detract from the functionality of the product for those unaware (ex: Opera's mouse gestures); this attempts to be one of those, but considering the original functionality can hardly be called functional for anyone (advance or not) really makes me scratch my head.
- Maybe I just need practice- but in actual use, I'm not sure this is all that useful. I found myself moving my finger up and down, left and right and losing the context of what I wanted to hear,...okay, this one is an anecdote, I retract it
- ...but it's probably because they start out "fastest" and have you move your finger farther down the screen to get to the "slowest/finest" granularity. Of course, we're humans, and we can't move our limbs in precise, linear motions. The result is that as I'm moving my finger down to more finer granularity, there are slight movements to the left and right which cause the audio to jump around quite a bit (since they're higher speeds) and I'm "lost" before I finally get to the slower speeds. Keep in mind, the reason this was added was because the faster scrubs are worthless. It seems to me, that excusing all the previous points (ie- I wouldn't design it this way to begin with), it would make more sense to start out "fine" and drag your finger down to get higher speed scrubbing (the zoom out metaphor), but given the established UI expectations, this wouldn't make sense, you'd have to have a default fine scrub first.
I think I'll find some use of this feature, but I think it's mostly because I'm into these features much more than (I expect) the general population. I'll add it up to one more band-aid on an interface that is really starting to show it could use a "rethinking." It would be more useful if they ditched the "scrubber" widget on the screen and put something up that really conveyed this functionality. I'd suggest looking at kmaage's comments on the previous post for ideas on how to make these functions actually useful.