If you want to listen to a song on the iPod, or Spotify, you hit it and it plays. If you want to listen to a song on Sonos, or Rhapsody, you hit it and it prompts you with “Play Now” and “Add to Queue.”
What Apple did here was pretty marvelous (I don’t actually know who invented this navigation scheme, but Apple clearly made it popular). Rather than taking the traditional idea of a jukebox and making it digital, it re-thought this notion of a “queue.” The iPod has no front-facing queue. You click a song and it plays through the current list — whether that’s an album or a playlist.
On other systems, it’s like “we have to play something, so we’re going to make a play-list, or a queue. When someone wants to listen to something, they can add it to the bottom of this list, or move it to the top.” Sounds fine. But in truth it’s annoying for two reasons.
First, the user has to keep track of this queue in her head. She’s not sure what’s next and she’s constantly thinking about it implicitly. Second, if I want to hear an album, but I want to have it start from the second song, I’d run into trouble. If I hit that song and press “Play Now” it’ll add it to the top of my queue, but the next song is going to be the last thing that was on the top of my queue. And something on a queue from yesterday, or the last time I used the app, is rarely ever relevant today.
I may prefer this no-queue way of doing things because Apple trained me to do so, but it seems to make so much sense: you don’t have to think about what’s coming next — the app just plays down the current list. Plus, if Apple trained me, it’s trained millions of others, so all new apps should follow that same language.