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Posts tagged Round of Applause

Round of Applause: Snap To Top

The ability to quickly navigate back to the top of a page has become more and more important in these days where new information is coming in regularly and pushing older information down as well as when it is indicated in the form of a notification within your tab (such as in tumblr and Gmail).  Even on sites that aren’t blogs returning to the top of a page to get to the sites navigation bar is important.  After I’ve read an article from the Telegraph or New York Times, it’s nice to return to the section or move on to another section.

Tumblr has the unique ‘snap to top’ button that appears once you’ve scrolled down a bit (if you’re using infinite scroll… which you should be using anyway because it’s a dream).   There is no more satisfying feeling than clicking on the up arrow and watching the page that you have just read fly by returning you to the top.  But more than show it is utilitarian. Back at the top I can click onto one of the other groups I am part of or click through to the tags I follow.

On the iPhone I scroll through a page and when I reach the bottom I usually want to navigate elsewhere or search for a something unrelated to the page I am viewing.   However, the navigation bar (and Google search field) is hidden unless you scroll to the top of the page, a task that can be both annoying and slow, especially if time is of the essence (and lets face it, who isn’t in a rush?).  Luckily Apple has included a nifty feature built into its API.  Just tap the top of the screen and the page will rush to the top, exposing the navigation bar and leaving you free to enter the url or search fields.  The top tap works outside of Safari also.  I discovered it in Instapaper, NowPlaying, IMDB, and Wikipanion to name a few.

I think this is more important on a mobile device; no chance of you having a scroll wheel on your mouse or drag or click the scroll bar on the side of a window.  Being able to quickly return to the top of a page when the page itself is your only piece of hardware is critical.  I don’t want to down play how much I love it on the regular Internet.  I actually miss it when I am viewing pages other than tumblr.  Out of habit I too-frequently slide my mouse to the upper right corner expecting a ghostly arrow to be there.  I am instead usually greeted with a banner ad of some sort.

So, thank you tumblr, and thank you Apple for realizing I, like many, consume and scroll only to then want to return to the tops of pages.  I wish more pages were designed way.

[EDIT: I wrote Instant Rewind under the Taking 5 heading, which is a feature that should be dedicated to correcting and shedding new light on subjects.  Round of Applause is the more appropriate title for this sort of thing. I have since gone back and changed it.]

Round of Applause: Instant Rewind

Rewind.  Common place on VCRs and cassette players.  Very easy to control, generally there was only one speed.  The digital movement came around and introduced the idea of skipping around a movie by chapters or tracks or by varrying speeds… my Blu-ray player can rewind at 30x normal speed if I need it to.

But these long rewinds are cake compared to short jumps.  Ever try and rewind to see something that just happened?  It’s really annoying unless you have a button that can jump back a short distance.  TiVo was the first place I experienced the instant rewind.  With a dedicated button that went back :15 it made coming back from fast forwarded commercials a snap.  If you went too far, just jump back 15 seconds.  If you missed an important line in a movie, or an episode of 24, just go back and hear it again.  It’s brilliant and it’s a feature you can find on most DVRs today.

Apple includes a 30 second rewind option in their iPhones and iPod touch if you are listening to podcasts.  I listen to 4 podcasts (all videogame or technology related) a week and it is the most useful thing in the world.  Have you ever tried rewinding on an iPod touch?  It’s fine if the track is two and a half minutes, but the podcasts I listen to are over an hour.  The slightest move on a touch screen can bring me back several minutes. Being able to go back just 30 seconds to get some clarity or a product name makes podcasts bearable.

But I’m spoiled now.  I use it so often I want instant rewind on everything.  Why isn’t it built into the rest of the iPod functionality.  There’s a fantastic guitar solo in Shine On You Crazy Diamond it would be great to pop back 30 seconds to hear it one more time before continuing through the rest of the album. It would also be great to have it built into iTunes for the times when I’m listening to podcasts on my computer. Hell, I even want it on Hulu when I’m watching Fringe, or Netflix on demand.

Instant rewind is one of the greatest things to come to the digital age.  If only it could be in more places…

[EDIT: This was previously filed under the Taking 5 category but since the creation of Round of Applause I have realized it is better suited there.  The Taking 5 tag remains however, for people who are looking for it.]