As far as I know it started with Apples iPod. To make things more “simple” it was decided that this box did not need a stop button. The open source world was excited about this decision and made similar things in many audio/video applications. Actually I think thats one of the worst decisions they could ever have thought of.
If you download PodCasts and start one – you can only pause the play – if you then you switch to radio you cant start the radio right of – because when you press play/pause again the podcast you have paused will continue to play. The only way I could play the radio was to close rhythmbox and start it again. WTF?
Miro has a similar problem. Like you are in the media library and start playing one of the videos – then you like to stop the one you watch and want to look at the others. The way you can do it is by selecting another navigation item (both Miro and Rhyhtmbox use the iTunes style left hand navigation bar) and then switch back to media library again. There is no stop.
Thinking that everything Apple does is a smart idea is stupid. I might accept Apples decision for their iPod, because it has very little space. But also it is not able to do multiple tasks. Why shouldn’t I be able to tell “STOP – I dont want to play this media any more now”. it also tells the application that if I would come back to the file I rather would start from the beginning. Actually I think more often people would start from the beginning of a video or a music piece than ton start somewhere in the middle. And if they would like to I think some kind of time based bookmark would be a better solution. On Miro I then found out that when I drag the progress meter to the very left it works a bit like a stop button – or better as a jump pack and play. But still I am not able to say go to second 0 and then do nothing. Am i stupid? Am I the only person n the world who likes to stop the playing of videos or music? I very seldomly pause a media file. This only happens when somebody is at the door and I either do not want to share my content to the ears fo the visitor or if I do not want to miss any second. Usuallly I rather let it play through. Somebody has guessed that nobody needs stop because play and pause are the same. I followed that discussion on Jokosher and gnome-usability list a while ago. I could not get my arguments through. But today I see that the use of play/pause/stop is even different on every application because now you have to guess more what the combined buttons mean. On Miro I also find it confusing that even switching to a differen navigation area stops playing. Why shouldn’t I listen to a files while searching or another and then come back to the media display. So they remove the stop button bu then make “navigating=stop”?
Rhythmbox doesnt do that. But then RB has the problem that if you see a play/pause in radio area this does not mean that pressing play will start the radio – it might rather start the podcast that you had paused. So from my perspective this all is awful usability now. Parts of it depend on the silly iTunes clone infrastructure. I never considered iTunes to be good in usability – in fact it is more kind of a list browser in the sense of a file manager with search capabilites and other enhancements (like downloading album covers, …) – but then why a second file manager and not improving the old ones?
I dont feel comofrtable with the newest multimedia applications in open source – I dont know how to use them – and I am 37 now. How do you smart programmers think your grammies will work through this? It took me years to tell my parents how play, pause and stop look like. And now we start throwing away the only distinguished symbols that we have and only have one button? How can we explain the functionality of that button? You see its even the case that different applications interpret the functionality differently – which means in fact that users have to learn EACH application. That was one thing Apple used to do better in the time before iTunes – try to make all interfaces behave and look more alike. iTunes was very “unapple” but strangely many think this is a cool application. But personally it reminds me more on old “Norton Commander” style of interface – so that was the pre-Windows area 1986.