Re: [Usability] Play/Pause or Play and Pause buttons in Jokosher

On Jan 10, 2007, at 3:39 AM, Calum Benson wrote:

On Fri, 2007-01-05 at 08:01 +0000, Stuart Langridge wrote:
What's the motive for the HIG's mandate to separate Play/Pause, and is
it still valid?
My summary of the HIG's motivation would be:

- If you have separate play and pause (and/or stop) buttons, it should
be immediately obvious to anyone who knows what play, pause (and/or
stop) mean how they're going to behave. If you only have a play button, you can't really tell what it's going to do until you press it. (Will it turn into a Pause button? A stop button? Will it stay pressed in, or pop back out?)

At this point, people's experience with most software media players from the past ten years (whether Windows, Mac, or Linux), combined with the absence of any other nearby pause/stop button, should make it obvious that Play will be a toggle.

- The accessibility folks generally prefer one button = one function,
otherwise (for example) a screenreader has to convey to the user (while, in this case, some other sort of audio is now playing) that the button whose function was "Play" now has the function "Pause".

That seems a wee bit like the tail wagging the dog.

The arguments against:

- "Stop" has no real meaning in digital media, "Pause" is sufficient, so you're only ever going to need Play and Pause functions, which are effectively opposite states. And it's spatially inefficient to have two buttons for opposite states, ergo you only need one button.

It's also faster, if you're repeatedly playing then pausing with a pointing device (if you're transcribing music, for example, or listening to a language lesson).

Personally, I blame Apple.  Until the iPod came along, every CD player
(and of course cassette player) I ever owned had separate Play, Pause
and Stop buttons.  But that wouldn't have fitted so nicely onto a
clickwheel, so now everyone's used to overloaded buttons :)

Blame Apple if you will, but not the iPod. :-) QuickTime's movie player has used a combined Play/Pause button since version 1.0 in 1992. You can see this in 1993's /Jurassic Park/, which features the QuickTime player <>, and also in an article about QuickTime 3.0 from 1998 <>.

Windows Media Player switched from separate Play and Pause buttons to a combined button with version 7 in September 2000 <>. And iTunes used a combined button starting with version 1.0 in February 2001. The iPod didn't appear until October 2001.

Matthew Paul Thomas

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