Media Plug-in User Interface Discussion

I posted this as a reply to a discussion a few months back, but wanted to get it out for the general public to discuss:

The one thing that makes the AppleTV so great is the user interface. Notice that Movies, TV Shows, Netflix, and YouTube all use the same interface. I personally believe that a plugin such as Firecore’s should adhere as close to Apple’s interface as possible, which was one of the beauties of ATVFiles under the original ATV. Rather than have the up/down buttons adjust the volume, it would be better for those buttons to act exactly as they do in the other plug-ins mentioned above; up brings up the play bar to show where you are in relation to the entire movie, and down allows you to fast forward between chapters. Aside from this ATV2, I also have a Boxee Box, and have to say that this is one of the big drawbacks of the Boxee. Every single App uses a whole new UI, therefore, anytime you launch a new app, you’re learning a whole new user interface (much like using ATV2, then launching XBMC).

The way I see it, I already have a remote that adjusts the volume for the TV, and when I’m not watching the AppleTV, I have to use that remote anyway, which will more than likely just add another layer of confusion.  For example:  You get the volume just right under AppleTV, then flip over to your cable box, use the other remote to adjust the volume, go back to the AppleTV, volume is out of whack, but adjusting it to the max on the AppleTV remote isn’t enough, so you still need to go find the original TV remote to fix it.

I’d like to hear other user’s thoughts on this.

Wow, 147 views, and nobody has a comment?  I was hoping to open up a debate, maybe get the devs to reconsider…



I like the idea of a consistent interface but not at the expense of volume control. It’s a hard call.



I disagree.  I think that I already have remotes that handle the volume, and do so better (i.e. it has the ability to mute too), and I find the ability in the Apple interface to jump ahead in small blocks of time much more useful.  Many folks don’t know about this feature, but once you get used to it, it’s invaluable.

I also think that, having two remotes control volume (one for the TV, one for the device) really brings down the WAF (wife acceptance factor).  “Why doesn’t the movie have volume, I have the TV turned all the way up” only to find that the AppleTV is turned down, then the next time you switch inputs it rattles the windows.  Sure, for the geeks amongst us (and aren’t all of us early adopters geeks?) it’s OK, but when it gets in the hands of the other 99.9% of the population, I think it will be a wasted feature.  The Boxee box used to use the up/down for volume as well, but they’ve since abandoned the idea too.


I think ultimately what we’ll end up doing is adding a toggle setting allowing you to choose what the up/down arrows do during playback. Having chapter-like controls is a is a great way to get around, but we’ve had a surprising number of requests for volume control as well.

Hopefully this provides the best of both worlds. :)

My PCH-C200 has volume capabilities, XBMC does, LG ST600 does not, etc… Around 1/2 of the media players do. We have an ATV in the kitchen. Without a volume control you need two remotes, or use a smarter remote or program our TV provider’s remote to handle both the ATV and the volume. Not hard to do but it’s not clear to me that the WAF goes down with volume control.

I am surprised that the Boxee Box dropped it. It is very handy for adjusting the volume in the middle of a video, without changing your main volume.


Yes, that does sound like the best of both worlds, thanks!

The only plugin on the AppleTV that uses the up/down for volume is Fire Core, you would have to use the other remote for every other function of the box requiring a volume change.  This alone I think is enough to make you ask why.

In our case, the only device that does volume via the remote is the AppleTV, but ONLY in the Media plug-in, so all other volume is controlled by one controller.  So, I guess not so much a WAF, as she’ll never accept changing the volume via the AppleTV remote.  But, when you get one function out of the up/down for the rest of the AppleTV’s functions, but volume for FireCore, it makes the Media plug-in feel out of place.

I’d like to open this discussion up again.  I’m running the latest (0.7?) Media plugin, and it works great, I have absolutely no complaints about it functionally, but I still feel we’re missing the mark from a UI perspective.  For reasons previously mentioned, I really don’t want to use the remote for volume control, and I think that, disabling the volume control is a good option, unfortunately, I don’t think the current implementation is as good as it could be.

Let me start with the fact that this isn’t criticism, I think you guys have done a great job, and am happy with the product, but from one developer to another, I think the UI of the plugin is lacking, it doesn’t feel like the rest of the plugins, therefore feels incomplete, or like it doesn’t belong.  For example, with Volume control disabled, if I hit the up arrow, it pauses playback.  Down arrow, pauses playback.  Center button, pauses playback, and play/pause, pauses playback.  I have 4 different buttons, each of which pauses playback.  I honestly believe, if you make the media plugin operate as closely as possible to Apple’s video, netflix, or youtube player (i.e. make it work as if it came from Apple), this would provide the most fluid user interface possible, and the best customer experience.




Yep, the controls as-is are in fact incomplete, we just didn’t have enough time to get the proper controls added in the most recent version.

The next version should include these changes and give a more natural feel to the playback/chapter controls.

Awesome, thanks!