Apple: Feature Requests for AppleTV and/or FrontRow

I’m not sure if anyone from Apple is reading this post, but hope springs eternal.

Listen, I love my AppleTV.  Every week I convert more and more of my movies to MP4 and add them to iTunes.  And I love the fact that FrontRow 2.0 in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) is basically the AppleTV software.  Beautiful.  My Mac Mini, with a 500GB USB 2.0 drive, is an AppleTV on steroids.  Perfect.

I now have over 200 hours of movies and TV ripped for my two Apple boxes.

But there is a problem.  Two, really.  I need to request two key feature additions for the next dot-release of AppleTV and FrontRow:

Request 1: Please add video playlists

This should be obvious, because you already have them on the iPod, but I really need these on the AppleTV.  I have a lot of ripped TV shows and cartoons that are only 5-20 minutes in length.  What I want to do is arbitrarily create a video playlist, and have the AppleTV play continuously some number of shows in a row.  Right now, the device has no playlists.  So either I have to rip a customer MP4 of different combinations, or I have to actually manually play each show individually.

Example: School House Rock

I ripped this DVD.  37 Episodes, each 3 minutes.  Of course, I could not possibly rip the individual shows given the current AppleTV interface.  Instead, I ripped a full two-hour block of all 37 episodes back-to-back.  I then ripped smaller, 8 or 9 episode sequences based on topic.

What I should have been able to do is:

  1. Rip each 3 minute short as a separate file
  2. Create playlists of different groups and sequences of those segments

A lot of great video content is short, and makes sense to view in playlists.  Ripping different combinations into a single video file is wasteful, and clutters the interface.

Request 2: Folders

This one is easy because Tivo already figured this out with version 4.0 of their interface (they are now on 9.x I think).

Let me create folders to group together content so that I don’t have a linear list that goes on forever.  For example, if I have all 6 Star Wars movies, let me create a folder for them.  If I have 10 hours of Band of Brothers, let me group it together.

Right now, the only “grouping” functionality is through the TV Shows interface.  Frankly, that’s pretty clunky.  I’m not even sure I like breaking apart video into movies and TV shows.  I certainly don’t have that breakdown on my Tivo, and I’m not sure I like it.  I’d rather just see TV Shows as a folder of video, sorted by season, then episode, kind of like music that is broken down by artist, and then album.

True, I wouldn’t mind dynamic grouping based on tagged elements of the movies, but that’s actually overkill for now.  I’d settle for good, old-fashioned, manual folders.  A simple directory structure could help me scale the current interface with the remote to handling hundreds of movies, instead of dozens.

So, if you are listening Apple, help me out here.  Thanks.