Article: The Trouble with iTunes

by on June 16, 2011

In light of iCloud’s soon arrival and upcoming changes to the iOS ecosystem, this article may be moot, but I recently found myself in an annoying situation. Mid-sync, iTunes crashed and my iPhone was rather sluggish and lagged. Shutting it down resulted in a spinner, and a hard reset accomplished nothing. I had to restore my iPhone in DFU-mode to even get it to sync, and this made me realize something—iTunes syncing is severly counterintuitive.

Obviously being ‘PC free’ and iCloud-enabled, iOS 5 will change quite a bit and may have even prevented this particular issue, but I started thinking, while my thousands of songs were being copied, that the fact that iTunes tries to do everything and seems to be the most outdated of the iLife apps. This could change with iTunes 10.5’s rumored 64-bit goodness. After all, it is managing a lot of files.

Microsoft Shows the Way?

Still, Microsoft seems to actually have excelled in device synchronizing on the Mac (no pun intended) with Windows Phone 7’s Connector. It’s small, fast, and lightweight. Right now, the application is pretty basic and lacks some control over the process, but it’s a start.

You don’t need to have access to your entire music library when you’re going to manage your apps or updating your contacts. This is proven right now with the iPhoto library being pulled for iOS devices. Your contacts are pulled from the Address Book, so why not just make your music, movies, and other purchased things yet another sync source? Clearly you need iTunes to manage your movies, music, books, and apps, but it seems like it’s doing too much.

Remember iSync?

One change we’re seeing with Lion is the death of iSync. Previously, it was the way to sync your Mac’s PIM data (contacts, calendar, notes) with PalmOS PDAs, Bluetooth-enabled phones, a .Mac account, and even the iPod before iTunes took that over. It was a lightweight, simple application. You have your devices listed across the top of the screen and a giant sync button to get the job done. Some of the frameworks have found their way into the OS, but this relic of a simpler time is going the way of the dodo bird on many users’ Macs in about a month.

While I understand that Apple wants iTunes to be synonymous with buying music, movies, TV shows, apps, and more, I think that (at least on the Mac), the company sould focus on a lightweight synchronization client for iOS devices, especially since the Mac has been demoted to just another device in your arsenal, rather than the premiere place to store things.

Are my arguments just from a bad experience? Maybe, but I think that it would be nice if my Apple devices played nicely together, especially if we could run into some of these snags with iOS 5, Mac OS X Lion, and synchronizing via wifi.

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