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Flawed iTunes Stands Out Among Apple's Products 390

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-if-it-only-had-one-button dept.
waderoush writes "On top of all the other features that it has crammed into iTunes, Apple this week added Ping, a Facebook-like social network for music discovery. It's all part of the company's plan to dominate the world of consumer media, but Xconomy argues that this time, Apple may have gone a bridge too far. iTunes, nearing its tenth birthday, started out merely as a program for ripping CDs, and has grown increasingly creaky and impenetrable as Apple has added more and more cruft, the article argues. The company won't have a stable base for its new media empire until it rebuilds iTunes from scratch — perhaps along the lines suggested by its other new product this week, the revamped Apple TV."
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Flawed iTunes Stands Out Among Apple's Products

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  • But there’s one piece of the Appleverse that I’ve always detested, and that’s the desktop version of iTunes. The ugly duckling of the iFamily, this program is hard to understand, hard to use, inelegant, and ill-behaved—in short, the very opposite of most other Apple products. I dread booting it up every day ...

    Yeah, yesterday I bitched about this [slashdot.org] and have actively refused any upgrades to iTunes since 9 because I'm not sure if 10 is going to get better or worse.

    Now I have to have Quicktime on my machine ... which I am not a fan of. And what's worse is that reviews are telling me that it's faster but with a crappier UI [arstechnica.com] while at the same time Ping concerns me if it has my credit card information and is just a spam portal [pcworld.com].

    So while I want iTunes to run faster, I definitely don't want anything to do with this "Ping" service and if it's reminiscent of how they made me dependent on Quicktime (despite the fact that I have never used iTunes for anything video -- VLC kicks ass) I don't want auto-opted into something that I cannot get out of!

    If you're looking for open source alternatives to iTunes: CDex [sourceforge.net], VLC [videolan.org] and handbrake [handbrake.fr]

    My biggest problem is that support seems to wax and wane with actually moving songs/videos on and off an iPod with open source alternatives ... so that leaves me tied to the beast that is iTunes.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:15PM (#33465708) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe iTunes is still a Carbon app to this day. Everybody else has updated to Cocoa, what's taking you so long Apple? Are you too busy figuring out ways to break your own Human Interface Guidelines?
  • Winamp. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Vehstijul (85085) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:16PM (#33465720)

    Back when I was on Win2k (or Windows, period) I used Winamp... and then they started adding crap I didn't want that slowed down the program. At least I had the option to keep the older version.

    Sounds like iTunes is doing it again. Social networking in my music player?! Not needed. I'm not on Facebook, I'm not on Twitter, I don't want that in my music player, I must be a Luddite.

    Can't they have a iTunes "lite" that only connects your iPad/Pod, organizes your music, and that's it?

    The iTunes "Plus" can play your videos, tweet your OMGLOLs, and buy DRM music for you.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:18PM (#33465748)
    I assumed it was because they don't want to buy a Windows computer and don't know how to use Linux, *BSD or any of the other alternatives.

    Mac hardware for better or for worse tends to work much more reliably in my experience than the Windows equivalents do, for the simple reason that Apple is able to effectively set rules about what is and is not acceptable for the platform. Whereas MS has been caught over the years programming around hardware bugs rather than saying no, we won't support it. The most notable example I can think of is the ACPI debacle, where many motherboards would have buggy implementations which wouldn't properly compile on the Intel reference implementation, but would run fine on Windows thanks to workarounds in the Windows source. Sure it would work, but as a result there'd be consequences and ultimately you'd have a tough time using the hardware with full support outside of Windows.
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:23PM (#33465834)

    I suspect that significantly fewer people used OS 9 than use iTunes, and considering its basically iTunes and the iPod that brought Apple back to life, there might be a slight bit more reluctance to admit that maybe it's gotten out of hand.

    Although, I'm glad someone brought up the point about CD ripping. When iTunes first came out, the slogan was something like, "Rip. Mix. Burn," where as now its "buy everything off our store! cds are for squares!" Its kind of along the lines of the broadband advertisements of about the same time, which basically used Napster as a selling point for cable and DSL internet -- Cox saying "download music and movies at blazing speeds!". Apple and the broad band industry basically colluded to make piracy a selling point, then turn around and try and label everyone who engages in it now as some sort of social anathema or infrastructure hog rather than update infrastructure and/or software to meet the requirements of the new reality.

  • by Zelgadiss (213127) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:27PM (#33465908)

    Apple surprisingly has manage to keep most of the new features they add pretty streamline when added to the UI.

    My main complain about that stupid app is it's speed and memory consumption.
    Something which has been it's Achilles' heel since forever.

    It seem just about every piece of Apple software on Windows is 2-3 times less efficient that any other software of it's class.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:28PM (#33465924) Homepage Journal

    It pretty much hamstrings the devices since alot of the internet uses flash.

    I hear that old line a lot yet I don't seem to every having it be much of an issue on my iDevices. Certainly the loss of Flash-ads has more than made up for any perceived loss of functionality.

    YMMV.
  • by qoncept (599709) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:30PM (#33465956) Homepage

    Now I have to have Quicktime on my machine ... which I am not a fan of. And what's worse is that reviews are telling me that it's faster but with a crappier UI while at the same time Ping concerns me if it has my credit card information and is just a spam portal.

    Are people really still complaining about this? I hate QT as much as the next guy, but it's a design decision. Do you want identical functionality and codecs in iTunes and Quicktime, or do you want to have both installed on your computer? Using VLC for video is of absolutely no consequence to Apple as it is hardly a ubiquitous claim. I, for example, ONLY use iTunes for video and absolutely hate VLC. If you don't like Quicktime, don't use it and set all your video filetypes to default to something else.

  • by somersault (912633) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:34PM (#33466014) Homepage Journal

    iPhone/iPad != Mac. I grew up with Mac computers and have always liked them, but I've never really wanted an iPod or iPhone. Still undecided on iPads.

  • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:36PM (#33466054)

    I hear that old line a lot yet I don't seem to every having it be much of an issue on my iDevices

    Thats because you are spoon fed content from Apple itself. Of course they would design things to work on their platform, but it works the way they decide it should rather than leaving it up to you to decide.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:41PM (#33466110)
    Then either A) You have a Mac or B) You have an awesome machine. I've ran iTunes on Windows 7 with a Core i7 and 6 GB of RAM and it still lagged. iTunes on OS X is rather nice, iTunes on Windows is complete crap. Plus, it takes about 10 times as long to "process" a song as it does to download it!
  • by c.r.o.c.o (123083) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:42PM (#33466118)

    I briefly owned a 2nd generation iPod Nano when they were brand new, and of course it insisted I install iTunes in order to transfer music to it. I installed it, uploaded some songs, and found out that Apple insists on ignoring folder structure when organizing music playlists. Since all my mp3s came from random sources, the id3 tags were a mess, but up to that point I did not care. Every computer and mp3 player I had used to that point was fine reading folders first with Artist_name/Album_name/track_number_-_song_name being the default sort.

    Apple just HAD to be different. It was using just file names and id3 tags to sort songs in playlists, so "Unknown Artist", "Doors" and "The Doors" were all different, even though on my PC they were all under the same folder. This was annoying beyond belief, but I wanted to fix the id3 tags anyway at some point.

    So I embarked on the gargantuan task of editing the id3 tags in my entire music collection, about 90Gb at the time, using iTunes. It wasn't as horrible as I thought, since iTunes does have batch id3 tag processing. At first everything was fine, all my songs were nicely organized both in iTunes and iPod.

    Then a few months later I decided to sell the iPod Nano and just use a cellphone as an mp3 player. Since I was only using iTunes to sync the Nano and play the mp3s, and I always liked foobar better anyway, I uninstalled it. HUGE MISTAKE!!!!!

    It turned out that iTunes wiped out the id3 tags from the songs and stored them somewhere else, because when I loaded the mp3s in foobar not a single one still had their tags. They were wiped clean! I posted this before and people said it must have been a mistake on my part. But I promise you guys, every single file in my music collection did not have an id3 tag. Verified with several media players on several computers.

    After that I swore never to buy another product that requires iTunes to function. I'd probably be tempted by an iPhone 4 once my Nokia N900 breaks down, but since I have to use iTunes, it won't happen...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:53PM (#33466278)

    • I plugged in my wife's iPod, and it synched up the tunes she'd bought from their store, but not anything we'd ripped from CD. How do I do that?

    This used to be possible in early versions of iTunes, but the record labels were not to thrilled with that. What was stopping you from dumping all your music into your friends' iTunes? (Yeah, it's a BS argument as there's still not muchs topping you, but Apple seems to have caved to it.) There are any number of third-party apps that have taken up the slack in that regard, like Expod [joynt.net]. Find one that works for you. [Insert obligatory 'you should back things up next time' warning here.]

    • How do I deactivate the old computer so it doesn't take up one of the five "computer licenses" Apple allows me?

    Since you can't access the old computer, you have to use the 'deauthorize all' option and reauthorize the one(s) you want. In iTunes go to Store -> View My Account to find the 'deauthorize all' button.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @01:20PM (#33466612)

    Yes, I'm pretty well aware of what occurred. You spewed a bunch of FUD, got called out on it, then tried desperately to backpedal.

  • by gig (78408) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:14PM (#33467372)

    iTunes is just the media player from Mac OS. It runs great on a Mac. It's fast, it never crashes. It's happy to download many 1-2GB movie files while transcoding and syncing hundreds of music files to multiple mobile devices.

    When you're running iTunes on Windows, you're essentially running a chunk of Mac OS to get that done, because Windows doesn't have the corresponding systems like open media playback. But you're running it on the creaky Windows core, which can't multitask to save its own life and which falls over if you blow on it.

    It's like running PHP on Mac or Windows. On a Mac, you have actual PHP on actual Unix and you just turn on PHP and you go. On Windows, you install something like EasyPHP that has to put a hunk of Unix into a creaky Windows application.

    Maybe if 90% of the Windows platform was on the latest OS version like Apple's users, then Windows users would have a right to complain about how iTunes performs on Windows 7. But you are mostly on the 2001 version of Windows, which predates the iPod by a few months. So Windows apps are XP apps, even if you're running Vista or 7.

    If you want good performance from your PC, get a Mac. This has been true for the entire 21st century. If you haven't caught on to that yet, then STFU. Nobody gives a damn about how bad your Windows works anymore. We all know it's broken, we all know it's not being fixed, we all know there is an alternative that has thousands of advantages as well as much cheaper TCO. You're working harder and paying more to run Windows. Stop complaining that it sucks. Your destiny is in your own hands.

  • Re:Winamp. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:31PM (#33467702)

    Yeah, it's such a total fail that 50% of all Mac buyers (not iPhone, iPod, or iPad buyers, but Mac buyers) have never used the platform before. People must be really turned off by iTunes to be switching in such droves!

  • by RobNich (85522) on Saturday September 04, 2010 @09:43AM (#33474606) Homepage

    I bought an AT&T Microcell. It's not written in Flash, and doesn't use Flash for management. (In case you're curious, it's managed using the normal AT&T Wireless website, and it communicates with their back-end. The Microcell itself has no interface at all, but no Flash is required to manage or install it.)

    And that marketing site is an example of where Flash should never be used. It provides nothing that could not have been done using Web standards (a simple form to gather ZIP code) but was done because the marketing department wanted more whiz-bang effects.

    While we're giving examples, T-Mobile's website is another example of overuse and misuse of Flash. Each page (inside the Account areas) uses 10-30 Flash instances, for everything from using a specific font in headings, to displaying a block of text with a static graph. It's a pain to use on any platform, doesn't work at all on iPhone, and makes me want to find another provider.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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