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Apple

iTunes' Windows Problem 332

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-nice dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Jean-Louis Gassée writes that iTunes is the best thing that has happened to Apple because without iTunes' innovative micropayment system and its new way of selling songs one at a time, the iPod would have been just another commodity MP3 player. The well-debugged iTunes infrastructure turned out to be a godsend for the emergence of the iPhone. But today, the toxic waste of success cripples iTunes: increasingly non-sensical complexity, inconsistencies, layers of patches over layers of patches ending up in a structure so labyrinthine no individual can internalize it any longer. 'It's a giant kitchen sink piled high with loosely related features, and it's highly un-Apple-like' says Allen Pike. 'Users know it, critics know it, and you can bet the iTunes team knows it. But for the love of god, why?' People naturally suggest splitting iTunes into multiple apps, but Apple can't, because many, if not most iOS users are on Windows. It's Apple's one and only foothold on Windows, so it needs to support everything an iOS device owner could need to do with their device. 'Can you imagine the support hurricane it would cause if Windows users suddenly needed to download, install, and use 3-4 different apps to sync and manage their media on their iPhone?' But help may be on the way with iOS 5. As iCloud duplicates more and more of iTunes' sync functionality, they can start removing it from iTunes. 'Apple is very explicit about it in their marketing materials: they call it "PC Free". They're not quite there yet, but they're driving towards a future where you don't need to manage your iOS device with a PC at all – Mac or Windows.'"
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iTunes' Windows Problem

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  • Uhm, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jawtheshark (198669) * <slashdot@nospam.jawtheshark.com> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:43AM (#39711065) Homepage Journal

    Download and install 3 or more apps? No! You can easily avoid this. It's very simple: split up the apps, call the whole thing "iTunes Suite" (or "iTunes Pack", or "iTunes $WHATEVER") and provide one MSI/installer that installs these new three or more applications. In the first iterations, do add an iTunes application that does nothing more than provide you with a choice of "what do you want to do", per application, one friendly big icon with explanatory text.... and you're done.

    Of course, that's the user-facing parts. Splitting up these applications is most likely what holds this back. Not the fact that it would be "strange" for the end-user. Especially, Windows users, who are used to nasty, nasty and continual changes in their interfaces.

    All in all: it's a non issue. It can be split, it's just a herculeanean task.

    However, they're already very close to the PC Free situation. My wife never connects her iPhone to her machine. I do sometimes, but only to be sure there is a backup. I really should switch her backup to iCloud or something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The iTunes installer is already several 'apps' in one. Extract it (with 7zip or similar) and you get 6 or so different installers.

      Except you don't get the choice of what to install, if you run the main installer everything gets installed.

    • Re:Uhm, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DdJ (10790) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:01AM (#39711331) Homepage Journal

      It used to be split, though -- on MacOS. All sorts of different device sync functionality was covered by different software.

      Apple knows how to split it. They just don't know how to split it on Windows. They're simply not good at Windows development.

      (I do think the answer will be an evolution of iCloud. If you've got the iCloud control panel installed on a Windows box, that gives you a nicer route to sync the address book on your iPad with the one in Outlook, for example, plus photo stream, bookmark sync with IE, all sorts of stuff. But there's no great support for music, movie/tv, or podcast content that way.)

      • But there's no great support for music, movie/tv, or podcast content that way.

        Sure there is. iTunes + iTunes match is the best music in the cloud implementation out there. Movies and TV shows work fine as long as you bought them from iTunes (problem with non iTunes video of course is the studios). So have two apps, iCloud control panel and iTunes as a library manager for Audio/Video media.

      • Re:Uhm, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sosume (680416) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:42PM (#39712795) Journal

        I think Apple is very good at Windows development. They want to give Windows users the most painful experience possible, urging them to switch to Mac.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:49PM (#39712929) Homepage

        They are clearly following the Emacs philosophy. iTunes is a nice OS, it just needs a good media player.

      • Re:Uhm, no... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tharkkun (2605613) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:20PM (#39713435)

        It used to be split, though -- on MacOS. All sorts of different device sync functionality was covered by different software.

        Apple knows how to split it. They just don't know how to split it on Windows. They're simply not good at Windows development.

        (I do think the answer will be an evolution of iCloud. If you've got the iCloud control panel installed on a Windows box, that gives you a nicer route to sync the address book on your iPad with the one in Outlook, for example, plus photo stream, bookmark sync with IE, all sorts of stuff. But there's no great support for music, movie/tv, or podcast content that way.)

        I don't buy that Apple can split it with MacOs but not with Windows. That's utter stupidity. Apple knows if you own a Mac and listen to music you're going to install the whole iTunes suite. While a windows user will only install the components necessary because they don't prefer Apple...otherwise they'd have a mac. So rather than break up the installer they shove it all down your throat at once. Things like Bonjour have a memory leak so I have to disable the service everytime I update iTunes. They conveniently re-enable it. I could go on, but it's fairly obvious Apple puts in the minimal amount of R&D to make their products work on Windows. I am curious if these apps are just as buggy on MacOs and that Apple fanatics see past it.

      • Back to forcing the 'cloud' on us all huh? PC Free = keep everything in our cloud... trust us.

        Not for me. I still have my original ipod from years ago. Know what... it still plays music which is all I want

    • Re:Uhm, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tharsman (1364603) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:05AM (#39711399)

      Agree. The problem with iTunes is it's one app doing the job of an entire software suite. Rename it to something more proper and distribute it as a group of apps with a centralized console, and perhaps the ability to just open up individual apps without going through the individual chunks.

      I think I would like to see more than 3 total modular apps though. I would like:

      - iOS App Store
      - iTunes Music Store
      - Movie & TV Shows
      - iBooks store
      - Mac App Store (for mac only)

      Right now it actually is strange I need to buy mac apps from it's independent app but iOS apps from iTunes. This suit consolidation may make things better.

      I may also argue to just add a Game Store that split games from other Apps. Games are the only category so specialized that it has it's own sub-category tree in iTunes right now. That should be a hint at it being in need of it's own section.

      • Re:Uhm, no... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @03:52PM (#39715663)

        The problem with iTunes is it's one app doing the job of an entire software suite. Rename it to something more proper and distribute it as a group of apps with a centralized console, and perhaps the ability to just open up individual apps without going through the individual chunks.

        I completely agree - I hate these integrated, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink apps. And yet, it seems like all the major platform developers decided to go that way years ago. When I used KDE years ago, it was the bloated crapfest called Konqueror. I switched to Gnome just as Eazel was developing Nautilus. And of course there's Windows/Internet Explorer.

        Even on OS X, iTunes is a bloated beast that's devoured all the other small, light apps that used to handle everything other than the music library itself. Maybe Apple can still claim it "just works" - but it sure takes a long time to finish doing so, nowadays.

    • Re:Uhm, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:18AM (#39711577) Homepage

      Splitting up these applications is most likely what holds this back.

      Yeah, some of it is probably the programming task, but I would guess that part of it is also marketing. Let's say, for example, that they developed a media player that was agnostic about the source of the media, and then a separate application to access the iTunes store. Now Amazon can theoretically hook their store into your media player, and you're not driving customers to your storefront anymore. In addition, you can't do things like Genius recommendations or iTunes Match as easily, since those rely on the store having access to your library.

      You have similar problems if you try to separate the iTunes Library/Media application from the iOS management, or the iTunes store from the iOS management. Or if you try to separate the iTunes App Store from the iTunes Music store from the iTunes Movie Store, then you miss out from the ability to advertise products together. Right now, if you search for "Game of Thrones", you'll probably find the TV series, the books, an iOS application or two, and maybe a soundtrack. It's certainly convenient.

      That's not to say that they can't do it or they shouldn't do it. Personally, I think they should drop Ping (I can't imagine that people use it), and they should have a separate iOS device management application. The iOS management application should allow you to backup/wipe/upgrade your phone, decide which sources of media you'd like to sync to (and give you the option of syncing to media libraries other than iTunes), etc. The iOS App Store should be separated from the media store, and on OSX the iOS App Store should integrate with the Mac App Store.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Especially, Windows users, who are used to nasty, nasty and continual changes in their interfaces.

      Don't confuse Ubuntu with Windows now.

    • why split? just split the ui.
      could easily do that.

      here's why not: insane lobbying inside the company about who's product gets to be jammed down the throats of the consumers. everything must be visible right there right then.

      why not integrate with the windows os like it's possible? well fuck, they don't want to do that kind of favor. you know whats _really_ insane? microsoft copying this usage design. windows phone doesn't integrate with _anything_ else on windows than the fucking zune app.

      the windows aspect

      • by KDR_11k (778916) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @03:50PM (#39715639)

        I particularly like the iOS device syncing driver, I've had that thing put all my CPU cores to 100% load when a sync fails (which happened quite often for a while because that wide port on the iPod doesn't grip the plug very well and even touching the cable can interfere with the connection) and the only recourse is a reboot, stopping the service only drops the load of one core, the others stay at 100%.

    • by jc42 (318812)

      It's very simple: split up the apps, call the whole thing "iTunes Suite" (or "iTunes Pack", or "iTunes $WHATEVER ...

      Or call the whose suite "iTunes". 99% of the users won't know or care that it's made of separate cooperating processes. Chrome works this way, and I've yet to hear anyone say that it makes Chrome confusing to users. Some other things might get complaints, but not the multiple processes.

      Why is this even an issue for anyone but the implementers?

  • by casings (257363) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:45AM (#39711083)

    I would be interested in the statistics, because I definitely will never use this feature, and in fact prefer to sync with my computer.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:51AM (#39711173)

      I would be interested in the statistics, because I definitely will never use this feature, and in fact prefer to sync with my computer.

      That is almost no-one.

      iCloud isn't really the major thing here, it just helps with the true feature that allows users to break free of the PC which is on-device updates and purchases of all content.

      Even if you don't explicitly use iCloud you can at least simply turn on an iPad and activate it without a computer, which many (perhaps most) people do.

      iCloud is really a huge boon for most people though, because it means at last the devices are actually backed up. I know a number of people with iPhones and iPads that once activated, NEVER synchronized to a PC again. That's pretty dangerous, but iCloud makes sure those people are taken care of without them having to do much at all.

      If you have an iOS device now the PC you use or the iTunes on it is already irrelevant, except as an alternative to browsing the store.

      • by DdJ (10790) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:07AM (#39711425) Homepage Journal

        It's also important for getting content from sources other than the store on there.

        An iPad on its own cannot add music from Amazon's MP3 store, or the Google Play music store, or from an actual physical audio CD, to its music library. You get that stuff in there by loading it into iTunes on a computer and doing a sync (or by loading it into iTunes on a computer and subscribing to "iTunes Match").

        And an iPad on its own has terrible podcast support, made considerably more useful via iTunes. Which is sad. There's no reason the device itself couldn't do better (automatically fetching new episodes). But today, it doesn't.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SuperKendall (25149)

          It's also important for getting content from sources other than the store on there.

          Yes, but that is still a tiny minority of people.

          And as you say doesn't even require synchronization with a PC, just some system that added the song to iTunes Match for that account...

          And an iPad on its own has terrible podcast support, made considerably more useful via iTunes.

          There are good podcast apps, but better built in support would be nice.

          • by Dusty101 (765661)

            I don't think it is a tiny minority. Saurik has claimed that something like 8.5% of iPhones and iPods are jailbroken, & I suspect that a large majority of those people probably don't want to trust to "teh Cloud" (I know I don't). Even when I just had Macs, I was never remotely tempted by their MobileMe-type offerings.

            Add in a few more percent who (e.g.) travel a lot and hence don't always reliably have access to a suitably rapid internet connection, & I'd conservatively argue that you're easily talk

          • Yes, but that is still a tiny minority of people.

            Something like 70% of people openly share music among family and friends, according to a poll I read a few months ago (came out around the SOPA brouhaha, think it was through Stanford but can't remember, there's a Dutch equivalent floating around). Obviously those people are putting that music on iDevices, and that still requires a computer to sync.

            I'll accept your personal anecdote, however, provided you accept mine: I literally do not know anyone that purchases media solely through iTunes.

        • by Teun (17872)
          You just described why I don't like Apple products :)
      • I would also prefer to sync with my computer. My old phone would happily sync calendars and contacts over bluetooth with my computer. My new (Android) phone, however, requires third-party add-ons to do anything other than store all of your personal data on Google's servers. To me, it doesn't seem like a step in the right direction for the only way of synchronising data between two machines to be via a computer that you don't control.
    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:25AM (#39711647)

      As of two months ago, iCloud had over 100M users [thenextweb.com]. This is not a small feature that isn't widely used. It's entirely likely that the majority of iOS users are using it at this point already.

    • Apple is openly betting (so far correctly, I might add) on a post PC world where a large majority of the population opts for a PC free existence and an iPad (or equivalent) as their primary computing device. Nearly all those iPad users are using/will use iCloud as their backup which is a far better backup solution than their nonexistent PC backup solution.

  • who needs itunes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mindscrew (1861410) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:46AM (#39711105)
    I bypass itunes completely on my PC with Copytrans [copytrans.net]

    You still have to have iTunes installed for the dll it uses to copy media to the device.

    I have never experimented with just loading the dll by itself with regsvr32
  • Excellent! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:50AM (#39711157)

    More cloud dependency! What could possibly go wrong by putting someone else in charge of my data! I'm sure that my credit card being stolen from Sony was a fluke, and nothing like that will ever happen again in the history of the world! Yay for placing responsibility on the steadfast shoulders of large corporations! Yay for control systems! Yay for yay!
    I couldn't possibly be happier that I moved away from iTunes. Now to convince the rest of my family to do so.

  • Why an app at all? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Richard Fairhurst (900015) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:50AM (#39711163) Homepage
    I'm always bemused why Apple doesn't bake closer iPhone/iPad integration into the Finder itself - the "root UI" of OS X, if you will. Shouldn't syncing between your Mac and your iPhone be a core service these days? And no, it doesn't solve the Windows problem - except if you're Apple. "See, if you have a PC you have to use this external app. But if you switch to a Mac, look how easy syncing is..." But then I'm an old grouch who thinks that Apple's once fabled UI consistency has been slowly getting messier from System 7.5 onwards.
    • Installed a VM of OS X because the company I work for was wooing a client that was all mac and we wanted to make sure that all the bells and whistles on our website would work for them (they didn't, but that is hardly apple's fault).

      Anyway, I hadn't used an apple/mac since the 2e when I was in elementary school. OS X was very non-intuitive to me. I really only needed to start safari and go to our page...and that was easy to figure out...but I decided I would look around. Didn't dislike it, didn't really li
      • by Samalie (1016193) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:48PM (#39712899)

        And I don't agree.

        I'm a Windows/tiny fraction of Linux sysadmin that just made the switch from Windows to Mac for my personal laptop - mostly because all my end users were buying macs and expecting me to know how to support them (VPN, remote email, whatever)

        The right-click took me a little time to get used to on the trackpad. Having the "menu bar" for every program on the top of the screen & not the application window still causes me some minor issues. All of these issues are entirely PEBKAC - it is my lack of familiarity, not lack of knowledge, that caused me grief in these ways.

        I also dislike how iWhatever seems to want to import shit into a database every time. Just let me work with my files...I don't need an iPhoto database storing all my pics thanks. Again though, this seems to me more about the "Almighty User Experience" more than anything though. I still don't know if I like or hate the mouse-click integrated into the trackpad itself vs separate button(s).

        Beyond those minor gripes though, I find OSX extremely easy and intuitive to use. I do have a Win7 Bootcamp setup when I NEED windows, but overall, I honestly cannot imagine going back to Windows in my "personal life" - I am REALLY happy using an OS that does indeed "just work"

        Obviously non-scientific anecdote from one user to refute your one-user anecdote. But really, I doubt you're stupid, it just takes time to grow accustomed to a new/changed interface/experience. My first hour was rough too...the second less so, and approximately 3 weeks later I have developed an OSX preference. Doesn't mean I hate Windows either...as you find OSX "meh", I find Windows the same "meh" now too. I used Windows 8 in a VM for an hour, and I despise the UI, but I also know that my opinion is largely bred on unfamiliarity...once I get used to Win8, I'm sure I won't despise it anymore.

        Honestly, I hate the preaching of the zealots for ANY OS. Use what you like, and works for your needs. To hell with anyone who disagrees.

      • "Intuitive" is not a synonym for "just like Microsoft Windows".

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:51AM (#39711169)
    Its not just Windows. Having multiple Mac OS X apps managing an iOS device would degrade the user experience. Having one app sync everything (musics, video, photos, apps, etc) makes sense. Having to use more than one app to do so would be annoying, even error prone. Hell, I'm mildly annoyed when I plug in an iPhone and both iTunes and iPhoto launch. I want to use iPhoto far less often than it auto-launches.

    iTunes may need to be redesigned and rewritten, but probably not broken up.
    • by mspohr (589790) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:08AM (#39711445)

      Why do you need a PC to "manage" an iPhone?
      My Android phone does just fine without any PC. My music, photos, Gmail, contacts and calendar are all managed nicely in the cloud (and I can back them up locally if I want). What does this PC do?
      (I have a MacBook which came with iTunes but all it ever does is pop up when I don't want it to play some music or video. It's only an annoyance and I'd like to get rid of it. When I want to play music or video, I just want to play the file, I don't want some program to "manage" it.)

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        The PC serves as the base for the phone. Where are you storing 10 gigs of music legally in the 'cloud'? How do you sync that with other music? Is this a paid service? How easy is it to make sure you're not pushing that huge volume of data over your dataplan rather than wireless?

        E-mail has very much used phones as just another terminal to talk to the server. That's not unique to phones, phones just happen to benefit from it. Calendering and contacts behave basically the same way. You can use the PC a

      • by dkf (304284)

        Why do you need a PC to "manage" an iPhone?

        For much the same reason you need an MBA to "manage" a software development team.

      • by Karlt1 (231423)

        That's cute and all that your music, email, contacts, and calendar are all backed up with your Android. But what about the rest of your data?

        I moved from an iPhone 4 running iOS 5 on AT&T to a Verizon iPhone 4S. I unpacked my phone, turned it on. It asked for my Wi Fi credentials and my username and password for ICloud. A few minutes later, all of my apps were restored with the same screen layout as my iPhone 4 with all the data in tact - including SMS messages, browser history and all of my app data. M

        • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:19PM (#39713413) Homepage Journal

          I moved from an iPhone 4 running iOS 5 on AT&T to a Verizon iPhone 4S. I unpacked my phone, turned it on. It asked for my Wi Fi credentials and my username and password for ICloud. A few minutes later, all of my apps were restored with the same screen layout as my iPhone 4 with all the data in tact - including SMS messages, browser history and all of my app data. My iPhone 4S screen looks just like my iPhone 4.

          Google Market (or Play or whatever they're calling it these days) saves your list of apps. So does Amazon Appstore. SMS, history, and app data is easily backed up to the SD card.

          Of course this is with iCloud but you can do the same with the backup stored locally. Are you going to tell me that you can back up all of your Android data and restore it to another device as seamlessly?

          Yes, yes I can. Of course, when you say "another device," you're opening a can of worms you probably didn't expect:

          Switching from an AT&T locked iPhone to a Verizon locked iPhone is not restoring to "another device," it's restoring to the same device with a different IMEI. That would be more akin to, say, if my DX died and I got a new one via warranty, than actually switching devices.

          On Android all I have to do is back up my datas to the SD card, swap it to the new phone, and restore; how easy is it to restore data from an iPhone to a different (i.e., not another iPhone) device?

      • put simply - you don't. i recently bought an ipad and have yet to hook it to my computer (pc or mac) and the only time i ever connect my phone is when im doing development work. anything i buy on itunes is automatically added to my apple account and available on all my devices without ever plugging them in. a year ago, it was a little different, but Apple has figured out how to cut the cord pretty well
    • by MrFlibbs (945469)

      iTunes may need to be redesigned and rewritten, but probably not broken up.

      I agree with this last statement in that multiple apps is definitely not the way to go. However, I feel compelled to add that iTunes needs to be completely redesigned. I've had my iPad2 for about six months now, and was frankly shocked to discover just how awful is the iTunes user experience. I think many of the problems are because iTunes was written to manage DRM'ed MP3s and was later expanded to include movies, books, and photos. These other features were bolted on and do not behave consistently. (W

  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:52AM (#39711191)

    increasingly non-sensical complexity, inconsistencies, layers of patches over layers of patches ending up in a structure so labyrinthine no individual can internalize it any longer. 'It's a giant kitchen sink piled high with loosely related features, "

    They wanted to emulate Windows users' typical experience and maintain familiarity.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:52AM (#39711197)

    Set-up a separate team of programmers. One working on the original iTunes for one final release (11), and a new one rewriting the whole thing to produce a better cleaner iTunes (12).

    Apple's done it once before, when they developed the final version of the Classic OS (9) and the new OS X concurrently.

    • And Final Cut Pro X was released to huge fanfare and immediate loving acceptance by a huge, grateful customer base... Wasn't it?

      Oh, wait... Apples done the whole "write the new one from scratch" and it didn't go down all that well, at least twice.

      • by JDG1980 (2438906)

        And Final Cut Pro X was released to huge fanfare and immediate loving acceptance by a huge, grateful customer base... Wasn't it? Oh, wait... Apples done the whole "write the new one from scratch" and it didn't go down all that well, at least twice.

        Their mistake wasn't rewriting Final Cut Pro from scratch. It was: (1) releasing the new version before it was ready for prime time, AND (2) immediately obsoleting the old version and removing it from availability (though they soon had to backpedal on that). Had

    • by dachshund (300733) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:19AM (#39711583)

      Set-up a separate team of programmers. One working on the original iTunes for one final release (11), and a new one rewriting the whole thing to produce a better cleaner iTunes (12).

      And here's where you run into the real problem: Apple never devotes enough coding resources to do this sort of stuff. This is why it took a year+ to get copy/paste on the iPhone, and it's also why iCloud doesn't feel 'quite there yet'.

      I'm not at Apple, but people who are tell me that there's basically an A-team of good coders, and they get shifted around to whatever project makes the most sense at the time. Apple probably has the cash to fix this, but they don't seem to want to.

      As a more general complaint, why isn't iOS PC-free yet? iCloud cost Apple a fortune and it almost lets me do everything without iTunes -- yet try to put a video on my phone, suddenly I'm looking for my USB cable and trying to figure out which computer has my iTunes library on it (because god forbid I sync with the wrong one, I'll wipe my phone).

    • by sootman (158191)

      Yeah, but that was just an operating system. Have you seen iTunes?

    • by Malc (1751)

      The Netscape/Mozilla approach is to defend to the death the single monolithic app approach, until undermined by a small continent who forked it off. Look at Firefox now... unwieldy as Seakmonkey ever was, and the Electrolysis project on-hold with some BS excuses, just the same as when they resisted splitting browser and mail app.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:54AM (#39711223) Journal

    If everything moves to the cloud, you become dependent on the cloud. How much is managing your iDevice worth? $0/yr? $10/yr? What if you could sync everything through that cloud - all your music, all your shows? Now how much would you pay? $10/month? $20/month? What about backing up all your photos and documents? $30/month? And offering some streaming content? $40/month? $50/month?

    If the cloud option is popular enough, we'll see the PC version (and possibly even the Mac version) fall lower and lower on the priority list for bug fixes, upgrades, and UI unification. It may come that buying into an iDevice means a monthly fee to use effectively, just as if you buy a phone. Sure, you can try to cheat the system, but you're going to get a significantly inferior service, or you'll spend so much time just keeping things up to date that you'll find it's not worth it.

    I see this as the next revenue stream for Apple.

    Personally, I'm limited to a 4Mb DLS line as my fastest (reliable) internet option. Syncing 40-120GB of personal music on each device when it goes toes up (and most have done that at some point; my phone has twice) is going to be a real bear. Movies? TV? You can't store/swap them locally, and the network providers will be salivating over the b/w charges (or business-class fees for those that go over their caps).

    • by vlm (69642)

      You can't store/swap them locally

      Why does it have to be binary?

      music.google.com holds everything I have, and the "play music" app (what a stupid name) on my android phone can locally cache any weird combination of genre, musician, or album that I want, assuming I have space on the device.

      So I have everything I have in the cloud, and everything I actually listen to also on the device. Not in the future or vaporware, but for many months now.

  • iCloud? No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:54AM (#39711231)

    I'm one of those weirdos who actually doesn't mind iTunes as is. I generally know where the things are that I need it to do and don't really demand a ton of it (organize my music, change ID3 tags, auto-download a bunch of podcasts for me, and when I plug in my phone, sync it all without me having to do anything).

    I have ZERO interest in using iCloud. I want my data secured locally and backed up myself. I don't want the potential for lost/stolen data as my data is now in a giant honeypot with everyone else's data. I don't want the inevitable, "oh, yea, this isn't anonymous at all, and the gov't decided to go through iCloud and send you a $999999999 fine for having 1 song you may or may not have paid for."

    So if Apple's answer is, "trust us with your data/music collection or you're not using iTunes anymore," then my answer is going to be to not use iTunes anymore.

  • by swb (14022) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:55AM (#39711245)

    And I've found that wifi sync mostly doesn't work well. It's locked up and bombed on my iPad 1 and iPhone 3GS. I just don't bother with my daily-use 4S as GoodReader/SugarSync/Dropbox handle my "right now" file needs and ActiveSync takes care of mail/calendar/contacts.

    I'd actually prefer my backups to be local and encrypted.

    One improvement I would like would be specifying my local backup directory on a per-device basis (instead of relying on the Windows user profile clusterfuck) and the ability to say how many backup revisions I want to keep. The current system is far to opaque and makes it difficult to backup backups.

    One thing Apple could do would be to rip the store out of iTunes and make it "really" web based -- purchases could then just show up in iTunes; it's horrible to browse the store via iTunes; on an i5-2500 with 16 GB of RAM it feels like I'm browsing the web on a low-end P4 with 512 MB of RAM.

    I don't know, but the whole program kind of feels like its running some kind of interpreted code -- written for MacOS and somehow been run through a translation layer that converts MacOS system calls to Windows system calls.

    • by dachshund (300733)

      written for MacOS and somehow been run through a translation layer that converts MacOS system calls to Windows system calls.

      If that's the case, then the Mac version is converting MacOS system calls to Windows calls and then back again. In short: the problem is iTunes, not the Windows version.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:55AM (#39711247) Homepage Journal

    I don't want to install special applications for every device. Let me mount the device as a drive, and buy content through a (secure) web page. All other administration tasks can be done through that web page. I already have an mp3 player I like, so no loss there either. The advantage of generic technologies is that Apple doesn't need to support them. The individual consumer would be better off with fewer applications, so that they could learn those applications to a greater depth, and have more general skills to use for computing in general as a result.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alen (225700)

      itunes does things like smart playlists so you can sync only the music that you want at any time. no one in their right mind is going to search through a 30GB music collection to pick out a few songs they may want to listen to the next day and change them out on a regular basis. itunes makes this tedious task almost automatic

      • by residieu (577863)

        That's why my iPod has 120gb capacity, so I can store the whole music collection on it. Then, if I for some reason get an urge to listen to Styx, I can play Styx,

        I have no idea how the smart playlists can figure out what I'll want to listen to tomorrow.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Let me mount the device as a drive ... The advantage of generic technologies is that Apple doesn't need to support them

      Yeah - to get my music onto a memory stick for my car, Android phone and non-iDevice MP3 players I just knocked up a little script to read my MP3 files, extract the track numbers from the IS3 data and generate sequentially-numbered filenames (so tracks played in order), generate .pls files, build the new directory structure using symlinks and call rsync to copy the files to the device.

      ...but, even though that's not exactly rocket science, I don't see the average iDevice user doing it that way. What they wa

      • by alen (225700)

        wow

        i just create a playlist in itunes, sync to my iphone, connect to my car's USB and let it play. every few weeks i will change the playlists on my iphone for something fresh. takes me all of a minute to do that

  • I gave iPod Touch devices to my kids and maintain the software through the device and my home WiFi. I only hook the devices to a Windows PC to do the occasional backup. If Apple just had an iPod backup tool I would be just fine.

  • Don't split it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Most people who want it split up only use one of apple's products or services. What about people like me who have an apple tv, use the itms all the time and have huge collections of video and music. I like having it in one application. In fact, I find it annoying that it has to launch iPhoto when I sync my phone everyday. Now you guys want it to start 4 applications that all hit the forground and vie for my attention. No, I don't want that.

    1 bloated apple app is enough thanks. It's not like they'd get

  • iTunes is just as bloated and doggy on a Mac as it is on Windows.

    I'm also not sure that iCloud 'iTunes Match' is 100% ready for prime time yet. I'm still hearing about issues where only a small percentage of songs are matched or worse, the wrong song is matched in the cloud. My biggest problem with iTunes Match is that once my songs are on iCloud I need to download them to my phone to listen to them and the last time I checked you could only download at most one album at a time. I still like the option
  • by vlm (69642)

    They're not quite there yet, but they're driving towards a future where you don't need to manage your iOS device with a PC at all – Mac or Windows.

    Sounds like my android phone. Well, I can manage it from a desktop of any breed, all I need is a normal copy of firefox and an internet connection.

    I would assume when apple releases a IOS that does everything that an android phone did long ago, it'll be announced as a new innovation.

    (Not a fanboy of either, own ipad and a android phone, just stating the facts)

    • As someone who owns an iPad, you must be aware that the summary got it wrong and that a PC isn't necessary to set up current iOS devices at all. It's been that way since iOS 5 was released. Android was there first, as you pointed out, but you can entirely manage your iOS device from your iOS device, without the need for even a browser on a PC (which you talked about), let alone syncing to a PC.

  • Thank you Slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:02AM (#39711339)

    Thank you for telling me that iTunes is bloated. Truly news for nerds and stuff that matters.

    Gotta get those Apple ad impressions up huh?

  • by milbournosphere (1273186) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:02AM (#39711343)
    At this point, it's easier to just browse\search for and buy an app or song off of the actual iDevice and then sync it back to your library than it is to use the horrible system that iTunes has turned into. The system is far better organized on Apple's mobile apps. Perhaps they'll take an opportunity to step back and take a new approach when they release Mountain Lion.

    Quick question: has iTunes for windows been rewritten yet? I know they rewrote it as a 64bit cocoa application for OS X (the Lion release, at least)...is it still a steaming pile on Windows?

  • Can you imagine the support hurricane it would cause if Windows users suddenly needed to download, install, and use 3-4 different apps to sync and manage their media on their iPhone?

    Would it help if Apple just offered an iTunes suite, where you download 1 installer and it installs 3-4 applications? They already kind of do that. when you install iTunes, you get Quicktime and Apple's updater software too. I could easily see them at least breaking out iOS device management into a different application, and then having a dedicated media player and media library organizer.

  • This isn't a ""Windows Problem" it's a "PC Problem" because it's about both Mac too, which is both a type of PC. What happens to the user who's traveling or doesn't have their PC available or one at all? They should still be able to sync their music collection with iCloud and such. This "PC-Free" initiative should be the answer to that.

  • by LMacG (118321) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:08AM (#39711443) Journal

    I don't have an iDevice and don't want one, but a couple days ago I had to load iTunes just to get a specific music release that wasn't available anywhere else. Sure I could have scoured TPB, but I wanted to make an effort to be a paying customer. Aside from the music company being dicks and only releasing to iTunes, how would a "PC Free" solution have helped me in any way?

    • Re:No iDevice (Score:4, Interesting)

      by itsdapead (734413) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:38AM (#39711857)

      I don't have an iDevice and don't want one, but a couple days ago I had to load iTunes just to get a specific music release that wasn't available anywhere else.

      Unless you are a professional music critic who needed to have that particular track for your work - no you didn't.

      The correct procedure in that case is to vote with your feet, don't buy the music and, if possible, send feedback to the band saying that you want to choose where you buy your music from. There are other suppliers with a huge range of music available, so its not like you're going to be stuck listening to the same Radiohead album over and over. I do have an iDevice but the only thing I buy through iTunes are apps - a process which is already "PC free" and since iDevice apps will no more run on non-iDevices than Apple II software used to run on a Commodore PET, the lock-in is pretty moot. However, I want to be able to play media on non-iDevices without the loss of transcoding, so all my music and video comes from ripped CDs/DVDs or has been bought as MP3s from other sources.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:12AM (#39711497) Homepage

    It always seemed somewhat silly that Apple's products with cellular capability needed a connection to a desktop machine at all. Apple got into this because they started with the iPod, which was a slave to a PC. That it continued years into the cellular era was just annoying. It seemed mostly intended to get crapwere onto PCs.

    • So how in the world do you backup all your contacts, etc. without a PC? The Cloud? What about people like me who have more music/media than can fit on a smartphone? Seems to me that a computer is the most sensible answer. Anything else isn't practical for most people.
      • There is a difference between "supporting sync with PC", and "requiring PC to set up & keep updated". Until recently, iPhone was in the latter category for no obvious reason, while e.g. Android had OTA updates for years, and could be activated without a PC.

  • Bought an iPhone for my wife ~ 2 months ago. Set it up without a PC (the newly advertised feature of iOS 5). Obviously created a new Apple ID. She also has been using iTunes on her laptop for a while, and imported some music from some of our CDs. That iTunes has not been linked to an Apple ID.

    Now, we decided to sync her address book from an old Nokia phone via Windows' Address book to her iPhone. Naturally, I also wanted her new iPhone to also work with her iTunes library. Can't do it. It cannot combine
  • Case in point... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:32AM (#39711759) Homepage

    We bought a seasons pass for a TV show on iTunes on the ATV. It took us a surprisingly long time to figure out how to watch this on the Mac laptop.

    The purchase did not appear in the item called "purchases", nor "TV", which only showed the things we already downloaded. Going into the Store, we found the show, and double clicking on it cause a smaller all-black window to appear with an episode list. Clicking on these played the preview. Eventually we figured out that clicking the cloud icon would download the episode. We could then go to the Downloads screen, and double-click to watch it as it streamed.

    So logical.

    As if this were not enough, last night we could no longer make this work. The episode list that used to open when we double clicked... somewhere... no longer appears. We tried everything.

    Its time for this to die.

  • by Malc (1751) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:40AM (#39711873)

    But today, the toxic waste of success cripples iTunes: increasingly non-sensical complexity, inconsistencies, layers of patches over layers of patches ending up in a structure so labyrinthine no individual can internalize it any longer.

    Errr, didn't use it in the early days did you? iTunes has always been a godawful UI that violates all of Apple's own UI standards, then ported to Windows where it made no attempt to fit in. It's been terrible from day one, along with the QuickTime player.

  • Podcasts... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yabos (719499) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:47AM (#39711965)
    One thing that iOS devices don't do is auto update your podcast subscriptions. iTunes is basically required for this unless you want to go to iTunes on the device itself and check for new podcasts one by one.
  • by toonces33 (841696) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:47AM (#39711973)

    The only way they would allow downloads of their free podcasts was through iTunes. But I don't have any Apple products, and I didn't want to install iTunes.

  • "...a future where you don't need to manage your iOS device with a PC at all â" Mac or Windows."

    Ummm...no, and no thank you.

    Security concerns aside, I don't trust any company to manage my data for me. If something borks while it's nominally under my control, it's my responsibility. Once it's "in the cloud" that all evaporates.

  • It's just trying to be too damned much at the moment. Here's how I see what's needed:

    • An iPod Service to hold the various "libraries"
    • A Music library manager and player (Think Foobar 2000, for instance)
    • A Video library manager and player
    • A downloader (for putting things from the web-based stores into the libraries)
    • 3 web-based stores (Music, Video, Apps).

    The USB connection provides an internet connection to the iDevice, so if the iDevice is connected to your computer, it's connected to the 'net. Thus if your iD

  • Easier than iTunes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:18PM (#39712383)

    1) download mp3 from
    2) copy to USB mass storage

    No extra software
    No heavy handed overlord control
    No platform or hardware specific requrements

    Thanks iTunes, but no thanks.

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