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iTunes' Windows Problem

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the play-nice dept.

Apple 332

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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Uhm, no... (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711065)

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:Uhm, no... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711203)

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... (4, Insightful)

DdJ (10790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711331)

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.)

Re:Uhm, no... (1)

Fahrvergnuugen (700293) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711895)

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... (5, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#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... (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711577)

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:Uhm, no... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711827)

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

Don't confuse Ubuntu with Windows now.

iTunes is Garbage (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711081)

The only thing iTunes is good for is proving that despite a few well designed iPods, Apple makes shitty software that runs to pretty nice hardware.

The other thing iTunes proves is that all those "tech analysts" that claim Apple writes user friendly software are full of shit.

iTunes is shitty.
Apple is evil.
Macfags have AIDS.

How many people use iCloud? (3, Interesting)

casings (257363) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

iCloud not the main thing. (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:iCloud not the main thing. (5, Insightful)

DdJ (10790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711425)

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:How many people use iCloud? (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Down with iTunes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711095)

iTunes and all the B.S. it installs is worse than a virus to me. Same with Adobe.

Pitch the ipods and support another mp3 player like Creative Labs.

who needs itunes (5, Informative)

Mindscrew (1861410) | more than 2 years ago | (#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

Re:who needs itunes (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711249)

who needs itunes

Those who still want to buy from the iTunes store, it seems.

Re:who needs itunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711299)

I have used Copytrans to save my wife's iPod on more than one occasion. Used it on a Windows 7 PC without iTunes installed with no issues.

Re:who needs itunes (1)

Mindscrew (1861410) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711371)

Can you please elaborate more on how you did this? Copytrans requires the iTunes dll to synchronize with the device. Have you had iTunes installed in the past?

Re:who needs itunes (3, Insightful)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711433)

You can use Winamp without installing iTunes.

Marriage made in heaven (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711109)

An awful, mish-mash, user hostile piece of software. Question is, am I talking about Windows or iTunes?

They got the title wrong (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711113)

The title should be "Windows' iTunes problem". Apple can shove their ALAC-promoting, artist-scamming industry-crippling bitrate-raping software up their collective asses.

umm its broken? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711125)

I actually like it being all in one app. I get frustrated on the Mac that my address book, email and calendar all come from different applications as opposed to them being one as in Microsoft Outlook. I'd be afraid that splitting up the apps would result in them being watered down micro apps. Not appealing.

Excellent! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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? (3, Insightful)

Richard Fairhurst (900015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711163)

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.

Re:Why an app at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711477)

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.

That's the problem. The OS X finder is a mess, and most users these days don't feel comfortable with it since it has none of the "perceived stability" of previous versions. People get lost among their directory structure (no spatial consistency) and are afraid of doing something "wrong."

Adding any sort of syncing functionality would only make that worse. Is this window showing me a regular folder, a "smart" folder, or a "synced folder?"

Re:Why an app at all? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711717)

I think Apple OS suffers from real bloatiness. Seems to duplicate files rather than sort out what's already there. It's largely invisible to most users, but after having iPhoto crashing in the middle of importing pictures, multiple times, I have multiple instances of pictures clogging my hard drive. iTunes is just as bad. I lost my external drive, it went Bump in the night and ALL my music had to be retrieved off my iPod or I'd face having to re-upload hundreds of CDs in storage, so I had to use a third party app. Now my iTunes library looks a mess of exclamation marks. I'm quite quickly going off the whole Mac experience as a desktop ... Windows offers sooooo much more.
Apple have every reason to fear Microsoft because unfortunately the architecture never fully took into account the future developments and scalability requirements. Personally I don't like the idea of iCloud as I want my data where I can find it and I live at the end of an exchange where despite what I pay, my broadband connection dips a lot.
So I'm waiting to see what Microsoft come up with in the future. They seem to have an interesting vision now that the shine has dulled on Apple's back-end :/

Its not just Windows ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Its not just Windows ... (3, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.)

Re:Its not just Windows ... (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711863)

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 as a server, or you can use some service as the server.

How did you get updates onto the phone? I have a galaxy S2, unless you live in like russia, sweden, finland or luxemburg you aren't getting OTA ICS right now, so if you want that on your own... guess what you're plugging into the PC. Now this is where android and wp7 fail at something they should excel at, which is much easier deployment of updates, OTA or otherwise (and I'd rather not OTA, given the networking costs and risks of failure). Odin isn't exactly a user friendly way to update your firmware, and it's a decidedly desktop product.

A wire can only add so much, faster or more reliable transmission than wireless, sure. Everything is moving to the 'cloud' (even if your own desktop is the server everything else is still talking to that server), but you still need some way to manage what goes where. That can be done on the phone itself or on the server. I tend to prefer managing deployments, even for my own devices, from the desktop. It's much easier to mark these 500 things (phones apps contacts whatever) with a mouse and keyboard to be pushed to the phone than to mark the same 500 things with your thumb and pull them from a desktop.

You may also be old enough, or understand enough basic things about how directories work that 'managing' files is something you just do already. Probably that applies to most of us on /.. The idea that a directory can be inside a directory, inside a directory isn't complicated or confusing, and you can name directories in a way that conveys something you can understand to find what you want. That's not a trivial problem for most users though. And for them trying to manage a 12000 song library (which can't even fit on a phone), + audio books + videos requires better visualization tools than ls -R or windows folders is going to ever get you.

For me, my phone is more like a mobile terminal device. If I can use my desktop that's vastly preferable, bigger screen better input devices etc. But I can access my content on the phone as well. In a situation like that how your desktop is managed determines how your phone behaves. If you drink the google kool-aid and hand over everything to them you plug into their servers in lieu of a PC. If you drink the microsoft kool-aid you're still bound by wires to most of their services (although skydrive might change that), and apple is the same boat (with kool-aid and iCloud), MS and Apple aren't there yet, and may not want to be, and it's still easier to manage those devices with the desktop suites.

Re:Its not just Windows ... (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711881)

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.

iTunes PC is OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711175)

I say iTunes in its current iteration runs just fine on my PC (i5, 6GB ram, win7 x64). It no longer installs or requires quicktime so no idea what "bloat" people are still complaining about. The app is snappy and apart from some wifi sync trouble ( https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3390119?start=0&tstart=0 [apple.com] ) has no other significant issues. A solid 4/5 for a media/phone manager suite.

Re:iTunes PC is OK (2)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711347)

The app is snappy

How did you manage that? I've installed it on multiple machines (all fairly decent ones) and it's never been 'snappy'. 'Dog slow' is how I'd describe it. Admittedly I have about 60G of music on there, but it normally takes about 15s to load up and frequently locks up when doing anything with an iphone for about 20s before the UI will become responsive again. It's as if Apple devs never heard of multithreading or windows message loops to allow UI interaction whilst doing background processing.

Re:iTunes PC is OK (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711401)

Do you have wifi sync enabled? If yes you can try to turn it off, it's known to slow iTunes down due to some stupid crappy code that looks up the phone on the network every chance it gets and for some reason renders iTunes unusable while it's doing that.

Re:iTunes PC is OK (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711599)

No - I had it turned on for a bit and that made it even worse. I've had the same choppy interaction with iTunes UI for about the last 4 years (which is way before WIFI syncing got added)

Re:iTunes PC is OK (1)

RobbieCrash (834439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711675)

This has been my experience as well. While trying to fix a friend's iPhone I had to install iTunes and even without my library loaded it was dog slow on an i7 with 16GB of RAM. Loading the library made it even worse. Searching through 35,000 songs on iTunes takes ~10 seconds when doing an artist query, when searching for something like "Black Flag Nervous Breakdown" (band and song/album title) it took ~20. Plus the search doesn't support operators, or didn't a year or so ago, so queries like: 'Artist:"Black Flag" Album:"Nervous Breakdown" TrackNo:12' turns up nothing. iTunes takes orders of magnitude longer to start than any other media player/library manager, and gobbles up insane resources.

Doing the same searches in Foobar2000, MediaMonkey or Winamp takes 1second and supports operators; I think even WMP supports operators now. Startup of any of those is 1-3 seconds, and their resource footprint is 1/10th of iTunes.

The ONLY thing iTunes does nicely is create smart playlists.

Re:iTunes PC is OK (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711455)

I say iTunes in its current iteration runs just fine on my PC (i5, 6GB ram, win7 x64). It no longer installs or requires quicktime so no idea what "bloat" people are still complaining about.

The app is snappy and apart from some wifi sync trouble ( https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3390119?start=0&tstart=0 [apple.com] ) has no other significant issues. A solid 4/5 for a media/phone manager suite.

I generally agree, although I do wonder why it needs 2 different processes going at all times just to let me plug in my iPod - every other USB device I have manages the same task with zero extra processes (though I do have to pick which program I want to run when I plug them in - horror of horrors). Not that it matters a lot, they use up a pretty insignificant amount of memory these days, it's just an annoyance. My only other complaint is that it constantly tries to get me to install things I don't want - iCloud, Quicktime, Safari; here's an idea, how about just updating iTunes with the updater instead of trying to trick users into installing crap they don't want or need.

That said I only use it to play music, rip CDs, and manage an iPod, so I don't exactly use it for anything as complicated as managing calendars or contacts (does it really do that? Weird - I hope it at least interfaces nicely with Outloook or some other calendar/contact software people might actually use?).

Why itunes is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711179)

iTunes is bad because the team of developers and managers working on it is bad. Period.

Apple products banned (1, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711183)

All Apple products are banned from our business network and have been for years. All of their software (iTunes, Quicktime) causes so many various problems in any version of Windows, that we decided to just ban all of it.

Re:Apple products banned (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711337)

Maybe your problems are "caused" by the presence of Windows.

Re:Apple products banned (0, Troll)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711499)

Curious how you got rid of the issues non-apple software cause. We have found banning MS Office, Internet Explorer and Visual Studio to not be viable, and they bring enough trouble to keep a rather large support department employed and busy all day long.

Re:Apple products banned (2)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711719)

many businesses rely on microsoft office, so yea, you have to invest in keeping it going.... but there are very few by comparison that absolutely *need* apple software on their windows systems, so it makes perfect sense for them to keep that crap off of them

same goes for anything else -- if it's not needed, get rid of it... applies to both business and home users (e.g. if you don't use java, pleeeeaaase uninstall it already)

Re:Apple products banned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711779)

Looks like someone's feelings got hurt.

Sounds about right (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Try the Netscape/Mozilla approach (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Try the Netscape/Mozilla approach (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711517)

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.

Re:Try the Netscape/Mozilla approach (4, Interesting)

dachshund (300733) | more than 2 years ago | (#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).

Re:Try the Netscape/Mozilla approach (0)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711621)

... then move to the new Mozilla release schedule and release versions 13, 14, 15 and 16 all within 2 months and no noticeable improvement between them.

Re:Try the Netscape/Mozilla approach (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711677)

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

Re:Try the Netscape/Mozilla approach (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711907)

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.

I fear the direction this is going (5, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711223)

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).

Re:I fear the direction this is going (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711391)

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 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Don't get it... (0)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711233)

I mean, sure, iTunes sucks, but not because of the infrastructure... but because of Apple's walled garden of robbery. I don't get what the articles gripes are other than someone trying to troll over a network system and infrastructure they know nothing about...

Not *that* bad (0)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711235)

I'm no fan boy and a Windows user but I can't really see what the big deal is. The only thing I'm careful about is always ripping with another tool then just dropping the files onto iTunes to upload to my iPod. I use it mainly for MP3s and podcasts plus the apps. I don't rent/buy videos much.
For me, it just works. It's easy to use and does exactly what I want. I have it set up to only sync what I want. Sure it has a bunch o junk it installs which I don't really use but big deal, it's not like most PCs are hard up for space and as others have noted, Adobe etc are just as bad.
My only gripe I could care about is having to upgrade iTunes to upgrade my iPod - that just seems nonsense to me.

Re:Not *that* bad (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711557)

I'm no fan boy and a Windows user but I can't really see what the big deal is.

This is unacceptable here. The point of this thread is to bash iTunes.

I believe that your error is a simple accident and not malicious.

Uh...its already multiple pieces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711243)

When you install itunes on a Windows machine, it already installs a bunch of different pieces, and quicktime too. I don't see why separating the other itunes components would be that big of a deal. It would likely be the same amount to download.

I like the local backup (4, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:I like the local backup (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711639)

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.

Use generic technologies, not a specific app (5, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711247)

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:Use generic technologies, not a specific app (1, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711289)

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

Re:Use generic technologies, not a specific app (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711567)

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.

Re:Use generic technologies, not a specific app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711807)

> "Then, if I for some reason get an urge to listen to Styx, I can play Styx,"

Styx? You must be the coolest guy in the nursing home. I think it's great when older people continue to learn using new technology.

Re:Use generic technologies, not a specific app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711365)

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.

The average consumer (insert joke about how dumb Apple users are) would never be able to find a downloaded music file, much less move it to an MP3 player or phone mounted on the filesystem. Given the need to "learn [...] applications to a greater depth," they will happily put their $200 device in a desk drawer and never use it rather than develop basic file-management skills.

Who uses iTunes? (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711259)

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 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711275)

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 thin and light if they split them up. They'd all have to use the same shared libraries and load the same garbage into memory but then have extra overhead for the address space of 4 processes. I don't see how this helps the situation.

What apple needs to do is optimize iTunes. Get rid of dead code. Put it on a diet, but don't remove functionality. Can you imagine the code cruft for having it support two platforms and not being able to use some of the native Mac stuff?

It's not my fault that you guys only drank a little kool-aid and don't see the benefit of one app. I drank most of the kool-aid and it's painful for them to split it up.

Bloated (1)

cob666 (656740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711277)

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 of physically copying my music to my iDevice so I know the music is there for when I want to listen to it.

Re:Bloated (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711671)

Well that's not true.

Match may suck, I wouldn't know as I don't use it. But iTunes on mac is fantastic.

Whatever you're doing that makes it seem bloated or doggy, it's you not the program.

Like android, finally? (1, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711311)

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)

Re:Like android, finally? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711725)

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.

You're missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711327)

If you've seen iTunes on Mac you know that it generally runs smoothly without problems. On Windows it runs like a pig, being just about the threshold of usable. It doesn't run on Linux and Apple seems to do everything in it's power to make sure that as soon as Wine gets a working version, that it changes enough so it won't work for another 6 months.

I hate to say conspiracy, but really conspiracy. It's a way to attract customers to their full machines. You buy an iPhone and you get all this marketing material to get you to buy an Apple computer....

iTunes will never have a native Linux version, and it's Windows version will always suck just a little bit.

DETEST AND LOATHE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711333)

iTunes is an abhorrent pile. Just the thought of it makes me angry. I refuse to work with it. Don't ask me for help with it because I won't touch that flaming pile.

Thank you Slashdot (3, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:Thank you Slashdot (1)

trancemission (823050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711523)

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?

Yes - I am still trying to find a point to this summary/links to random articles and what the 'news' really is here:

iTunes is bloated.
Most iPhones users use Windows.
Most Windows users are unable to use more than 1 app to manage their phone.
iOS 5 and the iCloud will save the day.

Re:Thank you Slashdot (1)

trancemission (823050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711709)

iOS5 and the iCloud will save the day.

Ah I see, I have answered my own question.

Re:Thank you Slashdot (1)

MrJones (4691) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711701)

You get the point, no more news for nerds here. And Jean-Louis Gassée should name at least 3 problem that can not be solved with 1 iTunes app scenario. This is a non issue.

The writer has a really good point (2)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

iTunes suite? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711345)

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.

If only there was some kind of standard... (1)

pHalec (31694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711379)

Ever tried to use an iPhone with Linux? If you can't run iTunes you can't do *anything*.

iTunes is a tool Apple uses to avoid using standards and thereby maintain full control over the user's experience. They're tying themselves in knots trying to do it all within a single app, but the alternative -- things like allowing the phone to be used as a USB storage device, as pretty much every other vendor does -- is un-Apple. It's a wonder they even support PTP for photos.

I've happily gone over to Android, which does have its own quirks, but at least my Samsung phone hasn't been crippled by the vendor.

tanslation Error (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711395)

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.

BlackBerry & Android (0)

acoustix (123925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711415)

So once again Apple/iOS is trying to catchup with other smartphones that haven't needed desktop software for years.

Why is iOS considered "cutting-edge" again? It's always trying to catchup with BlackBerry & Android.

Re:BlackBerry & Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711469)

because apple fanboys have a permanent **reality distortion field** in effect at all times... its called schizophrenia

Re:BlackBerry & Android (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711515)

blackberries and android have had desktop apps that interface with itunes for years. for a long time that was the only way to get music in the form of playlists onto those devices and apple allowed it.

Get Into The Cloud A Bit More? (1)

StoneyMahoney (1488261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711427)

I like the idea of having a single background service that handles downloading, organizing and sharing of all media assets and apps. You then have a (comparatively) lightweight library program for syncing media to devices or playing it locally / via Airplay. The iTunes store becomes a purely web-based entity that kicks stubs over to the downloader app, Amazon MP3-stylee, rather than pulling everything in through the browser, or allows direct download to devices. Pretty much everything else can probably be handled best from the device itself.

No iDevice (2)

LMacG (118321) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711443)

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 (3, Interesting)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Bloatware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711447)

Never heard of it.

Why did the iPhone ever need a PC anyway? (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711497)

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.

Re:Why did the iPhone ever need a PC anyway? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711685)

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.

This is already done on my iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711525)

Split the functions into separate apps. This is pretty much how it is on my iPhone now.

I have three apps: App Store, iTunes, & Music.

For my PC you can split it into App Store, iTunes, and Media.

Done.

iCloud Cost / Gb (0)

farnsaw (252018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711529)

Apple needs to change their pricing model for the iCloud to really take off. Why would I sync my 64 Gb iPhone, my 64 Gb iPad, & my Mac and Windows machine to the cloud when this would cost me so much that it is cost prohibitive. Current pricing is $100 / year for 50 Gb so it would take a MINIMUM of $300 / year to backup my iPhone and iPad not to mention my Mac and iTunes Library. Why would I pay that when for $100 (or less) I can get a local hard drive and just backup to my Mac/PC? Yes, there is the convenience factor, but not for that cost. They need to make it an order of magnitude bigger for the same price before I will be interested.

Re:iCloud Cost / Gb (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711747)

I think you need to actually read up on how the cloud backups work before you say anymore on this subject.

You're embarrassing yourself.

This is a moron article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711563)

We all know it's technically impossible to include multiple files packaged as a single one. If only there were some kind of format to make that possible!

Seriously, I saw this on some Mac sites as if it was some great insight. Either this guy is an idiot, or he's making up some bullshit to get page views with a sensational headline like "Windows problem". Maybe Mac users are just that dumb, their file browser's special casing of ".app" suffixes on a directory are fooling them into thinking that software has to be some monolithic binary.

iCloud and iTunes incompatible (1)

1800maxim (702377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711605)

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 her iTunes library and link it with the iCloud. The iPhone had to be erased (not apps, but all iTunes stuff), and re-synced with the PC.

If she bought any albums via iTunes on her phone, it would've been a nightmare. Once again, iTunes is a complicated piece of crap. It is so freaking complicated to figure all the sync to PC/iCloud settings out that it's not the "Apple way".

Hate iTunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711637)

And couldn't give a crap about their infrastructure issues. iTunes was built around the make more money for us model. It has had some glaring functionality issues for quite some time.
But I can understand there are some people who know only how to use iTunes and can't be bothered with other music management software which is better.

What iTunes? (1)

registrations_suck (1075251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711641)

The only thing I use iTunes for us to connect to streaming radio stations to listen to the news and related programs. It works pretty well for that. It works well enough that I don't use VLC, which I also have, and which could also do the job. I'm SO glad I don't have any kind of "iDevice" - I hope this nasty trend toward morphing OS X into iOS doesn't continue. If it does, I might have to finally switch to Windows ):

iCloud's promise != ISP reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711683)

With the data caps on supposedly unlimited (net download amount, not rate) home broadband connections, making iCloud the sole mechanism for syncing is ill-advised.

Case in point... (3, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711759)

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.

re quote: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711805)

'It's a giant kitchen sink piled high with loosely related features, and it's highly un-Apple-like'

Nope, that's pretty apple-like.

they just put a bit of lippy on it and call it lovely.

uhhhh - musta missed something here (1)

ToastedSpider (1531409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39711851)

"...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.'"

Wonder how that'll work with my non-3g iPad, since I don't have wi-fi at home.

Does that mean I have to go to some place like a Starbucks to do manage my iPad? And as a photographer, I manage our iPad portfolios via our PC, no cloud needed nor wanted.

iTunes is why i stopped liking Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39711869)

I bought my first iPod in 2005, my last in 2009.

The itunes database is a deliberately obscurant piece of garbage. I cannot even count how many items iTunes made all my album art disappear or messed up the database.

I am using a droid phone now with 16 gigs of space. All I did was copy my music from \user\My Music in Windows to I:\Music on my android phone and its done, no database no bullshit. Have never once seen album art disappear or it become corrupt in any way.

It's been bad from day one (5, Informative)

Malc (1751) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

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