Apple needs to fix its iTunes mess

13 Apr

I saw the most frightening thing last week while I was heading down to New Orleans. The fellow who was sitting across the aisle from me on the plane was browsing through photos on his iPhone. I casually glanced down at his device only to see an entirely unexpected and different kind of device: a picture of fully nude man lying on a bed, his junk displayed in its full glory.

I quickly looked away in silent chastisement. That’s what I get for nosing around, I told myself.

The shock of what I’d seen eventually faded and was soon replaced by thoughts about an issue I’ve been considering for a while, and one that would be crystallized upon my returning home this week - that for all its elegant products, Apple’s iTunes is a giant mess.

It has always been particularly bad with photos, with the man on the plane possibly serving as a great example. My seeing those goods may not even have been his fault. Perhaps he’s a little kinky - I’m not here to judge - and the photo somehow ended up on his phone. It’s easy enough to accidentally sync photos you don’t want from your computer onto your mobile devices.

Worse still is that the man probably doesn’t know how to get the photo off his iPhone. The device’s photo app certainly won’t let you trash it. You can easily delete pics snapped by the phone itself, but the only way I know of to eliminate photos that originated on a computer is to first trash them on that machine, then sync the iPhone to it. Which is really counter-intuitive.

I had a related problem when I sat down to organize my wedding photos. I had some pictures on memory cards and others on my iPad, where they had been transferred to, which brought up the question of which computer to sync to. My iPad is synced to my main desktop, but my laptop has a more up-to-date operating system and version of iPhoto, Apple’s photo management software. However, if I synced to the laptop, I was afraid the iPad would lose all the music and movies stored on the desktop.

This is where the fabled cloud - or in Apple’s case, iCloud - is supposed to come in. The cloud is supposed to bring us respite from this problem of media management across devices. Just upload all your stuff into the electronic ether, then access it from whatever device you want.

That’s fine, except like I said, my older desktop - the one with most of my life’s media on it - doesn’t qualify for iCloud. The solution I came up with was to upload all my photos to Flickr (I purchased a pro account for unlimited storage), then download them to my desktop for editing and organizing. And, as if all that wasn’t insane enough, ultimately I ended up re-syncing them to the iPad.

I’m not the only one who thinks this is madness. Jason Snell, editorial director at Macworld, also thinks it’s time for Apple to right its “syncing ship.” While iTunes may have started a decade ago as a digital jukebox, today it’s the central media management hub for scores of people. “Apple has packed almost everything involving media (and app) management, purchase, and playback into this single app. It’s bursting at the seams. It’s a complete mess. And it’s time for an overhaul,” Snell writes.

Yes please. If our curiosity can’t keep us from unnecessarily seeing other people’s penises, the software on our technology should.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in apple, ipad, iphone


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