Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blog<Bad Software> Why I hate iTunes

I've decided to take a break from the fitness stuff this week because something else has been on my mind.

Let my start off by saying that I absolutely love my iPhone (3GS), so I'm not just bashing Apple because I'm some Microsoft (or Google, or whoever) fanboy. However, iTunes is one of the worst pieces of software I've ever used. In fact, it might be the thing that pushes me over the edge to a different phone/provider when my AT&T contract expires next year.

Or maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

iPhone and iTunes - Syncing purchases

The iPhone has the ability to run fairly sophisticated software. There is an iTunes app that lets you browse music, podcasts, basically anything that you can buy from the iTunes store. In fact, you have to log into the same account that you use from iTunes on your PC or Mac. All of your account info is stored on Apple's servers so that they can keep track of your purchase history and other information.

The problem is that anything you purchase through your phone has to be synced with your Mac or PC version of iTunes (for some as-of-yet undisclosed reason.) Basically, if you purchase and download an app or song to your phone and then delete it before syncing with iTunes, it's gone forever. If you want it again, you have to buy it again. But why? I mean all of that information is being stored on Apple's servers. They know you bought it, and they know you "owned" it at one point. It would be as easy as confirming your account info and sending you the 3-6 file MB again. The only excuse for this practice is corporate greed. It's anti-consumer and one of the reasons why I rarely buy music through iTunes.

Also, since my account info is online, why am I limited to a single computer for syncing my iPod/iPhone? Why can't my library exist on more than one machine? In the age of the internet, this is a ridiculous requirement.

iPhone and iTunes - Podcasts

Through iTunes, you have the ability to subscribe to a podcast's RSS feed. Every day, iTunes will check for a new episode and automatically download it for you. You would think that since the iPhone can download files from the iTumes store, that it would have a similar feature to subscribe to podcasts.

Instead, you have to either download each new episode manually (by searching the store and determining if it's new or not based on the publish date), or you have to sync your phone to iTunes on your PC or Mac (which is subscribed to the podcast.) To make matters worse, if you do both of these things, iTunes will override what is on your phone with what is on your PC. So, let's say you are away from your computer, but you have a long drive ahead of you and you want something to listen to, so you manually download a podcast. Then later when you sync with iTunes on your computer, it will replace the podcast on your phone with the one in your library. This has the annoying side-effect of resetting the "new" indicator, as well as the current paused position if you weren't done listening to it yet.

iTunes - A Giant Piece of Crap

None of these issues would be so horrible if it not for the fact that iTunes is a pain in the ass to use. As a music purchasing/management application, it's not so bad. Sure, it uses a lot of memory, and it comes with a ton of features that I'll never use, but it's serviceable. I can make playlists and buy music and transfer songs to my portable device. That's about as much functionality as I need.

No, the real problem with iTunes is the update and installation process. It seems like every week there is a new minor update to iTunes. You get a little popup window asking if you want to download the new version and it takes you to Apple's website. Then, when you start the download, you realize that it's pulling down a 90 MB installer file. 90 MB, are you freaking kidding me? All it's doing is managing and playing media files.

For comparison's sake, Blender, a fully-featured 3D modeling and animation suite is only a 10MB download. VLC, a media player that can play virtually any video or audio file known to man, is only 18MB. The main problem here is that Apple want's to put as much of its own software as it can on your computer, even if you have better alternatives. Bonjour? No thanks. Quicktime? Go f*ck yourself.

So once you have downloaded the installer, running it is an adventure in itself. On my 4 year old laptop, it takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes to install. It appears that Apple decided to create about 40 different installers and pack them all into one file because I get to see the same "checking for space", "installing", "verifying installation", "removing installation files", "ruining your experience with Apple software forever" progress bars over and over and over again.

So, why do I bother putting myself through all this?

As I mentioned at the top of this rant, I love my iPhone. If I want the latest OS or bugfix, there's no other way to get it. And not only do I have to have iTunes, but I also have to have the latest version, which always coincides with said OS update or bugfix. All because my phone, which is basically a miniature computer in my pocket, is somehow incapable of running some extremely basic software.

This brings us to the end of our regularly scheduled Two Minutes' Hate. Have a happy 4th of July.


  1. I use iTunes almost exclusively just because of the spontaneous satisfaction it affords. But I hate it when I have to clear my iPod before I can sync it again, like if I transfer music from my desktop to my laptop using my iPod. I usually remember to do this just when I'm on my way out the door, too, and it takes time to load all that music back where it already was.

  2. I don't have an ipod or Iphone. I only have itunes on my desktop. So I guess what I'm saying is, sometimes not being technologically in sync is bliss?

  3. Yeah, iTunes wouldn't be so bad, if I just needed it to keep my music organized. Then, I would just keep ignoring the updates, and all of my issues with it would just go away.

    The problem is that I got my iPhone, and Apple is still treating it like it's just an iPod, instead of a miniature, always-connected computer.

  4. I'm jumping to Android as soon as my contract is up. Apple is going to get totally P*wned because of their crappy black-box closed door approach to software and apps, their idiotic ATT monopoly (nothing like not only choosing one single carrier, but even the worst carrier for your product Steve. Bad customer support was baked into the cake for Apple. Operating systems? With Droid Windows, Mac, Linux, no problem, use any manager you like, it's just a storage device! iPhone? Consider yourself fortunate that Steve Job condescended to give us a crappy Windows version of iTunes. Linux would be simply beneath his august majesty.