iTunes Out of Touch

The release of iTunes 8.0 promised quite a bit, and while the Genius feature has a lot to offer there are some fundamental problems that need to be addressed before this program can even be usable. Apple has overloaded the nature of iTunes and without addressing these core issues it is destined to become a hodgepodge of utilities hidden inside a program that can play music and video.

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1. Fix iPod Sync. Now that iPod supports email and address book integration with Microsoft Outlook, users are increasingly taking advantage of their iPod to sync everything between home and work. Unfortunately, as soon as my work PC downloads a podcast all of my photos, movies, music and applications are gone. Since the applications were loaded directly from the iTunes Store on the iPod, I’m not sure how to even make sure they don’t get deleted.

For now, I have given up using my iPod for anything but email, contact management and a few podcasts that can be easily re-downloaded from either computer. Is this what Apple intended?

2. Improve Battery Life. Since upgrading to version 2.0, my iPod battery will completely drain on a weekly basis. It appears to be related to ActiveSync, once this is turned off things improve considerably. This is a nice feature, maybe Apple should fix their ActiveSync implementation so that my battery doesn’t go to 0% on a regular basis.

3. Support Corporate Users. There are improvements to the iPod Touch and iPhone that make these devices extremely useful for corporate users. Unfortunately, the iTunes interface has not kept pace with these changes. Provide an iTunes Corporate configuration that eliminates integrated paid access to the iTunes Store and focuses on PDA functions. Users should still be able to provide a credit card number or an alternate iTunes account to purchase media, but this should not be required for the device to function normally.

4. Update the Program Interface. While the program might look at home on a Mac, it looks completely alien on my Windows XP or Vista workstation. The whole point of a windowing interface is to provide a consistent look and feel, it’s rather ironic that this was one of the primary gripes about UNIX/Linux applications running on X11 a few years ago and now this seems to be in-vogue on Windows.

5. Import Everything. Let me import my music, movies and pictures from a single place. It’s possible to stick in a CD and copy music, why not stick in a DVD and copy a movie? Currently it’s a chore to copy a movie or video in my collection and bring it with me on my iPod. This needs to be greatly simplified, and if iTunes can’t do that then provide an iSync alternative and leave all the conversions up to the user.

7. Bring Files with Me. Why is it so difficult to use my iPod for Word documents? Obviously this is not something iTunes supports and would be a great benefit. It seems that now every file that comes with me is an email to myself, it would be much easier if iTunes could expose a Documents directory where files could be stored and browsed on my iPod Touch.

Finally, why do I need to jailbreak my iPod Touch to sync with Linux at home? Granted, it is convenient that my iPod could then be accessed over the network and content could then be scripted to load onto my device automatically.

At least if you are going to go to the trouble of forcing users to connect with iTunes, you should also go to the trouble of making sure all of the device capabilities are accessible without having to install third party products like Air Sharing. This seems to be the only way for me to easily copy files to and from my iPod Touch, if only the program wouldn’t keep deleting itself every time iTunes syncs on either one of my computers.