iTunes

So I bought an iPhone, and mostly I’m enjoying the heck out of the thing. It’s a wonderfully designed device, and Apple’s hardware guys need some kinda pay rise and general public adulation. The software guys… well, they’ve done some stuff that’s pretty sweet – finally allowing native apps is a godsend, some of the stuff that’s being done is brilliant; my current favourite is an app that listens to a song being played using the iPhone’s microphone, and then tells you what song it is. Fantastic! Some stuff on there is pretty dire though, like apps that turn your screen white to act as a torch costing £0.60. Good value for money, guys.

There are some things which are considerably more retarded, like the total lack of copy & paste, or that when you’re setting up an email account, the setup wizard (for lack of better terminology) doesn’t have options for things like port numbers or SSL settings, so when the phone attempts to guess these details from what you’ve put in, it can spend a hell of a long time wildly guessing before it decides it can’t do it, allows you to save the settings, and then allow you to fiddle with the advanced settings in another menu. Another odd email-related niggle is that the error message for a mis-configured outgoing email server (SMTP) is to tell you that the email address you’re trying to send an email to is invalid. Thanks for making me have to do some psychic debugging, guys.

Never mind. What I really wanted to talk about was iTunes. I’ve finally had to install it after years of being a Windows Media Playing scumbag, and… really, what’s the fuss been about? It’s a total piece of crap! I mean, seriously, this is version 7? Version 1 must have been a car crash!

First thing that’s getting on my nerves is how the App Store has been jammed into iTunes in what looks to be about the shoddiest hatchet-job I’ve ever seen. What I especially like is if you right-click on an App and select "Get Info" the Info tab includes (albeit greyed-out) fields for such useful infomation as "Album Artist" and "Composer", the Options tab has settings for "Volume Adjustment" and the "Equalizer Preset". I wish I was making this up.

Second: Apple. I have a music folder already. You evidently know this, as you have created an "iTunes" folder inside it. And an "iTunes Music" folder inside that. You seem to have entirely missed the point of the Music folder. Here’s a tip: it’s to keep music in, not iTunes’s settings.

Third: The store. It’s dog slow, and nearly impossible to find what you’re looking for. Browsing for apps is horrific. It’s better for music, it seems, but it’s still horribly slow, and the layout just feels terribly cluttered and hard to use. It also lets me do stupid things like switch to the US store, find something I want, then try to purchase it, only to be told my account’s only good for the UK store. Great, but I was logged in all along, couldn’t you have told me before? Why even let me see the US store? Would there be any horrible DRM-related consequences to trying to create a US account? I really, really have no idea. Painful, miserable experience.

Fourth: How the hell do I drill into my library by artist, or by album?! All I have is the ability to look at a huge list of songs. Oh right, you have to click the little eye symbol by the Eject button in the lower corner. Of course! That’s incredibly obvious. How did I not think of that.

Fifth: When it imported my library, it didn’t actually ask which folders I wanted to import from – it just grabbed everything, including non-music auditory detritus lurking in my personal folders, and now I’m going to have to clean it all out of the library if I want my signal/noise ratio to not utterly suck.

Honestly, I can count on two fingers the iTunes features I actually like, which is shuffle by album, and randomly play songs by the same artist/album together in shuffle.

Are there any redeeming features? I’d really love to know.

5 thoughts on “iTunes

  1. Nope, iTunes is terrible. I hate it and so does everyone I have ever met.

    There are some issues with the iPhone you may not have discovered yet, but I will leave you to find them out on your own, so much more fun/frustrating.

  2. iTunes. Yuk. I could spell out what's wrong with it, but you seem to have done a pretty good job, only missing out the whole exclusive file format thing which is a right pain if you have an mp3 player. That and the C: drive organisational nightmare have very nearly tipped me into deleting it a large number of times – I've always kept it, but still get annoyed when large numbers of people insist that it's inherently superior…

    Windows Media Player for me. Version 7, I believe it is. Damn straight.

  3. I've never had problems with iTunes – I only use the store for music so I've not had the issues with the Apps thing, and I never needed to use the browse tool – I just typed whatever-it-was I was looking for in the search bar and voila, sorting by any of the headings as necessary. As for importing, I just told it to add from folders. Not suyre what happened to you here! I think people give iTunes a bad press because they don't take the time to learn it properly, which is probably the reason Winamp and I never got along…

    As for WMP, I hate the thing. It too has it's own format which is irksome (but can be set to mp3 if I recall) but I find it's organisation structure a little too crap and fidly to navigate up until version whatever it was which effecitvely became a clone of the iTunes thing (might have changed again by now, I don't use it). Not to mention that back when I was choosing between them WMP had a super-slow search function when you actually had to wait for results. Rectified for a long time now but a bit late to catch me!

    @ Lucy: You can set iTunes to use and import a range of file formats including .mp3. The windows version also acts as an mp3 converter if you need to convert files.

  4. The search tool is great when you know exactly what it is you're looking for, otherwise browsing through everything is nice. In this regard, the new iTunes 8 is actually better, because there's a grid view!

    I guess I have the slightly naive viewpoint that software should not be complicated, and that you should be able to figure out what's going on by educated guesswork. I shouldn't have to know how to use a piece of software to know how to use it, that's an obvious Catch-22. The interface should get out of my way and make it easy for me to do what I want.

    Both iTunes and WMP have their own stupid formats, and neither will play the other's format. That's retarded on both sides, and they need slapping, hard. To add insult to injury, iTunes offers to convert my files wma files over – but if you can understand them enough to convert them, can't you just play them as is?

    I guess my major unarticulated annoyance with iTunes is that basically I've been forced to install it, because Apple are illegally using their dominance in one area to muscle into another; the exact kind of monopolist bullshit that got Microsoft in trouble years ago.

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