Tuesday, January 23, 2007

iTunes love it or hate it

Noticed a great feature of iTunes. Listening to a Podcast/Netcast on an iPod, didn't get all the way to the end, docked the iPod then thought I'd scroll through the program to the spot I was up to and listen to the rest. When I clicked on the podcast it knew where I was up to and played from there. Really neat.

At a party on Saturday, I spoke to a friend, Kati. Her kids have iPods, she hates the way they work. The iPods were opened at a friend's house where they immediately plugged them in to his computer, whereupon they sync'd with his music collection. Of course when they went home and plugged the iPods in to their home computer it told them that all the music would be erased!

I think iPods should have a simple mode where they mount as a disk and you just drag music on to them. The sync method is great for many people but for some it's counter-intuitive and infuriating.

Moved my kids from one Mac to another the other day. Naturally, they wanted all their tunes and pictures on the new machines. All I had to do was copy the "iTunes Music" folder from the Music folder on the old to the Music folder on the new machine. (Same with the iPhoto Library folder in Pictures). Great stuff!

The only painful part is the DRM which means I have to deauthorise and authorise to move the few purchased tracks over. My kids are mystified about DRM. It punishes consumers.

iTunes is good and bad. Personally, I think Apple's losing the plot on this one. It's getting too complex, there are menu items I can't explain. Why is "Transfer Purchases from iPod" needed? Why is "Subscribe to Podcast" in the Advanced menu. For that matter, any application with an Advanced menu doesn't belong in the Apple in-house design stable.


Alastair said...

I can highly recommend the Migration Assistant for moving from one Mac to another. Works amazingly well.

I don't find iTunes too complicated but it is certainly not as simple as it could be, probably as a result of dumb Apple policies such as "you can't copy music off your iPod".

And never mind copying, even just *playing* music through a non-home iTunes is difficult. I experience daily annoyance checking and unchecking the "manually manage" checkbox just to listen to my music at work.

Also, iTunes needs to be far better about distributing the library. I have an 80G iPod and an 80G drive in my PowerBook - iTunes needs to do a better job at helping me distribute my library to external/network drives.

Competition is a good thing and I have high hopes that Songbird will do to iTunes what Firefox did to IE, namely make both products better.

Peter Marks said...

Thanks for that. I forgot to mention that the "Smart Playlists" are really wonderful. You can automatically have playlists full of recently downloaded, not played, podcasts for example.

The basic browsing by Genre, Artist, Album, etc is really good and incredibly fast.

As you say, competition is a good thing but it's funny to look in the shops now and see all the little players with fake click wheels on them. I don't think they get it.