If you’re an ardent Apple fan, don’t take this personally. I have nothing against Apple products in general. I own an iPod and love it, I’m impressed with my friends’ iPod Touch, and I’d love to own a Macbook. But I can’t help but wonder why iTunes is such a dreadful piece of … software.
For many of us Windows users, iTunes is the first Apple product we’ve ever used, and as an ambassador to things Applely, it’s not very successful.
I still recall my first view of the interface and thinking, what the hell is this? A spreadsheet? Looking at data as a table may tickle the fancy of accountants but it’s always been my least favourite view of a data set. Surely this wasn’t the main interface? Wrong.
Aside from an Album view, which is okay if you have a very large music library, it’s cold and clumsy. Scroll, scroll, scroll to select a song.
Yes, I know about playlists and I make bunches of them. It’s the only way to make iTunes usable for music. But it’s time consuming to build them and as I discovered when changing computers, the playlists don’t travel well. Mine didn’t travel at all — I had to recreate them from scratch.
I’ve got nothing against the iTunes Store either. I love it for finding and subscribing to podcasts. Automatically syncing my iPod with new casts is a pleasure. Almost.
One of the problems with iTunes synchronization is that the settings are global — applying to all podcasts. For me podcasts aren’t equal. Some I like to have on my iPod for later re-listening, and others are a quick listen and out.
I compromised by setting sync at the 3 most recent, which gives me more of some than I want and less of others. Why doesn’t iTunes allow me to customize the profile of each podcast? It doesn’t take a Genius to figure out how useful that is.
Speaking of Genius — well, some people say they like it. I don’t. Fortunately this is one option I’m able to turn off. But instead of bloating iTunes with this kind of semi-benign spyware, why not work on the interface?
So, because of the global settings on podcasts, I decided to go Manual on the sync and just do it myself. But every time I tried to drag and drop a podcast into the iPod section of iTunes, I got a circle with a No-No bar across it. Huh? I went to the documentation which said, “drag the podcast to the iPod icon.” Swell. I went back to auto mode.
I don’t know much about how Apple develops software or how they made iTunes work in Windows, but I have no other single program that boots as slowly as iTunes — not even Photoshop. Is it running in emulation mode? It’s a pig.
A friend of mine who was recently given an iPod Touch as a gift confessed to me that as much he finds the device really neat, he can’t stand the iTunes built into the product. I had a look. Crikey, because of cramped screen space, it’s even worse than the Windows version. Yuck.
I really do like my iPod Nano and I’ve been thinking about getting an iPod Touch, but now I’m not so certain. I’m starting to think in terms of getting a different brand of music/video player that allows me to work with it directly.
Apple, get with it. Fix that damned program so it looks nice, is friendlier to use, is customizable for individual podcasts, and doesn’t take forever to load. This iTunes POS has been out there for years now, with a virtually unchanged interface. Not a nice intro to Apple products, nor does it inspire confidence that Apple can do things any better than Microsoft.