It’s your usual working day. Nothing has changed. You are composed, diligent an whittling away at the keyboard. The Boss walks in greets you with a firm handshake and says “When you have a moment I’d like to talk to you.” Now you’re ambivalent. Will you walk away with a raise or a graze?
This is the same feeling I got on my way back home today. I checked the software updates, saw there were a few to go. Before I left I cast my eyes down the list and saw…iTunes 11. The long awaited, anticipated, supposed-to-change-everything piece of software. My drive home felt a bit like waiting on the chair outside the Boss’s office.
Before I get into some of the awesomeness of iTunes 11, let me get a few things off my chest about the previous versions. The good news is I’ll be writing a follow-up article on iTunes 11 and it’s greatness. There are a few reasons why many mac users (i.e. that means you use it daily, it’s not your weekend toy) find iTunes tedious and even painful at times.
Aesthetics: When iTunes hopped from version 9 to 10 the sidebar was suddenly desaturated. All the vibrant colour in the Music, Movie, and Podcast Library icons was lost. It sounds like a giant knit pick, but when you are weeding through your music on a daily basis, a small highlighted icon can go a long way.
Media Organisation: Many people purchase Music, Movies, Apps and tons of other bits from the iTunes Store. I pretty much only download Apps. The reason for not getting music there, is my taste in heavy metal (my preferred genre) is rather eclectic and not mainstream. Now if I did – in theory – buy everything through one portal then my music would be far easier to organise. Why? Well, because iTunes would do it all for me. I wouldn’t have to touch a thing. In reality we have the odd CD we’ve bought, or an album or two we’ve downloaded (because iTunes wasn’t selling it at the time). Plus we have bits and pieces gathered from different parts of the internet. This makes it difficult to organise.
Then there’s the other charming element when you’ve amassed all of your .avi movie files, iTunes shakes her head and says “Please come back when you have mp4 files, my dear.”
It’s not just a media player. This next part confuses the crap out of most people I meet. iTunes allows you to sync your email contacts, transfer word docs to a compatible app, back up your apps, sync your calendar.
The iPad is a great business tool. The iPhone is one of the most reliable phones I’ve encountered. Yet I don’t like the way iTunes tries to control everything like a jealous girlfriend. For example, if you want to send contacts to the iPad. Logic tells me that I would go to my contacts app and then click a button that talks to my iDevices.
Where to now?
Apple developers need to decide, is iTunes a media player or a device manager?
At the moment it’s both, which makes things clumsy for the newbie. During it’s genesis iTunes was a music player. Period. It didn’t play video in a hurry and it worked well. Then video compatible version hit the market, later on the iPhone and it’s Apps joined the fray. Very little was done in re-working the way iTunes handles its media and devices. In recent years only the colour and (to some extent) the layout of the interface has changed, not much else.
A good complaint is only as valid as its feasible solution. So here is what I propose…
Redesign / Bring back iSync (or something similar)
I blogged about this great App earlier. The developer blokes need to rework this piece of software so it handles “any sync related aspect” of the iDevices.
Sync is a clipped version of the longer word ‘synchronise’. A better way to look at it is think of creating a mould. Pour the contents of your computer’s media, into the same surroundings (or framework) and you’ve got them ‘synced’.
So ultimately you’ll have iSync that handles any sync, transfer, managing of data, and then you simply use iTunes as your Library Player. This will result in iTunes being far more watered down, but then at the same token, less memory hungry, smaller to update (in terms of bandwidth). If iTunes sticks to being more of a player and less of a manager, then we’ve won half the battle.
Side Note: For the wise-guy who’s about to open his mouth about iTunes 11…just wait. Keep your eyes on my RSS feed (or email subscription). There’s a review coming soon…