iTunes Isn’t That Bad; It Could Be Worse

September 4, 2010

Following the release of iTunes 10, checking out Ping, and then some random reviews from different folks, noticed general bitching about iTunes sucking. Which seems to be a meme these days, that iTunes is a bloated piece of crapware that people would ditch in a heartbeat were it not absolutely necessary for syncing an iDevice.

(I imagine most of the iTunes haters are running Windows. That’s part of the problem right there).

But comfortably entrenched within the Apple ecosystem – I respectfully disagree. I don’t love iTunes, but for all it does – manage syncing of personal content and iTunes Store purchases to various iDevices – it’s relatively competent.

Usability-wise, no big complaints, perhaps because I’ve used every version of iTunes since its inception. Every present feature from the iTunes Store to managing movies to Apple TV syncing was introduced incrementally, and I get ‘em. The paradigms for moving different content to different devices are largely the same even if they look different in the program.

I find iTunes pretty darned stable. I currently have it set to launch on start, and since introduction of the Apple TV, it’s literally always running, set to stream a big video and music library to the Apple TV. No crashes or slowdowns. Overall, it just works.

It’s also risky for Apple to break with the past without abandoning us who are used to iTunes’ idiosyncrasies – remember the bitching about iMovie 08. Perhaps two separate apps (iPlayer and iDeviceSync?), iTunes integration into the Finder itself, or a redesign with iOS-style simiplicity as a reference? None seems ideal.

I do have some nit-picky complaints. The new grey icons on the left sidebar of iTunes 10 deviate from the colored ones in every Finder window. Arranging iPhone icons could be better. The endless check boxes within tabs containing syncing criteria can get tedious. Whenever I delete a file, iTunes retains the reference with a grey question mark which I later have to manually delete. I wish it could rip DVDs, more video codecs were supported, or supported streaming and file conversion on the fly to an iPad or  iPhone like AirVideo.

But despite all that, I’ll continue running and relying on iTunes. I honestly think it could be much worse. The word “bloated” calls to my mind Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or any of the Adobe programs, with layers of relatively more dubious functions, and legacy UI issues. Imagine iTunes with animated ribbons, floating tear-off palettes, or tools hidden behind others.

I can’t imagine syncing all my iDevices through something resembling Adobe Bridge.


  1. Mike says:

    When Windows users complain about iTunes, I usually point out that it’s better on the Mac, solely because of the AppleScript support. Doug Adams has written a TON of great scripts:

    I’d love it if iTunes was broken down into a nice suite of apps, though. Separate apps for music, videos, apps, synching, streaming, etc. iTunes is still written in Carbon, can’t take advantage of 64-bit, or utilize multiple cores.

    I think it would push me back to theming if Mac OS X 10.7 looked like iTunes 10 – needs more color!