Does anyone actually like iTunes? It’s a hateful piece of software at the best of times, particularly on PC. It has a nice habit of grinding to a halt if you so much as look at it, and the less said about the hoops it makes you jump through to do anything difficult, the better. When you consider that the likes of Plex instantly download cover art, metadata and fan artwork for the vast majority of obscurely titled video files you can think of, iTunes’ remarkable inability to find cover art for many commercially available music releases seems rather silly.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve had to go to Amazon to save an album’s cover image, before clumsily inserting it into the music folder (I know I can leave it wherever I like, but I want the image to go with the relevant album so that everything’s all together), selecting all the tracks on the album in iTunes, hitting ‘Get Info’, saying yes I do want to edit information for multiple items, and then doing the parlour trick of opening a window with the image in it while still being able to see the album art pane in iTunes. Much resizing of windows later, I finally get a tiny gap into which I can drag the image, and the art is associated with the music. Huzzah!

What’s also a pain is trying to change the computer you link your iPhone with – it can only share a beautiful relationship with one at a time, you see. While it’s heartwarming to see Apple promoting monogamy, this is infuriating. Last night I wanted the lucky linked machine to be my Mac instead of my PC. There is a fiddly workaround involving transferring entire libraries manually between computers, but the default position is that all your music is wiped off the iPhone, and only the apps currently on the phone are transferred to the new machine – not everything associated with your iTunes account. This means that you have to remember any additional apps you’ve downloaded in the past that aren’t on your phone when you switch computers. Luckily I had already copied all my music across, so it didn’t too long to put some of it back onto my phone – was nice to have a bit of a refresh of tunes, actually – but cross-coordinating which apps I now don’t have is going to take a while.

Oh, and when the iPhone repopulates itself it resets the order that your apps appear in, making them alphabetical in terms of universal apps and then alphabetical in terms of iPhone/iTouch only apps. So, A to Z and then… er… a different A to Z. Also, the default apps on your phone (Youtube, Maps, etc) are restored to their original positions on the opening two screens, leaving those pages looking pretty bare. For a few seconds, I thought that all my apps had vanished and that I’d have to kill someone. As it turned out, they started to be displayed from the third screen onwards. I have a lot of rearranging to look forward to, then.

Overall, iTunes seems happier running on a Mac (probably not coincidence), and the way my iPhone now links with iPhoto is quite iNice. But it’s weird how Apple, maybe the masters of modern-day technological and UI design, still persists with iTunes in the way it currently ‘works’, as well as sticking with the frankly flawed layout of the App Store, where it’s easy for thousands of new apps to be buried without anyone ever seeing them – unless, that is, the developers have a degree in marketing.

I can only conclude that the program’s in Steve Jobs’ blind spot.

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Filed under iPhone, music, Technology

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