With the iPad coming out in a few weeks, I guess many of you guys are doing some huge spring cleaning at your iTunes installation to cut down the garbage and assure that when the new kid will be in town, everything will be settled for a warm and polished welcome. You’d better do so, but I think this is all wrong.
iTunes is obsolete,and so is the concept to use iTunes as a centralized hub for music, videos, photos, settings, backups, calendars – basically, everything. Think about it: all the stuff you have on your iPhone was either created on the iPhone itself or synced via iTunes. You can’t transfer information from your computer to the iPhone without iTunes. And thus I think Apple has been very lazy in these past years, not willing to update iTunes or finding another solution for our needs.
The problem is, when the first iPod came out it seemed pretty clear back then that the best solution to sync music was iTunes. And so they went for it, people loved it and iTunes became music. Your iTunes library is your music. The iPod had an enormous success also because of its simple sync process, there’s no doubt about it. But fast forwarding 10 years, does the same process still work?
I say no. Things are different now, we have iPods, iPhones and iPod Touches, soon we’ll have the iPad, which will hopefully revolutionize mobile computing. But you know, it’s not that we’re still carrying around only music. We carry around a lot of stuff actually: photos, videos, documents, passwords, entire databases full of information. By installing apps on our devices, we carry around our lives.But still, we’re bounded to iTunes as the only software that can connect our iPhone (or whatever device you own) to the files and data we have on our computers. If it was Microsoft, you’d say it’s lame – but being Apple the problem, people seem to ignore it. It’s a huge problem. As the word says, iTunes is for music. It’s not called iData, iApps or iComputer – it’s iTunes and it’s meant for playing music. I can accept videos if you really insist on this. But ultimately, iTunes wasn’t meant for all the other stuff we put on our iPhone. To me, it seems like Apple relaxed and went for a “we have iTunes up and running, let’s deploy everything on that” philosophy, not thinking about the fact that they’ve been deploying stuff on iTunes since the first generation iPod came out.
Now, the iPad is coming out in a few weeks, and nothing new seems to be approaching. It’s very likely that we’ll keep on syncing apps and anything else via iTunes for the next 2 years. But there should be something better than this.
Let’s assume Apple releases a dedicated app for managing the synchronization of content between our computers, the cloud and the mobile devices. It can retrieve music, videos and podcasts from iTunes, the files on MobileMe and calendars from iCal. Apps are gone from iTunes: “Sync.app” is the one and only place for applications, and same applies for the App Store. Hence iTunes reverts to its original purpose, being your music organizer, powered by an online store. Moving the App Store to a dedicated app other than iTunes, could also help Apple is streamlining the whole store experience and perhaps redesign the whole thing which, truth be told, is cluttered. Sync app would also bring a better management for your installed applications, such as an advanced backups viewer or settings adjustments from your desktop. I can’t even imagine all the pros of having a standalone software for syncing the iPhone.
Having iTunes as the only solution for sync is surely great for non-skilled users, but are sure the opposite won’t work better? And if you believe iTunes is the way to go, then why not adding support for apps to iPhoto? Or put some links to the Store in Aperture?
By removing the iPad and the App Store from iTunes, Apple could have the chance to refine an experience which, sadly, is still desktop dependent. And if so, why not making it better and unique?
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