I’ve been a user of iTunes (on Windows) and the iPod for 4 years now. I hate them both. Let me qualify that. I have been really, really annoyed by iTunes and the iPod over the years. I don’t know if there is something better, but it doesn’t matter, since I already have the iPod. I’m not going to switch at this point, unless something else is clearly better. I haven’t heard of an iPod killer out there. A lot of wannabe killers, though. (I’m talking to you, Zune.)
The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back (and caused this rant) happened last night: I was on a mission to make a playlist of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos. Many of the songs I already owned. A bunch more I had to buy (not from iTunes, but from allofmp3.com… more on that later). So, I’m painstakingly making this playlist. Why was it so painful?
- [nit#1] I was using the search feature of iTunes a lot, as you can imagine. There is no single keystroke that takes you to the search widget. None that I could find. This is really annoying, but that leads me to…
- Many times the first click or keystroke in the search widget is completely ignored. Here is the sequence I had to repeat 100 times: click in search widget, [bug#1] click again in search widget to make sure the focus is there (so what I type doesn’t go in to the great void), type Control-A to select all the current text, [bug#2] type Control-A again to actually select all current text, and now type what I wanted to type. Do they test this stuff before they release it? And, this series of bugs has been in iTunes for as long as I can remember.
[bug#3] There appears to be no way to stop iTunes from downloading album artwork. I’ve looked for an option, but can’t find it. I bloody don’t want the damn artwork!
[nit#2] When iTunes is doing something it puts up messages in the rectangular area below the “Apple” logo. I should say it teases me with messages. They appear, and disappear, and appear, and disappear. Countless times I wanted to actually see what iTunes was doing. Actually doing. I would love an option that would either leave the status there or put it somewhere permanant. No, I would demand it, if I could.
[nit#3] iTunes is a huge resource hog. I have an Athlon MP 2800+ with 1GB RAM. It is noticably slow on my system. Each release of iTunes makes it slower and slower, too.
[nit#4] Speaking of slow, when I upgraded to iTunes 7 recently, I was really surprised at a few things. When I first started iTunes after the upgrade it starts going through my collection of 6500+ songs and doing something. Apparently it had to do with gapless playback. What was it doing? Would I like what it was doing? I have no idea, since Apple decided to keep me in the dark. I do know that the next time I sync’d my iPod it copied more than a 1000 songs to it. What in the hell did it do to those 1000 songs? I have no idea.
Score: four bugs and four misfeatures.
Almost the first problem I had with my iPod was with playlists. If you make a large playlist for your iPod, once you sync it over and start using it, it is fairly useless. Yes, you can play the songs on the playlist, but can you display the playlist by anything but song name? No display by Artist, Album, etc? No. For me, this severely restricts the usefulness of playlists.
Unlike others, I haven’t had severe problems with battery life, though I definitely think it never got the advertised number of hours (I tested it when I got it, but don’t remember the advertised number nor the number I got).
I’ve purchased 100+ songs from the iTunes store. It really annoys me for a few reasons.
- The selection is poor. Sometimes a single song is left off an “album” just so you can’t buy the whole thing. This might have more to do with the companies that Apple gets the music from than anything, but it’s still annoying.
- Once you buy a song from the iTunes store you are locked into their format and DRM. Yes, there are programs that will remove it, and at some point I will use them. However, I shouldn’t have to use programs on off-shore servers that are considered illegal in the US to get access to music that I bought.
- $0.99 a song is still too much. That price is just support for the prices of the old distribution mechanism for music (buying a CD in a store). The management companies that take so much of what an artist brings in are really becoming irrelevant. We should be moving to an artist to consumer model, and some artists are pushing hard on that (Prince comes to mind). I want artists to get a larger share of the pie. I also don’t want to pay $15 for a CD. In fact, before iTunes and allofmp3.com, I had almost completely stopped buying music. I would only buy a CD if I was both sure I would like it and sure I would like it a lot.
Aside from the business issues with the cost of music, I gotta ask one question: do the Apple developers that make this stuff actually use it? It feels like they don’t. If they do, however, then it speaks volumes for the process in place at Apple to actually, you know, improve their product: it sucks.
Overall my feeling about Apple’s job on iTunes can be summed up like this: it barely works, and when it does it is slow and unpredictable. If I had authored this software, I’d be embarrassed.
Update 1/7/07 12:52 PM: [bug#4] I forgot one really annoying feature of iTunes: when you minimize it it does not go to the bottom of the Windows z-order. It goes to the top. It means when you minimize and then do Alt-TAB, the “next” window is the iTunes window! It should be last.
Update 1/7/07 06:38 PM: [nit#5] every single time I do “Add Folder to Library…” it checks 681 files to find the album artwork. They haven’t changed since the last time I ran the command.
Update 1/8/07 11:06 PM: [nit#6] would it have killed them to implement bookmarks? If I turn off my iPod in the middle of a song, and turn it back on before some period of time elapses, I’m at the same point I was at before I turned it off. However, if I turn it back on a little later than this period of time, I start fresh at the main screen. It makes it all but impossible to listen to audio books or long speeches, unless you really listen a little every day. Also, even if I listened every day, I’d still like bookmarks so I could switch to other stuff for a while and come back.