If it wasn’t for the combination of high-quality hardware, a reasonably good OS & irresistible marketing campaigns, I doubt whether anyone in their right mind would use iTunes. It’s a massively overweight control-freak POS music management program, & that’s being complimentary!
The stupidities of the indexing include default copying of your entire library into it’s own preferred folder (why? It’s just another folder, nothing special about a folder called iTunes), the utterly ridiculous idea that a 20-track compilation album is not 1 album @ all, hell no, it is, according to iTunes, 20 different albums of the same name. & so is every other compilation album you own. Even albums that might have just one track featuring a guest artist – iTunes decides that this is another 1-track album of the same name (which is merely coincidence).
And videos – FFS. iTunes has a substantial number of categories with which to associate videos – Movies, TV Program, Music Videos (which are not videos, they are music, apparently. Except during playback, where unless you playback as Video, all you’ll get is the sound, no moving picture) – so why, with distinctly separate categories available, does iTunes insist on indexing every single video in your library as Home Movie? Therefore showing up in your iTunes library as Movies – 0, TV Shows – 0, Music Videos – 0. By default, iTunes won’t display the Home Movie option on its menu. “Where’s my movies, you POS software?” Requiring users to somehow stumble across the Home Movies tab, then figure out how to alter the metadata to suit iTunes and one by one re-tag their video collection. & this happens how?
If you let iTunes organise your collection (copy to its own folder), look forward to encoded file names – THP3GA.m4a that iTunes & iDevices can understand but you can’t. All in folders that have precisely nothing to do with Artist/Album that humans would use, nor Genre/Label, Year/Whatever – nothing. Complete jumble that only iTunes can comprehend. Oh, completely unnecessary jumble too, there’s nothing wrong with human-recognisable naming schemes.
iTunes cannot however cope with DRM’d Windows Media rips. Personally, I advise people to stay away from corporate ripping programs, (Windows Media Player & iTunes) there’s an ulterior motive @ hand. Microsoft wants you to play your .wma files on a Zune or Windows Phone or some other shit hardware that no-one is ever going to buy. If you won a Zune in a raffle, rest assured that second prize was 2 Zunes.
So, post iTunes indexing you’re left with two non-identical copies of your treasured library, the original including .wma files, the other in the fierce, stranglehold grip of iTunes. What could possibly go wrong?
iTunes is a necessary evil solely because it’s the gateway to iDevices. Without iTunes, you’re struggling to get data from PC, music, video, photos etc. those of us with fat music collections hate the transfer process – having to carefully tick each song/album/artist/playlist individually, whilst knowing for sure that you’re just not going to get what you want, there’s gonna be some sort of fuck up along the way.
Apple do however, tie iTunes to iDevices quite securely. Not since the ML_iPod WinAmp plug in in the pre-iPhone days have we been able to access iDevices without iTunes on the computer. But, and now I’m getting to the point of this post, if you have iTunes installed, 3rd-party programs can provide better access & management of iDevices.
My favourite, even though the English version is substantially feature-stripped from the original Chinese program, is iTools. The English download appears to be very much an afterthought that the iTools owners could care less about. It’s difficult to find on the web & on their site, it doesn’t install like usual Windows programs do, they’ve only just recently added a Mac version too.
(Megabyte showing off his new iPad)
Looking at the iTools.cn website, there’s 3 more fully-featured programs made by these guys – China language only, including one that migrates Android to iPhone & back again. Still, what they give to us, and it’s free, is a fine offering. iTools is a simple iDevices manager, covering all content types.
Drag & drop music, or videos – then rewrite the metadata in bulk if necessary. Apps can be backed up with or without user data, & installed or uninstalled individually or by batch.
Use iTools to remove log files & error reports or transfer hacks into app folders. You can see which .jpg is in which folder, & remove just that one photo if you like. Or add one photo – to whichever folder you decide. No synching the entire system for 1 additional photo, fuck that. Just drag & drop, easy.
Of course, Apple play the spiteful role, changing the encryption keys with every new iteration of iTunes. The effect of this is that occasionally a drag & drop feature will reject – until iTools gets updated anyway. That’s not a fault with the iTools software, it’s Apple being spiteful – although iTools does the job markedly better than iTunes (so users win), doesn’t clash with or harm iTunes & still requires iTunes to operate (Apple doesn’t lose), they still try to code it out of existence. You know, in the not so distant past there was another company who did the same thing to smaller software houses. Microsoft. Just sayin’.
If you’re an iDevice user, get iTools right now. It’s just 3.3MB & wont clutter up your registry nor will it sneakily install an Ask.com toolbar, a la Adobe Flash. It’ll make iDevice management a whole lot easier & much more effective. & comes with my recommendation.