Apple needs to sort its iTunes mess

Ever tried to delete a picture on your iPhone?


Not so magical sometimes... (Paul Sakuma/AP Photo)

I saw the most frightening thing last week while I was heading down to New Orleans. The fellow who was sitting across the aisle from me on the plane was browsing through photos on his iPhone. I casually glanced down at his device only to see an entirely unexpected and different kind of device: a picture of fully nude man lying on a bed, his junk displayed in its full glory.

I quickly looked away in silent chastisement. That’s what I get for nosing around, I told myself.

The shock of what I’d seen eventually faded and was soon replaced by thoughts about an issue I’ve been considering for a while, and one that would be crystallized upon my returning home this week–that for all its elegant products, Apple’s iTunes is a giant mess.

It has always been particularly bad with photos, with the man on the plane possibly serving as a great example. My seeing those goods may not even have been his fault. Perhaps he’s a little kinky–I’m not here to judge–and the photo somehow ended up on his phone. It’s easy enough to accidentally sync photos you don’t want from your computer onto your mobile devices.

Worse still is that the man probably doesn’t know how to get the photo off his iPhone. The device’s photo app certainly won’t let you trash it. You can easily delete pics snapped by the phone itself, but the only way I know of to eliminate photos that originated on a computer is to first trash them on that machine, then sync the iPhone to it. Which is really counter-intuitive.

I had a related problem when I sat down to organize my wedding photos. I had some pictures on memory cards and others on my iPad, where they had been transferred to, which brought up the question of which computer to sync to. My iPad is synced to my main desktop, but my laptop has a more up-to-date operating system and version of iPhoto, Apple’s photo management software. However, if I synced to the laptop, I was afraid the iPad would lose all the music and movies stored on the desktop.

This is where the fabled cloud–or in Apple’s case, iCloud–is supposed to come in. The cloud is supposed to bring us respite from this problem of media management across devices. Just upload all your stuff into the electronic ether, then access it from whatever device you want.

That’s fine, except like I said, my older desktop–the one with most of my life’s media on it–doesn’t qualify for iCloud. The solution I came up with was to upload all my photos to Flickr (I purchased a pro account for unlimited storage), then download them to my desktop for editing and organizing. And, as if all that wasn’t insane enough, ultimately I ended up re-syncing them to the iPad.

I’m not the only one who thinks this is madness. Jason Snell, editorial director at Macworld, also thinks it’s time for Apple to right its “syncing ship.” While iTunes may have started a decade ago as a digital jukebox, today it’s the central media management hub for scores of people. “Apple has packed almost everything involving media (and app) management, purchase, and playback into this single app. It’s bursting at the seams. It’s a complete mess. And it’s time for an overhaul,” Snell writes.

Yes please. If our curiosity can’t keep us from unnecessarily seeing other people’s penises, the software on our technology should.


Apple needs to sort its iTunes mess

  1. iTunes is probably in the top two reasons why I decided against an iPhone. 

    I have an iPod, and I absolutely despise using iTunes.  The iPod itself is pretty good, but I just cannot handle iTunes; it’s like the RealPlayer but worse.

  2.  The solution I came up with was to upload all my photos to Flickr (I purchased a pro account for unlimited storage), then download them to my desktop for editing and organizing.

    … really? That was the best solution you could think of?

    You know, they make these newfangled gadgets called “USB Keys” that are really useful for moving data from one machine to another when you have physical access to both computers. You might also want to look into enabling your iDevice as an external hard disk so you can use it the same way; instructions are in the help files.

    With all due respect, coming up with a solution as convoluted as that to solve a local file move is not an Apple issue: it’s a PEBCAK one caused by people who look to “The Cloud” to solve all their problems when a good old fashioned sneaker-net will suffice.

    •  Really? How do you connect a USB key to an iPad?

      • You…. ummmm… hell I’ve got nothing… And btw, Random_Output, I challenge you to show me ONE non-Jailbroken iOS device that allows disk access. What’s that? There aren’t any? Hmm, maybe you should have read those help files you mentioned before you opened your mouth…

  3. Um, this is an iPhoto problem, not really an iTunes problem. 

  4. Apple did release a complete fix for photo stream with it’s latest updated (released a couple of weeks ago). You can now delete on all machines ;)

    In addition, photo stream is an iCloud feature not iTunes.

  5. My RSS feed has the author for this article listed as Erica Alini.

    • I’m still trying to figure out what’s wrong with looking at naked men and their penises?

  6. This is the least of their problems with I-Tunes. I have had several instances where I have been charged for purchases of tv shows for my Apple TV that were made via my I-Tunes store account. In each instance, I complained and Apple’s response was to shut down my account as part of the refund. The web is riddled with stories of Chinese hackers doing this to legitimate Apple account users. Granted, Apple did credit my account for the erroneous charges but when I know I am going to have to go through the whole process of reestablishing my account, complete with new passwords and the like, on 5 different devices in my home, I am less inclined to report the problem the next time. Is this their answer to the problem. To get me to not insist on a refund?