Saturday, 16 April 2011

Why does it take an hour to put an album on an iPhone?

    Why does Apple force users into an experience that almost inevitably ends in sadness, if not outright disaster? There's a straight answer to that question and it's what pushed me away from my iPhone 3G and onto a Nexus One in the summer of 2010. 
    The whole point of selling an iPhone/iPod touch isn't to sell a piece of hardware, it's to loop an end-user into a system that continually drains their credit card.
     But here's the thing: what if you don't want to go all-in with that ecosystem? What if you enjoy casually using an app here or there on the iPhone, and what if you just want to throw a record on your device five minutes prior to heading out on a ten-day road trip? What if you want to make quick and subtle changes to your iPod, iPad or iPhone, without iTunes selfishly consuming what's left of your day? That, friends, is apparently an impossible task, especially if you've got a handful of devices or - gasp! - more than one computer that your device talks to.
     Here's an example: I download a new record from Amazon's MP3 store. That was fun and easy. Now, what I'd love to do is plug my iPod touch in and have it show up on my desktop as an external storage device - you know, one of the hundreds of features missing in iOS that you get on any other device. If that were to occur, I could drag those files over to a "Music" folder, and in the time it'd take me to yell "Hallelujah," I'd be ejecting the device and heading on my merry way - the iTunes connection mode is up to 30x times slower than mass storage mode!.
    Is that really too much ask, Apple? I'm guessing it's not, given that said scenario is exactly what plays out each time I port over an album to my Nexus One. 
     Instead, a simple ten song transfer ends up taking between ten minutes and ten hours, depending on how long it has been since you last synced your device with iTunes. Apple should borrow yet another concept from Google: opt out. And by that, I mean avoid iTunes altogether and let us drag music over as if it's an external storage device. But with Apple, there is no opt out, not even from getting tracked by Cupertino. 
    While we're on the topic, let's briefly discuss apps. Once you start a sync, you best carve out enough time to allow your device and computer to level with one another. And if your app arrangement on your computer is any different than what's on your iPhone or iPod, get ready for yet another round of rearranging. Oh, and see that "Don't Sync Apps" button over there? Careful - clicking it lets iTunes wipe all of your apps rather than simply opting out of a sync and leaving them the way they currently are on your device.
   Then there would be the issue of using multiple iDevices on a single computer - which deserves a segment of its own - and instead, will present a fairly simple solution that should unquestionably be included in the next point release of iTunes. Apple, stop forcing people to backup their devices every single time. Let us manage our devices as if they're simple USB HDDs.
    I'll stop short of tackling the issue of the 10-year old "dock connector", it's humongous size compared to today's micro-USB or MHL (micro-usb + HDMI, see Galaxy S2), it's incompatibility with non-Apple devices and the supposed transition to Thunderbolt. Dear Steve, nobody wants/needs a gigabit server grade connection on a phone, we need compatibility, USB.