The number of problems with iTunes keeps increasing, and that’s never more apparent then when syncing an iOS device. Whether you’re using iTunes on Mac or Windows you see that it’s become too bloated to really be great. It’s serviceable for managing digital files, but it’s definitely not like many other great Apple programs. Over the years, Apple has kept adding to iTunes without any realization that all of the adding will come back to bite users.
The main problem is that you’re managing music, movies, apps, and books with apps being really the most unmanageable aspect. With iOS 5 and iCloud you can wirelessly sync, re-download past purchased apps, and do the entire device back-up to iCloud. You would think that iTunes would improve, by iCloud lessening the burden of what it needs to store, but the ideas behind iTunes haven’t changed. For some reason, iTunes always wants to transfer purchases to keep apps stored on your computer on top of your iOS device.
Keeping music, and movies on your computer and iOS device makes sense since both devices can play them. With apps though, you’re computer can’t do anything with them, and it’s the single worst aspect of iTunes for a few reasons. First off, you can re-download any app right on your iOS device, so you don’t need a copy on your computer. All of the apps start to add up, and I had about 30 GB of my computer hard drive taken up by duplicate apps I can’t use on my computer. Despite these problems, iTunes always wants to transfer purchases when you sync, and when you try to avoid it, the entire syncing process doesn’t work right.
Just last week, my wireless sync with iTunes resulted in many of my iPhone apps being removed. I was working on something else, and I just tried to ignore the transfer purchases step. When I finished what I was doing, and launched my iPhone, many of my app pages were a lot less filled. That was definitely disappointing, but not that big of a problem because of iCloud back-ups. Or so I thought, as you can only restore from an iCloud back-up with a freshly restored iOS device. iTunes has moved on beyond a minor inconvenience to a hassle to use, and Apple can’t redesign the whole program fast enough.
We can only hope that the rumors regarding Apple reworking iTunes are true. They simply need to remove the bloat, and that all revolves around managing iOS apps and iOS devices. The new features in iOS 5 and iCloud make lengthy iTunes syncing and app managing a thing of the past, and iTunes needs to be truly updated with iCloud and iOS 5 in mind.