Monday, April 19, 2010

Why iTunes Sucks

I don't keep my dislike of Apple's flagship media software a secret, and now I'm going on the offensive. To those of you who say "why not just NOT use iTunes?", I can't because I have an iPod Touch. And, truthfully, I love the iPod Touch. It's a brilliant device, and I don't want it to just be an expensive, shiny paperweight. I just hate that I have to interface with it using iTunes.

1. "That's no moon; it's a space station."

The download for the most recent version is about 100MB. For comparison, the downloads for the most recent versions of Windows Media Player and Winamp are 25MB and 10MB, respectively. I know we pretty much all have high-speed internet these days, but that is still four to ten times longer download time. If we're talking about two minutes versus ten minutes, that's a pretty significant difference.

2. "He is as clumsy as he is stupid."

This goliath of a program runs like, well, for lack of a better description, a piece of shit. Anytime it's doing anything at all, whether it's syncing my iPod Touch or building up a new round of Genius Mixes, doing anything else becomes a tedious grind. And that's frustrating as hell. Every other media player I use zips along with resiliency, pretty much regardless of what else I'm doing. iTunes also takes two or three times as long to open as either Windows Media Player or Winamp. And when it does open, it usually decides that it wants to do something that consumes more computing resources, and I end up having to wait even longer.

3. "Never his mind on where he was, hm? What he was doing!"

Why is there no equivalent of a "now playing" playlist, something temporary that I can toss songs into at my leisure? Both Windows Media Player and Winamp have this feature; even iPods have On-The-Go Playlists. This is baffling to me. It's also the cause of a great deal of frustration when I'm listening to an album and it finishes and iTunes just automatically starts playing the next one. Yet another example of Apple thinking it knows best, when really it should be leaving control in the user's hands. If I cue up an album in Winamp, and there's nothing else after it in the playlist, it stops playing. Better yet, if I have a few albums or songs queued up in Winamp and I close the program, the next time I open it those same selections are still in the playlist tab, ready for me to continue exploring them where I left off. This 'feature' has been in Winamp pretty much since its inception a decade ago, I believe.

4. "This deal is getting worse all the time!"

Before I acquired my iPod Touch, I used Winamp to put songs on my old iPod. It worked great; I could drag and drop directly from the Windows folder location onto the iPod, and there was even an option to save songs from the iPod onto my computer. But with the iPhone and the iPod Touch (and, I'm guessing, the iPad) Apple has seen fit to change the programming to make this impossible (or, from what I've read online, somewhat possible but prohibitively difficult), so now I'm stuck using iTunes to sync my iPod Touch. The problem is that computers are supposed to be getting simpler, we're supposed to be removing extra steps to move faster and improve productivity. But sync is an added step. It's like pouring your cereal from the box (or bag) into some arbitrary bowl, pouring milk into that bowl, and then pouring the entire mixture into yet another bowl and then sitting down to eat. Now you have to clean two bowls. Why not just eat out of the first bowl you poured into? No wait, it's like if someone else poured every kind of cereal you have into the bowl for you, and then left it up to you to sort out the bits and pieces you wanted to listen to—er, I mean eat.

5. "It's a trap!"

Music purchased on iTunes is DRM-protected. What does that mean? Let's take a look at this excerpt from How FairPlay Works: Apple's iTunes DRM Dilemma.
Prior to buying content from the iTunes Store, a user has to create an account with Apple's servers and then authorize a PC or Mac running iTunes.

During authorization, iTunes creates a globally unique ID number for the computer it is running on, then sends it to Apple's servers, where it is assigned to the user's iTunes account. Five different machines can be authorized.

When a user buys a song from the iTunes Store, a user key is created for the purchased file. The AAC song itself is scrambled using a separate master key, which is then included into the protected AAC song file. The master key is locked using the user key, which is both held by iTunes and also sent to Apple’s servers.

Protected, purchased content is locked within iTunes; songs are not scrambled on Apple's server. This speeds and simplifies the transaction by delegating that work to iTunes on the local computer.

The result is an authorization system that does not require iTunes to verify each song with Apple as it plays. Instead, iTunes maintains a collection of user keys for all the purchased tracks in its library.

To play a protected AAC song, iTunes uses the matching user key to unlock the master key stored within the song file, when is then used to unscramble the song data.

Every time a new track is purchased, a new user key may be created; those keys are all encrypted and stored on the authorized iTunes computer, as well as being copied to Apple's servers.

When a new computer is authorized, it also generates a globally unique ID number for itself and sends it to Apple, which stores it as one of the five authorizations in the user account.

Apple's server sends the newly authorized machine the entire set of user keys for all the tracks purchased under the account, so all authorized systems will be able to play all purchased songs.
Did you stop reading that bit and just skip to this part? That's okay, I didn't even read all of it myself. Know why? Because it's bullshit.

I don't buy music online too often, but when I do, it's at Amazon. Why? Because most of their albums are between $5 and $9.50. Yes, even the most expensive is still generally $0.50 less than iTunes. And some are $3. Oh, and it's all DRM-free. Yes, you just download the MP3s and then do whatever you want with them. Downloading from Amazon looks like this:
Install the Amazon downloader utility, which helps ensure that the stuff you pay for actually ends up on your computer, because it would be sad if it didn't.

Download some music.

Listen to it. Or don't. Add it to your iTunes library, or your Windows Media Player library, or your Winamp library. Or don't add it to any library, just leave it on your computer. Back it up to another hard drive. Send it to your mom. Put it on your iPod, or your Zune, or your whatever.
Easy. These are the reasons that iTunes sucks. Really bad.


  1. Anonymous2:24 AM

    you're exactly right. what other program can i use to get my music and podcasts onto my touch. Itunes is a complete abortion.

  2. Anonymous3:53 PM

    Itunes 10 coming out! Reading the "What's new" page... wait a minute, they say "A new way to sync!"... awwwww not really, same old same old with more colorful bloat packaging! How about right click on a playlist and click "Sync to device" How much more simple could it get instead of dragging and scrolling up and down hoping to hit the right spot...

  3. Anonymous1:05 AM

    It seems like a really straight forward process, distribute an os image and backup user settings. The majority of the content is static as in already saved pictures and music so the overhead is minimal. The part I can't get over is that my iphone doesn't sync with my mac or pc automatically ota when I'm on my home network. What year is this?!?!

  4. Anonymous11:02 PM

    Well said, iTunes is the face of Apple's hegemony.

  5. Anonymous2:03 AM

    What an incredibly BS article. First off, iTunes runs fine on most PCs from the last couple of years. I have more than 40,000 songs running on my i7-980x and it runs great. Second, most music on iTunes is DRM free. In fact, in the last year I have not run across an album with FairPlay. Third, Amazon uses MP3 at a variety of bitrates and is most often second rate compared to iTunes purchase 256kbps AAC. Before you start misleading people, you might want to do some better research first.

    1. 40,000 songs all bought and paid for, huh?

    2. Anonymous10:54 PM

      Lol good call Dan. Trolls everywhere.

    3. "iTunes runs fine on most PCs"

      Uhhhh NO!

    4. LMFAOOO itunes is the biggest piece of shit software, i bet that guy works for apple or some shit... it randomly deletes 1/2 of my songs and i have to waste even more time resyncing them back on which is bullshit. my iPhone 4 is an amazing device but itunes is proof apple wants to be in full control of your ipod/iphone when its your device you paid like 300-500$ for you should be able to drag and drop but hey thats just my opinion

  6. Anonymous2:39 AM

    I could not agree more with all of the above. After installing Itunes, which I regard as the HIV variant of software, I use Sharepod, a comfortable freeware to manage you Ipod. Just drag and drop like you are used to! It uses Itunes in the background. I was condemned to use an Ipod because my car's radio does have USB...

  7. I'm on the verge of returning my IPhone for all the reasons listed above. The fact that I'm having trouble retrieving non-drm'd music from my IPod to put on my Iphone via ITunes makes me think an Android phone would have been a better choice.

  8. Anonymous5:31 PM

    Another reason why iTunes sucks, I updated my iPhone, before that I made sure that everything was synced on iTunes and that all my music was in the library etc. After updating the device iTunes closed and once I opened it back up and logged in again all my music was gone on iTunes, couldn't find it on the computer, and it was gone on my iPhone of course. Then with Apple, you have to repurchase everything if you want it back, they wont support you in any way even when it's a software issue on their end.

  9. Anonymous10:06 AM

    iTunes indeed sucks. Aside from having been designed and programmed by CS-101 failures, the DESIGN sucks. I thought this was Apple's forte - certainly not in this case. When I speak to iTunes software engineers, I get the feeling that apple is breeding nincompoops who then turn around and engage in inbreeding. I therefore predict that iTunes will suck forever, and will continue to stove to reach new heights of suckiness.

    Why am I frustrated? I have iTunes running on a CAD spec HP z800 workstation. People design jet engines on these machines. BUT - iTunes brought it to it's knees with just 85k songs. I was syncing my daughter's iPod but failed every bloody time for no apparent reason.

    Steve Jobs an his army of turtle neck wearing minions should continue making their beautiful I* devices, but should have their software written by people who know what they are doing.

  10. I actually hate iTunes and iPods so much I have went back to audio cassette for portable music. I bought a minidisc recorder first, but it turned out broken so that's why I chose tape. Computer-free music is liberating, fact.

  11. Anonymous4:16 PM

    iTunes is hates people. Hell, my whole family hates iTunes. They try wayyyy too hard to keep shit secure. There can only be 5 computers authorized with one account, you can't simply drag the music purchased on your iPod to your library, syncing is retarded. It makes life hell. I'm just writing this cause I'm pissed. Sync sucks because I can only put the music on my library to my iPod and it deletes all the shit on my iPod. It's complicated and it realy dosent hafe to be. I'm sick of typing, goddamnit!!!!

  12. Anonymous10:40 AM

    itunes is the worst software I've ever used and I've now succeeded in selling all my Apple crap, iphone 3g, and 3 ipods. Goodbye Apple, all of your crap sucks big time.

  13. To free up precious HD space on my relatively new HP laptop, I decided to relocate my iTunes library to an external HD on my wireless network. Finished the move (mostly) in about thirty-six (yes, 36) hours. Some will now play, some won't, can't add cover art to those without it...Jeez, I hate iTunes and also wouldn't fool with it if I didn't love my iPod Touch II and my iPod Shuffle. Please, Apple, take heed...fix iTunes now!

  14. Anonymous12:51 PM

    I couldn't agree more, I have an IPod Touch, only reason I use this crap sorftware. I keep reading online, "oh it's really great, you just have to overcome the learning curve", blah, blah, blah...
    I've been burning CD's since the mid 90's;realaudio/WinPlyr/Media/Kazaa/Napster etc. and in my opinion this is the most convoluted ripping ware that I have ever used. Seriously people it's the 21st Century already - Learning curve my Arse!
    Example: I just finished creating my "playlist" in CrapTunes, the playlist looks fine in PL menu, disc burned and guess what the order is reversed in final PL menu and songs play in reverse order, so I futz with the settings and burn another, same thing. So I play the disc with MediaPlayer and viola, the order is correct on the disc, however when I play in CrapTunes it only plays the reveresed. Really!? - What you see (in menu form), should be what you get - simple as that... But that would be logical and might make too much sense...

  15. Anonymous1:20 PM

    Yes, iCrap is so frustrating, I bought an LP vinyl player and guess what? I can play music I bought from the 70's without having to make a playlist, syncing to a useless brick crammed with bloatware.

  16. Anonymous2:08 AM

    really it just sucks,
    user friendliness = 0

  17. Anonymous4:09 PM

    Install iTunes and immediately un-install iTunes. all you need from Crapple you just got. The drivers. Now go get an non-communist software package like iFunBox or CopyTrans Manager etc... and manage your devices. a little bit of research saves a pound of enslavement. Never assume the only way is THEIR way. Have fun.

  18. Anonymous8:31 AM

    I totally agree iTunes sucks ass. What a piece of ...

  19. Anonymous3:39 AM

    Also, why is every type of content handled differently. Keynote files are handled via apps file sharing, photos have to be synced, books can be drag n dropped, apps are synced even though they don't run on Mac OS, backups do not include apps, can only sync with one computer, anything you do seems to tell you that everything will be erased... what a mess. I was hoping iCloud would clean up this mess, but it just added to the complexity. There has to be something else.

  20. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Even the name iTunes tells us that it's merely a mutated iPod tool and not really a master planned software that it's trying to be. And why all the duplicate names. iTunes on the desktop is not the same as iTunes on the iPad. iTunes on the desktop contains the App Store, but on the iPad there is an App Store app. It's almost impossible to explain all this to a new user.

  21. Anonymous11:44 PM

    Anybody ever try to use multiple Apple devices on one computer? WOW! What a pain in the A$$ that is.

  22. Anonymous12:14 AM

    Try getting a new (or second) computer, or even better if your main computer dies and you buy a new one. You get the privilege of erasing your iPhone, iPad, and iPod as well. Transfer Purchases helps a bit, but everything else is mostly gone.

  23. Anonymous11:59 AM

    When the iTunes files get corrupted , u cant even remove the program ... and manually deleting the 'bonjour ' service is next to impossible

  24. Anonymous11:28 AM

    Well put man. itunes is complete garbage. But then again all apple does is constrict its users so its not a big surprise. If I didnt get a free ipod touch I wouldnt go near this one day obsolete program.

    Android all the way and Ill stick to winamp for my pc music needs.

  25. My iTunes puts out meaningless error messages. The startup times are forever. It starts a restore and never completes or returns. It leaves messages about not finding files that I have clearly pointed it to and added to my library during the syncs. It requires that you identify cover art for every tune in an album instead of allowing you to simply identify the cover art for an entire album. I could go on forever. This program is such a piece of crap. It just kills the apple experience.

  26. Anonymous3:59 AM

    itunes was so shitty i didn't bother to get my ipod shuffle fixed when it broke.

  27. Anonymous8:36 AM

    ITunes is the worst piece of software ever invented. I hope Apple returns to its 90's days when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Their products are dumb-downed to stupid. There is no reason to run all their products on this horribly written software.

  28. Anonymous10:00 PM

    I am into SNES music. Using SNESMusic on iPhone which plays the .rsn snes music. Itunes is the only way to add the .rsn files unless I D/L them manually (nope, uh-uh, don't think so). While using Itunes, every .rsn (approx 100KB) added to the itunes list INCREASES RAM USAGE BY 20MB!! So when I go to sync, nope, outta VM, close itunes, make a smaller list to update sync, try again.
    This program is so retarded but not as retarded as the programmers who 'developed' it.
    Honestly, who put apple in charge on how we should be able to add files to our devices anyway? BRING BACK OS FILE SUPPORT. COPY PASTE VS SYNC, END OF STORY.

  29. Anonymous12:58 AM

    iFunBox is the solution alternative to iTunes.
    Guy who posted about SNES music above.

  30. Anonymous2:02 AM

    Great computers, tablets, phones
    Crap software. Constantly having to reset my effing password gets monotonous. Usually goes like this
    Enter Password ( off written notes )
    Password rejected
    Told to reset password
    Reset password using same password
    Disallowed as same as previous password

    The effing monkeys that come up with this bullshit software that is Itunes should be fed poisoned bananas

  31. Anonymous12:54 PM

    iTunes is making me nuts. Similar to comments above, songs randomly disappear from the computer. You can presumably re-download any song previously purchased from the iTunes store, which would be a great feature if it actually worked. I went ahead and re-downloaded the missing songs, and although the iTunes store said they were downloaded, they still were not anywhere on my hard drive. And since the omniscient and all-powerful iTunes Store said they were already downloaded, it would not allow me to try downloading again.
    Yes, Crapple definitely crapped out iCrap...

  32. Anonymous10:41 PM

    Completely agree.
    Love the phone, tablet and desktop.
    Hate iTunes.
    Apple, please please listen to this board and do something!

  33. Anonymous1:54 AM

    AVOID version 11. It will screw with your ID3 tags.

  34. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Just purchased a movie and music from Itunes last night - And now trying to watch the movie I purchased and the downloaded items have magically disappeared . My movie gone and purchased downloads nowhere to be found . Thanks Apple . This will be the last time I purchase anything from APPLE or Itunes-The resale value even sucks ass I wish I had the foresight to read about this shitty Software before wasting my money. I think I've reset my password 15 times in 6months . Any suggestions for better place to download MUSIC or MOVIES?

  35. Anonymous1:46 PM

    "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! — I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me WinAmp or give me death!"

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  37. I was just trying to find a song and should have given up after a few seconds, but foolishly i kept trying, and trying and trying and every step of the way iTunes blocked my intention with useless and frustrating results. iTunes was fine, almost perfect before. Now it is a useless pile of the smelly stuff. They got this so turned around, you need four guys in white jumpsuits.