December 3rd, 2010


Got used to the future, now it feels like the past

I'm always surprised by how much iTunes continues to suck. For something so high profile, you'd think it would be better by now. I know, "you get what you pay for," but honestly I'd pay a lot if there were something demonstrably better. WinAmp? MusicBrainz? Last time I looked there didn't seem to be a great alternative.

Why iTunes Sucks in 2010

  1. No way to configure View Options globally. AH so annoying. I can never get it to persistently size columns right, and I'm perpetually having to say 'show me track numbers. don't show me genre.' Why can't I set defaults?

  2. No keyboard shortcuts for scrubbing (fast-forwarding/rewinding through songs). They have shortcuts for 'next track/prev track' but not for within a track. Wouldn't it make sense to map some combo of keys (like option + right/left arrow) to fast fwd/rewind? This seems completely brain dead obvious to me but it's not there. There's probably some convoluted solution involving Automator but why isn't it just built-in!

  3. They built in this stupid Ping shit that does nothing but slow things down. Meanwhile, I've lost my metadata (star ratings, play counts, playlists) 500 times over the years. Every time you set up iTunes anew everything gets lost. They store all the metadata in iTunes library file and it's not obvious how to preserve things when you move to a new computer. If ever there were an opportunity to store things in the cloud, this is it. They should have put this in years ago. Just set it up so my metadata gets continually backed up. I should have all my ratings from years ago, should be able to remember what I was listening to then cos they kept track. Cmon Apple you have such an opportunity! There's all these scattered services that attempt to fill this need, but none of them are sitting as a client on my computer that I use to play music every damned day!

  4. Browse is completely broken. Oh wow, 'album cover view.' I use it so much. Column browser, well that's innovative. I'M BEING SARCASTIC ITUNES PEOPLE YOUR BROWSING SUCKS. Sorry that really doesn't merit yelling, they do give their software out for free. But again, it's just a wide open opportunity for someone to come in and radically improve things.

    The problem is that everything went digital. In the old days you could sit there and flip through your albums, and while it wasn't efficient, it was at least pleasurable. Now I have 17000 mp3s scattered across a hard drive and 'flipping through albums' iTunes style is intolerable. I don't know what the solution is but it has to be something simultaneously random access, structured and fun. Search obv. has to be tight but the UI also needs to be radically overhauled. It's just too hard to scan through your collection. They have all these settings like 'Group Compilations', 'Sort by Album Artist,' but they all just get in the way. Oh speaking of bewildering settings

  5. Copy to Play Order What the hell is this? (Right click on playlist and you get that setting.) Does anybody in the world know? It's been around since version 0.1 and they never get rid of it. One time I looked it up but I've already forgotten. I remember it being stupid.

  6. 'View Duplicates' doesn't give you anyway to automatically delete duplicates! All they do is show you the dupes and then you have to go through selecting every version of every song you want to delete. Would it be so hard to automate this? There are applescript plugins that do this but if I wanted to fuck with applescript I'd... hmm don't know how to end that. I don't want to fuck with AppleScript.

  7. A lot of these points tie into a bigger issue (and again a huge opportunity for somebody to step in with something revolutionary): metadata. As the internet revolution took hold, everybody's computers filled up with janky mp3s labeled with haphazard genre, incorrect song titles, titles like "Track 2", "Track 3", lack of release date, you name it.* I've tried so many programs that purport to fix up your music collection, but none of them really work. It needs to be automated, way more than anything currently out there. Isn't audio fingerprinting good enough that they could figure out what's what? iTunes won't even try to get track names from CDDB unless you bought the CD! I guess a lot of their crappiness is by design, cos they want to get in good with the music label mafia. Wouldn't do to fix up the music collections of anybody with unverifiably purchased mp3s.

    I've contemplated putting an ad on craigslist. Find some college kid and pay them fixed rate (or hourly?) to go through my music collection and fix all the track names, genres, release dates, as much as possible. And get rid of all the dupes and download missing tracks and set 'play without gaps' on all the DJ mixes that need it. I'd also pay them to rip my cds. I have a lot of music locked away on those weird shiny discs and they get more scratched up every day. People say 'if you just burn a few day eventually you'll get through them all.' Who has that kind of patience? It feels like an imperfect market situation cos there must be some Guatamalan** immigrant who'd be willing to do this at a rate that would satisfy us both. It's really getting to be a problem; I don't have time to deal w/ music archiving anymore and am completely baffled by the sea of files scattered across work, home and ipod

  8. "Syncing." WHY AM I SYNCING DEVICES? Once I buy the music can you just make it available from everywhere. I have to plug in my ipod whenever I wanna get something off computer, it's like the Flintstones with their bird that's a record player

* Admittedly this problem is partially due to the the sheer abundance of music that existed during the golden era of file sharing. Remember audiogalaxy? Napster? The world will never again know such paradise. I feel like I'll be recounting it to Izzy someday. It was a time when you could get any music in the world, instantly. Anything that you'd ever heard of, read about or wanted to explore, there it was. I got into so much new stuff! It totally changed the experience of reading about music (mostly for the better, I think.) Even now Pitchfork end of year lists are so much better cos you can instantly hear the music. In the olden days you'd read Spin's year-end "Best Records You Never Heard" and have to squint your brain and imagine the sounds.

** Not Racist, it could be someone from Honduras as well.