An Apple a Day…

Round N in the Barney vs. Apple battle played out this evening.  Far less significant than my unending PowerBook issues (grey screens, refusal to accept RAM, etc.), but annoying none the less.

I "won" an iPod shuffle down at the Wild Kingdom exhibit the Rose Festival last week, and installed iTunes on my PC (which is my at-home jukebox) so I could sync it up.  I've been a die-hard Winamp fan since last century, but this was one spot where it simply wasn't going to cut it.  An iPod is pretty useless if you can't move music onto it.

So to install the iPod software, you have to supply the serial number of the iPod.  Logical enough.  When you plug the iPod in, iTuns asks you to register it, and the first think it asks for is, guess what, the serial number.  I mean, c'mon.

Then there's ye olde iTunes itself.  You can reorder columns in the display (like any other program), but you can't move the 'name' column anywhere except leftmost.  WTF?

And there's focus.  Keep in mind that I'm running iTunes on a PC, where a click to a non-focused application both focuses the application, and passes the click to the application to process.  OSX, on the other hand only does one or the other, with focusing being higher priority.  iTunes, however, goes with the OSX paradigm, even though it's a native Windows application, which means Apple's engineers went out of their way to ensure iTunes behaves in an unexpected way to all PC users – "the UI is everything" indeed.

They also had the good grace to implement their own custom maximization behaviour that prevents a maximized window, when minimized and restored to the system tray, from being able to be restored with the buttons.  Basic functionality that the Windows environment provides for free, reimplemented to work inconsistently.

And don't even get me started on the stark removal of all adherence to system UI preferences, forcing users to learn a whole new set of visual cues in order to effectively use the software.

3 responses to “An Apple a Day…”

  1. tanguyr

    the open source mlipod plugin for winamp allows you to transfer songs to AND FROM an ipod.

    It is available here:

  2. Nathan Strutz

    Barney, I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates iTunes. All your points are completely valid, and I have a few more. I have a 2ghz pc and it's the slowest app I have ever used! The UI is not very intelligent for a windows app. The only thing I can imagine is that it runs better on a mac. My music library isn't all that big, under 20 gigs. I can't imagine what it's like for those poor souls who fill up their 60gb ipods.

  3. Richard

    For what its worth, it does indeed run better on the Mac. Searching is, for example, effectively instantaneous (on around 35gb of music). Not so on the Windows platform. And as a UI designer with an emphasis on usability, I dispise the way that iTunes fails to follow the standard Windows L&F. Then again, 99.999% of all MP3 players do the same thing in various ways, so it never really bothered me that much in "real life" (sad to say).

    I hadn't noticed the focus thing before, probably because on Windows I use focus follows mouse, so by the time I click on the window its already received focus.