Apple iTunes for Windows: needs a revamping, desperately (they should look at Zune for clues)

I recently had the displeasure of re-installing and using Apple’s iTunes for Windows again.  Installation woes aside,  I found that iTunes01actually USING iTunes to be equally challenging.  The media management/syncing solution from Apple is looking very dated now and, after nearly a decade of hodgepodge of changes, it is very cluttered and confusing.  It is decidedly un-Apple like…at least, not what we perceive as Apple like anyway. 

My previous experiences in using the software were less than ideal.  For example, my Wife won an 80gb iPod Classic a couple of years ago.  For nearly a year, every time I tried to sync it, usually after purchasing some songs or video, iTunes thought the device was new and wanted to set it up EACH TIME.  I finally put iTunes on my son’s laptop and told him to sync it.  After an ordeal getting it to work, it now syncs just fine on his laptop.  I have not tried on my computer since re-installing iTunes.  Another point of contention I have is that I use to use my AOL ID to log in to iTunes.  It is no longer accepted (which forced me to create a NEW account) and, as a result, media that I purchased with that old ID no longer work.  So, I already had a vision of how this was going to turn out, and, so far, it has been spot on.


iTunes02Since iTunes 9, the iTunes Store was rearranged.  I am guessing that Apple thought this new layout makes more sense than the previous layout.  Sadly, it is far worse.  While perusing the App Store for iPad applications, I kept clicking the App Store button and getting another confusing layout.  I couldn’t easily figure out how to see CATEGORIES.  I just picked an app that seemed to match and then clicked the breadcrumb category.  In fact, had I noticed right away, there is a down arrow that pops up when you mouse over the various store buttons.  Click the down arrow and you get a nice drop down containing the categories.  It is not very obvious just looking at it.

Another problem I have is with the App Store itself.  Apple loves to boast about the hundred and eighty thousand or so apps they have in the store.  Well, just try to find anything.  I found myself looking at the top 20, top 100 or whatever apps rather than finding something that is truly worth finding.  I’m sure that there are dozens of great alternatives for the top apps, but you’d never know it.  There are simply too many and there are also a lot of duplicate and pointless apps.  (Being a Palm Pre user, I found the ‘small’ two thousand application catalog is a bit much to look through, but it is organized quite differently and not as hard to find something, but, again, there are a lot of pointless apps there as well.)  I don’t have a solution to the problem, but I am sure the very smart people at Apple can come up with a better way of presenting these apps.

Since Apple is making such a huge deal over ‘middle layers’ of software and have, in fact, written the new license agreement that developers must adhere to in such a way that prevents them using anything other than Objective-C, C, C++ or the browser executed html and JavaScript, I have a problem with the over all dated look and feel of iTunes.  The ONLY Windows native controls I found are the minimize, iTunes03maximize and  close buttons.  Everything else uses this antiquated Apple-developed middle layer to create the Mac OS X like controls.  So, they are, in effect, doing the very same thing they don’t want iPhone OS devs to do.  But, it isn’t a swipe at Adobe, right?  And isn’t that original iPod looking display at the top of the iTunes window looking REALLY, REALLY old now?  When was the last time they put a display like that on a device?

iTunes is getting a bit long in the tooth.  It is bloated, ugly and hard to use.  Apple really needs to rethink this now critical piece of software…critical to their success, that is.  They should ‘pull a Microsoft’ and steal some design ideas from the Zune, of all things.  Zune Marketplace software is night and day better than iTunes.  Looks nice, pretty easy to use, fast and just works better.

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