When iTunes and iPod fail

A recent topic on 90 Percent of Everything blog has made me recall some troubles of iTunes/iPod couple that sometimes realy annoy me.

Here’re the problems suggested by original blog author (comments are mine) :

  • When you’re listening to your ipod and a crappy song comes on, there is no option to trash it.
    That’s especially anoying for broken podcasts or songs, imported with glitches. There’re some workarounds like playing with rating, but still…
  • If you import a CD when your computer is offline, it gives the tracks generic names (”track 1, track 2″ etc), and then they stay like that. This isn’t very helpful. What it should do is watch out for when you are next online, and then get the real song names off Gracenote in the background, without requiring any intervention from you.
    Agree. Implementing this feature is quite trivial and I have no idea why Apple hasn’t done this before. Hello, software developers, maybe it’s your chance to be the first 😉
  • Podcasts are listed under Albums. A podcast is not an album.
  • iTunes doesn’t do anything intelligent with tags. It doesn’t parse tags for similarities (e.g. “BobDylan” and “Bob Dylan” are obviously the same artist), and it doesn’t try to improve them with any social webby magic either.
    Well, at least it couples “Future Sound of London” with “The Future Sound of London” although using more complex approaches might help improving the experience. I’ve already covered this topic a bit before…
  • It copes badly with compilation CDs. You end up with hundreds of artists listed (e.g. itunes puts a song by “Javis Cocker & Thom Yorke” in its own artist category, rather than listing it twice: under “Jarvis Cocker” and under “Thom Yorke”). And if you have one 4 minute song by an artist, it lists it as an album when you browse by album on your iPod.
    Agree once again. From another side, this might be suitable for people who buy music from iTMS (I still prefer old good CDs) and get one-two tracks from an album. Otherwise for large collections of musics this is really annoying.
  • iTunes expects you to make your own playlists. I hate making playlists, but I want something better than “random-everything” or the crappy smartplaylists that come preloaded when you install iTunes.
    As some responders have already noticed, there’s a magic Predixis Music IP program which could ease the work a lot by creating playlists with certain “mood” automatically. From another side, the program is buggy and has an unacceptable GUI so there’re lots of chances to “compete”. In fact, if Apple licenses the technology, playlist creation for iTunes would become magic instead of a boring process it is now. Really, people don’t want to make much work computers can do for them 😉
  • iTunes thinks it owns your bandwidth. When it starts downloading two big podcasts simultaneously (which it often does), your web browsing experience slows right down. It should throttle itself!
    Not that much a problem for me personally, but while downloading large podcasts this may be annoying.
  • iTunes thinks it owns all the audio on your computer, and always tries to put things into your music library. So if you double click a music file, iTunes will load itself and automatically move that file into your music library. I hate that.
    Thankfully I use Foobar as my primary music player. Expecting to have troubles on mac though…

There’re surely other options I’d liked to add from myself:

  • Poor CD importing defaults. Making 128kbps AAC out of modern music is OK especially as the quality is adequate for most purposes of casual listener, but error correction option must have been set by default! Even with error correction enabled you’ll never know for sure that the CD has been copied OK as iTunes would not notify you about errors. Taking into account its inferior (to EAC, AKrip, etc) error correction engin this sucks: It’s really annoying to hear sound skips while listening to the music on your iPod.
  • iTunes does not maintain the database. Delete, move a song and iTunes would still think it’s there. iTunes loosing track of songs is a known issue, bugging lots of users IIRC, but why not making a decent workaround? You may use third-party tools but why can’t iTunes make this work itself?
  • CrappyID3 tag management. This topic is largely covered on the web already.
  • No support for AAC-HE. The format exists for years already and is widely supported by many companies. For example, most modern cell phones play AAC-HE files without problems, but Apple seems remain in a stone age. Adding HE-AAC support could make podcasts smaller and let creating higher quality video podcasts with the same picture size.
  • Denial of modern loseless codecs. There’s surealyApple loseless, but why should I care if I can only handle it with iTunes? There’re widely supported FLAC and Wavpack, but ok, they have no DRM build-in. Is this the only only reason? In fact, I’d not liked to stick much to closed formats… Otherwise, even though we have MPEG-4 ALS loseless codec, Apple denies to support it.

Overall, iTunes is a nice application and iPod is the best music player ever, but come one, Steve, aren’t you trying to make great products, not just “good enough” ones?


3 Responses to When iTunes and iPod fail

  1. Kyle says:

    So, you’re blaming the iPod when “a crappy song comes on?”

  2. Stefano says:

    Since I understand iTunes does not warn you when a CD has not been properly burned, do you know if there is a software that can scan your imported Library songs for glitches or errors?

    I use AAC 128 compression, and found that 9 out of 10 cases in which I hear something not quite right in the recording, the problem is there also in the original CD. However, once in a while (1 out of 10 cases), the problem was with the import of the CD, and re-importing it solves the problem.

    However, I have a large collection on iPod, and would like to avoid to listen carefully to all songs for glitches. A software doing this job would help!


  3. sacrat says:

    I personally use EAC+Foobar2000+NeroAAC codec for encoding and managing my home collection. Just rip a WAV image (CUE+WAV), open it in Foobar, import CDDB tags and encode with a high quality Nero codec at about 175kbps (safe settings to make sure no artifacts are heard although 128kbps iTunes is enough for 80% of my needs).

    This is not elegant or easy or timesaving, but it provides me with 100% possible quality.

    Unfortunately, even “secure ripping”in iTunes is not that much secure: if a reading error occurs and iTunes cannot fix it, the program remains silent leaving you with damaged files which is arguably a good behavior. What’s even worse, secure ripping is off by default, thus often providing errors on clean high quality CDs. The worst thing of it all is that with smart CD-burning routine implementation nearly all of these errors could be successfully fixed resulting in bit-precise copy.

    Thus, unless Apple tries to do something with the issue iTunes remains an easy to use, but very insecure CD encoding solution.

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