Thursday, September 10, 2015

What are we going to do about iTunes?

Seriously -- iTunes has become a problem. And it's only getting worse -- and I'm thinking Blackberry worse.

"I hate iTunes," writes John Patrick Pullen, "and I think Apple does, too ...Once the ultimate in music file management and the centerpiece to Apple's financial turnaround, this program has evolved from a simple, dependable music player into the biggest example of bloatware in computers today." Over at The Atlantic Robinson Mayer pretty much agrees.

Meanwhile all this fulminating puts Dave Sims in a nostalgic mood. He pines for that long-ago day when the iPod and iTunes actually solved a problem, with what now seems a seductive elegance.

Man, do I relate. I have an iPod Classic -- 120 GB, just about at capacity. It's all music and podcasts. I plug it into the home stereo and run one of my massive playlists as the day-long soundtrack to household contentment. Or I'll take it with me on car excursions. The newer vehicle allows it to plug right into the console, but I've worked things out just fine for the older one as well -- you don't need hi-fidelity to get the proper gist of most podcasts, so I just plug in one of those collapsible little boomer-speakers and hit play.

When my beloved Infernal Device finally wheezes its last, I'll shut off iTunes and resort to ... something else. But what? Streaming is all the rage, down in the US of A -- indeed, it's catching on north of 49 as well, albeit very slowly. Content availability, originally a sticking point, is improving but still noticeably short of what our southern neighbours enjoy. And Jazz and Classical, the two genres I do the most surfing for, are nearly non-existent in most streaming catalogues.

Also, streaming sound quality may be better than radio, but only just. More to the point, I've got plenty of fat sound files parked in two hard-drives as well as in my little corner of Google Play. I'd prefer those juicy files get to my (now vintage) speakers via as short a route as possible. Again, the iPod (with playlists!) was a nearly ideal unit. Mebbe I'll resort to plugging one of my hard-drives into my PlayStation, as is the wont of others who've made that box the centerpiece of their home entertainment unit.

So, yes, there are solutions to this problem. But they all seem somewhat improvisational and a little rough around the edges, in contrast to what Apple once offered not-so-long-ago -- alack, alas.

If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

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