DoubleTwist AirSync Review

DoubleTwist AirSync Review

Nov 1, 2011

This review is one part of my two part look at Mac compatible/WinAmp alternatives for wirelessly syncing music to your phone. Because doubleTwist is one of the more highly used programs, I figured that a full Rundown would be appropriate.

DoubleTwist comes in with a lot of hype. There are three parts to the full package: one iTunes-like desktop app, a free media player app, and a $4.99 AirSync app that’s basically an add-on to the media player. The aim for doubleTwist is to be the Android version of Apple’s iTunes and iCloud service. It comes close, but there’s no way for Android to replicate the success and simplicity of their Macintosh counterpart.

Starting with the desktop application, I’ll say this first: I am an iTunes slave. I’ve tried multiple other media players but I always end up reverting back to iTunes eventually. I admit that iTunes is bloated and needs a rewrite, and I thought that any new media player would have to be faster and smaller. Shockingly, I was proven wrong with the doubleTwist media player. I’ve uninstalled/reinstalled this program a few times on my MacBook Pro but it doesn’t seem to alleviate the sluggishness through the menus, and the program will frequently lock up for 30 seconds before working again. The program also takes longer to load than iTunes, which I wasn’t even aware was possible. Without the Android AirSync app, however, doubleTwist does do a good job of wired syncing; it organizes your files accurately within the Music folder on your phones SD card. But a means to easily put music on your phone is the only thing this application should be used for. This is not an iTunes replacement, even though it tries to be. It also hijacks the play and next/previous buttons when closed but not fully quit which can be very frustrating.

Fortunately, the mobile app fares better. The mobile media player is very capable, and has a very elegant lock screen widget. There isn’t much to set this app apart from other mobile media players like WinAmp, but like I said in my review for UberMusic, if you want a basic media player to replace an iPod, this will do the job handedly. There are many complaints of sluggishness and “glitchiness” on the Android market, but in my experiences with it I have not found any problems on my HTC EVO 4G. There is an add-on to the media player that adds Gracenote album art automatically and allows for an advanced equalizer. But for $5.99 it kind of seems like a raw deal.

Finally, the last part of this package is the separate $4.99 AirSync application. This application basically allows you to wirelessly sync music, photos, and videos to your Android phone over a home network. Setting up AirSync with doubleTwist is easy enough, but I would like to see it simplified down a little bit more. I can easily see less experienced users having a hard time getting doubleTwist to recognize their phone. I was impressed with the speed that my files were synced over to my phone. It took less then a minute to sync a 19 song album to my phone, which is faster then it takes to do the same thing wired. I had no problem is having other media players recognize the files, which means that even if you do not like the mobile player or the desktop app, you only have to use them to transfer your files.

The final aspect of this app is its integration with the Xbox 360, PS3, and Apple TV. Surely, the Apple TV feature can’t be true. Streaming music from your Android phone onto an Apple TV? No way. Well yeah, it’s true. DoubleTwist easily streams your videos, photos, and music to Apple TV. It’s not perfect; when a song is playing, no info appears, displaying just a black screen, but come on. Close enough. Even better is the streaming to the Xbox 360. Your phone appears under the list of drives when you open the music tab and the songs start playing instantly after selecting them. This actually surprised me. One problem is that the AirPlay feature will stay on even when DoubleTwist is closed which will drain your battery, so just make sure to turn it off when done.

Overall, DoubleTwist is a good Winamp alternative if you can deal with some fairly noticeable problems, even though I’d recommend TuneSync if simply wirelessly syncing music is what you’re after.

The Hills Are Greener: The Tyranny of iTunes

The Hills Are Greener: The Tyranny of iTunes

May 9, 2011

Oh, if there is one thing that I do not miss having to use on a regular basis having switched from iPhone to Android, it is iTunes. It is a bloated mess of software that remains the single worst facet of iOS usage. And yet, iOS devices remain tethered to iTunes because Apple still requires it. Music, videos, apps, even the limited direct file management that iOS provides all go through iTunes, and even jailbreak solutions make it very difficult if not impossible to abandon iTunes entirely. iTunes is overly slow (especially on Windows), requires that anything on a device also simultaneously exist on a computer, ties users down to one computer lest everything be deleted if they move to another one, and is just unpleasant to use. And yet, iOS users lack any choice in the matter – it’s use iTunes, or don’t use an iOS device at all.

Android is great because it does not need a manager program like iTunes at all. There are options available for managing media on Android phones, yes, but they’re entirely optional. I use Winamp and its wireless sync (something Apple has yet to set up on iOS) to put music on my phone, and I’ve even transferred music from it that I’ve downloaded straight on my phone. If I get a copy of an app that I want to install, I don’t have to go through iTunes or iPhone Configuration Utility (which, while relatively painless compared to iTunes, has always been buggy for me), I can just download it and install it straight on my phone. While services like Testflight are making adhoc distribution of apps from developers easier, they’re still purely 3rd party services that not all developers are taking advantage of yet.

Oh, and if I want to back up my app’s data, like if I have a game I don’t want to lose progress in? iTunes backs up application data, but only as one big chunk that get backed up when a device is synchronized. This extends the time it takes to sync an iOS device, although BackOff is an option that is available to make this far shorter. If an app was downloaded on an There exist easy ways to back up application data on Android, such as Titanium Backup, and the Android Market’s cloud data backup that was introduced in Froyo. These are all significantly easier and more user-friendly methods than iOS, which purports to be the easier and more user-friendly OS.

It’s a joke that Apple continues to claim that the iPad is part of the post-PC market, when it still requires that the iPad be plugged in to a PC before it is ever usable. It still requires that applications, music, and videos sit on a PC, wasting space, lest iTunes dictate that they be deleted from the device they’re on. Apple may be all about the controlled user experience, but iTunes shows how horribly wrong it can go, and how difficult it can truly make it. Every time I’m forced to use iTunes for some reason with my iPad and iPod touch, I remain glad that I never have to use it with my Android, ever.