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.