iTunes: another tale of woe in UX
Published by marco on
I know that pointing out errors in iTunes is a bit passé but Apple keeps releasing new versions of this thing without addressing the fundamental problems that it has as a synchronization client.
The software has to synchronize with hardware from only one manufacturer—the same one that makes iTunes. I’ll leave off complaints about the horrific, very old and utterly non-scaling UI and just regale you with a tale of a recent interaction in which I restored my phone from a backup. In that sense, it’s a “user experience”.
In this tale, we will see that two of the main features of the synchronization part of the iTunes software—backup and sync—seem to be utterly misinterpreted.
Spoiler alert: it all works out in the end, but it’s mind-boggling that this is the state of Apple’s main software after almost 15 years.
10 million new iPhones were sold over the weekend. Their owners will all have the pleasure of working with this software.
Restore from backup
Me: *attaches phone*
iTunes: Restore from backup?
iTunes: *shows almost full iPhone* There you go!
Me: Thanks! That was fast!
Me: Wait…my phone is empty (no apps, no music, no contacts)
iTunes: *blushes* Yeah, about that…
Me: *reconnects phone*
iTunes: *shows nearly empty iPhone* What’s the problem?
Me: Seriously, RESTORE FROM BACKUP (select EXACT SAME backup as before)
iTunes: On it! Sir, yes sir!
Me: OK. Apps are back; contacts are back. No music, iTunes? What part of the word “backup” is causing difficulties here?
iTunes: *blushes* (again) Ummm, dunno what happened there
Me: Fine. It was randomly selected anyway.
Me: Select random music from this playlist
iTunes: Here ya go!
iTunes: Nothing to do
iTunes: Seriously, dude, there’s nothing to do
Me: No music on phone. Do you understand the word “sync” differently as well? You know, like how you have trouble with the word “backup”?
Me: *notices that size of playlist exceeds capacity of iPhone*
Me: that’s 17GB of music. For a 16GB iPhone.
iTunes: Yep! Awesome, right?
Me: Is that why you won’t sync?
iTunes: Error messages are gauche. I don’t use them. Everything is intuitive.
Me: Fine. Reserve space when selecting music: 1GB (don’t need more extra space than that)
iTunes: NP! Here’s 15GB of music.
Me: Wait, what? You’re supposed to leave 1GB empty *of the available space* not the *total size of the device*
iTunes: Math is hard. … You do it.
Me: Fine. Reserve 4.2GB?
Me: Now I have a 28GB playlist.
iTunes: *pats self on back*
Me: Reserve 3.2GB … and “delete all existing” and “replace”? Now does it work?
iTunes: 9GB for you
Me: *tweaks settings 2 or 3 more times*
Me: Perfect. That was totally easy.
iTunes: On it! *hums to self*
Me: Why are you only syncing 850 songs when the playlist has 1700 of them?
iTunes: *continues humming*
Me: Fine. *wanders away*
iTunes: *syncing 250 more songs*
Me: What the hell?
iTunes: *syncs remaining songs*
Me: This is ridiculous