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MacPic of The Day September 16, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Because You Can, Funnies, Hardware, iPhone, Issues, Pics, Services.
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iTunes Store Rants May 20, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iTunes, Rants, Services.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I don’t hate the iTunes Store; in fact I love it. For instance, I love that you can buy tinge style, song by song, a Filipino quirk that even foreigners love. Which makes it all the more irritating that the niggles are even there – in comparison to the rest of entire service, the mistakes are glaring and magnified.

I’m just glad I can even purchase from it, although “purchase” is a big stretch. I do buy occasionally, but like most folk hereabouts, I’m mostly after the weekly freebies: songs, TV episodes, audiobooks, a game demo now and then, and of course the wealth of podcasts available on the site.

This isn’t to say they haven’t been working hard to make the site a good one. Some time ago they modified the downloading rules to allow you to get discounted rates if you purchase a complete album where you’ve previously bought individual tracks from. That’s one less on my list now.

What am I talking about?

1. I don’t like it that the Store doesn’t make any obvious and up-front distinction between audio and video content. I use a 2G iPod shuffle exclusively for audio podcasts, and I sometimes go fishing for new and interesting content when I get tired of my staples Buzz Out Loud, Filmspotting, TWIT, Cranky Geeks and so forth. It’s damned irritating to find something interesting, drill down the pages to get to it and discover at the end of it all that it’s a big fat vidcast, which makes it useless for my 1gb screenless shuffle. Can’t they just say so right off so I don’t waste my time?

2. The Top Songs and the other”Top” lists on the first page of the store don’t seem to really reflect the top anything, as in most popular or most purchased – it’s more like the newest additions and recommendations for the week. Eh?

3. The 30-sec previews seem to be selected automatically, without any intellectual intervention as to which 30-sec portion should be made available so you can make an informed choice whether to buy a song or not. Thus you sometimes end up with a 30-sec tuneless instrumental intro which cuts out just as the vocals start. Or maybe some boring random, out-of-context stanza rather than the catchy hook of the refrain. It’s just plain marketing common sense.

4. They don’t update or warn people that certain podcasts have died a natural death, i.e., the creators have disappeared from the face of the earth and there hasn’t been a new episode for months and months, yet they’re touted as subscribable still. I’d rather they’d just be archived and us told that it’s a dead end.

5. They nag you to death on iTunes if they see you haven’t listened to a podcast for a while, and automatically withhold downloading new episodes. Sometimes I just can’t get to the episodes because of work, and then when I do update, there are a half-dozen shows undownloaded and marked with an exclamation point. I have to deliberately activate the subscription again, and after I do it just starts to download the latest one, forcing me to click on each episode I’d missed one by one to get them. Argh.

6. The free tracks are only available for a week. Sometimes I forget, and they’re gone forever – at least as free tracks, making me feel bad. Hey, I’m OC that way.

7. There is officially no iTunes Store for my country. Still.

8. The search feature isn’t thorough and a bit wonky. There have been times I can’t find a track with the most basic and logical search argument, and I have to figure out alternate ways of looking for it.

9. I wish the games can be played in iTunes on your computer. Sometimes the small iPod screen gets to me.

10. I wish there was a way that when you delete the songs from a playlist, there is an option to delete it from the library for good at the same time. You have to muck around the lib to clean up stuff you don’t want anymore, and going through that massive pile is tough. While we’re on the topic, it would be great if the software was intelligent enough to root out duplicates right off at ripping time and keep you from wasting space with multiple copies of the same exact song. Wishful thinking, I know.

For all I know there are existing solutions to these niggles already, I just haven’t discovered them , or I’m too lamebrained or lazy to figure it out. If so, chime in and enlighten me, or add your own complaints to the list. Maybe Apple might take notice somehow and correct them, if not in Leopard, in the next iTunes update. It doesn’t cost anything to hope, right?