Now that I’ve had a chance to cool off, take a shower, a shot of tequila, I can tell you exactly what’s wrong with iTunes/iCloud.
Let’s start with the newest half of the problem: iCloud.
The cloud — generally speaking — is an idea whose time has mostly come. With our multiple devices, computers, and who-knows-what in the future, it’s a good thing for your data to exist in the cloud. Being able to get everything, anywhere, is what connectedness is supposed to be about. And it’s finally coming about.
What you need to keep in mind is — and now I’m speaking of Apple’s iCloud specifically — is that what exists in the cloud is the “truth.” The cloud is the final arbiter of the Real Version of each document. That’s a little hard to accept at first, but somebody must be the arbiter. And the arbiter ought to be the cloud. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an unworkable array of versions across your devices. That goes for your apps, your personal data, your settings, and all the rest.
The problem is, nobody thought to tell that to the iTunes development team.
My iCloud-restored iPad came crashing against iTunes, and iTunes decided — against Apple’s own iCloud policy — that iTunes had the Truth concerning my iPad. And so my almost-fully-restored iPad became my fully-erased iPad. After that, hilarity ensued.
What my problems this week revealed, was the weakness of iTunes as a device manager.
Now, for media, iTunes is unbeatable. I use it to manage a library of 12,000 songs, 1,600 movies, and 3,000 TV episodes. It also handles my podcasts and all the rest. And I’m hard on iTunes, too. I used multi-nested self-updating “brilliant playlists” over two computers, three iPods, two iPads, three Apple TVs, and a couple of iPhones. And iTunes does all this brilliantly and effortlessly.
But when it come to actually managing the devices as devices, that’s where iTunes falls painfully short.
iCloud has issues — Apple still doesn’t “get” the cloud. It’s outside their area of core competence. Hopefully that will change. iTunes has issues, too, once you take it outside its core competence of media management. And when those two failures collide… watch out. I just spent two days picking up the wreckage from the crash.
Apple needs to work out the kinks in iCloud, and tell the iTunes team — in no uncertain terms — that the cloud is Truth. Had they gotten that little detail straight from the start, I’d have had no sad tale to tell you today.
Until that gets fixed, iCloud/iTunes is going to be causing a lot more headaches than just mine.