iTunes 9: Keeping In Sync

iTunes IconiTunes 9 brings about a much more flexible setup for syncing. It’s definitely an improvement, in some senses, but still far from perfect. In fact, many might be quick to term some of the options as “feature creep.” Check out some of our thoughts on the new options and look at the side by side screenshots of the syncing options to get an idea.

Syncing in general has been improved in the sense that users can now drill down and sync more specific content. Music can now be synced by a combination of playlists, specific artists or genres. Podcasts can be synced by specific episodes and TV shows can be synced by specific episodes or seasons.

New altogether is the ability to sync iTunes U content which also has its own category, instead of being mixed in randomly between podcasts and music. Photo syncing has also been greatly enhanced, allowing support for specific albums, events or faces. Searching has also been enabled in many of these areas to allow you to quickly narrow down your choices. While these are all great features, they have really intensified the syncing interface. Hopefully it’s not too much for some users.

Still No Love for Audiobooks?

As mentioned in my wish list, I was really hoping for an improved way to sync audiobooks. Apple answered my hopes in an odd way. In the Music section, you can now search through your artists and, upon searching for a particular author, I was able to sync up those specific audiobooks. This isn’t a perfect solution though as a user may have multiple audiobooks from the same author. Why not just add another tab across the top? Apple added one for iTunes U. (I’m completely kidding. Remember, the interface is getting too complicated. iTunes 8 had eight tabs for syncing options while iTunes 9 brings the number to 10.) I personally feel the number of tabs across the top is too many, but I do feel audiobooks are important enough to warrant a more selective approach for syncing instead of just creating playlists for them.

Home Screens, Sweet Home Screens

Of course, the part most of you will really care about is the ability to organize your iPhone and iPod touch home screens via iTunes. This is simply amazing and is surprisingly quite functional. You simply navigate amongst the home screens, deleting or adding as needed and dragging applications between them. If you want to drag an item from the first screen to the fifth, just click and drag the app and hover over the fifth screen. It’ll pop up in the main view and you can place your app.

You can also select multiple apps by holding down the Command (Mac) or Control (Windows) keys. Moving complete screens around is also a snap, just by clicking and dragging them. All in all, this feature works quite well and should give users no excuse for messy randomly placed apps on their iPhones (or at least quell frustrations of people who attempt to switch between pages while editing apps only to grab and app and move it instead).

Generally speaking, these new syncing options do give users more flexible options to manage content on their devices, but I’m curious to see if any of you feel the interface itself has become a little overblown?


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