It appeared to be just another innocuous third-decimal-point minor update, but today’s release of iTunes 8.2.1 carried more than the usual “bug fixes and stability improvements.” (Those are still there, too.) For owners of the recently introduced Palm Pre unfortunate enough to have already downloaded and installed the update, it also ends the iTunes playlist syncing party. It was inevitable, since Apple clearly regards iTunes syncing as the exclusive, sacred territory of its own devices, but it probably still has a few Pre owners trying to turn back the clock.
TUAW’s Christina Warren first suggested that Pre syncing was blocked with this update, having spotted a crucial passage in the release notes stating, “Tunes 8.2.1 provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices.” While Warren didn’t have access to a Pre to test her theory herself, many Pre-specific sites and bloggers quickly confirmed that it was indeed the case that the device is no longer recognized. So far, the reports I’ve seen are specific to Macs, but I doubt the Windows version of iTunes would retain Pre syncing.
Interestingly, when Pre owners plugged their devices in, they found that iTunes came to the front, just as it does when you plug in an iPod or iPhone, but no device showed up in the source menu. This suggests that the program is still aware that the device exists, but that Apple has introduced some kind of blocking software to stop the process there. It also suggests that it might be possible for Palm or independent devs to create a workaround to get syncing functioning again.