Blog Post

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?

15 Responses to “iTunes 9: Keeping In Sync”

  1. I’m trying to find out about this problem with iTunes U. My lectures from my university loaded to my video on my ipod. I was able to delete them from iTunes U, but they still show up on my ipod but when I connect it you do not see them in the video section although when I disconnect it they are still there. The only help I see is to reset my ipod – I’ll lose all my music and everything. Is there any other solution? I have the latest version of itunes running. tks

  2. I took some videos on a digital camera and copied them to the “Movies” folder in iTunes. I can play them off of the PC from this folder with no problem. However for some reason when I sync, I get error messages saying that the audio file format is not supported by Apple TV. They have an “.mpg” extension. Do I need to save these files with a different extension?

  3. Alex Winter

    Made the mistake of upgrading to Itunes 9 in September. It’s now almost December and I haven’t been able to synch my Ipod since then due to issues with Itunes 9 not recognizing the device. Have tried just about every thing mentioned in countless forums, help threads, etc. Nothing works.

    Asking for a Zune and an Android phone for Christmas. I’m done with Itunes, Ipods and Apple.

  4. I have a related issue with syncing Audiobooks, I leave all music to sync automatically for convenience but I don’t want clog up my iPhone with books I’ve listened to. A solution to is to change them to something else. Ie, right click the audio book->Get info->Options->Media kind, and change to Podcast or iTunes U. Now you can have fine-grained control over how it syncs, eg only sync unplayed ‘episodes’. This also works if you download other speech audio files like lectures or sermons and don’t want them mixed up with your music.

  5. There is also something fixed that has not been mentioned. Before, every time I would plug my iPhone up to my MacBook, it would unassociate my custom ringtones, and I would have to redo all of them, (and thanks to Garage Band, I have a lot). Now, with the latest update, all is well, Yay Apple, thanks for finally fixing this!!!

  6. giovanni1975

    It would be good in the future if you could command the Apps to be sorted by frequency of use, from the Homescreen ‘downwards’. It would take the headache out of thinking about why I would move an App from here to there etc.

  7. Any chance of a “iTunes 9: Bugs and Problems” column? We mere mortals can only petition Apple via help forums, but if more blogs and columnists highlighted some of the deficiencies of iTunes 9 (in addition to its many assets), maybe Apple would issue some bug fixes. The multidisk sorting bug is particularly annoying.

    • I agree. Most of my iPhone apps are where they need to be. There is isolated reordering to be done here and there, but it’s easily accomplished on the phone itself, the “old way.” It really would have helped if this feature was available June 19. That was when I first synced the hundred-or-so apps that I had been downloading over the previous months, in anticipation of purchasing my first iPhone. Back then, my app pages were a mess.

  8. So why not do away with Manually manage music and integrate it into syncing properly, I’ve always used it but ive just tried switching to normal sync for iTunes 9 so i could use Genius Mixes, it was terrible, i can understand why people use it, and like the addition of syncing all albums by an artist, but i only want specific albums, and no single songs. So bring it all together, i like the fancy interfaces but i want to manage my music how i want too