I fired up iTunes the other day and realized that my iPad hadn’t backed up in almost a month. I wondered how could this be since I have WiFi sync enabled and I have both devices on the same WiFi network. Then it dawned upon me that I probably haven’t had both my computer awake and iTunes open while the iPad was connected to power long enough for this to happen automatically. I initiated a manual sync right then and there and it got me to thinking that it’s probably time for Apple to separate out iOS device management from iTunes. I would backup the iPad to iCloud, but I don’t have enough free space on iCloud.
In the beginning…
When Apple created the iPod it made perfect sense to have it sync and be managed directly with iTunes. After all that’s where all your music was and pretty much all your entertainment that you downloaded from the iTunes store. However, does that still make sense today? Sure your music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, etc. are probably in iTunes and of course you want the ability to have this content on your iOS devices. However, your photos are in iPhoto, Aperture or a folder and you can sync those just fine. So why does the iOS management have to be in iTunes? I think it’s time that Apple create a dedicated iOS utility that would sync in the background at the OS level without requiring a dedicated App to be opened. Think about it like the Mac App Store. It’s a dedicated App just for managing your Mac Apps. Perhaps Apple could make an App Store App that would manage all Apps and devices. This could also end a lot of user confusion around music libraries, playlists, etc. when you have multiple users wanting to sync to the same computer, but with different photo, music, contacts, calendars and Apps. Perhaps iTunes could still manage the Apps, but the New iOS Utility would be configurable as to where to get the content from for each user and work across multiple user accounts of the same computer.
Here’s a test for my theory
If you think things are just fine the way they are, ask yourself this question. If Apple was building the first iOS device today AND it wasn’t an evolution of the iPod, would it be managed via iTunes? I’m going to guess that the answer would be no. They would make a slick new App for their slick new device.
Perhaps it just time for an iTunes overhaul
Maybe iTunes is the right App, but perhaps it’s iTunes itself that is starting to show its age. Maybe it’s time to tear down iTunes and build it back up from the ground up again. The name iTunes alone lets you know how old it is because back then it was just about music.
The Bottom Line
In any case I think it’s time Apple takes another look at the growing number of iOS users and ask the question, is iTunes the right first experience for those users to manage their new devices? Granted much of it’s moving to the cloud anyway and perhaps in a year or two you won’t really need iTunes to do anything to an iOS device anyway, but for now as long as backing up locally, system restoring and certain other functions can only be performed via iTunes, it would be nice to have a dedicated utility that is separate from iTunes sort of how there’s a separate AirPort Utility.