Four “WTF was Apple Thinking?” iTunes design decisions

Everyone loves iTunes – mainly because if you use an iPod, iPhone or iPad, you have no choice but to love it. But for a company as well known for their UI design as Apple is, there are still a couple “WTF were they thinking?” oversights that bug me on a daily basis as I sync my devices. Here are my top 4.


1. Seriously? You had to use Purple TWICE? Apple needed to come up with 6 colors for various media types and couldn’t get past 5? Oh wait, if you squint, you can almost see that one is clearly purple, and the other is a very very, slightly redder purple. My bad.


2. There’s got to be a better way to sort apps. Actually, ANY way to sort them aside from Alphabetically would be good, since there IS no other way at the moment. Apple gives us 4 ways to view apps, and over two dozen ways to sort them. With Apps, we have one view. With close to 1000 iPhone apps and a hundred or so iPad apps, something simple like “sort by date added”, “date updated”, or ideally, “date last used” would be a God send in managing/weeding out the apps I really never use anymore.


3. How about an error message box wide enough to tell you something useful? “The app ‘BOP’ was not synced to the iPod CoopPod because…” well, you’ll just have to guess. Just add that little “pull here” thing on the bottom right of the window, so I can see why the apps didn’t sync.


4. How about a “show only synced items” check box? Again, nearly 1000 apps, and now that we have folders, it isn’t all that easy to see what apps are on the iPhone simply by looking at the 11 screens on the right (which wasn’t all that easy even without folders). There’s no reason why I should have to sort through every app I own to manage the ones on my iPhone.

And while we’re at it, let’s add “sort by date ADDED“, and not just “date”. I can’t think of any reason why I would care to sort by when my apps were released on the app store, but that’s what sort by date does. If I buy a Beatles song today which was released in the 60’s it doesn’t go to the bottom of my music library below songs recorded in the 80’s, so why should apps behave any differently? Being able to quickly look at the last 20 or so apps I bought and check/uncheck them would be a big help, especially since Apple screwed us with the iPhone 4’s storage capacity, forcing me to have to manually manage my media by making “Sophie’s choice”-like decisions between apps that are just too large to keep on the iPhone on a daily basis.

Final thoughts

Sure, these things aren’t keeping me up at night (Fieldrunners and Godfinger are) but they still annoy the hell out of me. Feel free to list anything I missed in the comments that bugs you about the iTunes syncing system.

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Comments
20 Responses to “Four “WTF was Apple Thinking?” iTunes design decisions”
  1. john boy says:

    yes Sir.. I too; am annoyed. I suppose they just want to keep us quick on the trigger when those new iTunes updates are ready, gotta have something to look forward to.

  2. john boy says:

    on to more important topics… WHERE IS MAC CHICK for Dec? We want our iPad wielding Snow Bunny (scantly clad please…)

  3. Alex says:

    Good examples. Apple gets a lot of kudos for attention to detail, but there is so much UI that is just crap.

  4. Andrew Madson says:

    The colors dont bother to me too much but could Apple please just get the capacity readings right. It is really annoying to be told in itunes I have 3GB free space to then find out I have lease than 1GB!

  5. ArtOfWarfare says:

    Last I checked iTunes was only supposed to be “a glass of water” for someone in hell – Windows. So iTunes has been designed to be better than Windows, but not good enough to keep users from switching. And for the sake of consistency, it’s “good enough” UI is the same in Mac OS X as Windows.

  6. Patrick says:

    I agree with all. Although #1 is weak.

  7. Jonro says:

    I hate the way syncing movies works. First, they include thumbnails, which are totally useless. Usually, all you see is a logo screen. Second, people are trying to read titles in order to select movies. This three-across view is difficult to scan. We need a long list, titles only, and need a way to display only synced movies.

  8. Copper says:

    #2 is wrong. switch from grid view to list view. You can then add (and sort by) a number of useful columns including: genre, date purchased, date modified and file size (particularly useful if you have a batch of apps you no longer use, and are running out of HD space).

  9. Way Cool III says:

    There’s a known bug with syncing anything named, “CoopPod.”
    Change the name of the device to “iCoop” & all will be well.

  10. Thib says:

    Oh yeah, iTunes could have used a LOT of work a LONG time ago. And, this is coming from a Macintosh fan. And while we’re at it, Finder could use a total re-work too.

  11. Michael says:

    A – Fucking – Men

  12. Hanan says:

    #8 Copper is right…
    I use list view for a long time now…
    weird that you didn’t know about that

  13. Don says:

    You’re a cranky bugger in the lead up to Christmas, hopefully Santa brings something to improve your mood!

    Good to see Fieldrunners got an update, I finally got thru Crystal Cave extended level!

  14. MichaelC says:

    Item 4: Any app without a checkmark by it is NOT on your device. Pretty easy to tell. Also, if you double-click any checked app in the list on the left, it shows you the screen (and the folder, if any) in which it is located on your device.

  15. Tom says:

    iTunes for Windows is hardly useable these days. I have a bunch of Macs in my office, but also a few Windows computers. iTunes is by far the worst app ever on XP Pro. On an older Quad-Core Pentium 3GHz, it´s hardly useable even with a relatively small library of just around 1.500 audio titles. Going to the store and searching is a drag. I so much wished that Apple would finally get iTunes up to speed again…

  16. Vince says:

    Wasn’t Apples original logo six colors?

  17. fractured says:

    I’d love to see a selective sync option. I don’t always want to do a backup of my phone and update all the apps just to throw a song onto my phone before running out the door. Perhaps iTunes could allow you to just sync a category on your phone, like apps or music, or notes.

  18. Seat 32F says:

    Item # 3 – If you select any of the warnings in the white, the message in the grey above will display the entire message. Probably “signer not valid”, common ad hoc mobile provisioning profile error.

  19. nuvs says:

    @fractured: You can manually bypass the backup by simply canceling it in iTunes. Then the sync will continue with your music, apps, etc. This will probably still end up syncing your apps (and everything else), but if not much else has changed since your last sync, it should be fast.

    Note the best solution, but at least it will save your backup time if you are in a hurry.

  20. Mr ROFL 87 says:

    None of those really bother me, but what in God’s name is “other”? I just don’t understand, it should just say “history” or “stuff that uses space and can’t be removed”.

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