Hey, Apple. Nice to talk to you guys again, I know it’s been a while. But hey, you’ve been busy. iOS7, iTunes 11.1… those things aren’t going to release themselves, right? And as an iPhone and iPod user, I waited for these updates and downloaded them dutifully. And hey, Kudos on iOS7! It looks a little different, it’s going to take a little getting used to, but for the most part, it’s a good little system. I’ve got no complaints about it.
Then there’s iTunes.
Jesus tap dancing Christ.
Let me preface this by explaining the reason I use an iPhone — the only reason I use an iPhone rather than looking into the many, many Android devices now available… is because I’ve used iPods for years. It’s because I’m very familiar with the iTunes system, and because I’ve already got so much content in iTunes (including music, videos and apps) that I didn’t want to have to re-buy or risk losing tons of material by switching to a different system. So I went with the iPhone, although I still use my iPod Touch for most of my basic “listening to stuff” purposes, including music and — most importantly to me — podcasts.
Aside from the expected minor changes — wholly unnecessary, but tolerable — that come with an “update,” iTunes 11.1 has made listening to the podcasts I want to listen to (which, I emphasize, is among the primary reasons I own even one of your devices) virtually impossible.
Upon installing the “update” (I’m really tired of putting that in quotation marks, but to pretend that anything about this new system is somehow an advancement goes against my deeply-held belief in journalistic accuracy), I checked my podcast directory to find that literally hundreds of episodes had simply vanished. Episodes I’ve never listened to, episodes I listened to but wanted to keep rather than delete… simply gone. I managed to find some of them still in the hard drive on my computer, but a great many of them had vanished into the ether. Frustrated, I began to re-download the missing episodes.
It was then that I began to notice that, in addition to the missing episodes, iTunes 11.1 had somehow decided to unsubscribe me from the vast majority of my shows. The Flop House? Gone. The Nerdist Writer Panel? AWOL. Welcome to Night Vale? Vamanos.
I want to repeat that here — your program unsubscribed me from Welcome to Night Vale. In and of itself, that would be grounds for divorce.
Anyway, I went on to resubscribe to those missing podcasts and re-download those missing episodes as well, a process which (I’m sure you can imagine) took several hours. As those hours progressed I would periodically check back to see the number of podcasts I had not listened to (at least, not since re-downloading them) slowly grow. Until a few hours later, when it spontaneously dropped back to what it was after the Great Unwelcome Purge of 2013. With a little experimentation, I realized that this deletion was re-occurring every time iTunes checked for new podcasts, which I had the program set to do hourly. It would also do it again when the program started.
I’m starting to get tired of your shit, iTunes.
But I disabled the automatic updates to see if I could at least control the rate of attrition, even attempted to play around with it using the Podcast app on my iPod itself. (The app, by the way, in and of itself is an absolute mess… can you explain to me why it shows not just the episodes that are on the device but also dozens of phantom episodes that exist out there in “the cloud” and therefore are utterly useless to me when I’m driving in my car, where I do 99 percent of my listening? Or why, when an episode ends, the app tries to look for this phantom episode that’s not on the device and then freezes for 10 to 30 seconds while a “Playback failed” notification appears? Or even why the HELL the app doesn’t put the podcasts in simple alphabetical order, rather than the bizarrely random amalgamation that it seems to choose each time I open it up?)
This made no difference. If anything, it made it worse: the next time I synched my iPod to my computer it not only spontaneously deleted all of the episodes (again), but it also deleted the podcasts I’d listened to on my iPod since the last time I synched it, then began to spontaneously re-download those same episodes and mark them as new.
Now look, I don’t pretend to be any sort of computer genius. Although I have spent several hours at this point tampering with the iTunes settings and preferences, it’s entirely possible there’s some simple button I can click to make all of these problems go away (probably labelled “stop your iTunes from sucking”), and I simply don’t know where to find it. Unfortunately, there hasn’t really been any way to get help in this instance either, as I’ve sent several “feedback” notifications through iTunes — all of which prominently warn me not to actually expect a response — and any attempt to solicit help on the Apple message boards merely has me collide with a group of Macintosh sycophants who refuse to admit their beloved software could possibly have any sort of flaw and therefore it must be my fault that the damn thing doesn’t work right. (As I’ve already admitted, I’m fully prepared to accept that I may be doing something wrong, but if you refuse to tell me what that wrong thing is, how the hell am I supposed to fix it?)
So here’s the deal, Apple… you’ve got until my next paycheck to solve this problem. If I’m still utterly unable to listen to any of the things I want to listen to, I’ll be in the market for a new MP3 player — I’m sniffing around on Amazon.com right now and they’ve got lots of dandy options, some as cheap as $30. And I will use that exclusively for my music and podcasts from now on. Then, when my phone contract comes up and it’s time to look for a new device, I’ll get… oh, I don’t know exactly what yet, it’s far too early to decide such a thing… for now, let’s just call it “something without a lowercase ‘i’ at the beginning of its name.” And then we’ll be done.
Do we understand each other?
Oh, but I LOVE how you can just pull up simple functions like “do not disturb” and the camera on iOS7 just by sliding up from the bottom of the screen. Good call on that one.