Who needs iTunes anyways?

While writing a recent article about Sonora, a nice music player that could possibly replace iTunes, I noticed how rarely I’m using iTunes nowadays. Not too long ago my iPad and iPhone were connected to my Mac and therefore iTunes the entire day. Not to charge, but to sync all important information from one of my Macs to the devices.

It all started a few years ago by using Google Apps to sync mails, contacts and calendars – obviously without the use of a stationary Mac. Then along came Apple and added things like iOS 5, iCloud and iTunes Match to the mix. These all make it less and less necessary to actually run iTunes for anything, besides the first set up of some these things.

Photos nowadays are taken care by a mix of iCloud, iPhoto and Photo Stream. You take a picture on your iPhone, it gets added to the camera roll and when you access a WiFi network they all get uploaded to iCloud and are accessible to iPhoto and your other iOS apps. Photo Stream to the rescue.

iOS updates are coming in over the air since iOS 5. There’s no need to attach your device to the Mac and update it that way. The iOS device backups can also be automated. If you set a passcode on your device even all your passwords will be saved with it. In case you have to restore your device, all apps and data can be restored without ever touching a Mac or PC. Just remember to plug your device in at night while being connected to a WiFi network and everything will be taken care of.

I’m getting new apps or updating existing ones directly on my device nowadays. If you have multiple devices new apps will even download to them too. Want to buy songs? No problem, same procedure. Buy them on your device and they’ll also download directly to all other devices if you wish to. Your existing music library is available to you on the go thanks to iCloud and iTunes Match.

I also love to listen to podcasts. Just a few weeks ago I decided not to use iTunes for that anymore either. Instacast and Instacast HD are much better at handling them than the iTunes and iPod apps on iOS. Podcasts on your portable device actually are a real mess if you’re just using Apples own apps.

For example getting a new episode: some podcasters decide to put redundant information into their titles, so you never know which episode you were really getting. Also there was no easy “Update all” feature for your subscriptions. The iTunes app also has a rather big lag for getting updated feeds, meaning you sometimes wouldn’t see the newest episode of a show for a while. You basically were SOA if you’re just using the iTunes app.

Instacast solved all of these issues and thanks to their iCloud support your listening progress and subscriptions are the same on all of your devices. So, no need for iTunes either.

For me the only remaining reason to plug in my iPad are TV shows that I’m streaming to an Apple TV and thus have to be synced to the device.

As you can see, in my world there’s no real need for iTunes as an app on my Mac anymore.