Will Spotify sync force Apple to improve iTunes?

Spotify comes to the iPod - but for how long?

Owning an iOS device can be a bittersweet experience. The sweet bit is the device itself; the bitter bit is iTunes.

If iTunes were any more bloated, satellite channels would be running shock-horror documentaries about The World's Fattest MP3 Player. So it's nice to see Spotify offering an alternative, even if that alternative will almost certainly be shut down after about ten seconds.

The big news is that Spotify can now replace iTunes, or at least it can for straightforward playlists. For apps, smart playlists and other bits and bobs, including any copy-protected iTunes purchases you have floating about, you'll still need to use Captain Bloaty.

There are other features too - instant bankruptcy thanks to the new "buy playlist" feature, which converts playlists into purchased MP3s, a mobile app for free as well as premium users - but the iPod connectivity is the biggie, especially because it can sync wirelessly.

Wouldn't it be great if iTunes did that too?

Sync or swim

The Spotify update hasn't made it to my machine yet - it's being rolled out later today - but it'll be interesting to see if Spotify's take on iOS syncing is faster than Apple's. I suspect it may be, because it's only doing one thing: music.

If you're anything like me, your iTunes library is enormous, because it contains much more than music: there's everything from home videos and family photos to sat-nav apps and Hollywood blockbusters in there, and on my machine at least iTunes makes ominous creaking noises every time I buy a new song.

I know the arguments against wireless sync - transferring a twenty-gig iTunes library when you sync your brand new device would take an eternity, Apple can't be bothered adding it - but it's still a major iTunes omission, especially when Apple happily lets us update apps and buy new music over Wi-Fi and 3G.

iTunes is all over the place. On the one hand it's missing useful features such as wireless sync; on the other it's trying to be a record shop and a video shop and a software shop and an app manager and a home video library and a photo synchroniser and a ringtone organiser and a home screen organiser and and and and and. It needs a rethink.

What I'd like to see happen is Apple saying, "Bah, those pesky Spotify kids! They've made iTunes look crappy!" and Steve Jobs starting to taser the iTunes team until they come up with something better.

What I suspect will happen is that Steve Jobs will start tasering Spotify - metaphorically at least.

How long before there's an iOS update that just happens to break the Spotify sync?


Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.