Chris J Powell

Is there a real alternative to iTunes?

So since the invasion of Apple products in my home I am seeing more and more that I leverage the power of iTunes to be able to listen to music.  My iPad needs it, my daughter’s iPod Touch needs it and the venerable iPod Nano and Shuffle that we have kicking around need it to…or do these devices really need to tap into the iTunes to function?

I don’t have any Macs in the home and short of a Virtual Machine Image that I am building, I don’t intend on ever having one, but I said that about all Apple Products once upon a time.  So the goal today is to locate, install and transfer files to my iPad using several alternatives for both Linux and Windows (yes, I am using Windows a lot lately).

Windows Alternatives

On the Windows side there are several promising alternatives to the iTunes world and today I will be looking to Songbird, Media Monkey and a highly experimental port of Amarok (a favorite from Linux).

Songbird:

Well as could be expected, it installed perfectly.  Imported the iTunes Library, setup the connections to my Network Attached Storage where all my media is stored and then for the final test I connected the iPad and to my surprise it was recognized right away with no additional configuration.

Then the true test could it see the files on the iPad…well it sees the file system enough to understand how much space is left but it would not read the files or allow me to transfer to or from the iPad.  Looks like install one is a fail.

As a media player though I really like the layout and the options that are available.  It reminds me of a 2011 version of WinAmp with its slick Web2.0 lines and options to configure the look and feel of the GUI with objects called feathers.  Playback from the perspective of a media player were excellent but no iPad connection means it won’t stay on the computer for long.

Media Monkey:

Media Monkey has been around for a while and was a preferred media player of mine for years and would allow me to transfer files to my venerable Sansa Players without fail but in the case of testing with the iPad as an alternative.  Much disappointment has returned to the realm.

There are a plethora of options to configure the syncing and it did locate and import my iTunes library with out a problem and as with Songbird was very simple to install but it did not pass mustard when it comes time to allowing me to use something other than iTunes.

Amarok:

From the KDE library of Linux goodness I figured I would give a cross platform tool a shot and see if the world of Open Source had any further luck than Songbird or MediaMonkey did with allowing me to actually add files to my iPad.

As with the others, install went well, the import of the iTunes library was seem less but as I have found with Linux Media Players they do have a slight problem with the connection to a Network Attached Storage device but I was happy to see that this was not the case with
Amarok for Windows.

 

The true test would be to connect the iPad and see if there was any chance of configuring it and I am quite sad to say that it was not possible.

Well with three fails down…it was time to look deeper into the repository of Free Software Goodness.  Foobar2000 and its iPod Manger plugin…no joy.  It did not recognize the iPad.

Clementine, a promising little player recognized the iPad as an iThingy but failed when it tried to connect to the file system.

My final hope of the media players was to return to my roots and I looked to WinAmp.  I must say that I was really hoping for a win with WinAmp as it has always been a favorite of mine but alas, it comes with iPod Support but with the iPad…nothing.

The good news is though when I plugged in the iPod Touch:

Songbird: Sees the iPod but no joy on transfer

MediaMonkey: Nada

Amarok: Nothing at all

Foobar2000: Nada

Clementine: Sees it as an iThing but Zilch

WinAmp: Nada

 

It is a sad day here as I now find myself still bound to the iTunes program that I have grown to hate.  This is the big problem with making things proprietary…you are stuck with what you have and have no options or alternatives.  Well maybe some day there will be a real option and a real alternative but for today, I return to iTunes 🙁

 

Cheers,

 

Chris J Powell

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