iTunes, iLike, and iWish

At long last, the new iTunes upgrade lets you replace DRM versions of music you bought at the iTunes store with new, higher-quality, non-DRM-protected versions. Everyone must be as happy as I was; the whole world apparently bought non-DRM-protected versions of its music today. How else to explain the inability of Apple’s server to deliver the purchased music?

I’ve got 45 files stuck in a download queue that blazes along at about 16 bytes per second, yes, I said bytes, before timing out and locking up. (Screen shots: 1, 2.) The first 50 files or so downloaded at normal speed; then everything ground to a halt, and it’s been that way for hours.

I don’t mind waiting for Apple to sort its network problems. I just wish iTunes would quit nudging me to sign in and download files that are just plumb stuck.

I like iLike

Speaking of music and bandwidth problems, in less than two weeks of use I have become addicted to iLike™. This clever web app uses iTunes APIs to keep track of the music you are playing and “watch” the music your friends are playing via a sidebar that installs itself in iTunes.

Think of it as part Truman Show, part personal radio station. Nobody will know you’re dissecting a moose, but everyone knows you’re listening to Barry Manilow. Insidiously and almost overnight, the app changes the way you listen to music. It might even change the music you listen to. (You might stop listening to Barry.)

With iLike, you can preview your friends’ music, recommend tracks to others, find free music by little-known bands that matches the music you’re listening to, and lots more. It’s a great little application. But the developers need more servers. The app often crawls. At times it’s too underpowered and overtaxed to find your friends’ music, or to record the music you just listened to. Sometimes it even goes offline, and then what do you have? Just you, listening to music. Which suddenly seems not to be enough.

[tags]itunes, ilike, web apps, bandwidth[/tags]

17 thoughts on “iTunes, iLike, and iWish”

  1. I would recommend last.fm over iLike. It was “the original” personal listening tracker, has more features than iLike, and has been around for a long time so it has already ironed out most of the scalability issues.

    iLike’s Facebook app has stimulated an increased interest in iLike, but personally I think last.fm is a more interesting technology.

  2. Again, last.fm is well worth a try. They have a few interesting touches that make it fun to use, like the album/artist artwork, personal radios, widgets and event calendar. And for a music site, I think the design is a good deal nicer as well (Not to mention the lack of the word “beta” anywhere on the site. :) )

  3. I too am having trouble with the new iTunes. After two days of trying, there are eight belligerent tracks still messing things up. Lily Allen’s album downloaded like a breeze, but Nick Cave must be on the bastard child server because he’s giving fits.

  4. I second last.fm for a different reason – iLike requires a sidebar addition to iTunes, which I don’t always want. Last.fm lives in a variety of other apps (CoverSutra, iScrobbler etc.) and is available where and when I want it. It fades into the background and provides more interesting information when you ask for it. My 2¢ anyway.

  5. There’s nothing to say you can’t use both last.fm and iLike. iDo. I have some friends who are on last.fm, and a good friend whose musical taste is what made us friends in the first place mumble years ago on iLike. So I’m on both. I like last.fm a little better, but that’s mainly because my taste in music is so horribly obscure and widely varying that the critical mass on last.fm means there’s a much greater chance there’s someone else out there who has listened to something I listen to, so the recommendations are more reliable. On iLike, the person who is listed as having the most similar musical taste to me listens to nothing but Cantonese pop, which is one of the few musical genres that does not appear in my playlists. On last.fm, there are actually other people who listen to German indie rock, Ukrainian thrash-folk, and Russian soukous, so the recommendations are a bit more relevant. But I suspect I’m an edge case. :-)

    The iLike sidebar works much better now that I have a 23-inch 1920×1200 monitor. On the old 1280×1024, not so much.

  6. I have 29 files stuck in my iTunes queue… and yes, I am getting around 16 BYTES a second too.

    I don’t think Apple was even close to being prepared for this… not one little bit.

  7. Call me cynical but I don’t trust any of these schemes. More often than not, I just buy the CD and rip the thing. That way I don’t have to worry about who’s keeping track of me or any of the other gotchas that the music/entertainment industry has seen fit to impose on us just because the distribution method switched from CD to digital.

  8. I appreciate the effect this has on draconian DRM practices, but still don’t think it will entice me enough to buy from iTunes yet.

    My favorite comments so far come from this article. According to one commenter’s experience, the different encoding methods used in iTunes and Windows Media Player made a more appreciable difference than the jump from 192 to 256 on the downloaded version. Surprisingly (?), the songs encoded using WMP outshined the same bit rates encoded with iTunes. This may have to do with the difference between Average Bit Rate encoding and Variable Bit Rate encoding. For those of you using iTunes Plus, do the higher bit rate versions still use AVR?

    I may have to start using iTunes If it’s true that higher bit rate full-album purchases are the same price as older bit rate albums, and the new encoding uses VBR.

  9. I really enjoy the integration of iLike in Facebook. Very clever and pretty clean, and the music challenge has kept me busy for hours!

  10. On iTunes Plus: Apple eventually worked out its server problems and I was able to download all the files I’d purchased.

    Alas, iTunes doesn’t know they have been downloaded. Every time I open the application, it forces me to sign into my account to “check for purchased files.” There aren’t any, of course — they have all been downloaded.

    Next time I open iTunes, it forces me to sign into my account to “check for purchased files.” There aren’t any, of course — they have all been downloaded.

    The next time I open iTunes, it forces me to sign into my account to “check for purchased files.” There aren’t any, of course — they have all been downloaded.

    There is no way to break the cycle. If I never logged out or restarted, I could just keep iTunes open all the time. That, at least, would bypass the brokenness.

    No doubt Apple will figure out that it still has a problem and fix it in a subsequent iTunes upgrade.

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