Thursday, April 19, 2012

iTunes: how to improve it? - I

iTunes is a software unloved: symbol of the rebirth of Apple, he also manages the music videos, TV shows, podcasts, books, applications, ringtones, serves as a drive, shop and plant synchronization and backup, and you name it.

An overdose of functions that does not mask some of its shortcomings, and that only reinforces the frustration with this essential Mac. Some software and tips can still improve it ... or just replace it.

The advantage of iTunes is also its main drawback: it is monolithic software. It is full of features as well, as this may lead the novice user, but does not mean perfect. We can therefore follow two tracks to improve it: fill its gaps and relay it to the background.

iTunes "as a service"

iTunes is primarily an interface to your music: nothing prevents you from using it as a service on which connect other applications. If the Mac is the home media center and you are fond of the drive with your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, you probably know Remote (free) that turns your iOS device into a remote control for iTunes, in a familiar interface, but purified. If you prefer the native interface of the music player of IOS, please enable sharing in iTunes at home and use the library from your Mac to your iPhone or iPad.

On the Mac itself, several applications can help get iTunes in the background and to discharge its clumsy interface. DockArt (free) replaces the icon of the music player by Apple's cover of current song. This small plug-in iTunes to install as its congeners in the folder ~ / Library / iTunes / iTunes Plug-ins, has a few options including changing the look of the jacket or display the number of unread podcasts in a Terminal command complements badge. A DockArt by displaying a small notification over the iTunes icon with every change of track, with the name of the current title and artist associate. Enter the command defaults write itunes-notifications-bool TRUE; killall Dock in Terminal and press enter. Restart iTunes, and this little notification will be active - OS X Lion and Mountain Lion uniquement.BarTunes (free), finally, in the form of a menulet. The default is a simple drop-down menu to quickly note a current song, but it can add playback controls to the menu bar.


All these separate functions can still be found in unique applications and more or less independent of iTunes: controllers. Bowtie (free) is one of the most minimalist: it does not replace iTunes in the choice of song to start. It nevertheless allows knowing at a glance what song is, writing it down and controlling the playback with a palette whose appearance is customizable. It also supports the sending of reading statistics on the social network

Coversutra (3.99 €) is a bit more robust: it has a search box to select the song you want to read in a cleaner interface, leaving iTunes in the background. A floating palette can again be used to control playback: a simple shortcut to convene, as it can also control almost all functions of Coversutra. This controller also supports Listen (5.99 €), finally, is the final stage of the control iTunes: it does not even require that the reader is launched from Apple to play your music - but as he uses the same library file, it syncs perfectly your record and retrieves your reading lists. Its appearance is less minimal, and it takes more the appearance of a true stand-alone application, which sometimes recalls those features of IOS. is still in the game, but it is accompanied by Twitter and Facebook.

Replace iTunes

Applications completely independent of iTunes, there are plenty of other not - but Listen is one of the few that still rely on the library's drive from Apple. It was once almost impossible to do without iTunes if one was involved in the Apple ecosystem: it was the passage for any user of iPod and iPhone. Nevertheless, it is now increasingly easy to replace: icloud Match and iTunes make iOS devices totally independent of iTunes, which is no longer the center of the digital hub. This independence will pose no problems for those who prefer Android or Windows Phone 7 iOS - or who have kept their old phone.

Doubletwist (free) and is often considered an "iTunes for Android": it uses the principle of centralized data, the multiplication of functions and synchronization, but in a more streamlined interface and especially lighter. This is indeed essential software if you have a favorite smartphone HTC, Samsung or Motorola to an iPhone, especially since it is coupled with an Android application that deserves attention.

Songbird (free) is quite similar to Doubletwist: he takes the philosophy of iTunes (it even includes the 7digital store) while being more flexible and customizable. It also puts emphasis on its ability to sync devices to establish itself as a true replacement of the plant from Apple. While it may be less attractive than Doubletwist, it has the advantage of being connected: when playing a song, it displays information about the artist from, news and pictures, and can even notify you of its passage in concert.

Faced with these two "clones" of iTunes, Sonora (7.99 €) is necessarily lighter, forget the timing here, shops and podcasts, only music account. As Doubletwist and Songbird, Sonora supports more formats than iTunes, including FLAC and OGG. This player is extremely flexible: the top bar is areas where you can drag the songs you want to play one after the other, but you can also create mixes, or arrange his music according to popularity or novelty songs, Sonora as being "social."

Music (€ 8.99) is quite similar: it also puts emphasis on the presentation, here in the form of a grid with the artists or albums. The right sidebar will default the current album, but you can also drag songs to the playlist into permanent. When playing a song, music can display information about the article, the album, and lyrics - the information is taken from, whose data are used to automatically correct erroneous metadata.

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