vision of the world is that you should be able to buy music once and
to it anywhere. Eventually everywhere on the planet will have Internet
access and we will be able to stream music from one
location - the jukebox in the sky. It will be some years before
that becomes a reality, so until then syncing is required. (Syncing
means copying your music library to another device for playback.)
Ideally, users should be able to sync to wherever they listen to music:
their car, phone, stereo, PC, portable player, etc. But big
forces are stubbornly refusing to make devices inter-operate while
they wrestle for control of the digital music business.
I have an iPod, but like many
people I have other music players. I have a small MP3 player I
run with that has a LCD display and FM tuner along with the MP3 player.
I also carry
a Treo smartphone that has a MMC (memory card) that can hold 1GB of
addition, I have an Archos
video/audio playback device. I want to be able to quickly and easily
load my music on all these devices.
iTunes has always been able to sync to
iPods, but that's where it ends. If you have other devices you're
required to manually drag files which is cumbersome and difficult to
keep organized. There's a new plug-in for iTunes called BadApple, which
overcomes this problem by letting iTunes sync to any MP3 players, not
just iPods. This free software, available immediately at BadFruit.com, comes with a
simple installer - no registration required and of course no spyware.
Once downloaded and installed, it adds functionality to iTunes to
communicate with any USB-connected device. Now to load my
music onto my MP3 players, I simply plug them into my computer, click a
few times within iTunes and my music is synced to each of those
devices. (For the MMC card that I use with my phone, I have a USB
adapter, which works well.)
There are some features and limitations of BadApple that you should
know about. When you sync, BadApple is smart enough to only copy new
that you do not have already. So if you sync once a week, it will only
new additions. If
there's not enough storage on the device, it will copy a random
selection of music.
BadApple does not work with digitally restricted
music (DRM). If you've paid money to rent music from the iTunes store
those tracks always comes wrapped with DRM and thus cannot be copied to
other devices. This is a good example of why not
to spend money on DRM. BadApple will work well with all songs
you've downloaded, purchased from MP3tunes
or encoded from your own CD collection in MP3 format.
For Linux users, Lsongs continues
to make great strides as a capable music manager. It has a music store
integrated directly into it that sells tracks in MP3 format. This
Linspire-sponsored open source project now has the ability to read
iPods, and the syncing function is in testing. Linspire users will find it one
away in the CNR Warehouse.
Recently, it has been ported to other Linux versions such as Gentoo,
Mandrake and Kanoptix. You'll find more information on the Lsongs website.
Whatever your operating system or software choice, I want the
world to be in sync. Hopefully using the MP3 standard along
with BadApple and Lsongs will help make that a reality.