Third-party iPod management tools
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: There is very little information on third party iPod syncing software in your reviews or anywhere on your site. Why is that? Surely there are companies that offer significantly better software than iTunes. My biggest resistance to using my iPod touch (and formerly my iPod) are the limitations of having to use iTunes.
A: Although there are a number of alternatives to iTunes for iPod management, there are some important things to keep in mind about these applications.
The first and most important consideration is that third-party iPod management tools are not supported in any way by Apple themselves. The wide range of applications that are available to access and manage iPod content often leads people to believe that these are Apple-sanctioned alternatives to iTunes, but the reality is that Apple does not provide any specifications for third-party software applications to manage iPod content. Applications providing this capability have been developed purely by reverse-engineering the iPod file system and synchronization protocols, and not through any information or developer support provided by Apple themselves. Most of these third-party tools do what they claim to do when released, and to date, Apple has not taken steps to completely prevent these tools from working. However, since they are not officially supported, there is always the possibility that new iPod models or even firmware updates to existing models will break compatibility with these applications, and in fact, this has happened a number of times, and will likely continue to happen in the future.
The most recent example of this was the iPod classic and iPod nano (video) models last fall. In this case, Apple made changes to the structure of the iPod database and added a checksum field to help improve the the database integrity when synchronizing with iTunes. The result of this change broke just about every third-party iPod management application available until the developers could examine the new database structure and update their applications accordingly.
The second consideration is that iTunes is designed alongside the iPod itself, and when new iPod features are introduced, a new version of iTunes is simultaneously released to take advantage of these new features. Again, since there is no developer support for third-party iPod management applications, these normally lag far behind iTunes in their support for new iPod features. For instance, there are still many decent and usable iPod management applications available that do not provide support for album artwork, audiobooks, or videos.
A number of iPod management utilities can be found in our Software Downloads section. Further, some of our articles do discuss some iTunes alternatives for providing functions that iTunes itself does not deliver, such as copying content from your iPod back to your computer, but the reality is that most third-party iPod management applications do not work nearly as well as iTunes does for providing the full range of content management on your iPod.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple enables Single Sign-On across all iOS 10 and tvOS 10 devices
- Apple releases fifth beta for tvOS 10.1 to developers
- Apple to start publishing its AI research
- Supreme Court rules against Apple in design patent case
- Study finds half of kids headphones exceed safe volume limits
- More iPhone 6s devices affected by shutdown bug; iOS update coming
- Apple releases sixth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers
- Developers pushing back against abusers of Apple’s App Store refund policy
- Apple lobbies for shared data, more public road access to test autonomous driving systems
- Apple Store app update allows purchases from Apple Watch
- Sen.se GuardPeanut
- iHome iZBT10 Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Speaker
- Twelve South HiRise Duet for Apple Watch and iPhone
- IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor
- JBL Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Headphones
- Edifier e235 Luna E Speaker System
- Clamcase ClamCase+ for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Scosche BoomBottle H2O+ Waterproof Wireless Speaker
- Thermos Connected Hydration Bottle with Smart Lid
- Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10