Monday, November 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Use Dropbox in place of iTunes

I never was able to get iTunes to let me add new podcasts or delete old ones from my iPhone 6. And the problem is with the iPhone, because when I plugged it into my old un-Yosemitized MacBook Air, it wouldn't let me copy or delete stuff there either.

Somehow the whole Apple ecosystem is convinced that my iPhone, now that it has been connected to the new iMac, is no longer worthy of being edited? Who knows, and who has the patience to figure it out? Not me. (I'm sure some people do, more power to you.)

Innovation born of desperation

But.. I desperately wanted to listen to episode 7 of the Serial podcast yesterday, so I had to figure out a way to get the MP3 onto my phone, and I did figure it out, and it's not a bad solution. I used Dropbox. I simply created a new top-level sub-folder of my Dropbox folder, and copied the podcasts into it. A couple of minutes later, it's all there on the iPhone, and ready to listen to.

The only hitch is that Dropbox has to be given permission to connect to the Internet via my cell connection, if you want it to play the audio while you're away from your wifi network, which is kind of the whole point of having a mobile device. Why you can't download the MP3s once and listen to them as long as you want without Dropbox having to sync, well that's a mystery to me.

I'm concerned that Dropbox, with this permission, will try to upload movies over my T-Mobile connection while I'm away from home. What a waste that would be. I like that it syncs with my Dropbox folder, but there's absolutely no urgency to it. I would much prefer if it would just use my relatively cheap home wifi connection, and not use up my quota on T-Mobile.

However, I'm happy. I trust that Dropbox won't screw around with their users the way Apple does with iTunes users.

Update: Ted Howard in a comment says that if you star an item Dropbox will cache it locally. Perfect, exactly what I was looking for.

If only iTunes were as Farhad describes

Over on Facebook, Michael Markman pointed to a NYT piece by Farhad Manjoo where he says:

Over the last few months, Apple has introduced a series of devices that work best as part of an integrated lineup. Apple is no longer making lonely individual products. Its phones, tablets, computers and the mobile and desktop operating systems that run them are blending into a single, inseparable whole.

The centerpiece of that "inseparable whole" is iTunes! I think he's reporting conventional wisdom, which has yet to catch up to reality. Apple's famous Reality Distortion Field still has some power left.

PS: This is something Android does better. There, you just copy stuff on to your device through the file system. No crazy-ass buggy broken user-hostile software to get in the middle.

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By Dave Winer, Monday, November 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM. Greetings, citizen of Planet Earth. We are your overlords. :-)