Developers are getting their first look at a new version of iTunes that restores a feature Apple took away in OS X Mavericks (a.k.a. 10.9): local contact syncing.
In December 2013, I wrote about how Mavericks eliminated the choice to manually sync contacts, calendars, bookmarks and notes between Macs and iOS devices forcing their storage on iCloud instead. The decision was made because Apple wanted to move away from Sync Services but it ruffled a lot of feathers in the process because it forced iPhone and iPad users to store their contacts (and calendars) on Apple's iCloud servers if they wanted them to sync between devices – a tentpole feature of iOS.
The Apple Discussions forums are rife with complaints about the change because of privacy issues associated with storing contacts on iCloud. Apple users in Europe are particularly vocal due the NSA privacy scandal and because privacy laws tend to be more stringent outside the U.S. Another problem is that contacts stored on iCloud can only be removed by canceling the iCloud account.
Apparently enough people gave Apple feedback on the feature, prompting its engineers to restore the iTunes feature in today's beta.
9to5Mac reports that the developer version of iTunes 11.1.6 – released alongside OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 beta (build 13D17) – "restores the ability to sync contacts and calendar information to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch from your Mac running OS X 10.9.3." The current version of iTunes (11.1.5) still lacks local contact and calendar sync, but it appears that the next iTunes release will bring the feature back.
Apple doesn't pre-announce release dates but iTunes 11.1.6 is likely to arrive within the next 30 days or so.