A 1999 ad for an Apple wireless access point.
I don't listen to much music on my iPhone. To me, my iPhone is primarily an email device, although I sometimes use it for network diagnostics, to read Kindle books, and to look up Wikipedia entries.
But I almost never launch the iPod application.
The thing is, I have a huge music library. Between my wife and I, we probably have thousands of albums.
So, why don't I listen to much music on the iPhone? One reason is that I actually prefer to use my listening time to listen to podcasts and audio books.
But the other reason is that it's just so incredibly annoying to have to grab my iPhone, run upstairs, find the cable, plug it into my iPhone and iMac, launch iTunes, and then start the sync process.
It's not that I'm lazy (okay, honestly, I am lazy), but it just seems insane that while everything else runs smoothly via WiFi (and has since the late 1990s), we still have to hook up a wire to sync our iOS devices to iTunes. Yes, I know you can wirelessly stream audio and video and download music and podcasts directly to iOS devices, but you still need a wire to officially sync to iTunes.
A Cult of Mac article bizarrely cites an anonymous source close to Apple who claims wireless synchronizing isn't easy.
Wireless sync over WiFi is a very straightforward process. There are hundreds of applications that do wireless synchronizing of files now. Rsync, an open source synchronization tool designed for ultra-reliable synchronization, has been around since 1996.
So the idea that Apple hasn't been able to figure out how to wirelessly sync to iTunes is just silly. Good, solid source code has been around for years. Rsync is even part of the standard Mac OS X distribution.
As I see it, there are a few possibilities for why iTunes still requires a cable. The first is that iTunes just sucks so much that adding synchronization code would simply cause iTunes to 'splode.
In my opinion, while iTunes sucks (well, okay, that's almost everyone's opinion), the code base is probably relatively well-maintained and surely new features are added constantly. So, I don't think that's the reason. Update: I just had to share with you this comment from reader Jeff.Edsell, "iTunes was great for years. But somewhere around the time videos were added, the program entered its Fat Elvis phase." Priceless.
See also: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware
The second reason is that Apple's readying some massive cloud-based iTunes replacement and rather than enabling wireless syncing to a local Mac or PC, Apple wants to force everyone to their cloud space. Given how crappy Mobile Me has been over the years, let's hope that's not Apple's primary strategy.
The third and fourth possible reasons are that Apple has some security or authentication reason to force a cable connection, or that the company doesn't want the added tech support load of helping everyone understand how to make their wireless routers work. These are both nutty, since Apple's been selling wireless access points since 1999.
Trying to find logic in some of Apple's more restrictive moves is like trying to predict Charlie Sheen's next outburst. You know there's something going on inside there, but it defies sane analysis.
In any case, isn't it time, really, for iPhones and iPads to sync wirelessly with iTunes?
Hey, Apple, if you want some good sync code, here's the source tarball for rsync. Now, go code something useful.