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Apple Stole My Music (vellumatlanta.com)
1259 points by panic on May 5, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 446 comments

I am surprised at people trying to rationale Apples wrongdoing by pointing at Google and bringing some crazy examples.

There is no rationale in this - this is outright breaking your privacy and ownership rights. No terms and conditions can be above law. It doesn't matter what others do - Apple is doing those crazy things here and there trying to test the ground which indicates they are not pro privacy and pro user, but rather are willing to go huge lengths to please music industry.

Only because you eating in the restaurant it doesn't mean waiter can run to your house and smash all of your food in the fridge reasoning "from now on you are covered".

Remember the U2 fiasco, when Apple decided to break into your computer and push their new album through iTunes? It seems like whenever Apple decides to take control of your files, shit happens.

Back in the day, I tried to use iTunes for a while when I bought my iPod. One of the first things that it asked me was to take control of my music, as it would reorganize it by itself. I agreed, but tested it first with a small sample. When I saw the mess it had done to the way I organized my music, specially with the files' names, I backed out of the auto-organize option and preached heavily against it to everyone I knew.

I learned my lesson: never let whatever service control your files. And always, ALWAYS have backup. Remember: The answer to life, the universe and how many backups you should keep of your stuff is 42.

While the U2 fiasco was a bad move, I don't think that "break into your computer" is a fair characterization of what they did. They added it to your available downloads and, depending on your sync settings, it was downloaded to devices. I'm not a huge fan of having my media managed by the companies I buy hardware from, but when I found a user's manual document on my Kindle I didn't consider it 'getting hacked' by them.

A more appropriate analogy than a user guide would be finding Fifty Shades of Grey or Harry Potter on your kindle one day, because Amazon did a deal and decided you should have it, or perhaps having your copy of 1984 erased because of copyright violations. ++ungood.

A user manual is expected on a new device, having media on your device added and deleted by a corporation on their whim is not so pleasant, mostly because it makes their view of your true relation to them apparent.

Fair enough. "break into your computer" does sound like getting hacked by them, which wasn't technically true, at least from what I know. Thanks for pointing that out.

Apple fundamentally does not understand software. A shame, as the software, really, was their original special sauce with the Mac 128k and beyond.

Today, however, the company really doesn't understand how to make, maintain, or market software. It sees software as a way to spread their control of their hardware further into your life. It's going to be the death of Apple, mark my words.

I worked with a Google engineer once and he offered me advice as I was considering buying a new phone, namely the HTC One: "Phone manufacturers know how to make hardware. Google knows how to make software. When you marry the two with both knowing their place in the world, things work out. When one tries to make what the other does, you get crappy stuff on top of your system. Stick to vanilla Android, man."

Having said that, I see Apple more as a hardware manufacturer than as a software one. You don't hear Jony Ive and his seductive British accent passionately talking about iOS or OSX as many times as he does about new hardware. It doesn't see software in the same way it sees hardware.

Still, I can't complain about Apple offering free OSX upgrades, including major ones, for quite some time now and also managing to maintain backward compatibility for a rather large span of devices (my early 2011 MBP still flows nicely with OSX El Cap).

You're lucky El Capitan works for you.

Usually with iPhone/iPod Video upgrades, getting the latest version of iOS with an older device can significantly degrade performance. (And I'm sure it's the same with iPads.)

At least on a Macbook you can reinstall the operating system, but an iPhone 4 is stuck like that.

El Crapitan has so many problems it's ridiculous. They broke not only all kinds of Open Source software with their overly paranoid system protection, but also a bunch of hardware by messing up the USB drivers. There are now tons of musical instruments, Arduinos, and other USB devices that don't work with El Crapitan. Apple's response was: ... there was no response.

Us hardware manufacturers are still looking for a fix. Our customers are angry at us and blaming us, and we can't do anything. There's no way for our customers to even tell Apple what's wrong, either.

USB Overdrive is as close as you'll get to a solution. This is the company that can't even make iTunes usable with 16 years of work.

My HTC One has gotten dreadfully slower since release from Android releases. I don't think it's exclusive to iPhones - in fact I think android phones are more prone to it.

I guess I'm also lucky to have the latest 6.0.1 on my Nexus 5 running smoothly. Yes, it did get a bit slower after some updates, enough for me to notice it, but considering it shipped with 4.4, I'm still pretty happy with it.

But you're right: it's definitely not exclusive to iPhones. Planned obsolescence, some would argue.

> Usually with iPhone/iPod Video upgrades, getting the latest version of iOS with an older device can significantly degrade performance.

Is this claim based on anecdotal evidence or some other source?

There was a class action lawsuit filed just a few months after an upgrade was released:


Edit: I'm not sure if this has been fixed with the later iOS 9 versions.

Anecdotal. But literally everyone I know says this including me.

Probably anecdotal, but I've had the same experience.

It affects iPad, too.

Maybe Apple should hire one of the many software engineers and UI designers who are visionary in the same way that Ive is in hardware.

This is very difficult.

If you’re a great software designer, you probably want to work for a company that says, “Software is in our DNA.” A company where the CEO gets up on their hind legs at every all-hands meeting and announces “Our success depends upon shipping the world’s greatest software designs.”

Why would you want to go work for a company where at every such all-hands, you have to sit through executive after executive talking about their hardware logistics prowess, and their hardware design prowess, and their hardware margins numbers, and so on?

It would be the same thing going to work at Google. Here you are, the Jony Ive of software design, being told that the stock price depends upon the math that drives ad click-through.

I recall a softare designer few years back publicly rage-quitting Google because Google didn’t believe in design, they wanted to A/B test everything in the belief that you could hill-climb to a good-enough result. It was almost as if they believed that human designers subtracted from design rather than created it.

Whether you agree or disagree, why go to work at a company that thinks what you do is a distraction or even an outright harm to their main product?

You're thinking of Doug Bowman. http://stopdesign.com/archive/2009/03/20/goodbye-google.html

Yes, it's difficult. It's less that Apple needs to hire a famous designer and more that it has to give a designer (there are many badasses in-house) serious authority. Apple has to realize it's lost the software leadership that it used to take pride in for that to happen.

> I recall a softare designer few years back publicly rage-quitting Google because they didn’t believe in design, they wanted to A/B test everything. It was almost as if they believed that human designers subtracted from design.

I am convinced that an A/B testing algorithm error is responsible for Google Maps.

I know Google have scads of data about how people use maps. I can't understand how they get from all that data to the product which can be incredibly frustrating to use.

A/B testing data is only as good as the samples provided. They may have done wonderful A/B testing, but that the alternative designs were just so bad that the current design version made it through ;)

A/B testing is, fundamentally, hill-climbing. A/B testing will select the fastest horse, but never the strange wheeled box belching noxious fumes.

If they did, they'd quit shortly after learning that, if they wanted to move around inside Apple, like to a different group, they have to interview and be evaluated just like an outsider. Apple is so secretive, people cannot even change groups.

Out of all the consumer electronics companies, Apple makes the best software.

(Edit: This is not a compliment)

It's pretty clear that iTunes is one of the worst pieces of software available on Mac or Windows. It certainly makes the top 10.

One of the worst widely distributed and used pieces of software. There are many, many, crappies, buggier, pieces of software out there; it's just that nobody has to use them.

Sad to say, the bar is so low that I agree -- they make the least terrible software of a consumer electronics company.

It's how I've felt for decades as a Mac user: boy they suck, but they suck less than any of the (desktop) alternatives.

(edit: I see you updated your post to clarify -- now this is redundant.)

And it wants you to be a consumer badly. The case described here, is of a producer/artist loosing unique works due to a consumer software rationale, that assumes that all in the reach of the software is not yours and thereby at whims of the license givers/maintainers.

Also Apple only begrudgingly supports Enterprise customers with their iDevices. It seems like it should be a huge opportunity for Microsoft to make a dent with their mobile platform but they decided to focus on the consumer market as well.

Tell that to the author of this post

I beg to differ.

Defense in depth is a good thing as well. In my case, the first line of defense would be ZFS snapshots on my homebuilt NAS. If malware scrozzles my NAS, a rollback to the last snapshot can be a quick way to fix it.

Other systems get backed up to the NAS, and the NAS drives are periodically backed up onto a second ZFS pool that is normally kept physically offline.

> Remember: The answer to life, the universe and how many backups you should keep of your stuff is 42.

EDIT: (incomplete submission)

Oh, of course, great idea! I thought 4 was enough!

I've survived for 20 years now with zero backups (across at least 10 mechanical hard drives, some of them Seagate) and have never lost data.

“There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.”

I've survived for 48 years eating too much steak, drinking too much beer, and exercising too little. In your opinion, does this give us useful information that tells us that I should keep doing these things, because obviously, I will live forever?

Look Mum(Mom) No Hands!

Some people in this post are assuming that this is something iTunes does to everyone intentionally. Other people are saying this is not something iTunes has ever done to them. I'm not sure it's worth debating whether this practice is ethical or not unless we know whether iTunes will actually delete your MP3s under normal circumstances. The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that iTunes is too hard to use.

But from the article, Ms Amber said the SW was functioning as intended.

But other people have posted here and said they enabled Apple Music and their music was not deleted, so clearly this doesn't happen under all circumstances, and this wouldn't be the first time a technical support representative was wrong. This is a pretty extraordinary claim and I'm not really willing to believe everyone loses all their local music when they turn on Apple Music without more data to confirm.

Another point of data in favor of "they deleted my music" here. And when they did it, they were only matching on the file metadata, so the album they removed was truly lost, since I got some weird techno album in its place.

Thankfully, it's one I can recover from a CD, when I find it again.

All ethics of the deletion aside, matching on metadata is a weird, crappy approach (and that itself is pretty consistent with my other experiences with iTunes).

It shouldn't be hard to imagine that metadata will have collisions, and include something like a hash of the actual data.

Someone should make a tool that creates mp3s having the metadata of other real songs for apple to match on.

There already is... https://picard.musicbrainz.org/

Apparently Amazon uses this tagging service to keep its online music library organized.

what the parent poster meant was crafting audio files and metadata that would match what apple checks against ones, such as to get free music


I don't know if it's intentional filling in for songs they couldn't license or metadata matching gone wrong, but occasionally on Spotify a song on an old album is replaced with an inferior remix from a newer album.

Intentionally or not, history (what songs actually were on an album) gets edited unless you manage music files yourself.

(The Apple behavior described in the article is way worse than what Spotify does, of course.)

ITunes will rename albums and artists and songs and give the wrong album or cover or strip the album cover because they don't sell it, Apple doesn't care about your collection, they want to curate it their way for their benefit.

Thanks for the confirmation. I've been weighing my options between Apple Music and Spotify Premium and that makes up my mind. iTunes is enough of a pain in the ass without worrying about whether it'll delete my music collection.

The 3-month premium promotion that Spotify is running doesn't hurt either.

Go try Google Music. You get non-destructive music sync (10,000 songs or something?) and a massive library. Plus, the curated stations are all the old Songza content that was pretty awesome. $10/mo

And you get Youtube without ads for the same price.

Their curated playlists are seriously top-notch. I've found so many new bands through the Blogged 50 and Gorilla vs. Bear playlists.

Plus, Google Play Music's UI blows the others out of the water. My favorite part is the "Play Next" and "Add to Queue" choices for unobtrusively adding songs to what's currently playing. Something that iTunes actually used to have, but then they removed it for no reason.

The best part of the deal must be no ads on YouTube though. I am not competent enough to block all of them on mobile even when rooted with adaway.

I think it is $15 for five people.

If you're still curious, Firefox for android has full support for all of the desktop extensions, including uBlock.

I'm very surprised that they would perform such a destructive operation based only off of metadata (instead of some sort of audio fingerprinting).

I was under the impression they did do audio fingerprinting. Otherwise, you could gain access to a ton of music.

Sort of ironically, the older iTunes Match system did audio fingerprinting, but Apple Music does not. I have gotten some very weird new metadata occasionally since the switch.

For the record, I've never lost any music, and I'm not entirely sure how that's possible short of a catastrophic iTunes bug[1] -- I'm not disputing anyone's stories, but even "post-Cloud" I've never seen iTunes delete files without me actually clicking on delete somewhere. Despite what the blogger was told by the rep, I'm pretty sure that's not how Apple Music is supposed to work. You enable it on a "primary" Mac, it matches tracks to the iTunes Store library, and then it uploads tracks that aren't in that library to iCloud. The files in your original library will be left alone unless you delete the original files.

[1]: Not that "catastrophic iTunes bug" sounds unlikely. I've heard friend-of-a-friend stories about deletion bugs in the recent past.

Even if they do audio fingerprinting the match is simplistic. I have a large collection of different versions of songs, and Shazam identifies them all as the studio version.

Audio fingerprinting is also pretty hit and miss for classical music where the work is the same and the artist differs.

Apple Music doesn't delete the original files.


>When Apple Music adds these matched songs to your iCloud Music Library, Apple Music doesn’t change or alter your original music files that reside in iTunes for Mac or PC or on your iOS devices from which they were added.

But then that is clearly wrong as per the article posted. There OP claims his songs are replaced with inferior version online.

That sentence is from the iTunes Music Match section, not the Apple Music section. They are different.

>When iTunes Match adds these songs to your iCloud Music Library, iTunes Match doesn’t change or alter your original music files that reside on iTunes for Mac or PC or on your iOS devices from which they were added.

>When Apple Music adds these matched songs to your iCloud Music Library, Apple Music doesn’t change or alter your original music files that reside in iTunes for Mac or PC or on your iOS devices from which they were added.

What's the difference?

It's definitely a confusing situation: http://www.loopinsight.com/2015/07/24/i-got-my-music-back-at.... I wish we could get an accurate official explanation of when (if ever) local files will be moved/deleted/replaced with cloud versions.

Maybe the answer is never, but I sure am not confident about that.

I've never seen that happen. iTunes loads the data/metadata about the songs and attempts to match them to their database of songs. Then if you were to sign in on a different computer with iTunes Match enabled, it would download the songs that it matched from the original computer as a 256kb AAC.

The same thing has happened to me as well.

I'm afraid to use iTunes at all at this point. Most of my mp3s were ripped from CD or bought from Amazon

I haven't used it in years and am happy never to go back. There are so many other programs out there that can manage your music.

When I want the fad-of-the-day music I will pay to stream it. Which isn't very often. We all have our guilty pleasures :)

In the words of Microsoft, "Its a feature, not a bug"...

This is part of a push from Apple to move users' data from devices to the cloud. They're doing the same thing with photos (optimised storage deletes local copies), videos, and documents on iCloud.

The advantage for users is that your data is available everywhere you have an apple device and Internet. The disadvantage is a corporation manages and controls increasing amounts if your life, private and public, and leaving them for another becomes unthinkable, and of course the corporation chooses what information it is appropriate for you to rent access to.

Just to be clear, this was only with a subscription to Apple Music.

Signing up for Apple Music is what prompts iTunes to replace your local music library.

It literally only does this if you very explicitly tell it to. They're mad because their computer did exactly what they told it to. This is a simple case of user error, followed by a user lashing out over their own mistakes.

It's like being mad at Linux for letting you 'rm -rf ~/Music' it simply did exactly what you told it to.

I use iTunes Match across a myriad of devices and it is a wonderful service. It's sad to see a frustrated end user spreading such FUD.

Or perhaps, just maybe, the situation is being mis-reported? "No, Apple Music is not deleting tracks off your hard drive — unless you tell it to"[0]


If this is indeed true, then it kind of trumps most of the comments around here.

I don't see anybody rationalizing Apple's wrongdoing here, though. Whom are you referring to?

I'm not OP, but I'm guessing they are referring to buro9[1], who posted an hour before.


I'm not sure if that's the link you intended to post but I see nothing in that comment rationalizing Apple's actions, in fact it seems to share the opinion of the original article.

Yeah, buro9's comment is the only one that seems to fit, but I don't read the comment as supportive of Apple at all, quite the contrary, it reads to me damning of Google.

And buro9 retracts the main critical point later in that thread when several people highlight Google Takeout.

This is almost certainly not apple acting alone. There will have been lengthy contract negotiations (and probably a lot of pressure from the major labels). The auto-overwriting metadata issue is probably apple alone though, they've long been very exacting about the metadata of music in itunes. They already throw their weight around in the supply chain by demanding that metadata is correct or they won't accept music, which they can do because they control so much of the market. I'm not surprised they're expanding that to user's devices (presumably for matching purposes for igenius). The industry sucks, so many middlemen with so much power :(

God forbid there is a bug in software! This article is crap, maybe he ran into an issue but I've helped over a dozen people get setup on Apple Music and not once has there been file deletion. I am very skeptical that theoretical phone rep said any of these things either. Obviously there is a bug that needs fixing, but this is definitely not a platform wide attempt to delete anyone's data.

A few years ago, after a couple of weeks of ripping my CD collection to FLAC, I decided to import it into iTunes.

What happened next was an epic fail exactly like the article describes - iTunes trashed my collection, "organised" the files in it in ways that were buggy and just plain wrong, and turned two weeks of part time effort into completely wasted time.

This was before iCloud, and fortunately I keep my own music on a separate disk, so it didn't try to trash that too.

In a sense I was lucky. Two wasted weeks is a learning experience. Two years would have been heartbreaking.

Two decades? I. Can't. Even.

Since then I haven't allowed iTunes anywhere near my FLAC collection. I've also warned anyone with a music collection to never, ever to allow iTunes anywhere near it.

My first attempt at syncing an old iPod to a new machine saw a similar outcome. Aside from the slow and unsuccessful "auto-transfer" attempt between the devices, iTunes promptly decided to rearrange and relabel everything I had.

For a live music fan, that's a disaster. Many thousands of live performances pulled out of their identifying folders because they had similar metadata. A significant number of labelled, sorted tracks pushed to "unknown artist". Random, inaccurate assignments of album covers.

Suffice to say, it was easier to uninstall iTunes and restore from a hard backup. One of the perks of smartphones is that I can get music onto my device without even considering iTunes, and I can't imagine giving it another shot.

> One of the perks of smartphones is that I can get music onto my device without even considering iTunes

Careful there, the iPhone is also a smartphone, and I do not know of a way of getting music onto it without iTunes.

There used to be an alternative iPhone management tool created by some of the same developers who were jailbreaking iOS. Certain features only worked with jailbroken phones - but you could still manage your music library even on unmodified devices.

It's been a few years and I'm not sure if its still in development. I believe it was called iFunbox? On mobile now and don't have the opportunity to search for more info - I will edit this later.

I have an iPhone and don't use the standard Music app. I use Plex or CloudBeats to access and store music/audiobooks locally on my device. All of this music is stored on my Windows machine that acts as a server. It is accessed via Plex or Dropbox. I have no trouble accessing the files on my MacBook either. However, all of the music/audio is in a folder hierarchy and backed up. I don't touch iTunes.

I stopped using anything from the i* suite after my first Mac when I learned that it messed up my folder structure. All my carefully organised music and photos were imported into an opaque database that gave me no visibility into how things were stored.

This part at least has been a configurable option as long as I can remember. http://www.usbdacs.com/Macintosh/files/page5_5.jpg

Did something change? Because the iTunes internal organization for music at least is quite easy to understand.

From the library folder:

    Music/Artist/Album/Track# Title.ext
If your files aren't tagged correctly (which is distressingly common), then the auto organization will make a pig's breakfast of your library.

A common example: "Artist" and "Album Artist" are two different ID3 fields - if you have an album with an Album Artist but a blank Artist, iTunes will catalog it as "Unknown Artist" when the consolidation happens.

This is slightly annoying to fix, but the mass tag editor in iTunes works well.

A complaint I've heard before is that this works fine for most modern music, but the Artist/Album/Track layout doesn't apply to a lot of classical collections.

In which case you can just turn off the folder organization, but there's not an easy way to undo it once iTunes has gone and dicked it up.

"A complaint I've heard before is that this works fine for most modern music, but the Artist/Album/Track layout doesn't apply to a lot of classical collections."

More importantly, and more generally: what if my music organization format predates OSX/iOS/iTunes and I am not interested in altering it for todays fad ?

This is not apple-specific, either - many devices and services (audi MMI, Sonos, etc.) assume certain naming and organizational practices - and work very awkwardly with any other layout.

Granted, my Sonos system has never deleted anything or reorganized directories ... but my music is mounted read-only just in case.

"Today's fad" has been the iTunes standard since the application existed.

Also, take your pick. If the files aren't organized to a consistent standard, that means a database has to be stored somewhere with that info so the app can do its job. In iTunes' case, that's an XML file.

"Also, take your pick. If the files aren't organized to a consistent standard"

Actually, that's not true - one alternative to an organizational structure or a database is to actually name the files verbosely, which is what I decided on in 1996 when I ripped my first CD:

Artist Name - Album Name - ## - Track Name - time.wav

For instance:

Ferry, Bryan - Taxi - 03 - Answer Me - 2m46s.wav

This file can now be dropped into place anywhere without losing information, requires no DB and gives you full "metadata" for wav files that don't actually contain metadata.

"If your files aren't tagged correctly (which is distressingly common), then the auto organization will make a pig's breakfast of your library."

Pray tell, how should my WAV/PCM files be "tagged" ? What's the format for that ? Exactly.

You just described the reason for the existence of ID3. But, if you insist on using files that don't have a metadata standard, the only way to organize them is in the database of the library application. Which generally won't be portable to other applications.

WAVs have had a metadata standard since they were invented, see RIFF INFO. And now more software is supporting ID3v2 inside WAVs too.

What you meant is a standard that was used. That's changing, a little.

"But, if you insist on using files that don't have a metadata standard, the only way to organize them is in the database of the library application."

Again, I disagree - see my response further up the thread for how to get around this problem with verbose naming:

Ferry, Bryan - Taxi - 03 - Answer Me - 2m46s.wav

Your proposal to store track info in with verbose naming isn't very robust and doesn't solve even the most basic problems that a simple metadata scheme does.

For one, even in your specific limited case of Bryan Ferry's album _Taxi_ there are 5 different versions of the album from 5 different countries[0].

Furthermore, your verbose naming proposal is not only unequipped to handle something as basic as alternate versions and international releases, it has no affordances for providing basic information such as year of release, publisher, and composer, let alone information about bitrates and compression schemes.

Even were we to restrict our attention to just the metadata your scheme does encode, your proposal would fail when cataloging an entry where the band/album/track name contains a hyphen surrounding by whitespace. There are also some albums which have more than 99 tracks (archival records, for example, which are distributed in multi-CD collections).

My response may seem a bit like hitting a fly with a sledgehammer but, having worked in a library and taken classes in information science, it's crucial to illustrate why hastily-conceived proposals to replace metadata with file naming conventions should never be taken seriously. In fact, I believe they should only be taken jokingly!

Metadata schemes are so important to information and library science that, in my opinion, any proposal to replace metadata schemes with "verbose naming" should be shown to be untenable unless the goal is to index fewer than 100 files in a restricted-access repository (and maybe even then).

From the standpoint of a librarian or digital archivist, you may as well have proposed storing the binary data in the file name, too, essentially eliminating the file name which itself is a piece of metadata.

[0] https://www.discogs.com/Bryan-Ferry-Taxi/release/1120442

EDIT: readability

> Your proposal to store track info in with verbose naming isn't very robust and doesn't solve even the most basic problems that a simple metadata scheme does.

But that's how anyone who is serious about collecting digital music has been ordering it since ages. Sure, I never considered putting track length in the filename as :) (but I can see why), and if I can help it I have them tagged correctly too. But the file/folder structure is how I keep it organised.

There may be better ways to go about this, but it at least needs to be an actual improvement. iTunes is not.

Currently I'm experimenting with a command line tool called 'beets', which from reading its docs, definitely has a philosophy that aligns with mine. Unfortunately I haven't quite figured out how to tell it where to get the metadata from, it defaults to MusicBrainz which seems to have quite a few inaccuracies in their data (spelling of "Kung-Fu", hyphenated or with spaces I don't care really but if you use both spellings on the same album, one of them is wrong). It's got plugins for discogs and figure-out-from-pathname so that's good, but then it still uses MusicBrainz too. All in all it's a bit fiddly, but I can't really imagine a way to do it better, if you want have accuracy, keep control, some assistance with automatic tagging, but without messing up weird edge-cases like the classical albums and bootleg recordings mentioned above (for which 'beets' tries real hard to do the right thing, that being what you decide it to be).

There is an option now to not let iTunes organize files. This way, you can still add songs to iTunes' database but iTunes will reference the original media files in their original location.

Yeah, the "Keep my iTunes Folder Organized" option (under "Advanced") is not your friend. It frustrates me that it is on by default. I guess that's fine for casual users, but if you care at all about your music, turn it off.

Really? Just because you have helped over a dozen people it means that this issue doesn't exist? Did you bother to check every local file on the person's drive that you were helping? If you didn't know about the potential issue how would you know to check. The author isn't saying its intentional hs's saying this is a side-effect of this model. Incidentally this is not the first type questionable practice from Apple Music. See this:


The article you linked to appears to describe something totally different. It says that if you delete your music from your computer, then re-downloading the music through Apple Music will give you DRMed files. But it also says:

> If you haven’t deleted your own copies of your music, then there’s nothing to worry about. If you download onto other devices from Apple Music, those devices will get the DRM versions, but you’ll still have your DRM-free originals.

When he says copies, I think he was referring to his backup?

The preceding sentence is:

> Either way, if you’ve used iTunes Match as a convenient way to free up space on your Mac by deleting your own copy of any of your music, don’t cancel your subscription in favor of Apple Music if you want to keep that music DRM free.

Given the reference to freeing up space, it seems like he is talking about the original music files within iTunes and not a backup.

The author is a "she".

Your overconfidence makes you look like an arrogant, ignorant fanboy with no empathy. Maybe the next "obvious bug" will erase all your family photos.

Every time I am asked to set up someone's Apple device, I find it incredibly difficult to:

* Get it synced properly

* Determine what is stored in iCloud/on-device

* Ensure that device contents are actually backed-up, unless done manually

* Set up simple things like email accounts

Just a month or two ago, I was helping someone whose iTunes music wouldn't sync to their iPhone. It turned out that, when they signed up to Apple Music, iTunes had silently flipped on a setting that prevents this. Working out what on earth was happening took me almost an hour.

Yet everyone tells me that their Apple devices 'just work'. I don't have the same experience - I find their behaviour to be utterly opaque and non-deterministic. Am I alone?

No -- you aren't alone. Whenever I connect my daughter's iPhone to iTunes (say to add more music) we take our lives in our hands. You get scary popups that ask you a question and provides two options -- neither of which is what you want.

I don't know whether this is deliberate on the part of Apple to discourage the use of iTunes, or whether they really think that it works well and is intuitive. For anybody from Apple reading this -- iTunes is not intuitive. It is horrible.

"You get scary popups that ask you a question and provides two options -- neither of which is what you want."

This! One is something like "delete all the music from my iPod" and the other is "delete all the music from my hard drive". How on earth has this situation been allowed to develop?

I'd forgotten all about that question! It's like Apple never considered the possibility that you might connect an iPod and a hard drive with different files and want to keep the union of them.

Similarly, the default setting where Apply tries to copy all of your content to a new iPod when you plug it in, in alphabetical order. I have 300Gb of music, you should know that won't succeed.

Thats just it, they done want to let you keep both files as a way to try and combat piracy (Multiple people syncing all the files theyve bought separately). Its really frustrating, and they will never allow it to happen.

Itunes is the worst.

It can, without asking, delete the music from your device or your folders, reorganize your folders, rename your songs and reset their id3 tags.

The mentality of "our users are stupid, just do everything for them" seems pervasive throughout apple's products.

I only just started using a mac/iphone after many years of only using Linux and Android, and my impression is that although they'd object to the language, yes, that's pretty precisely their business model, and its an insane success. I'm not saying most people actually are stupid, but I'm saying that probably the set of people who either (a) are not stupid and want their computer to do something different than what iTunes automatically does, or (b) somehow, whether by ignorance or villainy, get screwed by a situation like the one in the post, barely register in Apple's statistics. I'm (a). The author is (b). We're edge cases. The moral flavor of Apple's business model will continue to not matter while people keep shoveling over the dollars.

Although (b) is small, it does tend to produce truly vocal enemies enemies of the company.

I had the joy of buying a product that Apple swears doesn't exist ("Our records say we never made a machine with that serial number, so I'm not allowed to put you into the support system.") Three dead logic boards later, I'm done with the company altogether.

I'd like to think that with market penetration nearly complete, Apple will start to face consequences for this. They're depending on beating competitors and pushing upgrades now (instead of selling to new buyers), so lost customers are a bigger threat. I'm not holding my breath, though, it's just too rare.

"our users are stupid, just do everything for them"

Oh, it's worse than that: "we know better than you regardless of your intelligence. trust us: this new UI is better for you; this new media file manager is better for you; this new gesture is better for you" - forget all the work you've done, forget all that time acclimatizing to the last set of UI and gesture changes ...

And it is a mentality that is spreading.

The whole "user is stupid" attitude was basically stated to me by a big name Gnome developer a year or so ago.

And his like seem to have their fingers in more and more of what lives above the Linux kernel (and are likely chomping at the bit to do the same to the kernel itself once Linus is out of the way).

That's because at a conceptual level, a "general purpose computer" is far from an ideal device for rent extraction.

If your user is stupid, they won't be able to manage a general purpose computer but will instead require a well-controlled computing appliance that will dutifully collect all the rents its creators can get away with.

Talk about scary! I managed to unintentionally delete all photos in my aunt's iPad. All I wanted to do was disable iCloud backups. And I am a postdoc in a CS department.

is this related to Apple Music use? I have never encountered this problem with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. I have music on each and separate settings for all four devices and never once has it asked to delete, let alone with a popup.

No. iTunes is probably the worst piece of widely used software out there.

It's just a UX nightmare, hard to grasp how to do things, almost impossible to grasp what the consequences of doing things are.

I swear iTunes used to work great. When I got my first iPod it did the syncing correctly and played music, and those were about the only jobs it had. It has since bloated more and more, I don't even open it anymore, it's awful on both windows and osx

I have to run an old version of iTunes to have my 4th gen iPod even sync properly. :\

^ 100% agree, it is literally the worst UX design ever!

I'm currently using the 3 month free trial and every time I use it i have to tell myself "it's free money, just 1 more month until I switch back to spotify".

For example, the playlists I create on my laptop don't sync whatsoever with my phone. I spent a little time trying to research how to sync them and just said screw it.

On what planet does a user not want their playlists automatically synced between devices, let alone making that the default option?

Did you ever use Lotus Notes? I agree that iTunes is poorly designed but you can't just toss out "worst UX design ever!" without old Lotus Notes users taking exception.

I'm only 22 years old so no, I haven't had the misfortune of using Lotus Notes. Let me correct myself than, "It is the worst UX I've ever experienced in the 22 years in which I have lived".

True. Lotus Notes on a Mac in particular ;-)

I've always been a Windows/Linux guy, and I never understood the Apple "Just works" motto, because my experience has been largely the same as the issues you've laid out.

iTunes has always been the worst user experience, both for myself and setting it up for the less technically inclined. I've been a firm "no-Apple" camper because Apple products doesn't give you the control if you need it. For an obsessive music fan, fine-tune control over how the product interacts with your library is critical.

I am not surprised at all by the disaster mentioned in the article- it validates the paranoia I've always harboured against Apple products.

In my experience, Apple is the living embodiment of The Hitchhiker's Guide's "things that cannot possibly go wrong".

> The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.

They might be slightly more reliable in their most standard use case, but you're doomed at the smallest hiccup.

>Yet everyone tells me that their Apple devices 'just work'. I don't have the same experience - I find their behaviour to be utterly opaque and non-deterministic. Am I alone?

Apple devices haven't "just worked" in over a decade. It's a testament to apples marketing that people still think this.

That's a bit of a stretch. The early iPhones 'just worked'. My Mac used to 'just work'. All was groovy in my Apple life as 'recent' as ~2011.

I wouldn't say my Mac 'just works' anymore, nor my iPhone for that matter. And this is commented on a lot by a lot of prominent Apple bloggers, to the point that it does get responded to by Apple SVPs (see Marco Arment and Phil Schiller)

EDIT: that said, my mum gave up the PC when she got an iPad 2, and was even happier when she got a hand-me-down iPhone 4S. She finds both slow now, but still won't go near the PC anymore. For her, the Apples still 'just work'.

I think we need to make some distinctions here. My Macs and iPhones have proven incredibly durable, reliable, and flexible.

It's the syncing services, specifically, that Apple is screwing up. They never figured this stuff out, even under Steve Jobs.

> Fortune magazine reported that during the summer of 2008, after MobileMe had launched to mostly negative reviews, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs summoned the MobileMe team to a meeting in the Town Hall auditorium at 4 Infinite Loop. After asking them "what MobileMe is supposed to do", when someone answered, Jobs reportedly shot back, "So why the fuck doesn't it do that?"


I recommend Android for anyone in a position to change.

I plug my Android phone into my Linux laptop. The phone's filesystem is mounted. I move, copy, delete whatever music and photos I want. Dead simple and rational.

I put Flickr on the phone. Photos I take with the phone are automatically backed up to Flickr, and I can see them from anywhere.

I make Android and iOS apps.

But only because people want me to and pay for it... I wouldn't inflict the trauma that is using these on anyone.

I had problems with every single Android I owned, here is the current one:

1. Super slow, even after reformatting everything and reinstalling, it is not even a cheap phone.

2. Terrible interfaces overall, specially as they keep removing physical buttons, and apps started to shove important buttons (like "menu") in random places.

3. The interface thread seemly is prone to freezing, for example yesterday I wanted to use youtube, and the interface froze, and then suddenly opened a video I didn't wanted, and started playing full blast volume and waking people up, and I couldn't figure how to close the damn video, and then suddenly it crashed.

4. This all applies to the actual phone parts... more than once I had to quickly dial someone for some emergency reason (not life or death, but still emergency), and the phone app decide to be slow, or crash, or reboot, and so on.

5. Had the phone app crash on me while I was actually talking to someone.

And this is just my personal phone, in other phones I had one that I had to reinstall and the phone antenna stopped working after the reinstall (it needed a custom antenna driver, that I had to track down on internet and install...), random reboots, slow, extremely fast draining of the battery, specially if you made some mistake like leave a GPS-enabled app running, nevermind the fact that the OS itself is so crap, that every manufacturer ship the phone with several third party apps to fix OS problems (memory managers and defragmenters, app killers, temporary file cleaners, and so on...)

iPhone has another set of problems, but still is problematic. I personally would never buy one (my current client I am testing his iOS code on a device he provided to me...)

The Android ecosystem us chock full of phones at various price points and quality levels, and questionable "value add" software added by OEMS and carriers.

I have been very happy with Nexus phones (going back to Nexus S), and have never experienced any of those issues.

We also have 3 Motorola G phones - which for the money (<200) are really hard to beat. Motorola seems to have not attempted to mess with the stock O/S all that much..

I love my Nexus 5. Add an SD card slot and a fingerprint reader and it'd be the perfect phone, IMO.

This has gotten worse over time as well. It used to be you could mount your phone's storage as a mass storage device, but now (as far as I can tell) MTP is the only option.

Yes, it's MTP with my current phone and linux installation. Is there a problem with this? After I figured out where the filesystem was mounted (a bit of a pain), I could use it like a normal mount, as if it were an external USB drive.

MTP is a bit of a mess.

First off, file access is mediated via software on the Android side. What you are seeing is a database representation of the device FS. And this database can be incorrect (people have in the past deleted folders they thought were empty only to lose files) or used to implement DRM.

Second, it is bloody slow.

Interesting. Is there a way to bypass this and mount the phone as an ordinary filesystem, as in the old days?

Depends on the device. Some offer it, some don't. And those that offer it run into the issue of having partitioned internal storage.

The one benefit of MTP is that Android do not have to unmount the FS you are trying to access.

You need a Linux kernel that offers the feature over the USB port

> Yes, it's MTP with my current phone and linux installation. Is there a problem with this?

For the longest time MTP & Linux was terribly painful, verging on unusable, while mass storage worked perfectly. It bit when I upgraded my Nexus phone and discovered I couldn't get to the files stored on it.

Fortunately, all seems to work well now.

The reason for implementing MTP instead of mass storage was clear, because you couldn't / wouldn't be able to access the files from the phone while the computer was accessing them. So I understand why they went in that direction.

But oh my goodness! MTP support on Linux was terrible for a while, and even on Windows it wasn't fast and reliable. It was easier at the time to just use a service like Dropbox to transfer files to/from the phone, than to use USB.

My HTC One M8 lets me choose between mounting as a drive, MTP, or just charging. Maybe that's a general Marshmallow feature but it's great.

Android, as an ecosystem, it horrible. I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

I have had a similar experience - finding out what is really going on with my iDevices always ends up being a giant time-suck. Things do seem to "just work" as long as you don't go looking too far - which, I imagine, is what most people do. I don't think this is unique to Apple necessarily, just more pronounced due to the "just works" mentality.

I remember reading "In the beginning was the Command Line" and the description of Apple products being hermetically sealed boxes sticks to me to this day. Even though the author said that the essay was obsolete within a year or so of release (due to Apple and OSX), it proves that even over 17(?) years in technology, some things never change. Almost every other ecosystem doesn't obsessively hide every adjustment knob and switch and force you into submitting to their way of doing things like Apple's does.

I got my parents an iPad mini recently and some of the contacts on my mom's phone sync and some of them don't. I am a developer and love tinkering with computers but for the love of me not figure out how to fix this.

I recently spent a good chunk of a day troubleshooting the problem "when certain people message my account on Apple Mail, I get the message twice."

Confirmed that it wasn't user error, and was common, never made got another inch of headway. My eventual diagnosis was "at least you're getting the message!"

Yeah I got my daughter a new Mac and synced it up to the iCloud so she could iMessage from the desktop and she got an odd (incomplete) set of contacts that don't seem to match any other device.

These are my main qualms with software these days: Logic went out of the window. Back in the days a good deal of software had great, albeit complex menus. The typical non-techy hated these interfaces because they didn't get results immediately and by not having an interest in technology most ruled out the idea of putting in some effort to learn the piece of software at hand. (no pain, no gain - duh!)

Next, companies "figured out" that usability is soo important and that it needs to get fixed because customers were having trouble. This was generally a wrong conclusion. Getting rid of complex menus doesn't necessarily increase usability. It irritates power users to no end and doesn't help casual users when they run into special cases. Heck, even the power users can't help the casual user anymore!

Every not completely trivial app(lication) should offer at least additionally a "complex" mode that offers a good old menu bar where deterministic, to some degree "atomic" functions (if you pardon the faulty analogy) are offered, grouped in a logically consistent way.

Yeah I had the exact same issue with syncing externally purchased music whilst using apple music, I honestly could not believe apple has delivered software that behaves in such a user hostile manner. It hurts their reputation and convinced me to give up on some music.

Not so much devices (rarely come into contact with them), but this is what finally pushed me away from iTunes - https://i.imgur.com/JUIXKTd.jpg

For various reasons, I have multiple Apple IDs with iTunes content linked to them (old account, new account, various region changes over the years etc.). At some point, Apple decided that you could only download past purchases with _one_ Apple ID per computer per ninety days, effectively locking me out of the content unless I had a local copy[1] and was using a pre-authorised PC (for context, this was after Apple had done the "It's all in the cloud; just stream it" push for movies etc.).

I ended up getting around it by firing up a bunch of virtual machines (one per Apple ID), downloading everything I end, striping off the DRM, and then never using iTunes again for anything other than music (and even then I favour CDs first and other download sources second).

I'd certainly been a long time coming (2010ish iTunes handled my large-ish media library fine, and the UI was fine. By 2014ish, every release was feeling slower and slower, and the UI felt more and more like the iOS interfaced backported to PC), but that was the final straw. Currently moving over to foobar2000 for music (technically I could just point it at my music folders and be done, but I'm taking the opportunity to make sure everything is tagged properly).

[1] Which of course I keep on my NAS, but a) I'm not always on my local network and b) I'm not always 100% diligence about making sure a copy ends up there.

> I ended up getting around it by firing up a bunch of virtual machines (one per Apple ID), downloading everything I end, striping off the DRM, and then never using iTunes again for anything other than music (and even then I favour CDs first and other download sources second).

This is ingenious and also hilarious if it weren't so damn tragic.

I owned my first MacBook 3 years ago. To me, the MacBook "just work" as much as any new Windows laptops I came across. So I'm clueless as to where did the phrase "just work" came from. Maybe Windows has improved over the years, or maybe a lot of things are done of the web now, the OS doesn't really matter as long as there is a browser.

'Just works' comes from the days of XP and before, where every doodad you plugged into your computer required its own driver disk on Windows. Even if something came with it's own drivers in that era, you'd get an installer wizard that you'd have to navigate through.

Back to DOS, You have to load your MXCDEX001 driver in order to use your CD-ROM.

You should try Windows 10, I've been Apple free for a while now. I'll never go back to OS X.

I don't know if I'm alone, but I find Windows 10 horrible. It consistently freezes on me for several seconds at a time (and usually when I'm doing something important), it takes longer to fully boot (background services seem to take way longer to start), it uses an incredible amount of CPU and disk in the background for no reason, the new Control Panel is impossible to sort through, and the overall UI/UX is a step backwards (IMO)--and all that without mentioning the privacy concerns. I'm really kicking myself for upgrading, because I thought Windows 7 was a really great OS. I ended up switching to Linux Mint, and have been very happy with it overall.

I can't comment on Win10 per se, because I haven't seen a compelling set of features that would cause me to upgrade my Win7 machine.

Win7 is essentially what WinXP was a few years ago; it's not perfect, but it's familiar and it gets the job done and it stays out of the way (most of the time). As a user, Microsoft has to offer me something significant if they want me to spend time learning something new, and I've not yet seen it.

Win 10 is to Win 8 what Win 7 was to Vista.

For me:

Windows 10 is to Win 7 what Win ME was to XP.

ME precedes XP, both architecturally and by release date. Can you clarify?

I run win10 at home since beta and also admin multiple windows machines at work. None have that issue. I would say with utmost certainty that something else is amiss. All of my machines run faster and smoother on win10.

Oh, I'm not saying the freezing is a general Windows 10 issue; I'll fully admit that there might be something wrong with my install. But it's just frustrating that it started happening on a fresh install of Windows 10 (not an upgrade) before I even installed anything abnormal. And there are others reporting the exact same issue as me, so I know I'm not the only one. We're talking about operating systems that "just work", and for me, Windows 10 didn't.

Weird, Windows 10/8/8.1 have incredibly fast boot times compared to 7, especially if you're on a SSD. The Control Panel is the same as 7 was, the "Settings Panel" is what is new...but it has a search feature. Sounds like to me, maybe you barely tried it; also the "privacy concerns" have been disproven countless times.

It boots quickly, but the background services take longer to start. There are a couple programs (AutoHotkey scripts and the like) that I run on startup, and those take significantly longer to start after boot than on Windows 7. And you're right about the control panel, but the new settings I've found to be extremely difficult to navigate; I even have a hard time searching for some of them. (Of course this is something that you get used to over time, but we're talking about things that "just work", and that's not one of them IMO.)

Re: Privacy: Maybe not directly a privacy concern, but one of my biggest issues with Windows 10 (and 8) is how many things are now out of your control. For instance, you can't disable automatic updates or the built-in antivirus for more than a short while. Given that, it's easy to imagine Microsoft pushing out a privacy-invading setting that you have to manually opt out of, which you won't do until you know about it.

I wouldn't say I barely tried it; I've had it installed since December and used it full-time for about a month before dual-booting Linux (and I still use it for gaming). Maybe I wouldn't be so frustrated with it if it didn't regularly freeze for several seconds at a time, because that's really the biggest issue I have with it (and I know I'm not the only one), but I'd say I gave it a pretty fair shot. Aside from losing access to a couple programs (which is why I dual-boot), I'm happy with Linux Mint.

Except that the Win8/10 fast boot time is a cheat; it's basically just hibernate mode. If you do a "restart" instead of a "shutdown" it will go through the full boot process, and that (on the Win10 boxes I've seen) is little or no faster than it was on 7.

I'm running 10 on a 3.5 year old i7 at home, and a brand new i7 at work.

I haven't had any significant problems with freezing and boot times.

I am a little biased as I'm doing C# MVC so I'm using Visual Studio, I think it's all pretty great.

You do have to get used to the new control panel, but all of the old panels are still there for you to use (I am nearly 100% sure), but it's not really _that_ bad. You get used to it.

I run Android on my phone so I'm pretty sure that overall I have no real privacy from any agency that really want to get in to my business... oh well.

Windows works fine for me, if I have any issues with it. It's due some anti-virus slowing things down and windows search service

"amount of CPU and disk in the background for no reason"

That's probably from the built-in spyware and forced upgrade processes that run in the background.

Try turning off Windows search service and the default Windows anti-virus

It "just works" if you fully buy into the ecosystem. i.e. all content stored in iCloud nothing synced via cable etc.

I happen to do this since i tend to need a new iPhone every 2-4 months and it's just easier to pick up a new one, sign in and let it set itself up exactly as the old one.

But anything that deviates from this workflow, you tend to run into problems.

> i tend to need a new iPhone every 2-4 months

umm... what?

Yer. it could be fairly argued i don't care for it well.

But honestly the iPhone 6 is the most breakable thing i've ever owned.

Yeah... 3 iPhones a year... what? Care to explain why?

i find the iPhone 6 to be very breakable, case or no case.

it could be argued i don't care for it that well.

My iPhone currently has two apps that somehow failed to install, and I can't delete them or open them. I tried rebooting the phone, signing in and out of the Apple store, all to no avail.

Also try force rebooting your device by pressing the home and sleep buttons simultaneously for several seconds.

This - the magic fix for 99% of issues.

Yet, people still buy it. They agree to pay for a product, at a bug price, and ask for people around them to do Apple's work to setup it up for them, but for free.

And they find that very natural. Normal.

Like they found normal 20 years ago we had to help them with their MS product they paid, but for free.

Agreed on all points, but email accounts have always been a breeze for me on iOS, although it's a bit limited it always did the basic stuff very well.

At first I thought the tone of the article was a bit hyperbolic, but upon reading further, no, this totally fits with the emotions that I'd probably feel upon such a situation. Shock, then horror, then anger. Then solution minded...then when hitting a wall...

>When giving the above warning, however, even in my most Orwellian paranoia I never could have dreamed that the content holders, like Apple, would also reach into your computer and take away what you already owned.

It just feels dirty, and, as my Software Developer Uncle probably would've called it, "Playing outside the sandbox." I mean, sure, as the article notes, the TOS gives Apple a lot of consent, but "Loss or Damage" via incidental use vs. outright deletion via intentional coding feels...different. Maybe legally they're not...

I do remember ranting at the top of my lungs after an online jam software installed an update and crashed my Win7 PC laptop so hard it had to rebuild via a command prompt screen. By then, I already had CD backups, a USB HD 500GB full of projects, and it was a cold reminder. The laptop restored fine, but whoa, not fun. Not what I signed up for in the agreement, risk-wise, I felt, so I've essentially stopped using that software.

...and I'll close by reminding myself I'm perfectly reasonable with my Win laptop setup, not running iTunes (Winamp), and backing up to a local cloud or other media (another USB HD coming soon). Life happens, accidents happen...but there's some funky software out there.

Heck of a story, and one I will point to gladly when discussing paths for audio DAW hardware/software platforms.

Corporations have spent decades conditioning their users to accept all ToSs and EULAs, using a combination of forbidding the software outright (often with no ability to get a refund) and applying scary language that they have limited the abuse of only as much as they thought would escape the public's notice. Now that their investment has been completed, they want their returns.

My solution to this (and to issues like this outside of software) is extreme but it will fix the problem. When one side creates a contract of any sort (ToS, EULA, phone contract, home buying contract) which primary purpose is to be signed by numerous other individuals who have little to no ability to alter the contract, the other parties are allowed to use lack of understanding to break the entire contract unless the creator can show beyond reasonable doubt (I would use clear and convincing, but that would be abused) that the signer did understand the entirety of the contract.

It would break contract law as we know it, but it would force simple, easy to understand contracts and it would penalize any robo signing practices. (Personal story: last time I went to a phone company, they gave the contract to read on a small device where I could only read 2 lines at a time and where part of the display was broken. I wasn't allowed a print out of the contract until after I signed. I walked away and have to this day not gotten a smartphone because of the downright evil practices of cell phone companies).

Oh I can totally agree with you on a lot of those points - the balance of power has shifted to the point of even taking away legal recourse, a la "BINDING ARBITRATION" which I'm skeptical of, re: conflict of interest.

I've honestly kicked around a legal-ese type write-up of 'Personal Terms of Service' type disclaimers - subject to change at any time - essentially stating that by taking payment for a service there is a negotiating platform to reconcile conflicting claims. As in, I claim that I should never be subject to an early termination fee if I'm personally unstatisfied with the service, and the service provider says they alone are allowed to waive the fee. Well then, that's a conflict of terms, and by taking my money for a service, they implied they would allow my ToS to usurp theirs (e.g. it's written in my ToS that accepting money creates a binding agreement for such a thing), etc, etc.

I thought it was an exercise in basically being selfish, but the more times examples like this surface, the more it actually starts to sound reasonable. That's...pretty wild to me. I mean, I have a lot of respect for contracts and see them as the ties that hold a lot of commerce together, so they've got real, practical use that should be encouraged. But when it comes to "wiggle room" that sounds a bit like gamesmanship to tilt the power, then I also think fighting back is a natural result, childish as it might seem at first.

Apple iTunes Match (and Apple Music) subscriber, with 23,000 hand ripped songs, only about 18,000 able to exact match by Apple, 5,000 are less common versions.

Also have enabled iCloud Music Library. Note these are three different services, and iCloud Music Library has been the most likely culprit for monkeying with your music, not Apple Music.

The combo of all three has deleted or auto-replaced exactly zero of my custom rips. I can use a series of steps (smart playlist to find matched songs, then manually delete that set) to shift to using Apple's high quality unprotected version, or not.

I wonder if the key to everything working as you imagine is the Match subscriptions:


If using Match, then after matching, manually deleting local, then re-downloading, you end up with a very high quality file without DRM that will continue to work fine and be portable, even after you cancel.

I'm not sure what happens if using only Apple Music without Match.

The linked article sounds a lot like the iCloud Music Library beta problems in July 2015:


And similar support experiences:


I believe the trick is declining when iTunes first asks whether you would like it to keep your music collection organized, or disabling the option in the preferences.

There are two default options that should be changed for safety when configuring iTunes:

- enable error correction when importing from CDs (importing options in Preferences)

- disable "keep music collection organized" (or something to that effect, located somewhere in the prefs)

I had the same thought: Is this an "Apple Music problem" or an "iTunes Match problem"? The article is fuzzy on the details as far as I can tell.

Fellow iTunes Match subscriber - been using it since the release with zero problems.

Me too. I really like iTunes match and it seems to work well. For those that are unfamiliar, it makes all your music on your main machine available from the cloud for a small yearly payment (25$?). It does this by matching your music to its own library and uploading the stuff it doesn't have.

One of the strange things is I have 2 mp3 rips from CD with skips. When I play over the internet with iTunes match the files still skip. These are common songs, so whatever they are doing to determine if that song is in their library is working (I guess).

My only complaint is sometimes it breaks up my albums if it decides that songs are by different artists. (Bob Marley, vs Bob Marley and the Wailers)

I can say for 100% certain that the combination of iTunes Match and Apple Music completely botched about 600 songs in my library.

I restored a backup, turned off Match and Apple Music and obtained a refund. Suffice to say it was the first week of Apple Music but still, it was pretty appalling that my carefully tagged library and artwork were overwritten with zero warning.

Apple do tend to release things a little half baked sometimes - especially when it pertains to cloud services - sadly the customer's data is the casualty which is a shame since it reflects a very cavalier attitude to user data.

Same here, never have had a problem and I use both services.

I can't think of a single reason why Apple would want to delete the files from the user's computer apart from an intent to lock the user in to the service by making it tremendously hard to leave. That's the black hole of UI dark patterns.

"I can't think of a single reason why Apple would want to delete the files from the user's computer..."

Well, to save precious local storage space of course. Apple's just being helpful here.

But seriously, sounds like a "good idea" gone wrong - "I know! Let's save the user some space by serving all their music from the cloud!" The moment that file deletion came up in the design, the option to opt-in should have been added. Unless someone at Apple did indeed intend lock-in ...

The funny thing is: Disk space is only worth more than bandwidth in a few select 1st-world countries. I've been traveling in rural areas of South America for about 18 months now and regularly I had to turn off my MacBook because its automatic update "features" were consuming all of the available bandwidth, making it impossible for anybody to actually work.

> I had to turn off my MacBook because its automatic update "features" were consuming all of the available bandwidth

Which automatic update features, by the way? While I definitely don't like or defend such features, all the ones that I know about can be turned off—which gives a more useable result than having to turn off the whole computer! Maybe my Mac is silently doing some behind-the-scenes updating that I haven't noticed hitting my data, though.

(Windows 10 is the real pig here, though. Bye-bye, option to download only on request! Bye-bye, this month's data allowance before I realised that it was downloading what turned out to be a huge update! I did eventually discover how to designate a connection as 'metred', a nice feature that I wish Mac OS had.)

> Well, to save precious local storage space of course. Apple's just being helpful here.

Yeah, storage that was made precious by apple by not supporting an SD card slot. Very "helpful".

This isn't about a lack of expandable storage (all Macs have at least one USB port, some come with SD card slots), but rather that a lot of Macs come with very small SSDs.

I can totally see how this might have seemed like a good idea. Shame it's just... not.

I was kinda assuming the iphone here. Didn't think the app on a desktop OS would show that behavior. Is this true? Do people really run out of space on laptops and desktops due to photos?

I just checked the apple website and it seems you're right. 3 out of the 5 available Macbook pro variants have <= 256GB storage.

> I had just explained to Amber that 122 GB of music files were missing from my laptop

This is very much about a laptop rather than a phone. And yep, I'm also suffering from this. I've got a 2010 MacBook Air with 256GB storage. I'm down to 10GB free space and struggling to decide how to cope with the now 160GB Photos library.

It could be helpful if they asked you first so you could back your stuff up to an external hard drive first.

I think that delinka (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11635126) was being sarcastic (as evidenced by the next paragraph beginning "But seriously …").

> Yeah, storage that was made precious by apple by not supporting an SD card slot.

This is an article about music in iTunes on a laptop. Apple sells laptops with SD card slots.

Yeah I kind of just assumed that it was talking about phones. Can't imagine running out of space for photos on a laptop.

On what devices is that really a good tradeoff? On mobile, sure (at least, on mobile devices like Apple's that don't have SD cards), but on a regular computer? I find it very hard to imagine that most people are more constrained by storage than bandwidth. Internet access just isn't that good. I can barely stream music over WiFi in many public places (coffee shops, airports, etc.).

If that's really the rationale, I think they're either optimizing for a use case that I find personally very atypical, or they didn't do their research.


I often find myself saying, “I bet somebody got a really nice bonus for that feature.”

“That feature” is something aggressively user-hostile . . .

>But seriously, sounds like a "good idea" gone wrong

Don't contribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice, especially when dealing with a massive company who hires quite intelligent individuals.

Lock-in was intended, and then some smart people found not just a way to sell it, but make it look more acceptable even if they were called out on it.

My phone has very limited local storage, so I can't keep photos on it. Fortunately, ownCloud implements this "good idea" basically right. I have "instant upload on WiFi" turned on for photos and videos. It uploads them to my ownCloud server, and then moves them from the system photos directory to its own directory if successful. It doesn't delete them from there, but I know that if something's in the ownCloud directory on my phone, it's backed up and available online, so I can clear it out periodically.

I imagine their thinking (as flawed as it is) is that it frees up local disk space for the user. If you've got a base level MacBook Air with just a 128GB SSD, maybe it seems beneficial to have a 40GB iTunes library stored entirely in the cloud on demand, and suddenly have 30% disk space freed up.

Apple have a similar philosophy with Photos, where the photos on your device are just low resolution versions, with the original hi-resolution versions kept on iCloud, if you choose the Optimize Device Storage setting. [1]

Not a philosophy I agree with. I like to keep my data local so I can use it offline. It's one reason I bought a 2012 MBP - I could get 1TB of storage cheaply, and I can upgrade it to a 1TB SSD myself for half the price of what Apple charges (Apple charges $800 for a 1TB SSD in Australia).

[1] https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT204264

People shouldn't buy a computer with only 128 GB nowadays and have to use the network as storage. Ok, they want to sync across devices, still having at least one of them with a large storage makes sense.

SSDs are getting cheap http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-2-5-Inch-Internal-MZ-75E1T0B-A...

That's $320 for 1TB. Still 4x than a HDD but the difference in absolute price is getting down.

You're not taking into account the fact that you can't easily replace the hard drive in a Mac laptop, nor the fact that Apple charges a huge markup on storage. I went with a 128 GB drive in my macbook to save money, and because I didn't want to use it as a mass-media storage device (I have a desktop for that).

I'd seriously been considering a Macbook, for home use, mainly due to the iPhoto app, since on Windows there is only Google Picasa, and they've killed it.

If there anyway to turn off that syncing and keep files locally only? Your comments have made me rethink my upcoming purchase!

Yes, that is absolutely possible. In fact, it is the default option, you explicitly need to enable both "iCloud Photo Library" (which activates your photos being stored on iCloud) and "Optimize Mac Storage" (which deletes the full-resolution photos from your Mac).

This is exactly how it should be, and how apparently it is not for Apple Music. At least this is true for today, who knows whether what is optional today might become the only option tomorrow...

ar0 is correct, it's now the default option. (I think at the beginning of the Photos beta it was the opposite.) To be super sure, you might want to double check your settings, Macworld has a how to guide here:


I have never enabled iCloud anything. There's an option during setup to skip iCloud setup.

problem is it only takes once..

i once accidentally enabled it on my phone and now, even though i have a reported 2300 songs on my phone.. as soon as i lose signal i have no music.. itunes wont even open up to a playlist in airplane mode.. made even better that it "syncs" my music when i plug in and reports the storage usage in GB.. its just not accessible...

apple's pushing of everyone into the cloud has me switching to Android in a couple of months when I move. I'm done with their shit.

I uploaded all of my music to Google Play and deleted it off of my computer. When I get a new computer I only really need my google credentials and then between google drive and google play music I'm up to speed. I install a few packages and I'm at home. I have no need to keep my music there.

Thus there certainly is a reason to do this. Its how photos work on iphones and androids as well. You take pictures, they are put on the cloud, space can be freed up. Its not a malicious workflow

That's not how photos work on any of my Androids. The original files are on the phone, and if I need to make space I can move them to a computer via USB (or dropbox, email, etc.).

You must have the Google photos sync option (or something like that) enabled.

I imagine it's intended to be a feature. You can instantly listen to any of your songs on any device.

They should have just left it on the local drive as well. Terrible.

Ransomware at its best.

This article is total BS. Maybe this one guy ran into an issue, but everyone I know uses Apple Music and has not had a single file deleted.

It's worth noting that Google Photos actually does something similar... the photos are "backed up" even in their "original" form... but I don't believe it's possible to actually restore (download all) from Google Photos.

I thankfully have a local backup of the photos I took, but when a phrase like "backup" is used, it is implicit and understood that there is a "restore" mechanism.

Google Photos lacks a "restore" mechanism, and it sounds like the same is true of Apple Music.

Google Play Music also does the matching/mismatching thing.

An uploaded Ladytron - Gravity the Seducer was replaced by a remix album but remains tagged as if it's the original. This is probably due to them not having the original, and this was a 90% match based on tags... but 90% is not good enough. I worked in the music industry and have so many demo tapes, master cuts that were not subject to post-production, etc. I want the version I have, and not some approximate guess at something similar-ish.

This isn't just an Apple issue.

There is an important difference. Google is transparent about what is going on.

When I set up Google Photos I was asked: Do you want to use Google's high quality or do you want to preserve the original photos and have them count against your storage quota?

After that, you should know what you're getting into. I certainly did.

Another way Google Photos is transparent is the app will actually let you know that many of the photos on your phone have been backed up to Photos. The app will ask if you would like those backed up photos to be removed from your phone. (And it'll ask you every time since it doesn't assume that if you said "yes" once then you mean "yes" every time.) So, there's no question about where your photos went when you can't find them.

Google's high quality... That's some deceiving wording right there. High quality are the originals, those are at the maximum optimized.

Not really, the quality is fine enough. And the other option (that takes up space) is called "Original Quality".

But the difference, if you read the docs, is that everything below 16 megapixels is the same for high quality and original quality. The only photos that ever get downsampled are ones above 16 megapixels.

Oh sweet, I didn't know that! :)

Google drive has a switch in the options to expose a "Google Photos" folder, which contains the original versions of all your uploaded google photos. You can then download these photos with any google drive client. The photos you download have identical MD5 sums to the photos you uploaded - they're completely untouched.

The Drive client can download them, yes. You can also use Google Takeout and download all of the original files as well.


This is exactly why I use OneDrive to backup my photos along with the google photos thing. I've tried explaining my logic to several people but usual replies are "but I can still see them on the website!". "But you won't have the image files anymore." "But I can open the website and see the pics, right?" At this point I just sigh and give up. Oh there's a download all button too, but it does NOT return the original files. All the files are much smaller than the original images.

> Oh there's a download all button too, but it does NOT return the original files.

It does return the original files.

Here are two files, one that got backed up off my phone by google photos, which I then downloaded from google drive, and one that I copied directly off my phone via USB:

   $ md5sum IMG_20160504_160057648_HDR*
    4bcb38a2e3869b4c769301c1664f5846  IMG_20160504_160057648_HDR (1).jpg
    4bcb38a2e3869b4c769301c1664f5846  IMG_20160504_160057648_HDR.jpg
The files are identical.

Perhaps it doesn't always return the original. There are a lot of variables - maybe smaller images or those already optimised or ... aren't recompressed/changed?

How big are your files? How many megapixels? I just see that the pictures in my phone are ~4-5 megabytes big and when I download them from google.com/photos, they are just a bit under a megabyte mostly.

There's an option to upload the pics at 'Original Size' or 'High Quality' (reduced). If you use the Original quality (which counts against your storage), you should see the same image.

OK yeah that does make sense. I had that on earlier but my google Drive quota ran out. So I switched to 'High Quality' (reduced). Maybe that's why I do not get the original pics.

Yeah, I have set that as high quality as well, as though reduced in size, the pictures are are almost the same in appearance.

OneDrive is horrible for backup because it doesn't keep any history of your files. Get a Ransomware on your computer, then watch in horror how your files are gone and how totally useless OneDrive can be.

This is why I prefer Dropbox. They keep 30-days worth of history so you can revert any file changes during that period. And I prefer to pay extra for the Extended History add-on, giving me 1 year worth of history. They aren't alone in doing this. SpiderOak also keeps the history of all changes from what I understand and they also do encryption. And Google Drive keeps history for 30 days, but they don't have an add-on. Note though that Google Photos can be downloaded by means of Google Drive ;-)

I did try OneDrive with a trial Office365 subscription, but I think at this point OneDrive is the worst option out of the mainstream ones. Besides the lack of version history, it also lacks a Linux client. One thing I do is to have a home machine that I keep turned on for having an extra backup, being synchronized with Dropbox. It also serves as a media box, but it's a Linux box, because Linux is the best option for servers, including home ones.

And it's not as cost effective as you'd think. If you look at Office alternatives and considering the OneDrive features you get, it's quite overpriced.

>OneDrive is horrible for backup because it doesn't keep any history of your files.

I hadn't considered that. Though a dropbox bug lost my documents and also deleted all version history. That was one reason I stopped using it.

Edit: I checked and it seems Onedrive does have version history.

> This is why I prefer Dropbox.

Dropbox is too expensive and I don't really need 1 TB :/

> Google Drive

I will not pay for any Google service. I'll use the free stuff and expect them to disappear/stop any time.

Check again because it does not have version history. It only does it for "Office documents". This has been one of the long requested features that's still unaddressed.

On Dropbox losing files, never had problems, but I believe you. All software is terrible.

I had once lost Dropbox files, but only because I deleted a folder on my local Dropbox folder and assumed it won't sync that 'deletion' to the cloud. My intention was to sync only some selected folders locally and let the rest be online. Also, I came to know about it later than 30 days as well - which is the time they keep backup of deleted stuff for.

The Dropbox app has a camera roll auto-upload feature. It's reliable, full-resolution image file backup and works for iOS and Android.

iCloud Photos is the worst: Last time I tried to download all my iCloud Photos/Videos (~1000) from the website it turned out to be impossible: You can download a few, but after 200 or so you just get server errors. And it always chokes on videos, stopping before having finished downloading the full file. There is no bulk export option like with Google Takeout.

Now I hear that this is not a problem if you have the Photos app on you Mac (it syncs), but I don't have a Mac.

One major flaw: Dropbox on iOS rotates the image data and resets the EXIF orientation header when it finds a rotated file. If you've ever used a different sync path you'll end up with a bunch of duplicate images with different hashes.

I have a lot of duplicate images from dropbox but I'd never known why until now. It just required me to get an additional app not by dropbox that evaluates images and deletes duplicates which took me a long time to find a good one as terrifying as that process is.

Which one did you use? I have had the same problem.

n.b. if anyone at Dropbox sees this or others want to reference it, here's the ticket: https://dropbox.zendesk.com/requests/3750448

That link doesn't work for me, says request not found.

Can you clarify this a bit? I.e what does the Dropbox app do if you take a picture in portrait mode, and what does iOS do? Is the rotation info lost completely?

Yes: it rotates the pixel data and resets the EXIF Orientation header. That means that it looks identical even when displayed as expected with a viewer which doesn't honor the EXIF orientation.

It's a lossless rotation - you can actually use something like jpegtran to rotate it back and the pixel checksum in ImageMagick's identify will match – but it completely breaks any system which uses checksums to detect duplicates, of course. I noticed when I started testing Google Photos and had a ton of duplicate images.

> The Dropbox app has a camera roll auto-upload feature. It's reliable, full-resolution image file backup

I know. I used to use it. It worked perfectly. I switched to Onedrive primarily because my free 48GB Dropbox expired and I got 100GB Onedrive with my new phone.

Wait. I assume even OneDrive doesn't have free unlimited storage right? After a certain limit, you've to pay. Similarly, if you pay, you can store all the photos in their original size (not the smaller max 16MP versions of them - which are free & unlimited) in Google Photos as well, and download when you want.

I store my photographs in external Hard Disk as well as Google Photos - because of the amazing search and categorization features built into it.

I have 100 GB space free in my Onedrive which is enough. Also, my pictures sync directly to my laptop, unlike Google photos, which shows in the website and you have to manually download them later.

Also, I cannot see my photos in Google drive at all. I have to go to google.com/photos to see or download the backed up pics. This is what my drive looks like if I click on the Google photos button on the left sidebar: https://imgur.com/wh9ONt5

I keep my RAW images on OneDrive for backup and use Google Photos with the free version / high quality version. I find Google Photos's client really good as a gallery on Android, (OneDrive is really slow). So when I show people my photos I use Google Photos but the originals are on OneDrive.

The stock gallery app in my phone runs circles around the Google photos app in speed. Also, editing pics in Google photos app is a clunky, hit-or-miss affair.

That is the best suggestion.

Just enabled it on my domain, will try tomorrow.

I am not sure it's the same, as far as I was aware Google photos never deletes the local copy.

On the phone, "freeup device storage" is an option that is prompted (and sounds like a wonderful idea)... whereby the phone copy is purged if the original file has already been "backed up" to Google.

It isn't possible to restore the backup.

...And which gives you a modal warning box that starts "Heads up! This will delete n original photos and videos from your device". And will only proceed if you click an all-caps confirmation button labelled "DELETE".[0]

That's hardly comparable to Apple deleting things automatically, silently, with neither warning nor confirmation.

[0] http://www.androidpolice.com/wp-content/themes/ap2/ap_resize...

Even with the warning, people assume that backup means they aren't losing anything, and can get back the original pics whenever they like. In fact, image data is being lost here. You can never get back your original photos, only highly compressed smaller sized JPGs that will look OK on a mobile screen.

There is an option when you turn on Google photo to backup "High Quality" (Unlimited) or "Original" (with limited capacity, I think it uses Google Drive capacity but am not sure)

.. Unless you choose exactly that option when presented at install time. So people may regret getting exactly the behavior that they chose?

You can choose whether to backup converted photos or originals.

OK get you, I personally don't mind that sort of thing if I am explicitly asked but I see what you are saying.

But it is an Apple issue. Whether Google does something comparable is no justification and does not make Apple any better.

And no, Google is not doing something similar.

I didn't read it as the GP justifying Apple's behaviour, he was just warning people that Google does something similar ("I thankfully have a local backup of the photos I took").

You see comments like "Y does something bad too" on a story about X very frequently. May not be meant as a justification, but I think they are often distracting from the actual topic. If you went through the Terms of Service of similar services, you can probably find countless upsetting examples. So what is the conclusion? Let's just take it as it is, because everyone is doing it or abandon all services instead?

The latter, yes.




Select all (click first, hold shift, click last)

Click download icon on top

Enjoy zip archive of all photos

Can you not just download all the photos through google drive in bulk?

I looked, whilst photos appears as a folder in drive, there is no option to "download all", and it would require me to load them into the browser view, select them, and then choose to download them.

For reference, I have 125GB of photos since 1994 in there... it would take a very long time to select them all.

I can right click my Google Photos folder and download the whole thing as a zip, just tested it and it works fine.

You can use google takeout to download a zip archive of literally all your photos.

You can install Google Drive Desktop and sync them to your computer all at once.

Could you use the Google Drive program and then sync that folder to your local machine?

I use Linux: https://www.google.co.uk/drive/download/

There is no client.

The lack of a Linux client really really pisses me off.

you can use google takeout https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout

Any UI that is not honest with users is a bad thing. I use this service and I know that my original is no longer there when I allow Google to delete my local files but maybe i'm the exception. I will add that it depends on your perspective as to how you see this. You can look at how easy Google makes it to take photos on your phone and then have them all backed up and available with a click of a button. And in addition you can look at how hard it used to be to do anything like that (my grandparents never had photos when they lived in Italy because the town they lived in didn't have any photographers). If you see it through that lens then it's awesome.

Thanks, I didn't know about google photo's no restore issue, I'm going to check! But I recall there's a setting somewhere in the app that lets you choose if you want to delete photos from your device or not after they're backed up, but maybe I'm wrong. I'll check this evening and let you know.

I've just checked and actually you can choose if delete them or not.

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