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Apple and Losing Old Friends

Some of us have been extremely close to Apple. Not so much being acquainted with the people there, although some of us are. It’s about being loyal to Apple gear for a number of years. I can tell you that it hasn’t always been a cake walk. For years, I was regarded as the odd man out, the fellow who refused to get with the program and use Windows as everyone else did.

While I did own a Windows PC for a very short period of time in the mid-1990s, I found that I rarely used it and eventually sold it off. I also reviewed Windows computers from time to time for various publications, but I knew that, after a few weeks, I could send them back.

And return to my Mac.

But Apple doesn’t always make it easy for users of their products. They often do foolish things, and not just in the old days but in the era of the “second coming” after Steve Jobs returned to the company. One of the biggest problems remains online services. Anything related to iCloud, such as mail and synced content, may suddenly become unavailable or get messed up somehow.

Since Apple Music arrived, some subscribers have complained about corrupted iTunes libraries. Tracks would be missing, duplicated, or mislabeled. DRM would be applied even to music you owned free and clear. It got downright confusing, and all you wanted to do was take advantage of a 90-day free trial and see if you really wanted to rent music.

While I haven’t seen any evidence of file corruption on my own equipment, I am not enamored of the flaky manner in which it handles the “For You” listings that are supposedly tailored to my musical tastes. Even though I frequently specify, in Music for iOS, that I do not like an album, it remains in the list. I religiously select the artists I don’t like, using Music’s “I Don’t Like This Suggestion” feature, and they are still there. I also wonder why iTunes still lacks that feature, but it doesn’t matter if it has no impact.

I assume things will get better, and file corruption issues may be resolved or fixed, but it may be too late for some people.

Take Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, a professional musician and veteran tech journalist who has covered Apple since the 1990s. His work background includes a stint at Macworld, and he is well connected. Clearly he has sources within Apple that sometimes feed him exclusives, witness the fact that he will occasionally predict, accurately, whether or not a certain rumored product will actually appear. A terse “nope” is sufficient to confirm the rumor is unfounded, and he’s always right.

Jim is also realistic about is praise and criticisms when it comes to Apple. He doesn’t have blinders, so when something upsets him, you can bet he won’t hold back.

So when Jim complains that “Apple Music is a nightmare and I’m done with it,” you know that he’s really upset. It’s not about a few glitches, but significant deal breakers, and Apple surely has some explaining to do.

In his article on The Loop, Jim disclosed a litany of problems with Apple Music, but one particular incident was clearly one of the straws that broke that camel’s back:

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

Now Jim isn’t blameless. He should have had a full backup of his music, so he’d be protected if something went wrong. I just wonder why he didn’t have a drive with Time Machine at hand, so he’d be able to restore his iTunes library to the condition it was in before installing Apple Music. But he admits that, “I also failed by not backing up my library before installing Apple Music.”

Regardless, that problem and the others detailed in Jim’s article were entirely unnecessary. It appears that Apple Music isn’t as kind in situations where a music library is extremely large. Apple needs to do something to help customers recover their lost music, if possible, and to repair broken databases.

As for me, I’m sticking with Apple Music for now. I do keep multiple backups of my stuff, and I recommend that, if you wish to give the service a try, make sure you can revert to your old music library if things turn bad. I would also hope that Apple is working hard on the problem and solutions will soon be at hand.

I’d also be interested to see how Apple responds to the bad news from someone who was, for years, on their side. I very much suspect it’s a case of all hands on deck to see what can be done.