May 18, 2016 Last Updated 11:48 am

Apple sends out engineers on house call; can Apple Music be fixed?

Blog post and less than satisfying customer service experience leads to a visit from two Apple engineers looking to find bug in iTunes

With CEO Tim Cook out on a goodwill tour in Asia, trying to reopen some markets in China and courting the Indian developer community, Apple is also trying to dampen down criticism of its iTunes program, recently releasing an update that messes around with its look again.

iTunes-app-updatesIt also startled the tech community when it sent out two engineers to James Pinkstone’s home to try and figure out why he had lost his music collection. Apple as the Maytag repair man, who would have guesses.

The saga begins, as they often do, with Pinkstone writing a blog post about his experience with Apple support when he lost his music collection inside iTunes.

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber.
“Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?”
“Yes,” she replied.

The original post, plus the follow-up about the in-home visit from two Apple engineers, Tom and Ezra, make for fascinating reading.

It was nice to read that Pinkstone’s experience with the Apple engineers was a good one. One reason may be that it didn’t involved the Apple press team. Had it, you might have read differently. When TNM discovered a bug in iBooks Author – or rather, a TNM reader did – I also was contacted by an Apple software person who was very curious as to what I was seeing, and was eager to fix the issue (he did, and an update was soon issued). But Apple’s press team was most unhappy that a website publisher should have heard directly from the company and expressed their disappointment.That the discussion involved trying to solve a problem being faced by customers was not a reason to let down their iron curtain, even for a moment.

Apple has been getting grief from users about iTunes for a while, but its Apple Music experience has been just as bad, if not worse. Om Malik, who was the founder of GigaOm, authored a critique of the streaming service for The New Yorker. Malik laments the fact that the software that is meant to do so much, fails so miserably to do what it is meant to do – provide a pleasurable music experience.

Apple promises a streamline Apple Music next month, and what we might see is the company deciding to break-up its app into smaller pieces so that the Music app doesn’t have to do it all, when all we really want is an easy way to listen to our music libraries (and not have them deleted if we sign up for an Apple service).

But I think what really needs to happen is for Apple to lighten up on its total control of our devices. The best ideas are coming from outside of Apple, so let that happen, allow developers and users to customize the experience, customize the look and feel of our iPhones. In a word, set us free.

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