Help File help: Syncing an Android phone with iTunes
All of my recent reviews of phones running Google's Android software have had to include one yes-but line, words to the effect of: Yes, this is a smart little device, but you can't sync it to an iTunes music library.
That's as much Apple's fault as it is Google's or individual phone manufacturers'. Although Apple once supported some non-iPod players in iTunes, it now goes out of its way to stop other devices from connecting to its music program. But Google and such device vendors
as Motorola haven't shipped extra software to bridge this gap either. (Update: Motorola does offer a free, Windows-only sync program called MediaLink but doesn't exactly advertise its existence. See my comment below for a quick review.)
That leaves users on their own, and I'd like to provide some assistance in a future Help File column. Assuming you want to synchronize a randomly chosen set of songs to the device (which I see as a necessity if your music library exceeds your phone's storage), I see three basic options:
* An iTunes plug-in of some sort -- for instance, the free, Windows-only iTunes Agent -- that coaxes iTunes into syncing with an Android phone as if it were an iPod. (Upside: No need to learn any new music programs. Possible downsides: This might be a Windows- or Mac-only solution, and any iTunes update could break this kind of software.)
* A separate program to supplement or replace iTunes, such as the free Songbird or the still-in-beta DoubleTwist, both available for Windows and Mac OS X. Microsoft's Windows Media Player could be another option, although older versions can't play AAC music files. (This probably can't be broken by an iTunes update, but people have to remember to switch programs for each sync or dump iTunes permanently. ... I know some people who will consider that last point a desirable feature.)
* Setting up some sort of script to automate copying a given iTunes playlist to an Android device, as outlined in this post on an Android users' forum. (This, too, should be unaffected by any iTunes updates, but it might also be Mac-specific -- there's no Windows equivalent to Apple's crafty Automator script-writing tool -- and would also require running a separate application at each sync.)
So this question goes out to Android users: Which of these options have you used? Which would you recommend, especially to a non-technical user? Is there another way to do this that you'd suggest?
November 19, 2009; 11:46 AM ET
Categories: Gadgets , Music , Tips
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