Palm confirms that iTunes update kills Pre sync

iTunes 8.2.1 update sends Pre users scrambling for alternatives

Palm confirmed late today that Pre owners can no longer use Apple's iTunes to sync their smartphones to Macs or PCs.

Apple updated iTunes to Version 8.2.1 today, and in its usual cryptic style, said that the new version "provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices."

Pre users quickly began reporting on Palm's support forum that the reference to "verification of Apple devices" meant iTunes syncing was broken.

Some, however, blamed Palm more than Apple. "You can't really expect to use another companies [sic] software through a hack like this. Passing it along to users as a 'feature' is pretty shady," said a user identified only as "jsz0" on a thread dedicated to the sync break. "Palm decided to advertise this hack as a feature and now it doesn't work. That's on Palm, not Apple."

Another user objected to the thread being marked as "solved" by Palm. "Functionality that is to exist no longer works, without work-arounds," said "Hellweek" on Wednesday afternoon. "This is not solving it, solving it would be Palm working with Apple to allow syncing without downgrading or using two bits of software, or some other third-party application."

When Palm unveiled the Pre in early June, it told users they could sync music, photos and videos via iTunes, a method it claimed was "very easy and elegant." Until iTunes 8.2.1, Apple's software would identify a Palm Pre as an iPod.

The solutions offered in the support thread today included not updating iTunes, rolling back iTunes to the previous version or using the "doubleTwist" software. Previously, Palm had also said Pre users could sync by directly connecting the smartphone to a desktop with a cable.

Last month, Apple threatened to flip the kill switch on Pre syncing, saying iTunes doesn't support non-Apple hardware and warned that "because software changes over time, newer versions of Apple's iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players."

Some Pre users took the threat in stride.

"I guess it's not a total surprise, given Apple's propensity to keep their world more closed than other vendors," Pre owner Richard Rosmarin told Computerworld in June.

Also last month, Palm laid out the choices Pre users would have if Apple did kill Pre sync. "[Users] can always stay with the current version of iTunes and continue to sync their music," a spokesman said at the time.

"The Pre also ships with a second option for transferring music and other media content to the device & and there are third-party applications we could consider, too."

The spokesman, who confirmed that iTunes 8.2.1 broke syncing, declined to add any other recommendations for Pre users stymied by the update.

Apple last updated iTunes on June 1, when it patched a critical security vulnerability and prepped the software for iPhone 3.0.

That version, 8.2, can be downloaded from an archive of out-of-date software, reported one of the Pre users who posted to the Palm support forum.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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