Rhythmbox & iPhone sync - Improving


Updated: January 6, 2016

If you remember, roughly a year ago, I complained about Rhythmbox being useless and dangerous when it comes to syncing music on and off smartphones. Back then, I tested with my Lumia and an older S4 device, and in both cases, the media player did an awfully awful job. Fast forward a bunch of time.

Recently, during my Zorin OS 10 test, I was pleasantly surprised to notice the media player showing my gadgets more love. Most notably, iPhone, which is well known for being notorious when it comes to anything non-Apple. So here's a more detailed report.

Teaser

What gives?

Anyhow, the player properly detected the iPhone. Good. But even more importantly, it actually let me sync content onto it. Golly O'Blimey, do my eyes deceive me, is this the real life, is this just fantasy?

Anyhow, to elaborate a little more, I don't have any musical content on the iPhone 6, for the simple reason that I have not found a simple, reliable way to actually copy music onto it, and I refuse to use any monetary means to purchase music on this device. Which means that until now, without resorting to iTunes, and we shall discuss that separately, I could not really sync my personal music onto the phone.

iPhone, empty, no music files

When you can't really lose anything, why not try something new? Indeed, after adding music to my local library, I had the option to sync it to the phone - the right most button in the right pane view. Click, and voila! Job done. The files were synced onto the phone, and I was able to play them. Unmount, mount, consistent results. Lovely jubbly.

Music synced

Playing music from iPhone

Checking on the iPhone itself, the things were not so bright. I could not locate the three files in any way, although they do show in the complex filesystem structure that iPhone presented when mounted. Inside several individual sub-directories, the MP3 files were neatly tucked, waiting to be plucked and sang. However, the phone's resident software, namely iTunes and Music could not find them. It would appear that my music quest on the iPhone was simply not meant to be. But on the Rhythmbox side, we have some improvement.

Still not stellar, and the sync remains unidirectional and quite dangerous. You could end up losing files. But there were fewer crashes and hiccups and glitches. None with the iPhone, some with other smartphone models. Overall though, it seems that Rhythmbox might become a useful piece of software after all. At the very least, there's acknowledgment that people may try to play music any which way, and aiding them in that holy task seems like the right course of action.

Conclusion

So far, I've gone from hating Rhythmbox's useless sync to finding it moderately passable under some circumstances. I am very mildly impressed that it managed to cooperate with the iPhone without committing seppuku. The absence of horrible errors is also rather pleasing. Small wins, Dr. Watson, small wins.

The journey is still long, and we will probably never see a fully functional, seamless integration between Apple's proprietary software and various Linux distributions, but any progress helps. Furthermore, for Rhythmbox to really become a de-facto media player for all and any consumer of media-capable gadgets, it has to exercise lots of additional tricks and gimmicks and safety features, including backup and restore, sync trial and error, ability to copy files in both directions, on to and off mounted devices, on-the-fly file format conversion, tagging, hi-def art, and such like. Today's experiment gives me hope. A tiny tiny sliver. But that's all I need to brighten up my day. See you around.

Cheers.

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