Apple Engineers make a House Call for iTunes Bug

| News

The guy that got the interent in a tizzy over iTunes deleting his personal music library has a follow up: Apple's engineers paid him a personal visit to troubleshoot the problem. What they discovered was the lost music wasn't user error, there's a hard to track bug in iTunes, and Amber, the phone support representative he originally spoke with didn't know what she was talking about.

iTunes Music Bug Victim gets Personal Visit from AppleiTunes Music Bug Victim gets Personal Visit from Apple


James Pinkstone blogged a week or so ago about how his personal iTunes music library was wiped away by Apple Music, and his Apple support call led him to believe that was simply how the streaming music service worked. Sign up, and Apple Music blasts away your library, forcing you to pay monthly to listen to the songs you owned only moments before. That's a pretty crappy business model, and is exactly not how Apple Music works.

The problem is that in some cases, however, that's just what happens: User's personal libraries, or at least parts of those libraries, are arbitrarily deleted. It's frustrating for users because they lose music they own, and it's frustrating for Apple because the problem happens rarely and the cause is eluding their engineers. It doesn't help that Amber told Mr. Pinkstone that's what Apple Music is supposed to do, and that's why she doesn't use the service.

Apple's two man team spent a couple days working with Mr. Pinkstone and his Mac in hopes of replicating the bug. They didn't succeed, but they do have more information to work with as they hunt for the real cause. In the mean time, Apple is adding new safeguards to help prevent the mystery bug from wiping out music libraries.

You could say this is a publicity move on Apple's part, which is possible, but I don't think that's the case. An easier publicity move would've been to give Mr. Pinkstone gobs of iTunes Store credits so he could rebuild his library. Instead, Apple flew two engineers across the country to personally work with him and try to replicate the bug. Apple wanted real data they could use to fix the problem—an esoteric bug that only few people are experiencing.

When the Apple-Music-killed-my-iTunes-library hit the Web I assumed the problem was a crappy and confusing iTunes interface that led to user error and lost songs. What I'm sure of now is that Apple is serious about stopping this bug from deleting any more music, and Amber's next employee evaluation won't go so well.

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After several bad experiences (.Mac; MobileMe; iWeb; iOS iPhoto Journals) I now minimise my use of Apple’s cloud-based services.  Ultimately features, functions and even entire apps are discontinued or replaced by something new in the hope of surprising and delighting customers. Am I alone in being more surprised than delighted?

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