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Apple ends Palm Pre's iTunes charade

'Falsely pretending' devices disabled

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Updated Apple released an update to its iTunes music-management app on Wednesday that prevents Palm's Pre smartphone from appearing to be an iPod when connected to a Mac or PC.

An Apple spokesman told The Reg that "iTunes 8.2.1 is a free software update that provides a number of important bug fixes. It also disables devices falsely pretending to be iPods, including the Palm Pre."

He added that "As we've said before, newer versions of iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with unsupported digital media players."

Palm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Falsely pretending" may sound a bit harsh, but it's accurate. When you plug a Pre into your Mac or PC running a version of iTunes earlier than 8.2.1, it communicates with iTunes exactly as if it were an iPod - even to the point of an iPod graphic appearing in the iTunes Summary tab.

Without access through iTunes, loading music onto the Pre is still a simple matter - you merely connect your Pre to your computer as a USB drive, drag your tunes onto it, and the Pre's Music app finds them and displays them in its listing, ready for playback.

Nevertheless, disabling iTunes support does strike a blow against the Pre's ease-of-use, especially for unsophisticated users for whom connecting a USB drive is akin to rocket science.

It was never clear whether the Pre's access to iTunes was worked out in an agreement between Palm and Apple. Now it appears that Palm was acting on its own.

And Apple has chosen not to reward their resourcefulness. ®

Update

A Palm spokeswoman has provided us with the following comment: "Palm's media sync works with iTunes 8.2. If Apple chooses to disable media sync in iTunes, it will be a direct blow to users who will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience. However, people will have options. They can stay with the iTunes version that works to sync their music on their Pre, they can transfer the music via USB, and there are other third-party applications we can consider."

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