As more and more of our data moves to Apple’s iCloud and other server-based services, it’s hard to believe that just a few years ago we relied solely on iTunes to keep our devices up-to-date with our content libraries. Even though iTunes’ role in managing iOS devices has diminished, Apple hasn’t completely abandoned syncing. Here’s a guide to doing it right.
Do you need to use iTunes if you already use iCloud?
When you first sync your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with iTunes, you must physically connect it to your computer via USB. (After you’ve synced for the first time, you can also enable Wi-Fi sync, which lets you connect to iTunes via Wi-Fi only.) Depending on what categories you select to sync, you can then load music, movies, apps, TV shows, ringtones, podcasts, books, and photos onto your device from your Mac. These might be ebooks you’ve bought on Amazon or music you’ve ripped yourself, in addition to any iTunes-purchased content.
In contrast, iCloud syncs only contentyou’vepurchased from iTunes and apps and app data from the App Store. iCloud lets you re-download, over the air, your purchased music, movies, apps, TV shows, ringtones, podcasts, and books from the iTunes or App Store. (If you subscribe to iCloud’s $25 per year iTunes Match service, you’ll also be able to sync up to 25,000 songs you own but that aren’t on the iTunes Store.) All other content that you’ve purchased or ripped elsewhere won’t be synced via iCloud, nor can Apple’s cloud service sync with your iPhoto or Aperture library.
If you have no content on your computer that you want to keep on your iOS device, you may not need to use iTunes at all. The majority of folks, however, will likely want content from both iCloud and their computer, and in that case they’ll need to use iTunes.