doubleTwist is brought to you by the same guy who broke the copy protection on DVD’s way back in the 90’s, and allows you to sync your iTunes library, purchased songs included, to a host of mobile devices and MP3 players. After grabbing quite a bit of media attention since its original release for Mac OS X in February 2008, a Windows version has been released and recently updated, and allowing access to the Amazon MP3 music store. So what’s the fuss about? I finally gave into temptation and took a look for myself, and I’ve quite liked what I’ve seen so far…
When you open doubleTwist for the first time, you’re prompted to log in or create an account. After going to a confirmation link sent to the e-mail address you registered with, you can log in to your account. It’s worth noting that you only have to do this once – you don’t have to log in every time you want to listen to a track or sync your device.
The first thing I noticed after logging in was the fact that I didn’t have to specify the location of my music, or direct doubleTwist to anything! All my music, all my photos, all my podcasts and all my movies were right there waiting for me, ready to play or sync, including the few songs that I’ve purchased from the iTunes store. My library isn’t the best example, because I don’t purchase a lot of songs from the iTunes store, but according to various sources it takes about half an hour to convert 100 songs, which isn’t too bad. To strip the songs of copy protection, doubleTwist plays them back at high speed, and re-records the track, similar to how a CD is ripped.
If you miss the convenience of the iTunes store, the new version just released last week allows you to buy songs directly from the Amazon music store. This is currently a US only feature, but the release notes said that you can expect the feature in the UK, France and Germany soon.
One very cool feature of doubleTwist is the ability to send media from your library to your friends with a few clicks. After selecting the media you want to send, be it photos, videos or music, select who you want to send it to from your address book or your friend feed in doubleTwist and it sends it with no hassle, whether you’re sending a song you bought off iTunes (which the friend hasn’t?) or anywhere from your hard drive. Is this mass file sharing? No. Will it annoy music companies around the world? Most definitely…
As much as I like the unique features of doubleTwist, it still doesn’t feel like a finished product when I’m using it. I find my music quite awkward to navigate around with less viewing options than iTunes, so is it worth sacrificing iTunes so that I can sync my music library with any device and send my media to any friend if it means having to use a piece of software that doesn’t feel ‘polished’ like iTunes does? For me it probably isn’t. I own several iPods, actually like how iTunes manages my media and don’t buy music from Apple anyway. I like the idea of doubleTwist, but the execution needs some work to make it more user-friendly and be a better iTunes alternative like Songbird. Maybe I’ll like it more a few updates down the line, but for now, I’m quite happy with my iTunes collection.
Testing was carried out on Mac OS X 10.6.1, using doubleTwist v1.0b9