The Worst Bug In The World

At least, when you’re crammed into a subway car with 4,000 other people trying to ignore the smell of farts.

We’re at a point where getting people to move huge chunks — if not most — of the media they consume to the cloud, or some kind of synced / cloud hybrid thing, actually makes sense: Netflix, Kindle, Spotify, etc.

So basically my entire music collection — at least the part of it that I actually listen to — resides on Rdio now. I love Rdio, for a lot of reasons, and I haven’t synced new music through iTunes since Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues.

But it has one occasionally show-stopping bug, particularly since it seems to happen to me right before I jump on a plane or the subway or anywhere else cell signals dare not venture: The Rdio app pretends I haven’t synced any songs to play offline, even though I’ve in fact synced hundreds of them. They just — poof. And then I don’t have any music to listen to, just the sounds of people rustling, squeaking, swaying, farting. And what if I was going somewhere and wouldn’t have internet access for a month? I do not know where that is because I would not go there, but what iffffffffff. And it’s not just an Rdio problem, apparently.

In Rdio’s case, This sudden music death was a more frequent problem with an older version of the app, which stored synced music to a directory that could be subject to “cleaning” by iOS, erasing all of your music. But that supposedly hasn’t been the case since an Rdio app update in December, which stores the music files in a directory that won’t be nuked by iOS cleaning. And even if it is Apple’s fault, it doesn’t matter, in a sense: Rdio and similar apps promise me (and every other user) that offline music syncing will work and be reliable. So it’s on them to make it work, or they shouldn’t offer the feature.

It’s a lot harder to make the case that people should move their media lives to a cloud-y service when that service can’t guarantee that it’ll be just as reliable as local storage, or at least very close to it, where the margin of difference is small enough that every other benefit of the cloud service makes that reliability trade off worth it. It’s close enough in Rdio, but every time this happens I feel like the margin shrinks, just a little bit.

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