Airbind iTunes sync for Android would be great if it really worked

by Marty Gabel

Airbind is a free Android app that enables users to wirelessly sync their iTunes media library to any Android device over Wi-Fi. Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been other apps in the Android Market that perform a similar task, but we thought we’d give Airbind a shot and see how it compares.

There are many music lovers (myself included) who still use a Mac and iTunes but also have an Android smartphone. It’s never been as straightforward syncing your music collection to your Android devices as it is to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, but Airbind claims to make it easier.

You download and install the program for your Mac or PC from the Airbind website, then you install the app from the Google Play store. Once your computer and smartphone/tablet are visible to one another on the same Wi-Fi network it starts syncing. Before long, there is music on the SD card or internal storage of your device. Or, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

One size does not fit all

See, first off, there’s no flexibility here. It starts syncing your entire library, and if you have 20,000+ songs like me taking up 100GB on your computer, that ain’t all gonna fit onto your SD card. The app developers claim that a way to selectively specific playlists was added in a recent update, but I couldn’t see that option. Other apps like AirSync by DoubleTwist ($4.99) and iSyncr for PC and iSyncr for Mac (both $2.99) allow you to select individual playlists so you can upload just a selection of tracks and not run out of space. Sure, they run you a bit of cash and aren’t free like Airbind, but frankly, they work better. I’m betting there are even some decent free syncing apps in the Google Play Store that do a better job, too (feel free to mention them in the comments below).

More importantly though, I couldn’t get the darn thing to work. I followed the instructions to the letter, but my Droid Incredible did not fill with songs as expected. Also, the app on my MacBook Pro (running Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8) doesn’t offer any indication the app is syncing. It’s sluggish to react to clicks and gave me a Java error. Subsequent times, I opened the app on my smartphone and didn’t have the app open on my MacBook. Airbind didn’t even tell me to open Airbind on my host computer. Sorry, both apps seems fundamentally broken, and with no support on the company’s website, it just seemed easier to use one of the well-respected, proven apps above, or get with modern times and use a cloud service like Amazon MP3 or Google Play Music. I’m sure I could have spent some time figuring out how to get it to run properly, but apparently I’m not the only one – reviews in the Google Play store have been overwhelmingly negative so far.

So Airbind has potential, that’s for sure. But right now it’s fundamentally flawed which is a shame. To add insult to injury, the app description says it’s not even compatible with Google’s flagship ICS-running Galaxy Nexus smartphone. But fear not, you’re not missing out. Though Airbind apparently does what it sets out to do for some people, its lack of flexibility is a bit of a pain, unless you keep a very small collection of music in your iTunes library.

That’s if you can even get it to work.