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Can an iPhone (all current models) please be used without having to install iTunes on my home PC?

Would I need to have my local Apple store activate it for me?

What functionality (if any) would I lose by not having my own copy of iTunes?
(Such as; download music, install apps, OS security updates, subscribe to and download podcasts, update the sat-nav maps, backup files stored on the phone, etc)

If I would lose any functionality without iTunes, would joining iCloud effectively replace iTunes? If so, what limitations (if any) would I experience?

(I've seen contradictory answers to all these questions over the web and I hope a definative answer can be pinned down.)

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6 Answers 6

Current iOS devices running iOS 5 (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad) are capable of being standalone devices. You do not need a computer to use them.

The term "iTunes" can refer to two things...

The iTunes application, which you seem to take issue with, and the iTunes store, where you buy apps, music, movies, etc..

You do not need iTunes (the application), but you will find it difficult to avoid using iTunes (the store).

iTunes (the application), makes it possible to use iTunes (the store) on your computer. This can provide some convenience, but is not necessary.

As long as an iOS device can connect to the Internet, you can activate it without a computer or iTunes (the application).

iCloud provides several features. None of them really replace iTunes (application or store).

  • iTunes in the Cloud: You can let Apple store the music you've purchased from iTunes (the store) on their servers and download them on demand (actually, they just store references to which songs you own, they already have all the files stored for iTunes (the store)). If you sign up for iTunes Match, they'll also store references to your music that is in your iTunes (application) library but wasn't purchased from Apple. They'll also upload and store your music that they do not have in the iTunes store (within limits).
  • Photo Stream: Syncs your photos across all of your devices. Additional features apply to users of iPhoto or Aperture.
  • Documents in the Cloud: store your docs on Apple's servers, access & sync them between devices (requires apps that have been written to take advantage of this feature).
  • Backups: Back up your device's data to the cloud
  • Sync Apps & Books: Apps and Books purchased through iTunes (store) and the iBookstore (an extension of the iTunes store) can be synced to multiple devices.
  • Sync calendar, mail, and contact data. Comes with an @me.com email account.
  • Find my Friends and Find my iPhone: lets you GPS-stalk your friends and family and track your phone if you lose it. Find my Friends can be useful at big gatherings, and it can be toggled on and off at will in case you don't want your mom to know you're hanging out in the seedy part of town.

I hope this is helpful.

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Not in any supported way. There are some third party tools that can move files to and from an iPhone/iPod/iPad, but I haven't used them. –  Miles Leacy Jan 15 '12 at 11:15
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With iOS 5 and iCloud, iPhones are now PC free. While it is beneficial to have iTunes, iCloud and iOS 5 are able to handle downloading music, installing apps, OS updates, podcasts, and backing up/restoring. Check out the page on Apple's website for a full feature list.

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Do you know if it's possible to put your existing (non-Apple Store) music on an iPhone without iTunes now? I was under the impression it's not, but haven't tried in a while. –  Danny Tuppeny Jan 14 '12 at 12:30
    
There is no supported way to do this that I'm aware of. The only option I can think of to do it without iTunes still requires a computer, and it would be using Audiogalaxy to stream the content over the internet. Other than that, I'm not aware of any way to sync music that was not purchased through iTunes. –  Matt Love Jan 14 '12 at 18:11
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Most definitely!

Depending on whether you are using Verizon or AT&T. You can activate your phone by going to their store or sometimes you are able to call ( I know Verizon is *228). You really shouldn't lose much functionality. Although Apple stuff plays better with Apple stuff.

If you really want to pin the answer down, it might be a good question for an employee at an Apple store. They are normally helpful and answer your questions honestly.

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You seem to have missed out iCloud?? –  Jonathan. Jan 13 '12 at 22:48
    
Do you know if it's possible to put your existing (non-Apple Store) music on an iPhone without iTunes now? I was under the impression it's not, but haven't tried in a while. –  Danny Tuppeny Jan 14 '12 at 12:31
    
Yep! the link in my post has 6 ways to sync and there is always imTOO's Products that Allow you to transfer music and other stuff –  Chillie Jan 16 '12 at 13:16
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I just set up a new iPod Touch running iOS 5. The setup process on the iPod Touch either requires connecting to a wi-fi network, or connecting the iPod Touch to iTunes via the usb cable. It wasn't possible for me to connect to a wi-fi network at setup time, so I had to use iTunes.

I haven't set up a new iPhone running iOS 5 yet, but the iPhone has the cell network in addition to wi-fi. Hopefully someone else explains how this works if you are activating new service or migrating from another phone.

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On music not purchased in the iTunes store:

I have been looking (am looking) for ways to load music (not purchased in the iTunes store) via wifi onto my iphone. Apparently the preinstalled ipod app can only be loaded via means sanctioned by Apple (iTunes app or iTunes match).

So the only way of doing this is to drop the ipod app and replace it with an third party media player. However all players I found so far lack some of the ipod app features. Here are two ways to do this:

  • Dropbox. You can put music into your dropbox folder on your PC. The dropbox app on the iPhone features a simple media player which can playback mp3. No playlists, artist view or album view though. Costs money if you exceed the free storage limit

  • There are several download manager apps in the app store, again with a built-in media player, for example "Downloads" or "Fusic". This requires a web server to access your mp3 library. Mine is on a Linux box with an Apache running, with the mp3 collection mounted and showing the file system contents. No artist view or album view, only a flat list. Single song downloads only, if you want a full album you must load all tracks independently.

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Yes, you can use Digidna. You can use your iPod as mass storage device. Now, copy the app into the directory and all done. Check this : http://www.infozub.com/2013/12/Digidna-Diskaid-Free-download-including-Features.html

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