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Palm Pre syncs with Apple's iTunes

The Palm Pre lets you manage its music with Apple's iTunes, without any hacks on the user's part. But it's not the first time we've heard of this happening

Palm's executive chairman is Jon Rubinstein, once head of hardware engineering at Apple. And it just so happens that the Palm Pre -- his currently gestating baby boy -- knows exactly how to sync with iTunes, and the code that tricks iTunes into thinking the phone is an iPod is built right into its firmware. No user hacks, no extra software needed.

Apple won't be pleased. At the All Things Digital D7 conference this week, Rubinstein demonstrated the iTunes syncing ability on stage with the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg. Walt asked how he thought Apple would feel about Palm using iTunes, to which Rubinstein claimed Apple is "practically a monopolist" and that people should be able to use music they pay for in any way they like.

Fair enough. They can do that easily, however, by dragging and dropping their DRM-free music from anywhere on their computer to any supported device. Palm doesn't need to use iTunes at all, and Rubinstein's claim, while admirable in its fair-use sentiments, is flawed for this reason.

Incidentally, your efforts will be scuppered if you try and sync the legacy DRMed iTunes music downloads, because the Pre can't break Apple's DRM. Upgrading these files to iTunes Plus is essential, although any music bought from now on should work fine.

It's not the first time MP3 players have worked with iTunes. You may not have heard of them, but Oakley's Thump Pro sunglasses, from all the way back in 2005, allowed you to manage their musical content with Apple's software. There has also been numerous ways to hack iTunes to work with non-Apple MP3 players.

We contacted Apple for a comment, but it has yet to respond.

For a very brief look at the Pre showing up in iTunes, check out the All Things D video (the iTunes section starts 6 minutes in).