Speculation: how will Apple fix the iTunes mess?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by blackboxxx, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. blackboxxx macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2008
    There has been a lot of discussion about the mess that is iTunes. Almost everybody seems to agree that it's ugly, slow and bloated. It has also become a kitchen sink of barely related features due to necessity of supporting multiple generations of iPods and iOS devices.

    Many people also noted that the need to support iTunes on Windows makes it hard for Apple to redesign the application from scratch, in effect holding back the Mac version.

    In effect, iTunes is one of the last artifacts of Apple's "digital hub" strategy that has no place in the post-iCloud world.

    So what follows is my observation of recent Apple's actions and my speculation on what the future of iTunes will likely be.

    Exhibit A: QuickTime Player. Since version 10 that was included in Snow Leopard there were several peculiarities about it:
    • Its UI is greatly simplified and heavily influenced by iOS;
    • It drops a lot of features in the name of simplicity;
    • It is now a built-in app and no longer available as a separate download;
    • There is no Windows version;
    • Version 7.7 is still available for Windows, Leopard or for anyone who needs features not provided by 10.0+.

    Exhibit B: Airport Utility. Version 6.0 was released not so long ago and there are several peculiarities about it:
    • Its UI is greatly simplified and heavily influenced by iOS;
    • It drops some features in the name of simplicity;
    • It requires Lion or later;
    • There's no Windows version;
    • Version 5.5 is still available for Windows, Snow Leopard or for anyone who needs features not provided by 6.0.

    Exhibit C: Safari. Version 6.0 was released just a few days ago and you'll immediately recognize a pattern here:
    • Its UI is simplified and in several ways influenced by iOS;
    • It drops some features in the name of simplicity;
    • It requires Lion or later;
    • There's no Windows version;
    • Version 5.1.7 is still available for Windows and Snow Leopard.

    So I think that around October (at the time of iOS 6 release) we'll see a new version of iTunes (11 or whatever it will be called) with the following characteristics:
    • Its UI will be greatly simplified and heavily influenced by iOS;
    • It will drop a lot of features (including device syncing and CD ripping) in the name of simplicity;
    • It will require Mountain Lion (or Lion at least);
    • There will be no Windows version;
    • Version 10.6.3 will still be available for Windows, Snow Leopard or for anyone who still wants to sync their devices manually or rip CDs.

    So essentially my guess is that iTunes 11 will be just a media player with integrated store. Consistent with Steve Jobs' announcement that they demoted the Mac from the "digital hub" role to "just another device", it will simply become an iCloud client.
    Syncing media will still be supported for a while (using iTunes 10.6.3 or 10.6.4 if there'll be a bugfix release), but it will be de-emphasized and iCloud with iTunes Match will be the "new way" going forward.

    Of course, all this raises a number of questions. For example, how would you restore an iOS device? Will you still have access to the whole iTunes store, including iOS apps, or will you be limited to just music and video? Is it perhaps too early to drop local syncing completely, and there'll be a small app just for that purpose (iSync anyone?)?
  2. Bernard SG macrumors 65816

    Bernard SG

    Jul 3, 2010
    I do not agree.
    iTunes (at least on the Mac) works fine and smooth.
    I don't mean that no change is required but I don't see the need for anything radical happening on that front.
  3. macquariumguy macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2002
    Sarasota FL
    I don't agree. iTunes does the job nicely for me.

    Nearly everyone I hear complain about iTunes is a Windows user.
  4. MonkeySee.... macrumors 68040


    Sep 24, 2010
    I also agree. iTunes works well for me.
    As long as I can HomeShare i'll be happy with what ever they come up with.
  5. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000


    Aug 7, 2011
    Liverpool, UK
    This is the key! I use iTunes both on a Mac (at home) and on a PC (at work, not my choice). At home it works beautifully. In windows. Less so. Getting better but still suffers from crashes, freezes and general UI lag from time to time
  6. roadbloc, Jul 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012

    roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    No Windows version? I'm not sure about that. But I do agree iTunes does desperately need a rewrite. It's a bloated buggy mess atm.
  7. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I would wager that the majority of apple's iTunes profits come from itunes used by Windows users (simply because there are so many more of them).

    There will be a Windows version.
  8. boss.king macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2009
    Agreed. iTunes on Windows is like the fat girl at a school dance. They could do so much better if they just put in the effort.
  9. garybUK Guest


    Jun 3, 2002
    No windows version? that would be a nice way to instantly half the buyers of iPhones / iPod's :)

    I think it will just be re-written and maybe split - up... clean fast interface.
  10. decafjava macrumors 68030


    Feb 7, 2011
    Yup iTunes on windows needs some well "optimising."

    That said I have no problems with it myself (Win 7 user) except that is is slow sometimes.

    I have no problem with syncing my iPhone to my PC-it's nice to have the choice not to like Android users have but I like having a backup on my computer. I also like having a one stop shop (apps, music and file management).

    While I do back up to icloud once a week one of the big things preventing me from going "cloud-based" is that smartplaylists don't work properly on iTunes in the cloud.

    I just want it to run faster and smoother-maybe clean up the UI.
  11. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    god yes it needs to be broken up or a massive rewrite. iTunes is bloated and heavy no matter what OS.

    When iTunes started out it was a basic music libary program that synced to the iPod and later they added the music store. At that point not so bad.

    Since then Apple kept adding more and more features to what is music library program. Many of those features just do not work well with that set up. Movies, pictures, App store ect are being forced into an interface it that was not designed in handle it.
    It needs some massive rework and honestly I would say split the system. Hell the only reason I even use iTunes is it still a good music libary system but it getting more annoying to use. I more than likely would leave it if I did not risk my entire library set up.
  12. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I wish they had kept iPod (and then iPhone) syncing as a part of iSync.
  13. JBazz macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2006
    I am a Mac iTunes user and iTunes does not work well for me.

    I absolutey hate trying to manage my enormous library. It constantly doubles songs/videos which means I constantly need to prune it. It will label things incorrectly, like audiobooks, which means I have to manually change them. It has 3 different files for Michelle Ndegeocellos music. I have manually changed it a dozen times and it keeps going back to 3 files. This is because iTunes has placed the apostrophy differently in her name.

    My library is really, really large. 99% of everything has come from Apple, not stuff I have added from elsewhere. And yet I still find myself spending hours on end trying to sort things out properly. It is a chore dealing with iTunes now, not an enjoyment.

    One of the main reasons I refuse to buy a new laptop is because I do not want to go back to two libraries.

    I know people will come along and try to "prove me wrong", but dont bother. This is my opinion. I am not trying to tell you how you should feel about it. But for me, it is outdated, bothersome and takes up too much of my resources dealign with it.
  14. NewAnger macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2012
    Denver Colorado
    Agreed. I like iTunes the way that it is. I tried iTunes Match and always keep coming back to iTunes to sync my iPhones and iPods because it just works the way it is supposed to.
  15. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    iTunes on Mac works great. Windows, it's another matter. But I don't use Windows, so....
  16. blackboxxx thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2008
    Just a small clarification: I'm not an iTunes hater. It runs relatively well on my 2009 Macbook Pro except that when I try to manage apps on an iPhone it becomes slow as molasses. Before I switched to a Mac, I used iTunes for almost two years on Vista (yes, I know...), and even there it ran rather acceptably. My understanding is that the main objections of people who dislike iTunes are these: a) it doesn't respect traditional Windows UI standards and shoves a piece of OS X on a Windows desktop; b) its UI is slow compared to native apps, but it has been largely fixed in recent versions; c) it doesn't allow you to use your iDevice as a USB disk and just drag&drop music, videos and other files onto it, like Android allows, for example.

    Over time I learned that if you don't try to fight against the way it's supposed to be used, iTunes is quite capable and easy to use. In fact, I would probably prefer as it is now rather than deal with iOSified, dumbed down interface that drops my favorite features.

    But that wasn't the point of my original post. I just summed up the trends that are noticeable in recent Apple's software releases and projected that on the general sentiment about iTunes' complexity. It seems that Apple now is so confident about the "Post-PC era" that they no longer feel the need to actively develop software for Windows, and they are not afraid to simplify their Mac interfaces and make them more iOS-like.

    Also I think there was an article a few months ago from a reputable source (probably Bloomberg, Forbes or WSJ — I don't have a link at the moment) that pretty much confirmed that after several false starts we'll finally see a complete iTunes rewrite this fall.
  17. Ariii macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2012
    Macs have had high enough specs for enough that there's no easy way it can be that slow. The latest version ran fine on a PowerBook G4 1 GHz with Leopard. I did like how the early versions looked with the brushed-metal interface that's gone now, but it didn't look as good once Apple sort of integrated that look into the whole OS. And being more iOS-like does not make things simpler in many cases, especially in this one where you have to manage a bunch of albums/artists.

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