Here’s What You’d Have if You Broke Up iTunes on the Desktop

The iTunes Store is 14 years old today, and these sorts of anniversaries are always good times to reflect on the state of a service, or an app. I think the iTunes Store is mature, comprehensive, and relatively easy to use. But what crossed my mind this morning is the suggestion I often hear that the iTunes app, on Mac and Windows, should be split into several more focused apps.

People who suggest this point to the iOS model, where there are separate apps. There’s a Music app, an iTunes Store app, an App Store app, and so on. There are a total of seven different apps, in fact.

This approach makes sense on iOS for several reasons. First, iOS is a one-app-one-window operating system. You can switch between apps almost like you switch between windows on the desktop, and these apps only have limited screen space (since they have to work on the iPhone), and having multiple tabs or menus isn’t practical.

But there are a lot of apps; seven in fact.

And there’s one that you would need on the desktop that doesn’t exist on iOS: it would be called Sync, for example.

Remember that iTunes on the desktop is not just for playing and downloading files, but it’s also for file management – such as creating playlists and editing metadata – and for syncing content to iOS devices. So no matter how you split iTunes, you would need a sync app somewhere.

But is it really logical to have eight separate apps on the desktop to do what iTunes does? I see no justification for this, no matter how feature-loaded iTunes is, and no matter how people think it should be trimmed down. Yes, iTunes has problems, but I can’t see that turning it into eight apps would make things any better. It would become an unwieldy suite of apps, instead of a single app, and users would be much more confused than they are now.

7 thoughts on “Here’s What You’d Have if You Broke Up iTunes on the Desktop

  1. I learned a lesson a long time ago, and that’s NOT to use iTunes for anything other than it’s most fundamental use. I had several thousand music files on my computers dating way back before iTunes was invented.

    I was a happy camper until one day I wanted to burn a CD to play in the car. (Long before music streaming or Sirius or bluetooth!) iTunes refused to burn about half the songs. iTunes had taken over and “thought” it owned those songs — it was dreadfully mistaken. I had purchased those CDs before iTunes, and many before SoundJam. They were mine.

    Somehow with the advent of newer iTunes versions, the covert communications with Apple, and Apple’s new mission to stalk and track your personal data on your computer, they thought they would just take over my music collection!

    Thank goodness it was all backed up to music hard drives, and could easily over-write all the files — AND — drag-n-drop to a CD and play just fine in the car, or anybody else’s car for that matter.

    Read “Future Crimes” and now you understand what’s been going on for the last few years as Apple digs deeper and deeper into your life. Discover why iPhones and the Cloud are not your friend. It’s a shame. They had so much potential.

    No, the less you have to do with Apple, iTunes, the ‘cloud’ and worst of all, the iPhone, the safer your life will be.

    • No, the TV app does videos now. As for Voice Memos, that’s true, but you wouldn’t need an app on the desktop; they currently get managed along with music.

  2. I agree with you, Kirk. Here is another usage aspect that separate apps would make worse for me. I like to put my podcasts into playlists. I download some of my podcasts as .mp3 or .mp4 files, which I then import into iTunes. iTunes may file them as Music or Video. This is a minor annoyance, but I can still put them into my podcast playlists. If each of these categories were walled off from the others by a separate app, it might be much harder to create the playlists that I desire.

    I could fantasize that the apps could be created in a way to make my life easier, but I expect the reverse would happen.

  3. Perhaps, the iTunes Store could be incorporated into the App Store, Podcasts could be part of TV, iTunes U into iBooks, etcetera, reducing the number of apps. Syncing via iCloud? Other than music I seldom even open the iTunes App on my Mac.

  4. Yeah, combine several of the apps and make it simpler.

    — Combine all of the App Stores into one master app. Mac App Store + iOS App Store + AppleTV App Store + Watch App Store = new desktop “App Store” that handles all of your apps for all of your platforms. Make a Windows version that does everything except the Mac stuff.
    — You don’t need a dedicated iTunes Store app since you could roll purchasing into the individual apps. Just like you already buy ebooks in the iBooks app.
    — iBooks already has multimedia support for audio books, so roll iTunes U into it.
    — Each individual app can handle syncing it’s own data via iCloud, so you don’t need a complex sync app to handle everything. It could be a barebones utility in the Utilities folder for folks with legacy devices.

    Then you have the new iLife suite:

    App Store
    Music
    TV
    Podcasts
    iBooks

  5. I don’t like the TV app. It promotes a small collection of my available videos and hides all the rest. In my own collection, there’s a lot more hidden than shown. It’s so much extra hassle to find one of my old movies, compared with the previous Videos.app.

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