It's time to kill iTunes

iTunes has been around for a long time, it’s true. But these days it’s got a reputation for being one of the biggest pieces of bloatware in existence. At this point, I think Apple needs to admit that it’s a lost cause and start over.
And not just Internet Explorer/Edge replace, where they throw out the source code and build a modernized version of the same thing from scratch. Oh no. It’s time to Ma Bell it.
I’m thinking of a few disparate apps that it could be broken into. (I’ll take a look at the problem of syncing an iPhone with a bunch of different apps in a little bit.)

Music

The easiest one to point out, what with the recent launch of Apple Music. Break the music stuff out into a standalone app. Maybe fix some of the rampant issues in Apple Music versus iCloud Music Library versus iTunes Match versus iTunes’ local library, while you’re at it?
And, while you’re at it, rebuild the iTunes Store. Fun fact: the iTunes store doesn’t support Apple Pay. Clearly some work needs to be done, so take this as an excuse to just rebuild the whole thing from the ground up.

Photos

Oh, hey, Apple already built a photos app. Just take the last vestiges of photo management (only ever used for iOS sync anyways) out of iTunes, and gently affix it to the brand-new Photos app.

Video

This is where the Movies and TV Shows sections of iTunes wind up. There might be a bit of copyright issues with Microsoft, but they’re willing to license anything for the right fee, and it’s not like Apple can’t afford that.
This gets its own view into the iTunes Store, one that only includes the video aspect.1 One account, two stores.2

iTunes U

Rebrand it, since we’re killing off iTunes here. iTunes U in iTunes 12 is a mess – downloading files leaves them showing up as a local copy and a copy in the cloud, with iTunes not realizing that they’re the exact same thing. Even when the download is in process, weird crap like that happens. Classes get duplicated.
iTunes U is a great service, thanks to the member schools that create content for it. The implementation, though, feels like it was forgotten about by Apple years ago.

Podcasts

I would argue that both Podcasts and iTunes U should be optional downloads from the App Store. I use iTunes U on occasion, but I’ve never even opened the Podcasts app on my phone, nor the tab for it in iTunes.

Books

iBooks is already an app of it’s own, with all the syncing (as far as I can, anecdotally, tell) already being handled by iCloud, rather than iTunes. God alone knows why it’s still a section of iTunes.

App Store

This is where things get interesting. I want to see the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store be merged.
Before you start, I am studying programming. I’m aware of how much of an awful mess3 that would create. Nonetheless, it’s something that should be done.
We’ve already got Continuity making it so that I can open a tab from Safari on my laptop in Safari on my phone. Heck, there’s even APIs for that so that third-party app developers4 can make use of that feature. We’re clearly going for the ‘everything is linked, all your apps work across all your devices’ thing. So. Why did I have to buy Things twice?
I’m not arguing for the full-on Windows 10-style universal-app thing, because that would suck to develop for. I’m just saying, let developers merge the Mac and iOS versions of their apps, so that a single purchase can get both versions. That seems like a very Apple thing to do, to me.
The actual app redesign, I’ll leave to people with more expertise than me – the current App Store on OS X doesn’t have much by way of library management, and really just feels like a web browser without the URL bar, five oversized bookmark icons, and slightly heightened access credentials.


The other two items I see in iTunes are Tones and Internet Radio, both of which can be folded into the Music app.

Oh, and before I forget, implementing sync across all of these apps. In OS X, that’s easy, just build it in at the system level. It’s gotta be partly done there, already. And for Windows users,5 since it’d be rude to just leave them with ‘iTunes (Legacy)’ or some crap like that, build it into the iCloud system service. Or just have a requirement for the download of any of the others, call it ‘iOS Sync Engine’ or something stupid like that. Most people just hit ‘next’ until they’re done with the installation, anyways.

So, there you have it: my plan for how to kill of iTunes and (hopefully) fix one of the worst messes of software in current use.


  1. Though music videos should be in the Music version, which means that the Music app has to have a bonus layer of complication there. 
  2. Although, to be fair, I’ve already got one Apple account that works in the Apple Store, the iTunes Store, and the App Store. 
  3. Can you tell that I barely avoided swearing there? 
  4. Things does it, as does Pocket. It’s handy. 
  5. Or, as I think of them, ‘those who have yet to see the light.’ 

1 Comments

  1. Ugh, but really. iTunes, you had a fantastic reign, but it’s time you were disjointed. You have too many jobs right now, and you’re not doing any of them completely well. The Majority of your services exist in separate iOS apps anyway and the disconnect between iTunes and Photos and purchases is annoying (as an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook user, I’d love if the whole “let’s all talk to each other and sync automatically so everything was actually existing across all devices” thing worked as intended).

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