iTunes No More.

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It’s an icon that’s been on my dock ever since my first Mac in 2006.
It’s also been an app (or program back in the day), that was on the Windows PC I built way back in 2004.

But no more.
Before the App Store and videos, it was only about music. Managing it, purchasing it, and syncing it to your device of choice.

Now, it’s become so bloated, that I use it only if I really need to. Mainly to transfer videos I’ve edited to an app on the iPhone or iPad.
The word ‘iTunes’ has lost all meaning. It’s not just ‘tunes’ anymore, it hasn’t been for at least five years.
It’s more ‘iThings’.
Currently the app is on its twelfth version, and apart from Apple Music integration and a UI refresh in the last couple of years, there hasn’t been great improvements to improve the experience.
Since podcasts arrived on 4.9, then tv shows, movies, and apps in further versions, it’s incredibly slow and frustrating to manage all of these in one app.

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Nowadays I only use Spotify across my devices, and I’m hoping that there’s going to be an app for the Watch soon so I can select playlists by choosing a mood or one of genre.

It’s been an ongoing struggle for a couple of years, but a few experiences in the last six months hit the last nails in the coffin for me.

First of all, it’s been this error, trying to download a track I’ve bought, which has been downloaded, but still tries. Every, single, time. I’ve tried to get rid of it by deleting the track, quitting and relaunching iTunes, no luck. Still this window, without fail.

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I’ve been paying for iTunes Match since it launched in 2011 for £21.99, but nowadays I’m only using it as a fail safe backup option in case my stored music on my external hard drive is lost. It stores all your music that you’ve had in your collection in the cloud, regardless if you’ve only bought some of it from iTunes.
But as you may probably have seen from tweets and articles, sometimes when you download a track again, it could be the wrong song or a remixed version, or perhaps it’s the right track, but with the incredibly wrong metadata and album artwork.
That’s happened more than once with me, but the final straw came with Apple Music on my iPhone.
In the beginning, it was great. Beats 1 was a good listen, and finding new music through playlists was far easier than when I was using Spotify in 2014.
But eventually, I’d decide to download a playlist in the iTunes Cloud I’ve had made back when I was in college.
I’d eventually find the ‘download all’, and the process would start.

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Then strange events would occur again.
The playlist would download some, or not at all, and when you’d hit ‘download all’ again, all of the tracks would be deleted from my iPhone, and the whole download process would begin and fail again.
I’d then try to stream a track, it would fail or bring me to the startup screen asking me to sign up for Apple Music.
Repeatedly.
So in November, I cancelled my subscription and just stuck to my own collection, completely avoiding Apple Music.
But the playlist download issue would still remain.

The best option that I can see for the Mac side, would be to just split it up.

  • Have one app just for music, and nothing but.
  • Have one just for podcasts.
  • Another just for Apps.
  • One just for syncing (if you really need to).

If this all sounds familiar, then of course it does.
This is all on iOS.

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Looking at it another way, when you go into your favourite haunt in town, you know what you’re paying for in a gin, and what you’re going to get. Why you’d suddenly decide on buying an English fry up at the same time at ten o clock at night and eating it by the bar doesn’t make sense.
(It may make sense to some, but I haven’t gone for this combination yet.)

Have iTunes regain what it needed to do in the first place. All for music, and when you’re paying for a service for music, that’s what you expect the app to be.
Not movies.
Not apps.
Not podcasts.
Just music.

Also, let it only bounce on the dock once. It’s the most slowest Apple app I have, and I suspect this is due to the fact of what the app has to provide to the hundreds of millions of users out there.

If you’ve listened to John Gruber’s ‘The Talk Show’ podcast this week that had Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, Eddy spoke of a ‘refresh’ coming in the next small update to Mac OS El Capitan next month.
Whether that’s a small UI refresh or just bug fixes related to Apple Music, we will find out in time.
I’d like to see a revamped version at WWDC, or at an Autumn event where the load is finally lessened.
But I can’t help feel that they are working on something as an alternative, and we should be seeing the result this year.