The Trouble with iTunes on the Mac and Windows
For a company that prides itself on providing a top-notch user experience, Apple ought to hang its head in shame for the disaster that iTunes has turned into. It's a bloated, piggish, unreliable mess. It's the application we love to hate. It's the application that some of us just hate. But we put up with it. Because we have no choice.
A Brief history of iTunes
iTunes started life simply enough - it was a tool that we used to listen to music. "Rip. Mix. Burn." That was Apple's simple message - rip the music you already owned on CD into digital music files. Create your own playlists. And burn CDs containing your music so you could listen to them elsewhere.
Then the iPod came along and everything changed. Suddenly we no longer used iTunes just to rip and mix our music, but also to move it to this device that fit in our pockets and stored a thousand albums. iTunes was fun to use, too - you could sort music by genre, rate the songs you liked, and drill down with terrific levels of detail, assuming it was available in the metadata - stuff like composer, release date and more.
The iPod grew and so did our music collections. Many of us began to look for other ways to get music, through file sharing services and other means. So Apple's next step, the iTunes Store, made a lot of sense. It made it easier to get music online, and it provided musicians and their labels with a revenue stream.
But the iTunes Store introducing another layer of complexity into iTunes - now we weren't just using iTunes to store and catalog our music, but to buy it as well. And that meant incorporating copy protection into the mix - Digital Rights Management, or DRM.
When Apple introduced iPods to be able to run applications and watch video, the iTunes Store - and the iTunes app - again increased in complexity. You could do so much more with iTunes than you could before. You could grab movies and TV shows. Copy protected using the same DRM scheme as music - Apple called it FairPlay. Eventually FairPlay copy protection disappeared for music, but it's lingered for movies and TV shows.
Then the iPhone came along, and eventually the iPod touch and the iPad followed. And suddenly the iTunes Store grew more in complexity - now it was selling apps through an App Store. Apple decided to take on Amazon and the Kindle by offering ebooks, which added another layer onto iTunes. And so on, and so on.
The latest addition is iTunes Match, Apple's $25/year service that makes your iTunes music library available in the cloud, downloadable to any device authorized to play it. And when iOS 7 debuts this fall you'll be able to listen to iTunes Radio, streaming content that is ad-free if you're an iTunes Match subscriber.
iTunes has become a shambling monstrosity
One can't fault Apple for continually trying to add more features to iTunes. But iTunes has become a wall with many layers of wallpaper stuck to it, each glued and layered on top of the last. Eventually they have to come off, and what you're left with is a wall that needs to be refinished before it can be repainted.
The net result is that iTunes does a lot of things, but does them poorly. The interface has become needlessly complex, and attempts to refine and improve it have largely failed as a result. iTunes is the one Mac app that drives your experience with music, downloading television shows, movies and apps. It's trying to do too much. It needs to do much less. As a result, even the name "iTunes" has lost its meaning - "tunes" are only a small part of the app's overall function.
For my part, I have a seemly endless variety of problems with iTunes. With over 23,000 files, iTunes crashes for me frequently and is terribly slow. I lost last weekend trying to download my iTunes library from iTunes Match, after the machine that held my original library went out for repair. The entire weekend. Because iTunes kept crashing and stopping the download.
iTunes Match enables me to download music when I'm on my phone when I'm out, but often forgets about album art. iTunes Match on the Mac is far from perfect, too - it has, for no good reason, keeping me from downloading dozens of tracks that I've uploaded. They're grayed out, and Apple hasn't been able to fix it for me (and logging out and logging back in hasn't helped).
iTunes' duplicate finding capability is miserable. And it often can't find the cover art I'm looking for, or substitutes something else entirely in its place. It's little wonder that utilities like TuneUp exist - they have to, because Apple's done such a poor job with iTunes, some users need help sorting their iTunes libraries.
Time to break up the party
"True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation," explained Apple senior vice president of Design Jony Ive in the intro video for iOS 7. "It's about bringing order to complexity."
I think it's time for Apple to look at iTunes and start over with a fresh sheet of paper. Just admit that this horrible thing isn't working any more and try something entirely new. Ideally, I'd like to see music, apps, and videos broken up into separate utilities.
"Complexity" is a word that describes the iTunes experience to a tee. Hopefully once iOS 7 is out the door, Ive can put his eyes and his best minds to work on the problem of iTunes, because right now it's embarrassing for Apple to be promoting and distributing this software. It's the antithesis of what we expect the Apple user experience to be.
Do you hate iTunes as much as I do? Or do you love it? Do you accept it as a necesary evil? Or do you use other utilities entirely? Let me know in the comments.
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While there is room for improvement, I find it the most simple and user-friendly system for its purposes. I for one am sick of needing to subdivide every single thing I do. Having a single central place with witch to store and use my media without an app or program running for each is preferable to me. I disagree with the less is more theory entirely. Why do we have smartphones? People were tired of having a device for calling people, another for navigation, another for checking emails and IMs (back in the day). Smartphones were born. I feel the author is clinging to the past too much. Admittedly, iTunes may not be the best name to describe what it does, but I'm sure you all know the reference to a 'rose by any other name'
In further contradiction to the above mentioned opinion, I believe that Apple is growing with their apps/programs much the way the smartphone did. iOS 7 is proof of that with the integrations and built-in features it adds. If you follow these lines of evolution, you'll see that one day, iTunes (or whatever it is called by then) could be a central entertainment hub. Possibly partnering with others trying for similar ideas in various forms of entertainment, such as Steam, a similar system to centralize and reward video gaming. Even live, streaming television shows and news broadcasts. Along those lines, it could replace satellite/cable tv altogether eventually (or at least be a strong competitor). These are all "ifs" but nevertheless, would be impossible by slowing down and subdividing the system.
If you want to make 'Apple Media Center' the name and split it into 'iTunes', 'iMovies/TV', 'iPhoto', and so on, then fine. But it's the same thing and we are only arguing semantics.
If you want everything separate, try MS-DOS.
Great article Peter! :-)
Thanks for the reply! :-)
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4553398?start=525&tstart=0 Anyways, I don't know what the solution is and evidently, neither does Apple. Hopefully iTunes Radio is not a mess when it debuts. I'm happy with Spotify and do most of my music listening there now. iTunes Radio will have to win me away. It might make sense for Apple to bring all the music over to the iTunes Radio and split the other chores up between TV & Movie video, apps & back up, but it seems doubtful.
I do admit i don't use it for movies/TV series... I can't wait to test the new iTunes Radio!
The one thing I really want is a real iTunes server software, so I could have one server at home and many clients using the same library. No home sharing is no alternative, because it didn't work for syncing iOS devices!
1) it's slow/sluggish as hell.
2) doesn't monitor a local music folder. Other things i can deal with. But those bother me.
he has to change its politics around its devices.he has to increase the
ability of his devices like processing,ram,graphic and other thing which
is neccesory to run such application(itunes).of course they wont do that
cause if they do they must keep the prices fix and there should not be
a increase in devices price.so only thing that they can do is to
separate the features to several application like accessing multimedia
in one software and accessing apps in another software and having ebooks in another one.
There are plenty friendly alternatives.
Now that it has been brought up, i agree 100%.
I'd love to see something updated yet simpler.
I use two iTunes libraries. First is for syncing with iPod/ipad and that's ok. The second manages my imedia which consists of movies, videos, podcasts, iTunes U, books (mostly pdfs) for classroom teaching. I have tricked some PDFs into thinking they are albums (think cover art and click to see the chapters). Other PDFs think they are podcasts. Most are in books though and
KEEPING THE METADATA AND SMART PLAYLISTS IS VITAL for managing thousands of multimedia files and which can be used both on mac and PC.
Does anyone out there do this? I would welcome suggestions or comments especially with regards to the new ibooks.
iTunes Match has always works for me, but I don't keep music on my MBP, I leave it in the cloud, which could be one of the reasons why I have so little problem.
I will say on a Windows PC, iTunes has always had a history of problems, but slowly has gotten somewhat better over time.
I guess everyone assumes applications have to be as thin as glass to be good.if Apple would correct what people are griping about, and only suffer the very occasional problem, there would be no complaints.
except itunes, even in the simplest "list" view, it hangs,freezes and lags horribly its quite disgusting to use,much less try to work with ,ie load in new music,change details etc.
i absolutely rue the day i bought an ipod.
i have also used itunes on an ancient half broken old macbook,single core etc..and it worked like a charm,so i can only surmise marketing has a foul paw in this monstrosity of a program.
however i,personally will never buy any apple product again.
a complete toilet of a program,i HATE it.
I have about 150 songs and I cannot find them easily. Sometimes I just do a search!!!!! Even importing a new song.... it's LOST! Takes 10 minutes of scrolling and looking to actually find it! Then I can't remember where it was for next time! OMG I hate this!