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How Apple should revamp iTunes (for the better this time)

Dan Moren | June 22, 2015
One tantalizing tidbit that came up during last week's WWDC keynote was that Apple Music's arrival on the Mac would be heralded by a new version of iTunes. It's more than likely that this simply means a modest update to the existing app to bring support for the new streaming service, but dare we dream larger?

So while I think it's unlikely to happen, I'd actually love to see the iTunes Store merged with the App Store app. One single "store" app that manages all of your app, music, video, ebook, and audiobook purchases, as well as your podcast downloads. Then let iTunes and iBooks act as front ends for that media. Mixing media consumption with purchasing might do wonderful things for Apple's ability to sell you on that album you've been streaming or that book everybody's raving about, but all that commercialization just plain gets in the way when all I want to do is listen to my own music.

Album fixation

Speaking of music, I'd also like to see much less of a reliance on album art in iTunes. I don't think this is particularly likely to happen either, but it would go a long way to making my library look better. Every time I scroll through my collection, I see square after square of generic "music" icons, thanks to discs that I've ripped from my own collection or music I've added from other sources, for which iTunes seems unable to find an appropriate album image. (Bizarre, given how many of these tracks have been identified by iTunes Match as songs in iTunes's own library.)

Apple's always emphasized its ties with music, and Steve Jobs in particular was a proponent of the album. At this point it's so ingrained in iTunes (and to a lesser extent on iOS), that it seems unlikely to simply go the way of the dodo. But if Apple could stop making me feel so ashamed for my lack of high-quality album art, that'd be great.

Mr. Federighi, tear down this app!

For better or worse, iTunes remains a cornerstone of Apple's software experience. But so much of what Apple cherishes is simplicity and elegance, and it would be hard to argue that iTunes, as it stands, is an exemplar of those principles. The push of Apple Music will be strong, and it deserves a venue not burdened down by all these extra features. Likewise, users who just want to deal with syncing their devices or managing their purchased content shouldn't have to wade through the rest of the iTunes morass.

Much as Apple is using OS X El Capitan as a chance to focus on the reliability and performance of the Mac platform, the run-up to Apple Music's launch presents a great opportunity for iTunes to get back down to its fighting weight, and shed some of that excess bulk.

 

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