iTunes Doesn’t Look so Dead to Me

So many publications have been publishing articles about how “iTunes is dead,” but it doesn’t look very dead to me. Apple announced, at this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference, that iTunes (on the Mac) would be split into three apps: Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV. As such, iTunes itself isn’t really dead, but just split into a few separate parts.

Apple has published a document outlining the changes, and, well, it doesn’t look very dead to me. Certain media kinds have been moved to new or different apps (for example, audiobooks are now in the Books app), and syncing will be handled by the Finder. (The Finder is bloated, right?)

In essence, nothing much has changed. The iTunes name is still used for the iTunes Store, despite some publications claiming that the iTunes name was being retired, or that Apple was ending its music download service.

I don’t know… For years, people have been kvetching about iTunes, and all it took was for Apple to move a couple of media kinds to different apps, and to change the name of the music player, and everyone’s suddenly happy, but also dancing around the grave of an app that hasn’t really changed that much. You can still buy music from the iTunes Store, rip your CDs, sync your devices, make playlists, and so on.

Macos catalina apple music library

I certainly find that the new approach is a lot cleaner, at least for the music player, which is what I use iTunes for the most. But not using it for other media kinds means you can just ignore them. If anything, the fact that they moved navigation options to the sidebar makes sense. I have always found that the top navigation tabs, combined with the Media Picker, we’re confusing. But the Music app retains pretty much everything of iTunes, just for one media kind. So is it still “bloated?”

I wish Apple had used the same interface for the Apple TV app. Those top tabs are distracting, and now create two different interfaces for different media kinds.

And you now need to go to three different apps to buy content from the iTunes Store: Music, Apple TV, and Books. Currently, you can search for content in the iTunes Store and see what shows up for all the media kinds available. So that’s definitely a step backwards.

Macos catalina tv watch now

In case you’re worried, most AppleScripts for iTunes will continue to work in the new Music app, with some changes. (For example, in AppleScripts, you refer to a specific app name, and all scripts that work with iTunes will need to be revised to use the Music app name.)

Here are the main points in Apple’s document:

  • Music that you’ve imported or purchased will be in the new Apple Music app.
  • Music playlists and smart playlists that you’ve created in iTunes will be in the new Apple Music app.
  • The iTunes Store will still be available to buy music on Mac, iOS, PC, and Apple TV.
  • iTunes Gift Cards and iTunes credits will be maintained and can be used with the new apps and the App Store.
  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod backup, restore, and syncing will move to Finder.
  • Movies and TV shows that you purchased or rented from iTunes will be in the new Apple TV app.
  • Use the Apple TV app for Mac for future movie and TV purchases or rentals.
  • Podcasts that you subscribed to or added to iTunes will now be in the new Apple Podcasts app.
  • Audiobooks that you purchased from iTunes will now be in the updated Apple Books app.
  • Use the Apple Books app for Mac for future audiobook purchases.

15 thoughts on “iTunes Doesn’t Look so Dead to Me

  1. As long as Doug”s Applescripts work, ill be happy. Did not look forward to life without my metadata editor scripts. The Append script and remove n scripts are used constantly. If i have duplicate tracks in different albums I Append a parenthesis descriptor to the end of the title. No more deleting duplicates, which i later regret.

    • Apple has said that, for now, the Windows version will not change. Which is another reason to not say that iTunes is dead.

  2. iTunes was an easy one to hate mainly because the majority of people had it forced on them via the absolutely awful windows version and their iPods and early phones.

    But the mac version has always been excellent, as long as you didn’t need to try switch mode.

    Apple should have always made more of the Smart Playlist feature, either by providing a way to share them. Or providing a slightly more simplified way in. I could never use another media player that doesn’t use them. With the simplified app, Dark Mode and syncing lyrics they are pretty much have everything that appeals about Spotify, with none of the in your face creepy data collection stuff or weird focus on Playlists above albums.

    • You can share smart playlists; at least their contents. But since it depends on what’s in a library, you can’t be sure that someone else has all the same tracks.

  3. But do Doug’s Apple scripts also work in the new Video and Podcasts apps? That’s just as important, to me, as having them work in the Music app.

  4. @PJ:

    The Podcasts app is not ‘scriptable. The Music and TV apps are just as ‘scriptable as iTunes.

    Current scripts for iTunes will not work with Music.app or AppleTV.app. They must be rewritten to target those apps. Which is how I am spending my Summer 😉

  5. In Catalina, does anyone know how (or if) wi-fi syncing between Mac & iPhone can be initiated at the Mac?

    There is no indication of this on the screenshot Apple has released.

  6. I’ve always been in the same camp as you, Kirk. iTunes is fine. I ignore the parts I don’t need and use it as my music database program. It does that job really well. Now instead of ignoring the parts I don’t need, Apple has given me two brand new apps I can ignore instead. (Overcast handles my podcasts and my rural internet speeds preclude me from doing any online TV.) The fewer music-related changes they made in the renamed Music app the better. I saw in Doug’s post that the column browser is gone. I really hope it comes back before Catalina is released.

  7. I have always viewed this as a ‘different strokes’ problem.

    Personally, when I am trying to determine what to sync to and from my iPhone, iPad, iPod etc., I get extremely frustrated when I am going through various (sluggish) settings and choices, and waiting for the grossly inaccurate size meter to even allow me to sync, but then I need to go back out to the music portion or the podcast/movies portion of iTunes to verify a playlist, and if I don’t want to lose all the changes and choices I’ve made so far, I have to click apply changes, anyway.

    Then after I go figure out what it was I wanted to look at in the various playlists as to whether I wanted them on my device or not, or whether I need to adjust sizes, content, whatever, I either have to wait for the previous changes to be applied, or I have to cancel and wait for those changes to stop being applied, in order to start all over again.

    And countless timeless iTunes just pukes and must be quit or force-quit in order to properly acknowledge space and changes at all; or other times I just have to go nuclear and delete all media content and start fresh, even though there is more than adequate space available to apply the changes I’m after.

    If for no other reason, Kirk, this is where I have always vehemently disagreed with you about iTunes being just fine as it is.

    This is before we get into the fact that the Podcasts section of iTunes sucks big time and is an embarrassing joke that has changed little over many, many years; that navigating the various tabs within a section is Mouse-centric or tab-tedious and bad for people with disabilities, as well as generally tedious and confusing; that switching between the store and your content under each section is just a giant pain in the butt because it, too, isn’t keyboard friendly; and much much more.

    You’re right, if all you do is listen to your own music, there’s not a whole lot wrong with it (assuming you enjoy all the new default views forced on you that are not useful to those of us who liked the old “spreadsheet“ look — curse you, Bono!! — and are forced to change everything every time we create a new smart playlist.).

    Oh, and shall we discuss modal dialogs blocking you from proceeding with other tasks? How many other apps do you praise for not allowing you to do a single other thing — including blocking some background processes, AppleScripts, and third party utilities if you just have forgotten to close the freakin’ prefs pane? Do you really still think a single-threaded, modal architecture is worthy of a free pass, let alone praise, in 2019?

    My only fear was Music.app would not be scriptable, and would be the only reason I clung to Mojave and iTunes; the problem of third party XML access is another looming issue; I will miss apps like SizzlingKeys and its Playlist and Find tracks features and HUD; I worry most about what I will do about GetLyrical; and I Love Stars will be missed, some, as well.

    But will I miss the incredibly sluggish performance, frequent crashes, and countless daily beachballs in my 100K+ track library?

    Good riddance, iTunes.app; long live the iTunes Store and Apple Music.

    Cheers

    Frederico

  8. I listen to audiobook files in smart playlists. Is that even going to be possible with the separation of the apps?

    Here’s my story: I download podcasts in iTunes and—for a variety of reasons I won’t get into here (unless you’re really curious)—I convert them into the audiobook format. I make smart playlists of these files and sync them to my phone. This creates random, shuffled lists that are pleasing to me. But is it even possible to make smart playlists of podcasts in the Podcasts app? Is it even possible to make smart playlists of audiobooks in the Books app? (It seems I experimented with such options in the past and found them absent or wanting.) And if I really wanted to, could I keep files with an audiobook file format in the new Music app? Currently in iTunes (or at least as of 12.8), an audio file’s Media Kind can be changed in the Options tab to Music, Podcast, Audiobook or Voice Memo. Do/will those options exist in the new Music app?

  9. Wow to think how much milage Apple got from the buyout of Casady and Greene soundjam mp program. People do forget where it all started.

  10. Any word on whether sorting functions will still be available? I use these a lot to organize my music files beyond just alphabetical (so that “albums” and “singles” line up to my liking, for instance, and to separate artists with a lot of tracks from one-hit wonders). Would be a major drag to lose all that…

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