“iTunes is dead!!!” claim a number of websites and publications. Even on the TV news they were saying that “Apple has discontinued iTunes,” that “it’s the end of an era.” Apple made big announcements at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. Did they really kill off iTunes? We look at this subject, yet again, for what will be the last episode about the future of iTunes, at least until the next one.
With macOS 10.15 Catalina, and the splitting of iTunes into three apps (Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV), media files will be handled a bit differently. Here’s where the various files will be located.
Music: By default, these files will be stored in ~/Music . (~ is a shortcut for your home folder, the one with the house icon and your user name.)
Apple TV: For TV shows and movies, the default location is ~/Movies . Music Videos, however, will stay in the Music app.
Podcasts: Podcasts are stored in a cache folder in ~/Library/Group Containers/243LU875E5.groups.com.apple.podcasts . This is not designed to be user accessible, and the podcast files do not display the original file names. You can, however, drag podcast files from the Podcasts app to the Desktop or to a folder.
Books: Since Apple spun off the Books app, ebooks have been stored in a folder in your Library folder: com.apple.BKAgentService. This folder will contain both ebooks and audiobooks. As with podcasts, you’re not intended to visit this folder, and ebook files do not have their original names, though audiobooks do display their names. However, if you select a file and press the space bar to view it in Quick Look, you will see its cover. (This is not currently the case with podcasts; using Quick Look on a podcast file lets you listen to it, but there is no album artwork attached.)
When you upgrade from macOS Mojave, both the Music and Apple TV apps will remember the location of your existing media, if you are using a different folder than the default. And each of these apps has an Advanced preference allowing you to choose a location for its media folder. This means that you can store your music on one volume and your movies and TV shows on another volume, which can be practical for many people with large libraries.
Note that macOS Catalina is just a beta, and this information is subject to change.
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.
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.
It’s time to have a brief discussion of the future of iTunes again. Some news has been circulating suggesting that Apple will be including separate apps for music, TV, podcasts, and books later this year. We discuss this, and how we predicted this a few months ago.
Rumors of Apple dismantling iTunes are almost as old as the software itself. I can remember people clamoring for its destruction back when Apple added video management to the app, claiming that since it’s called iTunes, it shouldn’t manage anything but music.
That’s a fair point, to be honest. But according to that logic, the iPhone should change its name, since it does more than make phone calls; the Apple Watch should be rebranded; and the iPad isn’t even a pad, so what’s that about?
The linguistic argument for the break-up of iTunes is by far the weakest, but there have been others over the years, notably that iTunes is “bloated.” When someone claims that, they essentially mean that iTunes has features that they don’t need. They don’t say the same thing for, say, a photo editor, a text editor, or an email client. (Seriously, who ever “redirects” their email?) I’ve addressed this issue many times, but many people continue to claim that because it has a lot of features, iTunes should be broken up like a monopolistic corporation.
A recent report on 9to5Mac suggests that Apple is, indeed, planning to release standalone apps to replicate some of iTunes’ features. Some people have found “evidence” of this, and others have confirmed this with “sources;” plus, Apple has already announced that there will be a TV app for the Mac in the near future. But does this mean that Apple is going to break up iTunes and placate the bloat-truthers? Probably not.
Rumors abound of Apple breaking up iTunes, and we look at what this might entail. We also discuss how Amazon employees are listening in on Alexa devices, and we relate the story of an Apple employee whose confidential Apple devices were subject to searches when he tried to cross the border.
If you use an iOS device, you have long had access to the TV app to view movies and TV shows. Yesterday, Apple announced that the TV app would be coming to the Mac later this year, suggesting that videos would be removed from iTunes. While I can hear the joy of the many people who have been hoping that iTunes would be dismantled, it’s not clear exactly what this change would mean.
As long as iTunes has supported video, it has also supported home videos; films you’ve shot yourself, or ripped from DVDs. These videos sync to iOS devices when you select Movies as a content type; there is no specific sync option for home videos.
While Apple certainly wants to have a separate video app for its own iTunes Store content, and its new Apple TV+ content, I can’t imagine that they will remove the ability to store home videos in iTunes, or to sync them to iOS devices. And, while many people stream iTunes Store purchases, I’m sure that there is a substantial number of people who want to have these movies and TV shows locally stored so they can watch them without having to use up bandwidth, and to sync them to iOS devices.
It seems more likely that the TV app will be the catalog, not the library, for video content. While Apple may roll the movies and TV shows sections of the iTunes Store into the TV app on the Mac, it’s also possible that they may not do that . Just as on iOS, where the storefront is in a different app, they may retain all of the iTunes Store in the iTunes app.
As I’ve often written, dismantling iTunes into multiple apps is not a very useful solution. It works on iOS because apps are single windows, and there would be too much navigation and too many tabs required to fit everything into one app. But on the Mac, it still makes more sense to have a single app. I expect the TV app to be similar to the one on iOS and the Apple TV: a way to view content you’ve bought or rented, or to view content from the new channels that Apple will be selling. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if iTunes still retained its movies and TV shows sections to store and manage a library of content you want to keep on a Mac and sync to iOS devices.
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For a while, Apple had released a version of iTunes – 12.6.5 – that still had the App Store, so businesses could manage apps on their devices. With the release of macOS Mojave, this iTunes version no longer works, so the workaround that Apple had provided to allow some users to still download and manage apps from the desktop is now dead.
So there is one other solution: iMazing can download, install, and manage apps for iOS devices. Check out the linked article for more. I’d still rather have the App Store accessible from the desktop, but this is a solution that can be useful for many people.
Full disclosure: I do writing work and screencasting for iMazing.