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.

The Next Track, Episode #149 – In Which We Discuss the Potential Breakup of iTunes Yet Again Because We Really Didn’t Have Anything Else to Talk About This Week

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxWe discuss the potential breakup of iTunes yet again, because there is some new information about what the future of iTunes will be.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #149 – In Which We Discuss the Potential Breakup of iTunes Yet Again Because We Really Didn’t Have Anything Else to Talk About This Week.

Find out more at The Next Track website, or follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast.

The Next Track, Episode #145 – The Future of iTunes Redux

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxIt’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.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #145 – The Future of iTunes Redux.

Find out more at The Next Track website, or follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast.

Is Apple Splitting Up iTunes? Here’s How They’ll Do It

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.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 78: Is Apple Breaking Up iTunes?

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.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Apple to Begin Dismantling iTunes?

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.

The Next Track, Episode #136 – Breaking Up with iTunes?

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxWe look at some possible future scenarios about iTunes, in part because a recent change that Apple has made.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #136 – Breaking Up with iTunes?.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.

The Version of iTunes with the App Store Doesn’t Work with Mojave

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.

Playing iTunes Music through the iOS Remote App no Longer Updates Metadata

I have long used the iOS Remote app to play music on my iMac, streaming to one of my AirPlay-compatible devices. It’s convenient, and allows me to control the music and the volume with any iOS device.

But since the recent update to the Remote app, it no longer updates metadata in iTunes. Previously, it would update the play count and the last played date, useful notably because this would put music you played via that app in the Recently Played playlist. It’s a bit annoying; imagine if you play music on shuffle, and you want to go back and check out some of the songs you heard, because you don’t recall exactly what they are. Previously, the Recently Played playlist would show you this; now, there’s nothing.

However, what you can do is start playing the music in iTunes, then, later, if you wish, control if from the Remote app. You can skip tracks and change volume, but you can’t start playing something different; if you do, then the metadata won’t be updated.

I don’t know why Apple has made this change. It doesn’t make things better in any way, and only removes useful data from your iTunes library.

iTunes 12.8 Brings AirPlay 2 Support to the Mac (and Windows)

Apple has released iTunes 12.8, for Mac and Windows, adding AirPlay 2 support to the desktop. When Apple released iOS 11.4, with AirPlay 2, the Mac (and Windows) was notably absent, meaning that you could stream music to a stereo pair of HomePods from an iOS device, but not from iTunes. This his (finally) been corrected.

Download iTunes 12.8 here, or through the Mac App Store app.