Bring Back the iTunes Shopping Cart!

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View

Before iTunes 9, if you wanted to defer a purchase in the iTunes Store, you could save an item to your Shopping Cart. Not willing to let well enough alone, Apple dumped the entire Shopping Cart concept in iTunes 9, replacing it with a vastly inferior Wish List. How exactly is it inferior? In every possible way.

In Search of Wish List

With the extinct iTunes 8 Shopping Cart, to set things up so that to-be-purchased items went directly to your Cart by default, you enabled an option in iTunes Preferences > Store. Alternatively, via the 1-click option, you could choose to purchase items immediately. Essentially, it is the same model used by Amazon.com; and it worked just as well in iTunes.

With the iTunes 9 Wish List, there is no way to send items to the List by default. Instead, you need to specifically and separately select Add to Wish List for each item.

Finding the Add to Wish List option can bit a bit of a challenge, as the command is not visible anywhere on the screen. To access it, you have to click the disclosure triangle to the right of the Buy button. From the menu that appears, Add to Wish List is one of the commands. Not especially convenient, but manageable.

When it comes time to buy items from your Wish List, you need to access the List itself. This can prove to be an even greater challenge…

In iTunes 8, the Shopping Cart was an item in the Store listings, located in the main column on the left side of the iTunes Window. The Cart was always just one click away, easily accessible even if you weren’t in the iTunes Store at the time.

With iTunes 9, easy accessibility is just a fond memory. To get to the Wish List, you first have to go to the iTunes Store window. Next, you need to locate the My Wish List link in the Quick Links section in the upper right. Clicking this takes you to the Wish List screen.

The bigger problem is that the My Wish List link is not always there. Inexplicably, Apple decided to make the link available only if you are at the Home screen (as confirmed in this Apple article). If you’re at Movies or Music or anywhere but Home, you won’t find the link. That’s already bad enough. The bigger problem is that, on numerous occasions, the entire mini-section that contains the My Wish List link fails to show up at all, even when at the Home screen. When this happens to me, I have to reload the page a couple of times before My Wish List graces me with its presence. [Update: As noted in reader comments below, there are other Wish List links available: (a) In the Manage section at the bottom of the screen and (b) in the pull-down menu from your email address in the upper right.]

The section of links containing My Wish List is missing

Figure 1: The section of links containing My Wish List is missing from the Home screen.

The Hidden Buy Button

Assuming you make it to the Wish List display, your problems are hardly over. In the iTunes 8 Shopping Cart, you could select multiple items and purchase them together. In other words, you could say: “I want to purchase 6 of the 15 items in my cart” and do so in one step. With the iTunes 9 Wish List, this is no longer possible. Instead, you have to separately purchase each item. Clicking on the name of an item, rather than selecting the item, whisks you away to another page entirely.

Even the basic layout of the Wish List can get confusing. Some purchase categories (such as Songs and TV Episodes) display items as a text list, in a manner similar to the Finder’s List view, — while other categories (such as Music Videos and Movies) display multiple items to a row, more like the Finder’s Icon view. I find this makes it more difficult to get a quick overview of the contents of the List.

Oh…one more thing.

In what must certainly be a leading candidate for “worst user interface design element of the year,” it can be almost impossible to make a purchase from the Wish List. Why? Because you can’t get to the Buy button.

This happened to me for several TV episodes. The problem is that the Description section of an episode is so lengthy that the Buy button (which appears after the Description) does not fit within the width of the display. To get to the button, I figured out that I needed to click-hold in the Description text and slide the cursor to the right, so as to get the text to start scrolling (similar to how you scroll through a list of items in a Finder window without using the scroll bars). If this works, the Buy button eventually comes into view. But not necessarily for long.

The next step is to release the mouse button, so that you can click it again while the cursor is over the Buy button, allowing you to make the purchase. But when you try this, the Buy button may vanish before you can click it, sliding back to the right and out of sight. In one instance, it took me several minutes of carefully maneuvering my cursor until I could keep the Buy button in view long enough to click it. The whole process felt similar to trying to add a precariously placed block to a Jenga tower.

The Buy button is missing

Figure 2: Looking for the Buy button? It’s beyond the right edge of the display, not in view and hard to access.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

What exactly was Apple thinking here? Are they actually trying to prevent people from making purchases via the Wish List? How is any of this an improvement from the way things worked before? I don’t know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that my personal wish for the Wish List is that Apple trash it and bring back the Shopping Cart!

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Comments

daemon

Apple seems to be misfiring quite a bit lately.

Steve

I really miss the shopping cart, too.  When Apple transitioned to the wish list, my shopping cart (about 20 items) was lost.  Boo.

I’ve also been mystified about how to use the wish list; thanks for the tips.  One thing I can add—as of right now, at least, “My Wish List” appears at the bottom of many iTunes Store pages, under the “Manage” column.

jfbiii

Yep, the new iTunes Music Store is too slick by half. Not that I’ve bought anything in there since the price of everything (that I want) went to $1.29, but I was at least able to use the wish list in the left menu to keep tabs of stuff I might want if the price dropped to .99?. I haven’t figured out if there’s a way to do that anymore.

BTW, I seem to be able to get to my in-store wish-list through the pulldown under my email address in the upper right hand corner. Of course, I have to reload that page after deleting a song, since that seems to break the delete button for all of the remaining songs.

In general, the new store re-work has produced something less functional, IMO. Slick for slick’s sake.

Ted Landau

?My Wish List? appears at the bottom of many iTunes Store pages, under the ?Manage? column.

Hey. Thanks for the tip. I hadn’t noticed that.

David Chartier

I have to respectfully disagree with this entire article. I hated how the Shopping Cart worked, it was an all-or-nothing affair. You could turn it on, but then ALL of your purchases had to go into the Shopping Cart, forcing a second step for EVERY purchase from then on. Or you could turn it off, and you were forced to purchase everything immediately. Now you have that choice with each purchase, which is The Way It Should Be?.

The Wish List is also quite accessible no matter where you are in the store from the drop-down menu under your account name. Most of the iTunes Store buttons in version 9 have drop-down menus if you mouse over them. Mouse over your account name on the right and you have 4 options: Account, Redeem, *Wish List,* and Sign Out.

As far as the TV episode Wish List problem, that is quite clearly not much more than a design bug which will hopefully be fixed in an update. It may not even require an iTunes software update since I believe the store is really still just a webpage. For what it’s worth, if a buy button is not displaying at the right side of an item properly, you can scroll to the right over that item to get to it.

Fundamentally, though, I think the Wish List is a win in terms of giving customers a choice when purchasing a product.

Ted Landau

Now you have that choice with each purchase, which is The Way It Should Be?.

It seems to me it would have been quite easy to modify the Shopping Cart feature so as to allow the choice you want. Then we could both be happy. Instead, what Apple did was throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

ry

Exactly.

The new wishlist function is just plain stupid-adding.

sleepy

@David Chartier&Ted; Landau: another solution would be to have both the shopping cart _and_ the wish list, allowing shoppers to choose which they want via iTunes preferences

@Ted Landau: add to the problems you mention these three:
1. accessing, managing, and controlling the wish list via keyboard rather than mouse is difficult or impossible in most cases (which was not true of the shopping cart).

2. as of version 9.0 (haven’t checked with the updated one yet), if you do _anything_ to the wish list (change order, go to a second page, remove an item, anything), the “x” necessary to remove an item will not appear, meaning that you cannot remove an item from the wish list unless it’s on the first page (except by removing several wanted items to force the unwanted item onto the first page, reloading the wish list after each removal, then re-adding the wanted items). I’m guessing this is because if the “x"s were immediately available, it would be very easy to accidently remove two items, since the wish list is slower than the shopping cart was, and therefore there is a tendency to assume that a click didn’t “take.”

3. from what I’ve experienced (and read of others’ experiences), it is no longer possible to have a playlist that contains the samples of unpurchased tracks (which, among other uses, allowed one to effectively have multiple “wish lists”).

Brett

I haven’t used itunes 9 yet, but this sounds bad.

I have kids that want to buy music and they use shopping cart for songs they want to purchase.

This gives me the opportunity to review their choices (ie explicit vs clean, inappropriate) before buying and I keep the account password secret.

It was very convienent for us to use the shopping cart and has worked well.

David Chartier

Another reason I think this change happened is because of a very important UI shift that came to the store. There is now a very obvious contextual menu item for each piece of media in the store?it houses not just a link for adding something to the Wish List, but it exposes the user to all the different things you can do to it. You can tell a friend, copy the iTunes URL, gift it, or share it on Facebook or Twitter?and you don’t have to click through to an item to get to those links.

The more I bum around and actually use these options, I’m appreciating the change even more. The Shopping Cart was lost, but getting around to all these many different features is now much, much faster.

Ted Landau

The Shopping Cart was lost, but getting around to all these many different features is now much, much faster.

For me, the Cart was a big thing to lose, as I used it EVERY time I even thought about purchasing something. For those who chose not to use the cart, I suppose it doesn’t matter nearly as much.

cb50dc

Two words: iTunes 8.

A few more words: before stepping up to a new version of any app or utility, I archive all the related files and protect my older version. If the New And Improved version is more trouble than benefit, fine, I scrap it and go back.

Looks like I may be using iTunes 8 for quite some time.

Chuck B

N.

I totally agree with you Mr. Landau.
Please file a bug at http://bugreporter.apple.com

lhallberg

So get this, not store related but definitely itunes relate, talk about identity crises?!

I’m a Mac user.

Mistake #1 - Pre 9 iTunes used the green window (zoom) button to reduce window to mini player.  Totally against Macintosh standards (zoom is supposed to ....well….zoom the window)

Mistake #2 - iTunes 9 restores the predictable zoom action to the green window button.  Great, but now takes relearning the iTunes behavior which is Shift-Command-U for reducing the window to a mini player.

Mistake #3 - iTunes 9.1 update CHANGES THE ZOOM BACK TO ORIGINAL CHAOS BEHAVIOR.  Yes I am shouting here.  Pre 9 non-standard behavior changed to standard in 9.0, changed back to non-standard 9.1.

BTW: If you’ve updated to 9 option clicking on the green window lozenge will reduce window to the mini player.

Sheeeeesh!

grshaner

This is the main reason I have not upgraded to iTunes 9.

I have a bunch of songs in my shopping cart awaiting the next iTunes gift card or spur-of-the-moment purchase mood.  And I would hate to lose it all due to this mindless removal of functionality.

Apple! Please add it back so I can upgrade!

David Chartier

I have a bunch of songs in my shopping cart awaiting the next iTunes gift card or spur-of-the-moment purchase mood.? And I would hate to lose it all due to this mindless removal of functionality.

All items in your shopping cart get converted to your Wish List when upgrading to version 9. You won’t lose anything. But if you wanted to be doubly careful, you could select everything in your Shopping Cart and drag it to a new playlist. This creates a sort of local backup on your Mac.

Dave

Several years ago, Apple started hiring people that used to work at Microsoft. The Apple software has not been the same since. This is but one more example of how that hiring decision is turning Apple software into Microsoft software. I hoped I’d never see the day but obviously I was wrong.

Matt

None of my cart items moved to my wish list. Of course I had my cart hang in the past, requiring me to contact customer service who reset it, losing everything I had aved. Luckily I have another computer that is still on 8.

The more popular Apple becomes, the more MS-esque stories and experiences I am hearing. Not a good sign.

Paul

It appears that David Chartier is trying really hard to get a job at Apple because he’s got his nose so far up somewhere it’s not even funny.  If you click on his name it takes you to his web page which basically states Apple can do no wrong.  David: listen to the users out there - MANY hate the removal of the shopping cart, myself included.  Are you familiar with Google ?  Try searching for missing shopping cart itunes - 1 Million plus hits !!  Yeah, right, it’s an improvement.
And NO my shopping cart did not migrate to My Wish List.  So stop being a shill for Apple and admit that they f***ed up on this one.

anonomous

Not to mention, when I am going through the “recommended for you option”  I cannot even find the little triangle next to the “buy now option”.  In order to add those items to my wislist, I have to follow the link to the actual album before I will have the option o add to wishlist.  I have heard of some pretty stupid moves but This one takes the cake.

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