The Breakup of iTunes Looks to Be Upon Us Soon

2 minute read
| Analysis

Breaking up is hard to do. But it appears that iTunes will finally shed major components as Marzipan-based TV, Music and Podcast apps arrive in the next version of macOS. Along with a revamped Books app.

The story comes from Guilherme Rambo at 9to5Mac.

Fellow developer Steve Troughton-Smith recently expressed confidence about some evidence found indicating that Apple is working on new Music, Podcasts, and perhaps Books apps for macOS, to join the new TV app.

The notion that iTunes had become out of control, too large, too complex, and tried to do too much goes back several years. In 2015, our Kelly Guimont wrote about the iTunes problem.

[iTunes Needs To Break Up… With Itself. ]

The Burrow! The Weasley's home from the Harry Potter series is what iTunes has become.
The Burrow! The Weasley’s home from the Harry Potter series is what iTunes has become. (by Jeff Gamet)

A chorus of other journalists echoed her plea. “Here’s what should happen: Apple needs to break apart iTunes into three main sections. Well. It needs to break them apart into any number of sections, but here’s my take:” Author Guimont went on to describe three independent activities: Buy, Play and Manage.

As we’ve become painfully aware over the years, Apple ignored our pleas. One reason has been the money making power of a integrated iTunes. The other one I’ve seen discussed is the sheer unmanageable magnitude of the breakup task. A third might have been that in Apple’s development roadmap, Marzipan offered a better path forward. Better to wait. Finally, it could have been that the desire (and promise) to have a TV app for macOS closed the deal and made the breakup imperative.

But why not just discontinue iTunes altogether? Author Rambo explains.

Since Apple doesn’t have a new solution for manually syncing devices such as old iPods and iPhones with the Mac, it’s natural to keep iTunes around a little longer.

Just how basic iTunes becomes and whether we’ll lose any legacy functionality is unwise to discuss at this point. Let’s wait for WWDC 2019 in June. Also discussed by author Rambo is the new Books app for macOS.

It’s not clear whether the redesigned Apple Books app will also be made using the [Marzipan] technology, but given that the redesign came to iOS first and its usage for the other apps, it’s likely that this new Books app will also be using UIKit.

Important to note here is that Apple may have been planning this future for iTunes all along based on its own internal and secret roadmap. Wishing for something obvious, such as code refactoring and then complaining when Apple doesn’t hop to is always a dubious (but fun) proposition.

Alternatively, it could have been that the outcry for a saner iTunes may have actually inspired the Marzipan project. We may never know. Maybe we’ll hear that story in the future when Craig Federighi writes his memoirs.

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John Q
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John Q

iTunes has its issues, and breaking up its disparate tasks into separate apps isn’t a bad idea. But, be careful what you wish for… Given Apple’s track record in stripping functionality when it rewrites apps, even utilities, it’s almost certain that the new incarnations will never match iTunes’ capabilities. It’s a big, and some say bloated program, but it’s also incredibly capable. Consider what happened to iPhoto, Disk Utility, and OS X Server, to name just three examples. The Marzipan factor, as well as the new focus on services revenue, don’t portend good things either, if one doesn’t subscribe (literally… Read more »