Mr. Cook, Tear Down That App

| The Devil's Advocate

iTunes is a disaster. It’s been so overloaded that it's now become the flamebearer for bloat. Minor deck chair reshuffling will not be enough to make things right. iTunes needs to be broken up into about 6 separate applications to simplify it, reduce bloat, make it more manageable and make it approachable for mere mortals.

So here’s a suggestion. Split it up into the following apps:

1) Music This will be a plain jane music manager à la SoundJam for those aficionados that like to buy, rip and/or otherwise curate their own music. Having this be a separate app would allow folks to simply approach their music collection and play/manage music. It would also reduce the likelihood of iTunes obliterating people’s music collections because it has become such an unwieldy mess (particularly with it’s craptastic integration with Apple Music).

2) Music This would be much like the Mac App Store, but dedicated to buying music. This will allow Apple to focus on UIs that promote discovery, which are now crowded out by the myriad other features duct-taped into iTunes.

3) iOS App This would be much like the Mac App Store, but dedicated to just buying apps for iOS devices. Perhaps the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store can be done in just one app. That way, you just have check/pop-up boxes to let you filter for apps in specific platforms. This would have the added benefit of making sure all the App Stores are kept up to date.

4) Movie & Show This would be a store dedicated to buying and/or renting movies and TV shows. Again, by making it separate, the UI design teams can concentrate on making discovery UIs that make sense and are tailored to this type of content.

5) Apple This would be an app dedicated to subscribers of Apple Music, where curation, playlists, and discovery can be tailored to shovel ready DRM music subscribers.

6) Apple Device Content This would basically be an enterprise-like IT device manager app to let people route their different buckets of content to different devices. Not only is management of all our devices through iTunes a disaster of confusion right now, Apple has left people to fend for themselves in managing their home networks

For a company throwing toaster/refrigerator-sized rocks at Microsoft for making a needed convertible laptop/tablet device, Apple seems to have no shame in requiring you to run iTunes to sync photos from to your iPhone. Way to live in that glass house Mr. Cook! As we begin having houses full of connected devices (Internet of things and all that), we need something dedicated to this important purpose.

If you have a family with 4 Macs, kids accounts, and multiple iTunes accounts, good luck getting them timely updated, and the right data/media from one to the other. Apple provides no tools to consumers like it does to the enterprise. The good news is I have a suggestion here.

Apple has a pretty sweet UI with the Airport Utility where it creates a little device map of your wireless devices. One could see this utility being expanded where you hang other home devices (e.g., iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, iPods, Macs, HomeKit devices, storage devices, printers, scanners, etc.) off this map, and each device could show its abilities, users, content batches, update statuses, scheduled activities, etc. Then users could manage and cause updates and backups to take place on all their iPhones and Macs, and even move playlists, photo libraries, and music around all the devices. Here is a crude mock-up where media from one device could be selected, and drag-n-drop linked/copied to other devices.

Crude Mock-up

Crude mock-up

Heck, Apple might even think of updating its Time Capsules from their pathetic and embarrassing 3TB limits up to 8TB and have the Time Capsule’s be something more of a content router and smart server (Synology-like) for the home. Maybe even add Siri/Echo-like abilities to it. That would go a long way providing a user facing-application for HomeKit. At least it would give whoever is stuck being the home IT Manager a fighting chance of keeping order, and would make it more unlikely that iTunes would accidentally obliterate a music library.

There, you’re welcome Apple. Now hop to.

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yes Yes YES!
iTunes is a disaster. It violates every standard of UI design, it’s confusing, slow, buggy, and just a pain. I finally deleted my music library. I was looking to clear drive space and realized that I never listened to it any more BECAUSE iTUNES WAS SO ANNOYING TO USE. I also haven’t been buying music or movies from iTunes, just because the app is so bad. I also do not sync my devices through my Mac any more because that would require working with iTunes, which I hate to do.

Apple has to be made to realize that iTunes has become a major obstruction to other Apple services. Sales of music, AppleMusic, and Video products HAVE to be suffering because of the monstrosity that is iTunes. Unfortunately someone at Apple has developed a Ballmer complex where iTunes is for everything and everything has to run through iTunes. That person needs to be given a cookie and shown the door to be replaced with someone who understands the customers needs.

Larry Rice

This is so on-the-money!  iTunes is bloated, buggy, slow, and hideous. Every new bolted-on “feature” just makes it worse! I’ve resorted to installing a Plex media server, just to get a usable interface. Please, Apple, break this monster into maintainable discreet units!


Hilariously, if you go back a few years and look at comments on stories about iTunes, they were always about adding features and functionality. And Apple did. Over. And Over. And Over.

And it because as bloated as government bureaucracy.

I actually like the above mentioned suggestions for separate apps.

KISS. Keep it simple stupid. It may be cliche, but that’s because it works.


They broke out the books; now they need to continue.


I’m not sure I agree with breaking up iTunes around areas of functionality as much as around areas of types of content.

For example, take Photos and iBooks. Both are centered around types of content, but each has the ability to synchronize content with a given iOS device.

Centering around functionality means you end up with iSync making a return but with a new name.

John Kheit

That’s what App #6 is for.  For it to do all that content movement.  It’s certainly more configurable and ambitious than iSync ever was.  Also, the alternative to not breaking it up, is to keep the bloat. And that bloat, I’d say there is ample evidence for, is something that has made people hate dealing with music.

As always, YMMV.


Hear! Hear !  Good suggestions for breaking iTunes up.  iTunes is a real embarrassment to the idea that “It just works.” Apple could devise an app that does nothing but launch the separate applications into which it’s been broken.

Chuck Williams 1

I agree that iTunes needs to break up into parts, however, I would put Music and Apple Music together, only better.  Movies and TV together.  Audiobooks and Podcasts together, with a separate app for syncing devices including android phones, which should also receive the ability to play Apple content.  Windows should also have apps to follow suit with these. I think a store should be included with each app focusing on that type of content.

John Kheit

Chuck, I like those combos.  Thanks.  Yea, I forgot all about Books and podcasts.  Those are good suggestions.  I already put movies and TV together.

I guess the big point is to break it up into a) something more manageable and less bloated, and b) something more logical.  I think better minds than my own can come up with some alternatives.

That said, the content manager app I suggested is *REALLY* needed to move content from device to device.  It’s one of the most dark uncertain bits of of iTunes at this point.

Carol L. Watts

Please please PLEASE add this to your already great list: a books download app + books/pdf’s from other sources besides iTunes. (Hark! There are other readable sources OUTSIDE of the iTunes library!) It is sooo difficult to move pdf’s from computer to iPad. Kinda makes me want to scream. Good luck with your campaign. I hope things change for the better very soon - for all of us!

Paul Goodwin

Yes. I haven’t upgraded my Mac OS since 10.9.5. Some of it because my iMac is a mid-2010, but some of it is just that I don’t want to mess up what’s left of the music management capability. I was bummed when I upgraded the OS and had to use iTunes 11. iTunes 10.7 was the las good music manager. I vote for the breakup for sure.

Terry Maraccini

All of this can be accomplished by a change in the user interface.

John Kheit

From the “great minds think alike” department, I just found an older article by Kelly Gulmont expressing much the same idea a while back.  Wish I saw this earlier, but include reference here for some deserved Kudos towards Kelly.…-with-itself


Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O Please O PLEASE fix iTunes!!!


And of course… it’ll never happen….. iTunes isn’t for users anymore… it’s for Apple to sell stuff…

And, I might add, I’m a firm believer that Apple doesn’t want us to “own” anything anymore… no more software, no more media… they want us to subscribe to it forever.  Just as they have moved to giving you all the music you want for a monthly fee, it won’t be long before the same happens with TV and movies… and the last piece of the puzzle will be apps.  You’ll be able to pay Apple a monthly fee and get everything…. you just will never own it, and you’ll have to pay forever to use it….  Think Thin Client, where the “Thin” is the internet. That’s were we’re headed… back to the past.

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