Why iTunes Must Die!

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #158


It’s no secret that I don’t care for recent versions of iTunes. To understand why I think it must die, at least in its current form, let’s start with a peek at what iTunes used to be, you know, back in the good old days…

iTunes Must Die

It was 1998 when a small Mac software developer called Casady & Greene, famous for utilities like Conflict Catcher and QuickDex and games like Crystal Quest (revived last year and available here for $4.99), introduced a new app known as SoundJam MP. It converted songs from audio CDs into MP3 files you could play on your Mac, or on the emerging category of pocket-sized MP3 players such as the Diamond Rio. (Remember, this was three years before the iPod…)

SoundJam MP was also a nifty organizer for your growing digital music collection—a simple app that did what it was supposed to do while simultaneously pioneering features we now consider ubiquitous, such as playlists, real-time equalizers, and the legendary visualizer.

SoundJam MP: What iTunes looked like before it was iTunes.

Then, in 2000, Apple bought SoundJam MP and transmogrified it into iTunes, which was introduced early in 2001. At the time, it still looked and felt more or less like SoundJam MP, now with a bit of glossy Apple veneer. The Apple press release said:

iTunes is miles ahead of every other jukebox application, and we hope its dramatically simpler user interface will bring even more people into the digital music revolution.

In the immortal words of The iTunes Guy, Kirk McElhearn, “If only that were true now.”

The problem is that over the years iTunes has become obese and bloated as Apple has added more features and functionality. That might not be so bad if the features and functions had to do with music, but most of them don’t. Today iTunes is a gargantuan behemoth—a music player and organizer; a video player and organizer; the front end for Apple Music; and the media library for Apple TV. It’s also the home several online content stores, Internet radio, podcasts, and iTunes U content. Oh, and it’s also the only sanctioned way to synchronize your media with your iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

Therein lies the rub. Apple has bolted so many features onto iTunes that it has become confusing and bloated (not to mention inconsistent and sort of ugly, too).

iTunes Breakdown

Just look at all the features you’ll only find after you click (or right-click) a cryptic icon…
(click to enlarge)

That being said, I have to admit that iTunes also offers a handful of sweet features including Smart Playlists, Up Next and History, and AirPlay. 

Still, that’s not enough to save it, so here’s what I propose: To fix the hot mess they call iTunes, Apple should replace it with three separate apps—Music, Movies (and other media), and Sync.

Or if that’s too much to ask, Apple should remove all the syncing crap and create a new app just for syncing, leaving iTunes to be a media player, organizer, and stores.

The bottom line is that I don’t mind using iTunes to listen to music or watch video at my desk, but when it comes to syncing, I usually turn to iMazing ($34.99; www.imazing.com), which is more capable than iTunes for both backups and syncing (and it launches way faster than iTunes). 

And that’s all he wrote…