Apple’s new Photos app for OS X is on its way, and in its wake, some of us have wondered aloud if iTunes is Apple’s next big software renovation project.
So now that iPhoto is obsoleted by Photos, how long until iTunes is obsoleted by a new (simple, focused) Music app on Mac?
— John Gruber (@gruber) February 7, 2015
After all, iTunes is ripe for an overhaul. Since its introduction in 2001, Apple’s jukebox app has gained lots of functionality, but it’s lost its focus and simplicity, and became bloated as Apple tacked on new features to support new products. And as iTunes’ reach has grown, its reputation has suffered greatly. Now might be the time for a fresh start.
But what would a fresh start look like? I don’t think we need to look any further than iOS.
Whereas OS X and Windows has the monolithic iTunes, iOS comes with individual, dedicated apps that are focused on specific kinds of media: Music handles audio playback, Videos handles video playback, Podcasts handles podcast playback. Purchasing gets its own app, too thanks to the iTunes Store App.
It isn’t too hard to imagine Apple taking a similar approach with media management—one app to handle audio, another app to handle video, a third to handling purchases, and a fourth to handle syncing with devices (you know, for those increasingly rare instances when you actually sync your iOS devices and iPods with your Mac). Call it the iTunes Suite.
There are tradeoffs, of course: It’s easier to download one app than to download multiple apps, and having your media in one place—as is the case with iTunes—can be convenient. But independent—yet tightly integrated—apps could result in a much better user experience. It would also allow you to download and use only the apps you want.
(I assume OS X would come with all the apps, but Windows users might appreciate being able to pick and choose which apps to download. Then again, I also see a scenario where OS X would get the new apps while Windows users would be stuck with iTunes. See also: QuickTime X.)
Will it actually happen? We’ll have to wait and see. But given the direction Apple seems headed in, it doesn’t seem to be out of the realm of possibility.