In this column, “Just putting this out there…,” we write about the odd ways we engage with tech and the unpopular opinions we form about it. You can read the rest of the articles in this series here.
One day very soon, iTunes will be murdered.
And I mean murdered. Tim Cook is gonna get in his dusty truck, and drive to the countryside with iTunes sitting quietly in the back. He’ll coax the beloved piece of software out onto a grass-covered bank, and get it to kneel.
“Oh look,” Tim Cook will say softly to iTunes, “there are some rabbits over there.” The software will turn, a smile will light up its beautiful face. Then Tim Cook will fucking shoot iTunes right in the back of the fucking head.
Yes, with the launch of macOS Catalina, Apple is going to split up iTunes into smaller bits of software. Meaning rather than having iTunes reign supreme over all the different types of media, there’ll be standalone apps for music, podcasts, and movies instead.
When this was announced, people were jubilant. They were positively joyous, exhilarated even — and totally fucking wrong. iTunes is great.
Now, before I go on and explain to you just how right I am, I’ll tackle a few criticisms. No, the software didn’t start out perfect. It crashed a lot, could be incredibly slow, sucked on Windows, and had some weird quirks (like automatically reorganizing your music folders), but that’s the past.
In this deluge, people often forget how incredible iTunes felt at the time. Yeah, I never bought a huge amount of music from the store, but the fact you could get almost anything on there was miraculous.
For me though, it was always about the music management system. I still remember getting my first iPod, sitting in front of a computer for endless hours, and burning CDs. Creating a music library is something I still do today, and have spent the majority of my life using iTunes to achieve it. And, in my experience, it does a damn good job. There are very few other features I’d want from a music library that iTunes doesn’t have.
Today it’s, on my computer at least, a slick piece of software I’d struggle without. Are there some flaws? Yeah, the podcast UI isn’t great, but who listens to podcasts on their computer anyway?
Now, I can see the logic of the upcoming split (iTunes is definitely not a video-first bit of software), but aside from being happy with the app in general, my biggest aversion to iTunes‘ death — sorry, approaching murder — comes from what’s likely to replace it.
Apple discontinuing iTunes feels like your once-cool Uncle putting down your beloved family dog because it looks old — even though he never actually spends any damn time with it anyway. MAYBE IF YOU SHOWED THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF INTEREST IN ROVER WE WOULDN’T BE IN THIS STUPID SITUATION, UNCLE TIM.
To put it another way, if Apple had actually focused on iTunes at some point in the past five years, it might be fit for modern, video-focused purpose.
I have a feeling this neglect is strategic. If you look at iTunes now it’s surprisingly clean. When I’m browsing my personal music library, the only things there are the tracks I’ve put on it.
With streaming services, this has changed. When I open Spotify or Apple music, I’ll get pushed towards albums I don’t give a shit about because they’ve got a big marketing budget. I’d be shocked if Apple‘s upcoming replacement for the music side of iTunes doesn’t go down this route and see the new app as an advertising goldmine.
At the very least, Apple will use its new music app to try and get me to sign up for its streaming service. At worst, it’s going to make it almost impossible to use without it. And that, friends, is a crock of shit.
For what I need, iTunes is close to perfect. It’s brilliant, I love(d), and will never forget all its done for me. Using it is like a warm bath filled with the finest bath bombs, and fragrant fluids. The future is gonna be like getting sprayed down in the park with a hose. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Basically, if you don’t appreciate iTunes now, that’s on you.