Apple Music all devices teaser 001

Most people will agree that iTunes for Mac and Windows is a hot mess. Indeed, the app has long been ripe for a thorough change from top to bottom and inside out, if not a complete reboot.

The reasoning is simple: after more than fourteen years of adding one layer of code atop another and cramming every little feature it could possibly think of into iTunes, Apple has made the app bloated and painfully frustrating to use.

At some point during its development, iTunes has become inundated with various user interface inconsistencies. The most recent version with poorly implemented Apple Music has only made things worse.

Now, some have suggested that Apple break up this resource hog of an app into highly focused apps, each dedicated to managing and syncing their own media type. As someone who belongs to that camp, I’ve put together an opinion piece listing six solid arguments why breaking up iTunes into smaller apps might just make sense.

6 arguments for breaking iTunes into separate apps

The basic premise behind the post is that Apple should split up iTunes into specialized apps.

We already have one for electronic books, iBooks for Mac, and it comes with an embedded iBooks Store. Who’s to say there shouldn’t be similar Mac apps for other iTunes sections such as Podcasts, Music, Videos, iTunes U content and so forth? How about a lightweight app focused on browsing, downloading and syncing of mobile applications with iOS devices?

If Apple broke up iTunes into individual apps like it’s done on iOS, both its engineers and users would be able to reap the following benefits:

1. Simplified development

Instead of managing millions upon millions lines of code, splitting up iTunes into highly focused apps written from scratch would simplify overall software development and maintenance while help maintain the stability and reliability of these lightweight apps over a long arc of time.

2. Faster feature roll out

Adding a mundane feature to a beast that is iTunes is no trivial task due to code dependencies and bugs that have crept in over the years. Contrast this with adding a feature to a highly specialized app like Videos: not only would feature roll-out be faster with dedicated apps but lead to fewer software issues versus continuing to cram additional functionality into iTunes.

iTunes 12.2 Mac screenshot 001

3. Better user experience

Would anyone in their right mind say that iBooks for Mac is more complicated to use than iTunes? Of course it’s not! Focused experiences are great for average users. Imagine there was a dedicated Podcasts for Mac app.

Wouldn’t people be more likely to use a simplified Podcasts app than the confusing Podcasts interface in iTunes, especially those coming from the world of iOS devices? In this regard, lightweight apps could go a long way toward bringing the simplicity of iOS to desktop iTunes.

4. Faster performance

The fact that even on modern hardware iTunes isn’t exactly a speed demon speaks for itself. The lagginess of iTunes is of particular concern to those who have painstakingly amassed huge libraries over the years with hundreds of movies, thousands of apps and tens of thousands of songs. Splitting iTunes into lightweight apps would solve the lagginess and responsiveness problems that people have been complaining about for years now.

5. iTunes library in the Cloud

We already have the iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Music Library.

Isn’t it high time a full cloud-based backup of users’ iTunes libraries got implemented? And what better way of achieving this than reimagining iTunes as separate apps? Cloud libraries would ensure we wouldn’t lose the ratings, tags and other metadata should the local library file get corrupt.

More to the point, storing full iTunes libraries into the cloud could make it easier for other apps to share and update stuff like your ratings, custom artworks, song count and so forth. Last but not least, cloud libraries might help solve the age-old problem of accessing your iTunes content stored on a shared volume by multiple Macs at once.

6. Simpler device syncing

This would be the perfect opportunity to rethink the whole iOS device syncing process from scratch. Currently, an iOS device can be synced with only one iTunes library at a time. I don’t know if there’s a justifiable technical reason for this, but iTunes shouldn’t really prompt me to delete existing photos on my iPhone 6 Plus before adding a few new ones.

Same goes for music, or movies or TV shows.

iTunes erase and sync prompt Mac screenshot 001

Not only should Apple simplify the iOS device syncing process further, but share this code among dedicated iTunes apps so each could sync its own content with iOS hardware. And please, let us sync our iPhones, iPod touches and iPads with multiple iTunes libraries without wiping out what’s already stored on them.

Final thoughts

We want to hear your thoughts on the topic of splitting iTunes up into lightweight apps.

Would dedicated apps improve iTunes’ media experiences and open a world of possibilities, do you think? Die-hards say Apple should just let iTunes chug along and others propose rewriting the app from the dirt but without breaking it up into dedicated apps.

Which camp do you belong to?

Share your observations and analysis with fellow readers down in the comments.

  • Chindavon

    iTunes is a hot mess. They need to start over from the ground up, like now!

    • besrate hogsa

      yes it iTunes is a hot mess
      nice comment though

  • Scope

    The iDevice management section needs to be scrapped and rewritten from the dirt and separated from the store section via different apps. Have iTunes be a standalone store app or whatever and then have another app, let’s call it ‘iControl’ or ‘iCentre’ for iDevice management.

  • These days I get lost in iTunes merely looking for the song repeat button. Its hidden in there somewhere…..

  • chuckisbusy

    Is breaking up the app the best move? How about a simple redesign? It might turn out like Facebook! I dont even use Facebook any more, because its so segmented and separated.. I dont have the patience to deal with all the different pieces.

    • Merman123

      This. It just needs a good redesign. Much like iPhoto. Breaking it up creates a huge entry barrier.

  • Victor

    Luckily, I’m still jailbroken and haven’t had to sync in more than a year. But using Apple Music I’ll feel some things are off.

    The separation between Apple Music and the Store is one of them. The UI feels rather unorganized. And last, but not least, the program can’t recognize my Apple Music subscription lately, and says it’s expired every unfortunate time I have to open iTunes.

    A workaround is using the For You tab before I can play from my library. Go figure…

  • That_Fruitarian

    I personally don’t have a problem with iTunes. It plays my music, tv shows and movies. I’m content.

  • :D

    I only use iTunes for managing and backing up data on my iDevices. I like that I can do that through a single application. I’d hate to have to go to one app to manage music, another to manage videos, etc.
    If you could use multiple iTunes libraries with the same device, then great; I don’t see why you’d need to split iTunes up to do that though.

  • Nick Kaminski

    I AGREE 1,000%!!! I hate iTunes so much that haven’t opened it in months!!!!!

  • Rupinder

    I just want my music to actually play. iTunes uploads it to the cloud, but it never plays on my phone on Apple Music.

  • InfinitePlusOne

    Wait is this a wish or it’s happening?

    • Anmol Malhotra

      It’s a wish which is never going to happen.

  • Chang in Charge

    These posts about breaking iTunes up are becoming more and more frequent each day. Hopefully Apple is listening.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think iTunes is all the complex to use. But i will agree. iTunes is much of a legacy application. I agree break them up and make them light weight. I mean they are already there on iOS. at lest functionality wise. But a dedicated app for each part of apple “iTunes store” makes better sense. I personal like the iOS music app and don’t think it that hard to use. but i never open up the iOS iTunes store. As for apple’s iTunes digital passbook card, i think could come inbed into passbook and after that you don’t need the iTunes app because you can purchase from music, videos, ibooks, iTunes university, and pod cast. I do feel as far as the mac that same method of breaking up iTunes would be a better idea. I also do think apple knows it, and is working on it as we say, but when we will see the fruits is anyones guess.

  • This is a very good idea. A dedicated podcast app would be amazing. I feel though that apple is trying to get rid of iPhone syncing with a computer all together i.e. iCloud photo library and iCloud music library. It seems that they are slowly taking away a reason to sync with your computer.

  • besrate hogsa

    I don’t think iTunes is complicated to use but it needs to be faster and light on windows

  • Marcus

    I’ve been saying that iTunes needs to be broken up for probably two years. These are the applications that there should be:

    – iTunes (iTunes Store items such as music, movies, tv shows, iOS apps, ibooks, etc.) (Only the store)
    – Music (iCloud Music Library, iTunes Music Library, Apple Music) (Like on iOS)
    – Videos (Movies & TV Shows) (Like on iOS)
    – Podcasts (Like on iOS)
    – iTunes U (Like on iOS)
    – Apple Device Manager (Basically this is for when you have an iOS device connected to your computer. It’s like that overview window that you see in iTunes when you collect your device.)

    Audiobooks should also just be built into iBooks too. This would be so much better for all of the reasons that you mentioned, Christian.

    This would also be great because you can be doing multiple things at once. Browsing iTunes, managing your Music, using Apple Device Manager for your iPhone, etc.

  • Mark S

    Someone needs to give your webmaster a lesson on resizing images. The photo for this article is 4,366 x 2,348 (almost a meg in size). Must have taken 30 seconds to download thought I had a slow connection for a second. This sure would save your site a lot of bandwidth and your pages would load quicker.

  • (JailbreakQA) King Shoot

    Breaking up iTunes isn’t that good of an idea. It would mean that users would have to download and update all these standalone apps individually. That would also mean that in order to watch a movie, I have to launch one app, and in order to listen to music, I have to launch the other.

    Device syncing can also be a problem: If the Music and Device are standalone apps, how would one edit Music info (such as artwork, album, track number) and sync that to a device if the Device tab is a standlone app?

  • I agree. Its annoying to use Apple Music and not be able to sync Music Videos because they illegible for the iCloud Music Library. Makes no sense especially having the Video app on the phone that still contains Music Videos?

    Forces me to have to have an unorganized music library having to re-categorize Music Videos just so they can sync.

    Apple can definitely break up Apps, Videos similar to iBooks and still be managed through iTunes but separately in each app. This would be a great move

  • SmittyRedcard

    While I agree with the general ideas of the article, the last one – syncing to multiple computers – will be impossible until the RIAA releases Apple from the iPod contract that started this. In order to get ANY music on the iTunes Store, the RIAA forced Apple to guarantee a user could not fill up an iPod, go to a friends house, copy all that music to the friend’s computer, and then fill up the iPod with music from the friend’s collection. Although there are software and hardware hacks around this today, the agreement still blocks Apple from assisting customers in performing this illegal act. The fact that it prevents legitimate owners from backing up their collections or using their music legally on other devices is of little concern to the RIAA, as they would love for you to have to buy a copy for each computer, each time you upgrade, or just every few years.

    Bottom line, until the RIAA changes it’s tune (sorry), that dialog box is going to continue to haunt us.

  • trasman

    Thumbs up!