“It's like giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell.”
June 3, 2019 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Apple expected to close iTunes after 18 years [The Guardian] “It was once heralded as a possible saviour of the music industry in the digital age, famously annoyed fans by forcing a U2 album on them, and its 20,699-word terms and conditions have even inspired a graphic novel, but now Apple is to replace its iTunes download service. According to a report by Bloomberg, the tech company will announce that three separate apps for music, TV and podcasts will supersede iTunes, as Apple seeks to reposition itself as an entertainment service rather than a hardware company powered by products such as the iPhone.”

• Apple Is Finally Ditching iTunes [Slate]
“Debuting in 2001, iTunes had its heyday in the 2000s as a virtual jukebox in which people could store their 99-cent MP3 purchases from the online Music Store. Apple originally marketed the platform as a tool for burning custom mixes onto CDs, and then as a playlist organizer for the then newly released iPod. The platform eventually expanded to include podcasts and TV shows in 2005 and movies in 2006, and eventually hosted the Genius algorithm that could build playlists based on users’ tastes. With the advent of streaming, tech analysts have been predicting the end of iTunes for at least three years. Apple’s iPhones and iPads have forgone iTunes for stand-alone video, music, and podcast apps for quite some time now. The Apple Music streaming service has been the default for devices for a while. It’s only Mac computers that still use the iTunes platform. As Rolling Stone suggests, phasing out iTunes fits in with Apple’s overall strategy to become an entertainment services provider.”
• Apple Is Finally Killing iTunes [Rolling Stone]
“But the scrapping of iTunes’ brand symbolizes a lot, too. By portioning out its music, television and podcast offerings into three separate platforms, Apple will pointedly draw attention to itself as a multifaceted entertainment services provider, no longer as a hardware company that happens to sell entertainment through one of its many apps. That’s crucial for Apple’s future, as the company combats sluggish phone sales with aggressive growth in its services division. At WWDC this year, according to various reports, Apple is planning to buff up other apps including Books, Messages and Mail; it also announced ambitious plans for original video programming featuring the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell just a few months ago, in another bid to grow its content presence in entertainment industries. Welcome as the death of iTunes may be to frustrated users, the software will forever deserve credit for the revolution it engineered in the early 2000s. Before iTunes debuted, the music industry was tearing its hair out trying to combat illegal file-sharing on Napster; Jobs’ new product presented the digital era’s first sustainable, user-friendly way to listen to music.”
posted by Fizz (121 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Eventually Apple will have no need for Mac OS at all, and will move entirely to sealed fondle-slabs* of hardware to sell. The real nail in the coffin will be when whatever replaces Xcode that works on on iOS.

* word courtesy Mefi's own cstross
posted by nickggully at 5:59 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


What, exactly, will this mean for those of us who, for various technical (and financial) reasons, have not been able to update our hardware and OS to anything recent? Will areas of iTunes (like, say, podcasts or the store) simply stop working?

I kind of doubt Apple is going to release versions of the new replacement apps that work with older OSs.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:00 AM on June 3 [21 favorites]


I still use it just to download podcasts and to throw them and mp3s on to an old iPod Shuffle (because I don't carry a phone if I can help it). What's the simplest free Windows alternative for stuff like that?
posted by pracowity at 6:03 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


RIP the days before streaming, when I used to buy individual episodes of ER on iTunes and patiently wait for them to download over my super slow internet. “Oh, another 6 hours before it’s downloaded? Ok.”
posted by sallybrown at 6:03 AM on June 3 [19 favorites]


I am keenly interested in this keynote today.

I have tens of thousands of MP3s, and while I hate me some iTunes-the-application, I still want to play music on my iPhone and rip CDs and make playlists.

I have been a delighted owner of iPods since early days, and still have a couple in active use (as an overnight white noise-player for my wife, and for playing audiobooks while driving & walking); I would be delighted if they'd kept a large-capacity player available so I could keep carrying along my tunes. I have a Sansa player, but its little onboard database tips over when there's more than a few thousand items on the device, which is suboptimal.

(I already switched to Overcast for podcasts, and haven't missed any part of the crummy podcast player on iOS even once.)

I won't ever pay Apple for the privilege of streaming my own music if they try to memory-hole iTunes. I guess that means I will have to find better software than iTunes for loading music onto my devices, and better hardware than the Sansa player. *sigh*
posted by wenestvedt at 6:06 AM on June 3 [23 favorites]


As a power user of iTunes (way before Apple Music, and before the automatic reencoding for portable devices which rendered it superfluous, I wrote my own system to keep metadata between iPod and Mac versions of the same song in sync) with a sizeable music collection (just short of 40k tracks) meticulously maintained through a slew of Doug's excellent scripts, I am both excited and concerned.
iTunes is a lumbering beast, and many things can go wrong, yet it is also very powerful, and has a rich set of tools for metadata and metadata processing – especially, if you don't mind a bit of applescripting.
Still, many of the issues I have encountered over the years has been between the interfaces between music, podcasts, and audiobooks, and differentiating those into separate applications might be a good idea.
posted by bouvin at 6:08 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


Note: the unbundling of iTunes components into separate apps has already happened on iOS—the functionality is split across Music, TV, and Podcasts. All of which are somewhat bloated, but nothing like the crawling tentacular horror that iTunes (a fairly svelte mp3 player when it debuted) has become.

It's also a sign that iOS is becoming a first-class operating system in its own right.

Back in the 90s and early 00s, if you had a Palm Pilot (or a Newton Messagepad, for that matter), you didn't expect your PDA to be a full-blown computer, it was too feeble. Rather, you'd sync it with a desktop application to share contacts/schedule/notes with your Mac or PC. It was just a convenient portable gizmo for taking stuff with you.

When the iPod came along, it followed the familiar sync model: you rip/mix/burn on your iTunes-running Mac, but the iPod is just a read-(listen-)only peripheral you load from the real computer.

When the iPhone turned up it was a glorified touchscreen iPod with phone functionality attached (it couldn't run third party apps; even cut and paste didn't show up until iOS 3). You needed a desktop host to update its operating system, run backups, move music and TV back and forth, and so on.

But gradually iOS turned into a real operating system and for the past 2-4 years it's been possible to own and run an iPad or iPhone without owning a Mac or PC and a copy of iTunes—all the stuff iTunes did for the early iPhone is now available on the device itself.

A release or so ago iTunes lost the ability to download iOS apps onto an iPad or iPhone, because it simply wasn't needed any more (there's the App Store app on the device itself). Backup has been going the same way, with Apple pushing iCloud Backup. (Lots of users apparently weren't plugging their phones into their Mac regularly, so when they got stolen/broken there were shrieks and wails of anguish over the data loss. (iCloud backups provided Apple with another service-oriented revenue stream and reduced support headaches.)

Anyway ... iTunes bloated up over a 15 year period into a rather crappy multitool for managing content and devices to play the content. But now the devices have become real grown up computers in their own right, and the multitool is a confusing pile of junk that does a lot of stuff nobody really needs any more.

So it makes a lot of sense to blow the dust off the junkpile, part out the bits that are still useful, and ditch the rest.
posted by cstross at 6:09 AM on June 3 [42 favorites]


It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s iTunes the piece of software being retired, and not necessarily the store backend. I can’t imagine them closing off music sales or movie rentals on old hardware or anything like that, especially given their new obsession with services revenue.

Also, fingers crossed that this winds up being metafilter’s first Apple-related thread to not just immediately degenerate into grar
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:11 AM on June 3 [11 favorites]


Also: “When I was your age, iTunes was good, even on Windows!”
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:12 AM on June 3 [27 favorites]


Seems like a good place to re-post Ian Svenonious' "All Power to the Packrats", which seems more on-point w/each passing month:

We’re encouraged to lose our possessions. Music? Store it on the iCloud. Books? Store it on the iCloud. Movies, magazines, newspapers, TV — all are safely stored in the ether and not underfoot or stuffed in a closet. It’s a modernist monastery where the religion is Apple itself.
Meanwhile, those who have hung onto possessions are castigated, jeered at, and painted as fools.

The hit A&E TV show Hoarders identifies people with things as socially malignant, grotesque, primitive, dirty, bizarre. In a word: poor. Apple has turned the world upside down in making possessions a symbol of poverty and having nothing a signifier of wealth and power.

This is actually a bourgeois sensibility, an aesthetic of Calvinists and other early Protestant capitalists. While wealth adornment was a no-no, extraordinary wealth accumulation was a sign of godliness and beatitude.


Anyway, I bought it for a while too, and have a cast-in-amber 1st generation iPod full of music to prove it. But I've gone back to piles of CDs, because it's pretty obvious the whole thing exists only as long as the bottom line props it up, and end users are way, way far down the list of concerns.

I still use it just to download podcasts and to throw them and mp3s on to an old iPod Shuffle (because I don't carry a phone if I can help it). What's the simplest free Windows alternative for stuff like that?

I use a SanDisk Clip Sport - cheap, tiny, and durable. One of mine has even survived a few trips through the wash.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:13 AM on June 3 [17 favorites]


Only about 14 years after I ran screaming away from that application and never looked back. Seriously, my hatred of iTunes is why I haven't bought an Apple product since 2005. I loved my iPod Mini when I got it but having to use iTunes to maintain it was just so painful that it soured me on ever getting another iPod or eventually iPhone. I don't know how many times iTunes would just grind to a halt halfway through syncing, forcing me to either wait potentially forever for it to finally start doing something again or kill it and risk corrupting the database on the iPod once again. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
posted by octothorpe at 6:18 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile, those who have hung onto possessions are castigated, jeered at, and painted as fools.

I love music so I bought records and then tapes and then CDs and then MP3s -- but finally having my music in digital form means freedom from that treadmill.

Physical forms are fixed, but bits are infinitely mutable, and having ffmpeg at my disposable makes me feel kind of omnipotent. I can convert those bits form one format to another, and keep them available without regard to what hardware is being sold at me; try stuffing a 45 into a CD player (if you can find one of either).
posted by wenestvedt at 6:21 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


I keenly await this, as for whatever reason, iTunes has refused to update on my aging lappy (windows 7, probably falling apart), getting almost all the way there then saying, oops, no, failed to install, and my phone has decided its much, much to fancy to consort with such an old version of iTunes, so, yeah, no transferring any new music to my phone. There are a bunch of albums I’ve got that I’d love to listen to, but I don’t really listen to much music while sitting in front of my computer.

In other words, yay, I hope whatever comes next sucks less, and not more.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:21 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Since the WWDC keynote isn't for a few hours yet, it seems premature to speculate whether Apple is ditching the iTunes ecosystem or they'll just be calling it something else later today.

Apple's been breaking out functionality from iTunes and its corresponding apps within iOS for a while now. It's been a year or two since it was possible to shop for iOS apps within the desktop iTunes. A few years before that Apple's executives had been quoted as more-or-less conceding that iTunes had gotten overburdened and had to be broken down into its constituent functions. So basically I feel like this is less of a sea change than it looks like.

Almost all my music is on CD. That probably will always be true because I have a ridiculous quantity of CDs and I'm getting old, but it's not a practical -- or even feasible -- means of buying music any more. Everything is released digitally, except for the stuff marketed to obscurantists, and vinyl is popular again because people attribute all kinds of charms to vinyl records. But anyway, all my CDs are ripped and on my computer. I have convenient portable copies to listen to on whatever device I want to listen to them on, and I have hard copy backups. As far as I can tell, win-win.
posted by ardgedee at 6:24 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s iTunes the piece of software being retired, and not necessarily the store backend. I can’t imagine them closing off music sales or movie rentals on old hardware or anything like that, especially given their new obsession with services revenue.

Maybe. At least, I hope you're right. I'm not so worried about the Store (I don't really buy music or movies) but I do listen to a lot of podcasts, and I'd hate to see Apple change the backend of their podcast subscription/distribution mechanism to where only the new discrete app gets downloads. That would be a very Apple-ish thing to do, frankly...Go all-in on the shiny new and cut-loose anyone not making the transition.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:25 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I have fond memories of my first iPod, the bubble-gum shaped Shuffle and purchasing directly from iTunes was pretty cool. I was happy to pay for my music legally because it was easier than dealing with viruses (at least at that time, just typing out Limeware is probably going to infect this device).

But over the years I've watched how bloated and shitty iTunes has become. I stopped using my iPod touch a while back because now I just stream everything via Spotify and while I know I don't technically own the music I listen to, I've adapted to this because its' just easier now. It sucks that this is the new normal, everything streaming, nothing physical.

God, I feel so weary and old.
posted by Fizz at 6:25 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Good riddance.

Best iTunes quote (sorry; I don't know the provenance): "iTunes is like having your hand held by a robot who wants to walk into the ocean and die."
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:28 AM on June 3 [52 favorites]


ryanshepard: thanks for sharing that. I had never read that, but it's in tune with my philosophy. I am annoyed whenever music or other media I want is only available digitally. If I don't have a copy in my hands, I don't feel like I own it. Even downloads, I spend way too much time and effort making backups to make sure I don't lose something.

My favorite thing these days is vinyl + FLAC download. A lot of great stuff on Bandcamp that you can get on vinyl and also get a FLAC copy of, which saves me the trouble of converting vinyl to digital but I get a copy that will last well beyond the rest of my life if taken care of.

I still use it just to download podcasts and to throw them and mp3s on to an old iPod Shuffle (because I don't carry a phone if I can help it). What's the simplest free Windows alternative for stuff like that?

I think the Clementine music player will do what you want. Might work with an old iPod shuffle, will definitely work with almost any new media player that's not an iPhone.
posted by jzb at 6:29 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


I love music so I bought records and then tapes and then CDs and then MP3s -- but finally having my music in digital form means freedom from that treadmill.

I had exactly the opposite experience - I still have a ton of it, but in a large variety of formats, and having come in w/a big spectrum of metadata quality, w/most of that being crap. Organizing it, and, most of all, finding a single desktop player + a physical counterpart that could handle all file types - and keeping those updated w/what was coming in - finally got so irritating (after ~a decade) that I just threw up my hands.

I still listen to FLAC/WAV/MP3, etc., but only when I have no other alternative. It's just a lot less hassle to keep some stacks of CDs in the kitchen or out on the porch that I can just pick up and put in the player when I want to listen to something.

Anyhow, to each his own - I'm glad Bandcamp exists, I'm glad artists can sell almost direct to fans, I love that bands w/small but dedicated fan bases can do small scale digital releases to make some rent money, etc. It's just not really for me.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:29 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


We’re encouraged to lose our possessions. Music? Store it on the iCloud. Books? Store it on the iCloud.

Here in the midwest, we just went through two and a half weeks of thunderstorms, tornado watches, and in my case, a tornado that came up to the edge of town and lifted at the last second. Saw the rotation on radar pass directly overhead.

Thanks to Apple, Dropbox, Amazon photos, Steam, and a portable HD stuffed in a backpack, my collection of music, games, most of my magazines & books purchased over the past 8 years, personal notes, and all my RAW photos would have survived the destruction of my house. There's nothing wrong with owning physical items, but having a majority of my most valued cultural and personal items immune to local disaster is a very good thing. I couldn't imagine relying on stacks of CDs and facing the possibility of losing some of my very rare releases forever.

Because of the backups I have in various sources, it feels like I own these things more permanently than my physical items. Living in tornado country, in an old house where the old wiring might do something funky one day, reminds me of the impermanence of all things.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:36 AM on June 3 [29 favorites]


I'm in the group that finds not having to own multiple physical objects freeing. I get why other people feel differently but when I realized I don't have to continue to buy Billy bookcases at the rate I did in my pre-ebook life (we have 14, in my home) it was a relief that I could settle into a 3-bedroom post-war bungalow with my two-household family and keep our footprint smaller.

I think this is pretty good news, if all of those discrete apps are made better for what they do.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:42 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I don't really trust Apple to not screw this up somehow. My best guess is that metadata will be crippled somehow, in favor of the new shiny and Apple's latest design fetish.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:45 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


I've been nursing a theory since 2008 or so: iTunes exists only because Apple uses it as the stick to force reluctant Windows users to switch to the Apple ecosystem. iTunes is actually halfway decent on MacOS; it's just the Windows port that wants to sit contentedly in its 6 GB of allocated memory, randomly causing page faults and pinning the CPU at 100% while it does considers its navel. You only experience that pain if you have an iPod but no MacBook, so you have to sync your device through iTunes because Apple DMCAs everyone who tries to provide an alternative. So my theory has always been that Apple is constantly working to make iTunes actively worse to drive MacOS uptake.

Now that MacOS adoption is high enough, there's no reason to keep dozens of developers working on a product whose only job is to be necessary, but also unusably terrible.
posted by Mayor West at 6:46 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]


The hit A&E TV show Hoarders identifies people with things as socially malignant, grotesque, primitive, dirty, bizarre. In a word: poor. Apple has turned the world upside down in making possessions a symbol of poverty and having nothing a signifier of wealth and power.

this characterization of Hoarders seems a little bit like calling Genghis Khan "a well-known horse aficionado"
posted by murphy slaw at 6:50 AM on June 3 [33 favorites]


I wonder if the new Music app is going to constantly interrupt me trying to play music from my collection by bringing up a screen begging me to subscribe to the streaming service like the iOS one does. Or more precisely by bringing up a blank screen that sits there for a moment before I either snarl and force quit the app, or wait long enough for it to download the subscription screen from some slow server. I fucking hate that screen.
posted by egypturnash at 6:51 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


this characterization of Hoarders seems a little bit like calling Genghis Khan "a well-known horse aficionado"

I don't entirely agree w/Svenonious, having worked as an estate buyer and seen plenty of pathological accumulation, but as w/Scott Herring's The Hoarders: Material Deviance in Modern American Culture, he raises some interesting questions about why Kondo-esque minimalism is having a moment now, what its unspoken class/cultural assumptions are, and who profits from it.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:58 AM on June 3 [16 favorites]


Coming into the Apple ecosystem with an iPhone 4, I loathed iTunes with a passion I normally reserve for printer driver software. It's what made me go to Android.

Having recently switched back to an iPhone... good riddance to bad rubbish.
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 7:01 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


See you in hell, garbage.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:06 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


I don't entirely agree w/Svenonious, having worked as an estate buyer and seen plenty of pathological accumulation, but as w/Scott Herring's The Hoarders: Material Deviance in Modern American Culture, he raises some interesting questions about why Kondo-esque minimalism is having a moment now, what its unspoken class/cultural assumptions are, and who profits from it.

i agree that there's something to be said about minimalism as a class signifier. i think that attaching it strongly to Apple and digital goods (surely the Amazon Kindle has done more to reduce the space occupied by physical possessions than any Apple device?) is a stretch.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:08 AM on June 3


> “iTunes” can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by OS X.

It's as if they've been lying to me this entire time.
posted by 7segment at 7:24 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


back up yer libaries
posted by stevil at 7:26 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I'm another one who prefers to have at least a decentralized backup of anything that can be digitized.
Back in the late nineties burglars cleaned me out while I was at work. Insurance covered most things but they just laughed at me when I asked what they could do about my collection of the entire Fax back catalogue on CD.
The worst of it is, the burglars probably took one look at my copy of Tetsuo Inoue's Ambiant Otaku and threw it in the trash. Bastards.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:28 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


MediaMonkey (Windows only) is how I move mp3s to my iPhone these days. Bookmobile is how I play audiobooks if I am not using Libby and it works for podcasts as well. I believe you can manage the subscriptions directly in the app. I just bought 2 songs from iTunes this weekend my phone, so I need to make sure and grab the mp3s for my PC.
posted by soelo at 7:32 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


“Winamp, it really whips the llama's ass!!”
posted by Fizz at 7:36 AM on June 3 [33 favorites]



See you in hell, garbage.

Yeah, I bailed on Apple hardware about ten years ago when the only Macbook I ever bought turned out to be a lemon and they refused to recognize it as such. That single laptop required more servicing than every other laptop I've ever owned (all Windows) combined.

Bad luck, I guess. Or was it?

Because when I saw iTunes starting to morph from a pretty darned cool and functional music playing and organizing program into an unworkable piece of **** that really just seemed to want to be a conduit to an online store -- well, I wised up and went elsewhere. (MusicBee if you want to know -- imperfect and good for a few set-up headaches, but ultimately quite workable).

But, getting everything off iTunes (all my playlists, all my tens of thousands of actual files disentangled from the tagging and filing) -- that took months. And then there's the months it took to get everything tagged and filed into iTunes in the first place. I seriously can't think of any other corporate, governmental or educational entity that's EVER WASTED MORE OF MORE TIME.
posted by philip-random at 7:52 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


iTunes is actually halfway decent on MacOS; it's just the Windows port that wants to sit contentedly in its 6 GB of allocated memory, randomly causing page faults and pinning the CPU at 100% while it does considers its navel.

It doesn't sound like you've tried iTunes on the Mac recently. Now... I haven't tried to run it on Windows in a passel of years, but that sounds just like the application that takes a minute to launch on a recentish Mac with and SSD even though the library is empty.
posted by wotsac at 8:01 AM on June 3


I hadn't thought about this until now, but as a longterm Apple buyer there are two things I've not done in recent memory: Open iTunes in MacOS and sync my phone to my laptop. It's clearly time to kill iTunes and move on. I'm more interested in how this strategy affects their approach to hardware going forward.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:09 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


iTunes is the only music software with smart playlists (as far as I know) and I'll be mad and sad if they take that away because the current crop of ux design tools don't allow for anything that "complicated" to be designed (I know bc I have to use them). Nobody even seems to know about smart playlists it seems like from how popular it is to rag on iTunes. They're going to say oh nobody uses this and it's too hard to understand and it's not a linear click through flow so I don't know how to mock this up. I'm mad in advance.
posted by bleep at 8:20 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


I migrated to Swinsian on my macs last year. It's like going back in time to when iTunes was a good music player and library manager, but now it supports FLAC. I don't have any iOS devices so I don't know whether it's any good for that sort of thing.
posted by Evstar at 8:22 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]



I don't entirely agree w/Svenonious, having worked as an estate buyer and seen plenty of pathological accumulation, but as w/Scott Herring's The Hoarders: Material Deviance in Modern American Culture, he raises some interesting questions about why Kondo-esque minimalism is having a moment now, what its unspoken class/cultural assumptions are, and who profits from it.


Every once in a while someone writes a book and I think, "oh my god, that could have been my dissertation, so deeply does it reflect my interests" and then I regret not going to grad school. I actually put together most of a zine about the discourse around hoarding and stuff a few years ago and I'll definitely get that book.
posted by Frowner at 8:27 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


iTunes is basically fine compared with the Electron-powered garbage most non-apple Mac apps big companies try to push these days. That being said, they still never fixed the full-screen mode behaviour where the menu bar would cover over the search box if you moved your mouse too high when going to it. Always though that was a Carbon thing but it's been a Cocoa app for ages now. Guess it will die unfixed.

RIP SoundJam MP.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:29 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


I sort of understand the hate for iTunes, but as a heavy former user of smart playlists and manual device management, I'm afraid that I will miss its power-user features when it's gone. The new apps will look sleek and have more intuitive interfaces, sure - but this may be one more step in the iOS dumbing down of the Mac.

Or maybe not. We'll know in a couple of hours...
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:32 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


I've said it before on MeFi, but I think I won some sort of sweepstakes years ago, because I've never had the slightest complaint with iTunes, even when I was trying to make it do some funky stuff (like supporting multiple libraries on multiple iOS devices and having a "family" set up before Family Sharing was a thing.

I assume what is going to happen is that "iTunes" is not really going anywhere, they are just going to separate out video and podcasts and rename the software "Music".
posted by Rock Steady at 8:32 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]


Smart playlists were a godsend at the time. Helped with managing a very large podcast collection.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:34 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Except for podcasts, I never use the Apple store. We have all our music on iTunes and dump it onto our iPods for listening. Will anything change for us, or can we still use this out of date software on our desktop to do this?
posted by agregoli at 8:37 AM on June 3


> We have all our music on iTunes and dump it onto our iPods for listening. Will anything change for us?

I suspect that even with the move to a simpler, glossier app, this functionality will continue to be part of the core of the new Music app. If not, something has gone seriously wrong, and I don't think so.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:40 AM on June 3


SoundJam MP was great. I was really disappointed by the loss of functionality when they turned it into iTunes. I left the Apple ecosystem a while ago, but sounds like it's just been a long decline since then.
posted by biogeo at 8:48 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I've enjoyed listening to the volte-face from tech podcasters who, after a decade of demanding that iTunes should be broken up, instantly declared their love for it as soon as they heard rumours that it would be broken up. Yes, I know it's a bit more complicated than that – but perhaps they too should have realised that in the first place.
posted by adrianhon at 8:48 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


The going rumor is that the new macOS (and dang it, I still type it as MacOS) Music app is secretly just iTunes with a bunch of features ripped out. I guess we'll know for sure once people install the developer beta today and run it. If it has a modal preferences window, then it's still secretly iTunes. This would make some degree of sense, as iTunes is cross-platform, and so they'll just be able to ship another build as an Apple Music branded app for Windows.

To be honest, I actually like iTunes. And I know I'm not alone. There are dozens of us! Dozens! For my purposes, it's a good library-based music player. It organizes my files, lets me pick them, handles metadata okay, doesn't look bad if you have album art, and handles my giant library like a champ. Of course, I'm a Mac user, and having used older versions of iTunes on Windows, I'd hate iTunes too if that's only the experience I'd had.

Now, what truly worries me about iTunes potentially going away is that I don't stream. I don't do any cloud-based music at all for reasons too finicky and corner-case-y to get into here. Once Apple Music came out, the iOS Music app started treating local music files as a second-class citizen. If this is what's going to happen to local music libraries on the Mac, I'm not at all sure what I'll do, but I'm not looking forward to it. At least on iOS, I can use a replacement app to navigate and pick music in my library. What's going to take that role on the desktop, and will I still be able to sync local music files?
posted by SansPoint at 8:50 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


This could be a really interesting opportunity for third party developers. Most people have just fucked off to streaming everything, but the people who care about having a large, locally-hosted music collection really care. A beautifully-designed replacement for what iTunes was initially good at might very well be a worthwhile project for an indie developer.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:53 AM on June 3 [15 favorites]


Just checked ebay, an 8TB drive is under $100. Tech has varying cycles, some where streaming made a lot of economic and practical sense. A couple/half dozen physical drives is not hoarding. Use the cloud, streaming services, but anything one might possibly be interested in a few years/decades in the future and also be on physical hardware where you can control the lifecycle.
posted by sammyo at 8:57 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Perfect time for Panic to launch a new version of Audion.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:59 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


> Just checked ebay, an 8TB drive is under $100.

You dare to buy hard drives ... on eBay????

(Sorry, derail, but this boggles my mind! You'd trust your data to something from eBay?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:01 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Back in the day, around 2003ish, the concept of the "product-service-business model" ecosystem was born in schools of design planning. Jobs was the god of design planning - conceiving of an attractive device (the ipod), coupled with a digital service (itunes), and a frictionless business model (just 99 cents!) that - taken together - completely transformed music consumption and disrupted the music industry. At the time, nothing was novel - there were mp3 players, there were mp3s, there was napster et al. It was the concept of a coherent ecosystem that seamlessly worked together that was novel, that was Jobs.

.


the end of an era.
posted by hugbucket at 9:05 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


No but ebay a good quick indicator of pricing.
posted by sammyo at 9:06 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I for one look forward to, instead of having one version of iTunes trying to do music, TV, and podcasts, having 3 different iTunes descendants trying to do music, TV, and podcasts.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:06 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


"as Apple seeks to reposition itself as an entertainment service rather than a hardware company."

No, Apple is going to continue to be both of those things. Its plan all along has been to be both a hardware and software company, and "entertainment services" are just more software.
posted by me3dia at 9:09 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I prefer electronic files over CDs, etc., but I don’t cloud.

“The cloud” sounds nice, until you replace the term with “somebody else’s computer”.

I just want a program like Winamp that organizes and plays music. I want a program like iBooks that organizes and displays books. I want a program that will sync my iPhone and iPad with my Mac. And I want each of these programs to be well-designed and efficient.

What I don’t want is a program designed to do EVERYTHING, that then forces me to use it to do the simplest thing, and then is so bloated and buggy that I can’t reliably do that simplest thing when I want it to.

And I want Apple to quit spamming me with requests and surreptitious update reconfigurations that try to get me to use their cloud service. An 8TB drive ($139 on Amazon), with two more as backups, is quite sufficient, thank you.
posted by darkstar at 9:10 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I don't expect to like what they replace it with, but good fucking riddance. I've ended up using older iphones chiefly because they're pretty easy to fix. But christ I hate iTunes. I can't imagine it will be a rough transition for most folks into a streaming style set of apps, because lord knows iTunes always gave you the distinct feeling that you did not own your mp3s, what with shitty syncing, renaming of files, and random "I'll just throw this up to the cloud without asking you. You probably won't ever want that music when you're out of wifi range" functionality. Thank God for third party apps.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:13 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


“When I was your age, iTunes was good, even on Windows!”

Let's pour one out for iTunes on Windows. Steve Jobs didn't want to do it but eventually was convinced by his team ("Fuck you guys, do whatever you want. You’re responsible").

iTunes/Win is what kept the iPod from languishing into obscurity like all of the other Apple peripherals of the era. And I really really believe without iPod succeeding there wouldn't have been the interest or (more importantly) the capital to make the iPhone possible. Steve throwing up his hands was a trillion dollar event.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:16 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]


> languishing into obscurity like all of the other Apple peripherals of the era

Which other peripherals? The first thing Jobs did after returning to Apple was kill off all the peripheral products. The only other peripheral product (aside from the iPod itself) from the early iPod era that I can think of is the AirPort. Most things people thing of as Apple peripherals (like those various interestingly-shaped computer speakers) were from third parties.
posted by ardgedee at 9:24 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Ever since the Spotify switch, I hardly ever touched my 130GB iTunes library ever again. In fact, last year I copied it to a hard drive and stuck it in the closet, which opened a hell of a lot of space on my Mac. I only use iTunes now as a repository for music for Final Cut.

Physical media? Downloading? Syncing phones? Don't miss them at all. And when 5G finally hits, it's going to make our current streaming situation seem primitive.
posted by fungible at 9:26 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


JoeZydeco: "
Let's pour one out for iTunes on Windows. Steve Jobs didn't want to do it but eventually was convinced by his team ("Fuck you guys, do whatever you want. You’re responsible").
"

From that article:

That opened up the iPod to the 97% of people who had PCs.

They could see how well the software worked with the hardware.

They learned how easy it was to upgrade.


Jesus wept.
posted by chavenet at 9:32 AM on June 3


I don't understand streaming-only. It just seems to use so much data and data costs money. Half the time my internet on my phone craps out for no particular reason. I feel like everyone else is on this other planet of cheap rock-solid phone data with no throttling or hiccups.
posted by bleep at 9:33 AM on June 3 [24 favorites]


I imagine most people (not on unlimited data plans) are syncing certain playlists/albums/etc to their phone while on WiFi - I know that's how I manage Google Play Music.
posted by sagc at 9:38 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I have an Astell & Kern AKjr, and put flacs on it. Apple can take its ecosystem and go pound sand.
posted by salt grass at 9:48 AM on June 3


What are applications that look clunky and non-native, use a ton of memory and split iTunes functionality into three pieces?
posted by snofoam at 9:49 AM on June 3


“The cloud” sounds nice, until you replace the term with “somebody else’s computer”.

Somebody else's computer, being maintained by somebody else's employees. Getting the free or cheapest tier of iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive is having the transmission and storage of your data supported by orders of magnitude more expertise and more hardware than you could personally accomplish.

I could buy my very own server computer, rent out rack space, and roll my own continuously available off-site backup service, but it would not be remotely worth it.

The history of my personal Steam and Google Play Music libraries versus content I owned on discs in the blurry distant past suggests that, like many people, I am a disorganized, casual media consumer and I am likely to have access to media for longer if I can re-download it from corporate infrastructure controlled by someone else.
posted by bagel at 9:53 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


A couple of others above touched on it, but I like being able to back up my iPhone and iPad locally. I use iCloud too, but when I know I will need to restore from a backup (like when buying a new device) it is much quicker to use iTunes. I wonder if that functionality will go away or be moved somewhere else (like to macOS, which makes more sense to begin with).
posted by TedW at 9:55 AM on June 3


bagel: The problem with using the cloud for music you own is that you're not putting your music there. All the various music locker services, be it iTunes Match, Amazon, or Google, or even Spotify Uploads, "match" your files to what's in their database. This is good for them, in that they don't need to keep a million copies of someone's MP3 of "Bohemian Rhapsody" or whatnot, but it's bad for obsessively detailed music collectors who are particular about versions of recordings.

To give you an example, I tried using iTunes Match, and it "matched" the German-language versions of my Kraftwerk albums with their English versions. I went to go listen to "Das Modell" on my phone and got "The Model" instead, which was very annoying.
posted by SansPoint at 9:58 AM on June 3 [16 favorites]


Getting the free or cheapest tier of iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive is having the transmission and storage of your data supported by orders of magnitude more expertise and more hardware than you could personally accomplish.

I guess you either trust your stuff to some profit driven, shareholder beholden entity, or you don't. I back stuff up to Dropbox (and occasionally Google Drive), but I don't trust them. So yeah, I also keep my own backups (everything of value at least doubled up and stored in more than one physical location). It's not that hard. It takes up about as much physical space as a paperback book, and costs me a few hours a month.

and if some government and/or non-profit option should every be available, I suspect I'd still operate the same. The cloud is terribly convenient. I've learned to be wary of convenience.
posted by philip-random at 10:11 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Ever since the Spotify switch, I hardly ever touched my 130GB iTunes library ever again. In fact, last year I copied it to a hard drive and stuck it in the closet, which opened a hell of a lot of space on my Mac. I only use iTunes now as a repository for music for Final Cut.

This is essentially where I'm at, and I have this weirdly split dual headspace where I'm glad not to have to deal with Apple's music ecosystem anymore but I'm also painfully aware that some day some corporate decision or licensing kerfluffle at Spotify is going to erase my past 8 years of musical growth.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:14 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


bagel: Somebody else's computer, being maintained by somebody else's employees. Getting the free or cheapest tier of iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive is having the transmission and storage of your data supported by orders of magnitude more expertise and more hardware than you could personally accomplish.

*shrug* Maybe that describes you, but that's not me. My wife doesn't like music the way I do, and she is down on streaming -- or most other fee-based services, in fact. What I do have is the expertise, and I have like 60GB of music plus also 300 GB of photos (and my wife has as many more!). The free tier of iCloud won't hold it, and I am on the lookout for a commercial service that will host our photos & home movies, to say nothing of my beloved music collection.

Sometimes "someone else's computer" is great when I know that I only want dumb block storage -- and Apple wants to be Clever, which is why I can't figure out where to find the full-res versions of the pictures that my wife took on her iPhone to back up to my NAS & a cloud storage host (to say nothing of making our home videos accessible and accurately tagged), and she's mad at me about it. Thanks, Apple!
posted by wenestvedt at 10:18 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


I spent too much time this weekend battling iTunes so if they really do introduce NEW software (rather than just stripping out functions from the old piece of shit) it will be welcome. I say Tim Cook should just nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

On a PC, iTunes is prone to locking up without cause or warning, horrible at retrieving art work (a few years ago I saw it draw a blank on Exile on Main St - that is just mind-boggling), and shifting the location of its music folder for...reasons. I will admit that I am a fussy old man with an extensive CD/vinyl library and an immense digital library of ROIOs and ripped CDs (lossless). I suffer from audiophile tendencies. iTunes and I are natural enemies.

I was going to add some music to the iPhone for upcoming travel. My wife wanted a sort of greatest hits playlist to just hit shuffle and crank in the car. And the war began. First, iTunes decided that my iTunes library was not in the external drive where it has always been, but in the D drive. And despite my resetting it every fucking day, it kept defaulting back to that drive. I checked this morning. Yup, back in D. And every time I restored the library it would fuck up the artwork - and on different albums every time. It also froze in place a few times. I'm just ripping CDs to MP3s (a format I hate but it's the only way to carry a library of 5000 songs on the phone), which should be the basic function of a media player. And it fails. I've never introduced a flac file or a bootleg concert to the piece of shit - it'd probably clutch its proverbial pearls and hit the digital fainting couch.

On our PCs/laptop, the Ber family has tried several media players and ended back up on WMP. It has its own bugs (I killed the function to update albums on a regular basis) but it hell, half the time it will even supply the correct artwork on a ROIO/bootleg and if it doesn't, I just copy and paste. iTunes makes you save the image and then laboriously upload it with album info. I can play hi-res files, FLACs, you name it. I've done an A/B against the vaunted JRiver where they pretty much hit a tie on hi-res files. Oh, and iTunes needed to be fiddled with to play nice with my Schitt DAC. JRiver and WMP just shrugged and went about their business.

but it's bad for obsessively detailed music collectors who are particular about versions of recordings.

To give you an example, I tried using iTunes Match, and it "matched" the German-language versions of my Kraftwerk albums with their English versions. I went to go listen to "Das Modell" on my phone and got "The Model" instead, which was very annoying


A thousand times this. I have heard my wife have arguments with Alexa when she plays the wrong version of a song. I've played with "the cloud" and the programming to replace your library is frustrating and limited. In addition, I live in West Bumfuck, North Dakota and streaming services just aren't reliable driving cross-country. So we don't rely on streaming. I am just paranoid enough to back up everything in a few external hard drives and plan on putting one in a safety deposit box this year.

I have a very good friend who worked for Apple and drank deep of the St Jobs Koolaid. He admitted to me that I am not the type of music listener iTunes was intended for. The funny thing about it, neither is he. And neither was St Jobs.
posted by Ber at 10:41 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


but it's bad for obsessively detailed music collectors who are particular about versions of recordings.

To give you an example, I tried using iTunes Match, and it "matched" the German-language versions of my Kraftwerk albums with their English versions. I went to go listen to "Das Modell" on my phone and got "The Model" instead, which was very annoying.


I mean, I'm a hell of a long way from "obsessively detailed" about my music collections, but that kind of thing would make me bonkers, too. And I do have a tiny handful of very obscure bands or versions of songs that I would prefer the Cloud not just go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when I try to play them, so no iCloud nonsense for me.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:45 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Hm. Currently on iOS, the Music app can't show me album art larger than a postage stamp. If I expand it, the artwork is ~3" square - AT BEST - and is blurred to the point that it's completely unrecognizable as an actual image.

This is a bug that has existed for some time now. Fullscreen artwork is impossible and even enlarging it to any extent makes it less than worthless.

Apple hasn't fixed it.

All my music lives in the cloud (AND on my hard drive, and a lot of CDs I haven't physically touched in years). I don't stream music, but I do use iTunes Match to download items on an at-need basis rather than give up 80 gb on my phone to store everything (yes, it's not a HUGE library, but it isn't that small either). iTunes Match is pretty great. Except when it matches 80% of the tracks from one disc and refuses to admit that the others should also match the same album when I'm ripping that album directly from physical media using iTunes. Or when it magically replaces the live version of a song with the studio version and I have no way to tell it to NOT do this. Or when I specifically purchase an album that is marked "explicit" and the track marked "explicit" iTunes is actually the clean bleeped radio edit and the entire rest of the album is full of Naughty Words and I can't beg, bribe, or force anyone at Apple to fix it.

It's not the software. It's the quality control.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:00 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Although it s not really related to iTunes, I fear that all these iOS, MacOS, and Photos updates will be the final nail in the coffin for Aperture. I use it a lot for my photography, and it is much more powerful than photos but much less bloated than photoshop. I guess I’ll just deal with it if and when it goes away for good.
posted by TedW at 11:04 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Okay, you are clever computer people and I am not. Let's say that one has an old Mac laptop where one keeps one's music purchases. One also loads one's music onto one's old iPod shuffle for use at the gym. One has no plans on using any streaming services and one does not use one's phone for music or apps for various personality/privacy reasons.

What happens when iTunes goes away? In the past, I've just...purchased music and it's right there on the computer. Given that I now have a old OS and am reaching the limit of being able to update it due to the age of the laptop, will I even be able to run whatever Apple wants me to use? Or am I just unable to download new music until I get a new laptop?
posted by Frowner at 11:26 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Frowner: If the rumors are true, and the new Music app is just iTunes, it will still support syncing iPods. Otherwise, I know Swinsian supports syncing to iPods except the iOS-based ones and the last generation iPod Nano.
posted by SansPoint at 11:30 AM on June 3


The other thing about iTunes match is that even when it manages to get the same song, the mastering is going to be different. CDs are mastered to sound good on speakers, iTunes MP3's are mastered to sound good on cheap earbuds while sitting on the train.

The main alternatives to iTunes for music playback are Swinsian and MusicBee but neither are able to sync with iPhones, MusicBee can sync with Android only.

imazing.com can do the sync but thats quite a lot of money just to be able to copy your own files onto your own device!
posted by Lanark at 11:33 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Lanark: Not all iTunes stuff is specifically mastered for iTunes. A lot of the stuff in the store is basically a rip of the CD master. Of course, for reissues and remasters, iTunes Match still falls down. I'm a huge DEVO fan, and the original 1987 CD master of "Freedom of Choice" sounds like hot garbage. There's been several remasters since, and iTunes has the 2009 Warner Bros. remaster in the store... which I also have on CD. What did it match, though? The fucking '87 garbage version.
posted by SansPoint at 11:37 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


iTunes used to have a lot of great features (playing tracks in reverse was one I remember) that they just stripped out for no particular reason. The interface has gone from good to terrible. Building playlists on the desktop has gotten ridiculously harder than it used to be or ought to be. Updates always cause everything to be worse. I still use Word 2003 because it's better than anything that replaced it.

Maybe I am just an old, but why can't fully mature tech stay the same for a while? Back in my day we had a saying "If it ain't broke don't fix it." I am so tired of shaking my fist at this iCloud.
posted by rikschell at 11:39 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Things that pissed me off about iTunes this past month include:

1. "Couldn't sync 14 files to your iPad because they couldn't be found." I check the folder and they're RIGHT THERE, dummy. What do you mean they can't be found?

2. Syncs only 2/3 of the files it say's it's syncing. I now have to go in and check the destination folders to make sure it's actually synced everything and possibly re-run sync so it will pick them all up the second time through.

3. When selecting files to sync, I can't bring up a short list of just those 200 or so files that have been synced already. There is a list of ALL files, pages and pages and pages of them, with a blue box checked by each one that has been synced. So if I want to see the files I have synced so I can tweak the files (get rid of those I don't use) to free up space, I have to scroll through all 6,000 possible songs and unclick the ones I don't want. Or, I can scroll through all the "albums" and "artists" and unclick those, but that doesn't provide song-by-song granularity.

4. iTunes corrupting my iBooks index, so I had to scrub and rebuild the index based on the MASSIVE folder of .pdf and .epub files. Lots of wasted time.

I won't miss iTunes.
posted by darkstar at 12:00 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


If one actually used iTunes to do some basic file management for iOS devices through the "File Sharing" option (like dragging and dropping non-Apple-friendly video files into the VLC app's folder), how would one go about doing this in a post-iTunes universe?
posted by aswego at 12:15 PM on June 3


But what about QUICKTIME?
posted by srboisvert at 12:36 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Apple breaks up iTunes, creates separate Podcasts, TV, and Music apps for macOS - The Verge
The iTunes era is over. During its annual developers conference today, Apple announced that it’s breaking iTunes up into three separate macOS apps: Podcasts, TV, and Music. The update will come with macOS 10.15.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:38 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


And interestingly, I didn't see any word about which devices the newly-pared-down iTunes will support: can I keep using my old iPods and old Mac Mini & MacBook Pro??
posted by wenestvedt at 12:41 PM on June 3


If one actually used iTunes to do some basic file management...

For file management on my iPad and iPhone, I use Dropbox. Go into Dropbox, find the file I want, and then choose to export it to the app I want. There's also 3rd party software, like CopyTrans, which will let you drop arbitrary files into place. And then copy them back off of the device later.

As of today's announcement, in iOS 13 (iPadOS) iPads will get full USB memory and SD card support. With the files appearing within the Files app, and you'll be able to copy back and forth. No idea if the iPhone version of Files will do the same but I hope it will.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:44 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


We'll have more answers once people install the Catalina developer beta, I guess, but removing iPhone and iPad device management and shifting it to the Finder doesn't necessarily mean the new Music app isn't still secretly iTunes as is rumored. Apple might also keep a legacy version of iTunes qua iTunes for folks with older devices.
posted by SansPoint at 1:05 PM on June 3


> I fear that all these iOS, MacOS, and Photos updates will be the final nail in the coffin for Aperture.

That's basically already happened, and it's an absolute shame, and I still don't understand it - An icloud enabled aperture would be absolutely killer. I've tried to switch to other things, so I would have something I was familiar with before Aperture simply wasn't an option at all anymore.... but I absolutely despise lightroom as well as it's pricing model and the general intrusiveness of adobe applications, and I haven't messed with many of the others as it's such a pain in the ass to import >50GB of photos into whatever arbitrary format they use, and that's generally just the first hurdle.

It's really hard to beat the convenience of having everything synced all over the place with the photos app, though - Being able to have the stuff I capture available and shareable so quickly has been really useful for me, and I've resigned myself to using photos for most things, along with a much shittier workflow for anything somewhat professional. I use Pixelmator and Affinity do most of the editing, and they are more capable than Aperture was in this regard, but I miss the entire workflow of aperture. It was so efficient.

It's not the end of the world for me as I don't make a living with it, but it's really frustrating to see what was the single most intuitive photo workflow app get ditched like that, and I'm sure as hell not paying the cost of entry and dealing with the issues of so many other apps that could fill that role.
posted by MysticMCJ at 1:15 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


When I bought my iPod there was no iTunes for Windows and instead I had to use MusicMatch Jukebox. The software wasn't terrible but I resented not being able to just copy my mp3's over from the organized directories they were already stored in in my computer. I was initially excited about getting iTunes once it became available but that thing seemed like it was trying to delete all of your data. For me the best solution was whatever music management program was in Ubuntu because it just worked and didn't slow my computer to a crawl.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:31 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


that thing seemed like it was trying to delete all of your data.

yeah the concept of "sync" seemed to promote that. Something happened to the files on your iPod? Well, you must want them to be also erased from your computer!
posted by thelonius at 1:33 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Right now I'm listening to music on a 4th gen 20 gb iPod from 2005. I also have a couple 6th gen 80 gb iPods. All my music and podcasts are in iTunes, and I have no idea what I'll do if compatibility with old hardware is ended.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:44 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


...but it's really frustrating to see what was the single most intuitive photo workflow app get ditched like that...

At least Aperture is still available for download and since it's 64-bit will continue to work for at least a couple more years, probably until Apple starts shipping Macs with ARM processors.

And it's really astounding that nothing has been able (or tried) to approach the smoothness and ease of Aperture as a combined digital asset manager + photo editing app in the years since it was discontinued. Lightroom does a lot of the same stuff but it's so cumbersome in comparison, working great as a raw editor but coming up short on the DAM side of things. MacOS Photos is very nice if you're only using it for iPhone pics and if you don't really care about metadata (which I guess is the vast majority of people). If you're working with lots of scans of prints and slides there's nothing that matches the usefulness of Aperture for organizing, making adjustments, and adding metadata all in one app.

Over the past few weeks I've finally been changing over to Lightroom along with my dad, who I share a subscription with. I really resent the subscription model but at least it's possible to share the account as long as we don't use the app at the same time or if one of us makes sure to be offline when booting up.
posted by theory at 1:46 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Syncing with one device was bad enough. Once my wife got an iPhone and 2 devices were being synced it was atrocious.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:49 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


When you bought an actual boxed retail copy of SoundJam MP, because that was a thing people used to do for some reason, it came with a 1/8" to RCA cable to encourage you to join the digital music revolution. As a result, my friends and I took to calling adapters of that sort "SoundJamey cables"—the late 90s/early 2000s were a time in which we frequently found ourselves connecting audio equipment together in various strange ways—, and I still call them that today, at least to myself.

RIP SoundJam MP.
posted by zachlipton at 2:26 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


News for Windows users with iPods and iOS devices: iTunes for Windows remains a product in Apple's lineup.
posted by SansPoint at 2:28 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


News for Windows users with iPods

That just reminded me of when iPod hard drives used to be formatted for your particular operating system (example). And there was an HP version?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:46 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


A couple of others above touched on it, but I like being able to back up my iPhone and iPad locally. I use iCloud too, but when I know I will need to restore from a backup (like when buying a new device) it is much quicker to use iTunes. I wonder if that functionality will go away or be moved somewhere else (like to macOS, which makes more sense to begin with).

I wonder about this too. It’s easy to restore from iTunes, and I do an encrypted backup every time I sync. I gave up on syncing music though, and I do photos manually.
posted by trillian at 3:59 PM on June 3


Apple has turned the world upside down in making possessions a symbol of poverty and having nothing a signifier of wealth and power.

Apple definitely did not invent the dynamic where rich people freely discard things they don't want right now because they can always buy another one (or a newer and supposedly-better one) later. While poor people have to hold on to almost everything because you never know what you might need and you can't afford to just buy new stuff all the time.
posted by straight at 4:54 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


(Like all the people you see saying they've bought 3 times media that a lot of people couldn't afford to buy once.)
posted by straight at 4:55 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


It's also a sign that iOS is becoming a first-class operating system in its own right.

One of those first-class operating systems where the software stops working permanently once a year, unless the programmer updates it. And then later the software just disappears forever.

It's nothing but a walled garden of late capitalism in which only the present moment is assigned any value.
posted by sylvanshine at 5:02 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]




News for Windows users with iPods and iOS devices:

Oh thank god, Apple is keeping the shittiest part of iTunes around for the time being.

Regarding physical media: this isn't true for everything, obviously (books are the most obvious example), but the thing I appreciate about physical media is that it can often be digitized, so you have the best of both worlds. My enormous CD collection also sits on my hard drive in FLAC files, on my phone as transcoded V0 MP3s, and at least for the time being, in the cloud via Google Play Music. Vinyl has no such versatility (which is why you can pry my compact discs from my cold, dead hands), but at least you can buy LPs from Bandcamp and get close to the same utility, minus the lossless physical backup.

As much as I embrace digital storefronts in other aspects of my life and via Bandcamp, there is always a nagging sense that stuff can easily be taken away from you. More often for me, digital services just don't have the stuff I want. I did a count once of my Google Play Music library, and it turned out that something like 20% of my collection was made up of songs that would otherwise be unavailable on the service if I hadn't uploaded them. Have you looked at Netflix or Prime Video and wondered why a surprising number of movies from the 80s, 90s and even early 2000s are missing? Some movies you can't even buy from Apple or Google, making out-of-print physical media your only semi-legitimate option for watching them.
posted by chrominance at 5:57 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


I stopped using itunes and ipods 10 years ago. Mediamonkey and simply copying files to my mp3 player is so much simpler. Mediamonkey has done smart playlists, called autoplaylists, for a long time. Right now CDs are a buyers market, so I usually go that route and rip them to either 320k mp3 or FLAC at CD resolution for classical or jazz. With CDs bought from someplace like discogs you know exactly what you are getting, after going to a music site like Steve Hoffman's Music Forum to find what the best mastered versions are.
posted by rfs at 6:24 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


My enormous CD collection also sits on my hard drive in FLAC files, on my phone as transcoded V0 MP3s, and at least for the time being, in the cloud via Google Play Music. Vinyl has no such versatility

vinyl can be digitized. It's a process that involves actually listening to the record in question, but I view that as much feature as bug.

I've currently got somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5,500 hundred tracks digitized, pretty much all of them from my vinyl collection (past and present). In fact, this constitutes most of what I listen to -- digitized vinyl in mp3 form. Because no two records are pocked and scratched exactly the same.
posted by philip-random at 7:17 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


CDs are mastered to sound good on speakers, iTunes MP3's are mastered to sound good on cheap earbuds while sitting on the train.

Not all iTunes stuff is specifically mastered for iTunes. A lot of the stuff in the store is basically a rip of the CD master.

The differences you hear are mostly a product of the time the tracks were mastered and the tastes of the people involved, not that they're on iTunes. Some people do a different version for iTunes, but it's not the norm (and kind of wanking off) and the differences are pretty subtle. Most iTunes tracks are exactly like the CD's, converted to AAC. Some mastering does take into account what most people are going to be listening on, so masters from the 70's-80's-90's etc. sound different from today for that reason. Some people don't take any of it into account and just say fuck it and make it sound good. (A decision to tailor it specifically for phones and earbuds is almost certainly coming from the artist).

Remastering, especially from one decade to another, that can be radically different sounding. Why remaster it if not?

Mastered for iTunes is a set of quality guidelines to reduce distortion, and has nothing to do with the overall shape of the sound. You can do anything you want and have it be MFiT as long as the mastering engineer is certified. Most MFiT tracks are the same as the CD, just tweaked in level and checked for distortion.
posted by bongo_x at 1:26 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


The only problem I've had is the dumbing down of iTunes over the years, the insistence of trying to make me look at a bunch of pictures instead of a list, but that's everywhere and the encroachment of ios doesn't make think that is going to get better. That and the random changing the interface for not reason, and not for the better.

I don't stream. I don't get it. I have a ton of music in every format, but mostly listen to my collection in iTunes.

People's faith and reliance on cloud services is weird to me and completely unfounded. Weren't there people posting the other day about not being able to turn on their air conditioner because Google was having a meltdown?
posted by bongo_x at 1:32 AM on June 4 [7 favorites]


To be honest, I actually like iTunes. And I know I'm not alone. There are dozens of us! Dozens! For my purposes, it's a good library-based music player. It organizes my files, lets me pick them, handles metadata okay, doesn't look bad if you have album art, and handles my giant library like a champ. Of course, I'm a Mac user, and having used older versions of iTunes on Windows, I'd hate iTunes too if that's only the experience I'd had.
As a Windows user who does use an old iTunes version for just what you described above, it's actually not too bad. Sure, it's slow to wake and somewhat of a memory hog, but it keeps my library ticking over nicely.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:19 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


iPod Nano G6 fed by the oldest Windows iTunes available.

My music and podcasts are never interrupted by a "Boop!" informing me that somebody's posted to Instagram for the first time in a while, or somebody else has reacted to an event on yet a third person's Facebook calendar, or helpfully inviting me to relive this day with Google Photos, or or or . . .

Cold, dead hands.
posted by whuppy at 6:18 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Do any of the alternatives mentioned (e.g. MusicBee, MediaMonkey) recognize metadata from an iTunes collection?

I've got about 13 years of sunk costs: Apart from the non-iTunes-dependent janitorial work of correcting and standardizing artist names and fixing titles, there's the iTunes-specific curation of standardizing genre and giving meaning to all five stars of the five star rating system (and then ruthlessly purging anything below three stars way before Kondo became a thing).

When I'm finally forced to move, how much of this work do I stand to lose?
posted by whuppy at 6:35 AM on June 4


Get ready for your scripts to break: Apple replaces bash with zsh as the default shell in macOS Catalina
posted by octothorpe at 7:06 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Weren't there people posting the other day about not being able to turn on their air conditioner because Google was having a meltdown?

That outage also affected iCloud.
posted by pwnguin at 8:16 AM on June 4


how much of this work do I stand to lose?
Install one and show it where your music files live and see what it can read. They will index your files in place and not try to move them around.

I have never allowed iTunes (or Picasa) to move my files around. I have them in a very specific place for specific reasons. I am surprised people are okay with letting it do that, especially since it insists on putting the Album name in the hierarchy. I rarely want that.
posted by soelo at 9:04 AM on June 4


soelo: That's interesting. Back when I was organizing my digital music by hand, I was doing it in almost the exact way iTunes does it: Artist\Album\TrackNumber - Title.mp3

I typically listen to albums, not individual songs, so this made sense for me. If you're a shuffle kinda person, I could see dropping the album name from the hierarchy, or putting it in the file name.
posted by SansPoint at 9:28 AM on June 4


I've had such a love-hate (mosty hate) relationship with itunes, because of how nightmarish it was every time I got a new computer and tried to load up my account and suddenly there'd be all these damned exclamation marks by, like, half of the songs in my library. I hate streaming, and adore my 5th-gen ipod that is still going strong, but all I ever wanted to do was drag and drop the music files I owned into folders and easily upload them to play on my computer or ipod. I don't much care about album art or curating fancy playlists, and I resented that itunes always made moving music around so difficult.
posted by TwoStride at 9:43 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Do any of the alternatives mentioned (e.g. MusicBee, MediaMonkey) recognize metadata from an iTunes collection?

my experience with MusicBee was that, in theory, I could keep most of it. But for whatever reason (I'm hardly a high-functioning geek), I finally just decided f*** it and committed to reviewing (and if necessary re-tagging) everything, which isn't as bad as it sounds, because you can do things in batches (ie: artist name, album name). I'm talking about over ten thousand files here, a bunch of which I just made "my work" for a while (something I just kept at for a few months), usually while I was listening to music ... the rest of which, a few years later, I'm still getting to. (ie: I fix things as I come to them -- yesterday, it was a few Holger Czukay tracks I hadn't had reason to play for a while).

I do have an idiosyncratic approach to my music collection (ie: no existing system is perfect for me). I've been a pro-DJ (more of a radio type than a club type), which means I don't just want things well organized, I want to be able to easily shuffle/randomize my rather vast library. In fact, this is at the heart of how I do things (and why I finally dumped iTunes forever). I love to put a thousand tracks into a playlist, shuffle them and be able to save (and see) this new shuffled order such that I know what's coming next, but I can tweak things from there.
posted by philip-random at 10:13 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I have never allowed iTunes (or Picasa) to move my files around. I have them in a very specific place for specific reasons. I am surprised people are okay with letting it do that,

yeah, the biggest mistake I made with iTunes was allowing the program to determine where my files should reside. The default being that it's inside iTunes, folders within folders (MEDIA-MUSIC-ARTIST-ALBUM etc). So that when it came time to extract myself from iTunes, I quickly realized I was f***ed.

Fortunately, I had kept a non-iTunes regulated back-up of all the songs I'd originally either ripped from CDs or (as is the case with me) my vinyl. As this was (and still is) the majority of my collection, so that made starting from scratch possible, and not too time consuming.

The big lesson learned:

whatever music player I end up using, I always skip the default and determine myself where the actual files will be stored, and I keep it simple. No more folders than I can easily track (a total of five sub-folders right now, and they're all found in the same meta-folder).
posted by philip-random at 10:24 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I think my mac fandom has just about gone full circle. I played with an iPod for the first time at a 2004 Christmas party (by then it was the 4g click wheel), and immediately fell in love. I'd also heard great things about OS X: although I had some really bad experiences with older Macs, I liked the idea of an it-just-works OS with a Unix-style foundation. Then the next month they came out with the Mac Mini and I immediately dropped some cash on a whole-apple experience.

Having a computer that basically just worked, but also scripting and a real command line whenever you wanted to tweak something is awesome, and it's still the thing I love about Macs. I went from Winamp and a portable mp3-cd player to a slick deck-of-cards player that could almost fit every bit of music I had. They discontinued that 40 gig B&W within weeks, so I got a taste of instant obsolescence as well.

I got an iPod touch and a MacBook Pro in '09, which were both great. Then I got the iPhone 5 right when it came out... within weeks iTunes 11 just flat out broke syncing. I never turned on iTunes Match (which was introduced about that same time), so I never had the Match issues (wrong match, deleting your files, not knowing what's actually downloaded, etc). Instead the sync would almost always freeze partway through. There was an apple support board thread with the exact symptoms, and lots of suggestions, none of which worked. They would have hopeful remarks about super-high-level support with special debug apps straight from the iTunes developers, which led to nothing. It went on for years with constant hopeful comments about the next version fixing it. I suppose I could have just nuked my iTunes library and re-imported everything, but instead I just got used to not syncing. I could buy things on the phone directly through iTunes, but I mostly just quit updating my music.

That was my only iPhone. I got a new MacBook Pro in 2014, which I think is the best Apple anything I've owned and is still going strong. But with iTunes broken, there's no reason for an iPhone, so I switched to a cheap android in 2016 and never looked back. The MacBook Pros went to the hot garbage model that year, and much like the iTunes bug will never be fixed, so when this notebook breaks I guess I'm back to some sort of windows/linux mix. I've been moving that way for a while, but still use the MBP for most things.

I wish I could go back to a 2010-era Mac/iPod setup, because it seemed like there was a moment where everything was just awesome with no downsides other than cost. I'm not entirely sure that's true, but it's a good memory.
posted by netowl at 8:27 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Apple Support document: About the upcoming changes with iTunes on Mac. Basically Music is just the music part of iTunes. Or, if you will, Music will be the 2001 version of iTunes but with the 2018 version's UI and metadata handling.
posted by ardgedee at 5:34 PM on June 5


> Apple Support document: About the upcoming changes with iTunes on Mac.

Nick Heer commentary:
If you, as I, are dependent on iTunes, you’ll be pleased to know that Music in MacOS Catalina is, as rumoured, a light re-skin [of iTunes] ... It is the iTunes you know, just with better organization and fewer non-music features.
Phew.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:13 AM on June 6


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