The iTunes break: what will happen to our favorite features?



For a company that runs several major operating systems, has its own productivity suite and has even developed one of the most used web browsers, it was a time when the most-identified software with Apple was perhaps the most no longer considered a necessary evil.

I am talking of course about iTunes.

Yes, the application of music playback / device sync / media buying / podcast listening (and much more) was at one time not only a mark in itself , but also an almost universal experience, as one of the few pieces of Apple software that has been ported to Windows computers.

But iTunes may not have a lot of time. In the last days, speculation suggested that the next version of macOS will have separate applications for music, podcasts, television, etc., probably based on their iOS counterparts. But these apps lack many of the most powerful features of iTunes.

The calls for the dissolution of iTunes go back many years (including me), but now that it seems about to happen, it should be considered the things that iTunes does well and deserve to stay.

Smarter than the average playlist

Everyone can create a playlist of music, but iTunes complements it with its offer of smart playlists. If this feature is unfamiliar to you, it allows you to create playlists based on certain criteria: from the name of the artist to the number of stars he has, in number of beats per minute. Not only does this prevent you from manually assigning songs one by one, but it also provides you with playlists that dynamically update as you add other songs to your library that meet criteria that you have defined.

itunes 12 smart playlist criteria IDG

Setting up a smart playlist in iTunes 12.

While smart playlists created in iTunes sync with iOS via iCloud, there is no way to create them natively on iOS devices. And it's a shame, because although Apple has been trying to improve its algorithms in Apple Music to display new songs that might please you, these playlists and stations are inspired by everything the area of ​​available music, rather than the music you have selected yourself. own library. They are much more powerful than static playlists and allow users to better control their listening habits. It would be a pity that a new music app on Mac removes them.

True genius

Speaking of smarter playlists, Genius is another feature that has been set aside in the iOS Music app. Introduced for the first time in 2008, Genius was a system that analyzed your music to automatically create playlists of free songs. Just select a song, right-click to choose Genius Suggestions, then choose a song from the list, start listening, or save the result to a playlist.

Genius was a feature on iOS, but it's part of MIA since iOS 10. Again, while Apple's own playlists and music stations have, to some extent, supplanted Genius, that's not helping those who are not Apple Music customers, or those who simply want a music playlist from their own library. I suspect underhanded that Genius probably will not live to fight one more day in what replaces iTunes, but I can certainly hope.

Mischief media managed

The idea of ​​managing files often seems archaic when it comes to media. After all, what you mostly want to do with your media is read them, and Apple already has a long history of trying to refrain from dealing with the bare minimum of file management. But for all this, iTunes is actually a pretty solid media management software, and almost all its iOS counterpart does not contain any of these features, which is not surprising, since iOS itself has only recently begun to adopt the file concept.

iTunes 12 metadata IDG

The ability to edit your media metadata is a key feature of iTunes.

While the iOS Music app has an integrated search feature, iTunes has much more power, allowing you to sort, add and subtract columns of information, from download songs or delete them from your library, view and edit metadata, etc. The metadata feature is especially powerful because it allows you to edit items such as genre, sorting, and sorting music, as well as other features such as a song equalizer, starting points, and more. specific shutdown and even volume. Although most users are probably unaware that these features exist, there are certainly some advanced users who have spent a lot of time configuring their libraries exactly as they wish. (And while we're talking about advanced users, it hardly touches the large number of AppleScripts for iTunes created by Doug Adams and others.)

That said, even if Apple adds new standalone multimedia applications in the next version of macOS, it's unlikely that iTunes will go anywhere immediately. There are too many features that Apple simply does not want to recreate, such as all iOS sync features. So if iTunes is likely to be in the background of new apps, it has not been removed from the car yet. Maybe it will last until some of these more complex features manage to replace it.


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