Weekly Poll: Is iTunes Succumbing to Feature Bloat?

Whenever Apple announces a new feature or application update, there’s always a huge amount of commotion and furious opinion sharing. iTunes Ping was one such feature addition, aiming to broaden iTunes into a social network for music.

I think Apple is really starting to stretch the limits of what iTunes is capable of. What started as a simple application for collating your music library now stores TV Shows, Movies, and Podcasts as well, is a full-fledged music and video store, your iPod/iPhone/iPad sync tool, your Apple TV counterpart, an App Store, online radio player, and – now – a social network as well. Phew!

Almost all the software tools I love and use every day on the Mac succeed because they do one thing remarkably well. Simplicity is the absolute key for a successful piece of software, and Apple themselves know this. Most of their software for the Mac and iOS leaves out many features that are packed in by competitors (consider the one-button simplicity of the iPhone camera app, for instance).

My question for you today centres around your thoughts on iTunes Ping. Is this a valuable service for music lovers, or have Apple finally succumbed to the perils of feature-bloat?


  • http://stuteo.com/ Ron Miller

    I’ve had this same feeling, but for quite a while now. iTunes has felt very bulky and slow to me for years. This is in stark contrast to your typical mac applications. If it weren’t for iTunes being responsible for syncing my iPhone, I definitely wouldn’t use it.

  • Andrew

    I thought there should be a box for “That boat has well and truly sailed…”

  • André

    hmmm, you could say that the Simplicity to iTunes is to handle just your media. And for that, i like it much. One Place for Movies, Rent-Movies, Musik and Potcasts. On the other Hand i´m on your Side. Simplicity, and usability, is the Mac-Success.
    Ping is Apples way to surf the big social Network Wave with little afford. Just to get more information from your customers. I like Apple allot, but i hate those cheap commercial tricks.

  • http://relevantdevelopment.co.uk Ash

    I agree with Andrew, iTunes has been bloated for three or four versions now, that ship has well and truly sailed.

  • http://minimalisten.tumblr.com/ Robin Lundgren

    Ping is a joke.. I would have accepted Ping and maybe even used it if Ping did the social networking better than the current online social networks. There is absolutely no need for Ping in the world.

    And what is up with everything being so very manual on Ping?!

    Let’s say I want to start following artists that I like, in the current version Ping does not give me the option to scan my music library for artists that you are able to follow.
    So I have to sit there and type in every artist I would be interested in following manually. That would be around 210+ artists.

    Same with finding friends. Why no address book integration?

    Ping is a failcake.

  • Raph

    I listen to music and podcasts. I don’t watch TV shows or movies (well, at least not on my Mac), I have no interest in Ping, I don’t like Genius and I certainly don’t need Apple’s music store. I’ve always found iTunes too bloated and now the ugly new interface has proved the final nail in the coffin.

    I’m switching to Ecoute.

    • http://minimalisten.tumblr.com/ Robin Lundgren

      Yeah, Ecoute is a really one of the best apps ever. I think I’ve read somewhere that the 3.4 update will give us a new UI for Ecoute, kinda scary!

      • David Ferguson

        I think you’re right about the UI changes. You can email the developer and he’ll get back with you. I talked to him about it once before, but it’s been a while back. Seemed like a really nice guy. I’ve been using Ecoute for a while now. As mentioned in my other post, I hate using iTunes on my Mac Mini, but Ecoute is small, simple, and fast.

      • Raph

        Ooh, never knew, how exciting. Do you have any idea if podcast support is coming? That would enable me to completely drop iTunes for day-to-day use.

      • http://minimalisten.tumblr.com/ Robin Lundgren

        I do not know anything about any podcast support. But when i asked about audiobook support he replied that iTunes didn’t have any XML for audiobooks or something like that, I guess it’s the same for podcasts.

  • http://www.pcweenies.com Krishna

    I feel that iTunes has been getting bloaty, starting with the addition of video sales and rentals. Ping was the last straw.

  • David Ferguson

    Agreeing with Ron Miller, if iTunes weren’t needed to sync my iPhone and such, I wouldn’t use it. Ping was the absolute last thing that iTunes needed.

  • http://www.2dforever.com Tom

    I remember when iTunes was just music – and thinking it was great. It was exactly what I was after at the time and It’s happily been my choice since (not there seems to be much competition these days).

    When they started doing photos, videos then apps I worried about where it was going and now it’s just bloat.

    The whole iPod/iPhone connection thing is the real issue. If they had a separate app for syncing those and reduced iTunes back to music, I think that would be great.

    I don’t know how much that would confuse some people though…

  • elliot george

    I’m a big Apple fanboy, and Ping sucks. It really needed Facebook integration. Thanks a lot Facebook.

  • john

    Since I’ve using last.fm as my music-oriented social network, (plus Spotify as a discovery tool), I have very little use for Ping. I registered when it started, but haven’t visited it since. Basically, all the store-related part of iTunes is useless to me : I gave away my Shuffle to my wife, and hardly ever buy mp3s (the few times I did was through amazon.com or artist websites).

    Basically, I’m waiting for an iTunes replacement that would sync to my phone (non iPhone) and handle a 50+GB library without becoming a memory hog…

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      I’ve become an enormous Spotify fan, which I use for all my music. iTunes is more of a video player for me now, but it’s really slowed down in recent years (my library is a cheeky 780GB though!)

  • http://themoell.com Andri Möll

    Or they can rename it to something vague and generalized like iManager or iCenter and gain an excuse to add even more features.

  • Fabricio

    I agree: iTunes is becoming a little monster. It’s bizarre: importing PDFs into iTunes, to put them later into iPad, makes the PDFs appear inside a folder called “Books”… inside “iTunes Music” folder! Yeah, “/iTunes Music/Books”, it’s ridiculous. At least, it’s possible to import the PDFs directly to iPad (that’s not possible with music and iPods — iTunes is necessary), and so I do it. iTunes for me is just for music, the rest I keep disabled.

  • http://www.pobox.com/~meta/ mathew

    I’d really like a viable alternative to iTunes that supports music on a central server. iTunes is a bloated pig.

    iTunes DJ? Doesn’t work unless the music is on your hard drive, so useless to me. Genius? Ditto.

    iPad/iPhone crap? Useless to me as I have no interest in iPad or iPhone.

    I did actually use the TV store, as I have Apple TV, but I usually bought episodes from the Apple TV itself, so I’d have been happy enough without it.

    I’m also quite happy with music and video sales being separate. I don’t need them bundled in my media player. I’m quite happy with how Amazon MP3 works, for example.

  • Andrew

    Yeah, I agree, iTunes is adding a lotta features, but what I like is that they are all hide-able. If you don’t use ping, you just have it hidden, or don’t look at it. iTunes is still a 90+mb file, but its mostly because of the stupid language file stuff

  • http://thisaintnarnia.com Andrew Littler

    Feature bloat is not as much a problem as processor bloat. It is just really damn big. They really need to trim the fat.

  • skk

    itunes is useless today

    spotify+songkick – period

    ping? what? :D

  • http://rishighan.com Rishi Ghan

    I use Ecoute for music playback anyway.
    iTunes lost me at v7.0, I have a sneaking suspicion that Coverflow has a lot to do with this (a feature, which, to this day I have found no use of) Even on the iPhone coverflow is utterly useless.

    That is all.

  • Eric

    The poll is bogus because it’s choices are incomplete.

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  • http://unseenbattle.com John

    Ping = bloat.
    iTunes – needs an overhaul to make it more responsive. Like what Apple did with Snow Leopard. Take iTunes and rewrite it and make it so it doesn’t hang for more than 5 seconds or so to start a video Podcast (totally unnecessary).

    And while I’m on that… the iTunes Store and App Store need serious speed enhancements as well. Everyone knows that waiting for a website to load only lasts for so many seconds and then we’ve moved on to something faster (even if it is not as visually appealing). ;) ………… aka Google or even Craigslist for that matter.

  • Brian

    iTunes has never conformed to what I intuit as a pure Mac interface (I’ve been nothing but Mac since 1985, so I have a feel for such things). Little differences were apparent from the start, and the gap has widened with each version, IMO. Like some others have noted, I’ve been increasingly disenchanted with every iTunes version since 7.0. I have not yet “upgraded” to version 10, and I probably will not. It seems to me there is chronic, bloaty Microsoft-like thinking amongst the iTunes development team. I never liked a “one-app-does-it-all” approach, and I am puzzled as to why Apple has allowed iTunes to stagger down that path.

  • Tuomas

    What puzzles me with iTunes besides the feature bloat we are seeing is the UI itself. I have no idea why Apple has chosen to always have iTunes “ahead” of Mac OS X in this manner – lately no version of iTunes has matched the look of its contemporary Mac OS X, and I’m pretty sure the new traffic light do not comply even with Apple’s own Human Interface Guidelines.

    To me, iTunes in its current state is like all the iLife and iWork apps combined into one app. What we need is a complete rewrite and change in the design philosophy of iTunes. Either make it just a damn great music management application or call it something else. I’m sure Apple could do great with separate apps that collaborate in doing different tasks, just like iLife apps do.

    Just my 0,02 €.

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