Weekly Poll: What One Thing Would You Change About iTunes?

This week at AppStorm we’ve looked at not one, but two interesting iTunes companion apps. Notice that I used the term “companion” and not “replacement.” This is because these apps are meant to supplement your iTunes use, not get rid of it.

The two apps that I’m discussing are Ecoute and Sonora, both of which have the same basic goal: to provide you with a simpler, faster way to listen to your iTunes music library.

iTunes is a powerhouse of functionality and serves as the go-to hub for your syncing music, movies, books and apps to various iOS devices. But as great as iTunes is, the increasing popularity of apps like Ecoute and Sonora bring to mind interesting questions about whether or not iTunes has become bloated over the years. In iTunes you’ll find everything from half-baked social networks to ringtones, which is admittedly a lot of extra functionality when you just want to listen to your favorite tunes without all the distractions.

On the other hand, maybe the features aren’t the problem. Perhaps Apple just needs to rethink the interface entirely. The final possibility is of course that we’re all over thinking this. iTunes is exactly what we need and requires very few, if any changes.

What do you think? If you could change one thing about iTunes, what would it be? Vote in our poll and then leave a comment below with your thoughts. Have you tried Sonora or Ecoute yet? Do you think there’s a legitimate market for these types of apps? We want to hear your thoughts.


  • csb

    I miss menubar controls in Itunes (Sonora doesn’t have it either), that’s one major reason why i use Vox.

  • http://www.perezfox.com Prescott Perez-Fox

    Like every other application my system, I’d love for it to load — and quit — lightning fast. No “thinking”. But that’s obvious.

    As a big podcast listener, I’d really love a keyboard shortcut to refresh the podcast list. This may sound like a small function, but since there’s no menu item, I can’t even make a custom keyboard shortcut through the System Preferences > Keyboard.

    Generally, I don’t mind iTunes. People complain that it’s bloated, but I seem to manage alright. Maybe I don’t have _that_ much music compared to some. The only area that seems clunky to me is that the iTunes store is tied in with the player. There’s nothing worse than accidentally clicking on the store, when all you wanted to do is play a track. It would be great if there was some way to launch iTunes as a player only, and then launch the store as another tab or window, but only when clicked.

    Wi-fi sync is a mess and super-sluggish. And syncing generally needs to be snappier and less goofy. It would be nice if iTunes didn’t _have to_ launch just for me to update my phone and calendar, for example.

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

    I’d remove all the iPhone- and iPad-related crap.

  • http://damonsharp.com Damon Sharp

    I am never on the Mac the houses my iTunes library and therefore am always sharing from my MacBook. It annoys me that I can’t rate songs, burn CDs, or add new playlists to the main library remotely. It has become feature bloated, but that’s kind of inevitable. I never have any issues with its current functionality though.

  • Paul Dunahoo

    Why doesn’t Apple remove the app part from iTunes, and merge the Mac App Store and iOS App Store into an app called iStore? iPad and iPhone apps could also run in a window on the Mac, and the Mac App Store would stay the same.

    • Tuomas Hämäläinen

      I doubt Apple will ever allow to use iOS apps under Mac OS X (unless we don’t count iOS Simulator) even if it was technically simple. Those apps just are meant to be used with fingers on touchscreens and Apple will not settle on a less than stellar user experience when it comes to this.

      As for iTunes, it’s due for a total rethink & rewrite. Redesign the user interface, at least parts of it, and also remove the bloat. iOS sync services should operate on system level (built into iSync), not requiring launching a _music player_ to send over a few calendar appointments. In fact, I would separate anything not related to music or podcasts from iTunes.

      Merging iOS App Store and MAS under one app would be a great thing, it wouldn’t even require renaming the MAS app because it’s already called just “App Store”.

      • Paul Dunahoo

        Good point on the renaming thing.

        However, I don’t know: I would like to use Brushes for iPad on my Mac, along with cool apps such PlainText on my Mac. Plus, get rid of the keyboard (and use the Mac’s built in keyboard), add in scrolling with two fingers, and you have a fully featured Mac app.

  • http://www.casabona.org Joe Casabona

    Either remove the “Activation limit” or do not require activation to access purchased content. It’s incredibly annoying that I have to deactivate and activate computers to access items I’ve purchased.

    I truly feel iTunes is a lackluster program that Apple has made people use because of the reliance iOS devices have on it. Zune Player was lightweight and beautiful, but no one knew about it.

    • Paul Dunahoo

      +1
      I collect my old computers, and I have more than 5. Please remove it Apple!

  • Andy S.

    It occurs to me that a lot of the “bloat” is due to the fact that it is serving two purposes:

    1) media management for OS X, and
    2) sync management for iOS devices

    Depending on which task you’re trying to accomplish, the features irrelevant to the task appear as “bloat”. If I just want to sync my iPhone or iPad, I don’t want to have to wait for iTunes to gather Genius information first. Likewise, if I just want to listen to some music on my computer, I don’t want to have to wait for iTunes to decide whether or not it can find iOS devices to sync with.

    Since Apple’s goal is clearly to create a seamless link between OS X and iOS, it seems to me that they should pull the sync features out of iTunes and build them into the core of OS X. Sure, the sync server will still have to communicate with iTunes and iPhoto (or Aperture, if you prefer), but that doesn’t mean that either app should have to be up and running all the time just so wireless sync can work.

  • http://levisan.me Levi Breederland

    You know how iTunes has access to iPhoto for syncing?

    I wish there was an app just for iPhone/iPod/iPad syncing. It would see iTunes/iPhoto/Address Book/etc. and have access to the iTunes store (which should have some better division between content types and maybe names for those sections). This way, iTunes wouldn’t need to be open for a sync.

    iTunes would then just have my music/movies/podcasts (yeah, it needs a new name too) and be my jukebox. It could also have the iTunes store, so I could buy music right there.

    The key thing is that iTunes shouldn’t manage the syncing of any content.

  • http://austincondiff.com Aust

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a dark sidebar as seen in apps such as Sparrow. This is how it might look… http://cl.ly/DPVN

  • http://austincondiff.com Austin Condiff

    Sorry guys wrong link, this is the right one. (itunes with a dark sidebar) http://cl.ly/DQ6V

  • http://clickplow.com Snow Plowing & Removal

    I am not a fan of some of the warning messages when syncing. It would also be nice to be able to sync and not have it remove songs not in my iTunes library. Generally speaking the interface is nice, but it seems to get harder to use the more improvements they make to it. Finding features i used to use often seem to get hidden in new menus :/

  • jeffbbz

    itunes frustrates me but its the only thing that comes close to being what I need on a mac so I guess I will keep having it. I like the interface, I just hate that the developers and I have such divergent views of what the thing is for.

    I know I’m old fashioned but i just want a music player and organizer. Nothing else. Updates for itunes have for several years been only related to making them work better with the latest iphone or whatever and also slight cosmetic things to the interface. The core remains the same and they haven’t made a useful update as far as music organizing and playing is concerned in years. Which is ridiculous.

    I’ve been waiting for years and years and years for apple to add the ability to open two libraries at the same time (i know you can have multiple libraries. I want them simulateansouly and with ease to switch between them, compare them, copy between them and make playlists with both.) If they can make ipods and such show up in the side why can’t they make a second library show up there? even if you couldn’t mix playlists.

    I want more meta data not less. I want custom catergories or at least more (like for organizing classical music) or like record label, and etc… I’m tired of fake go arounds that only kinda do the job. And why isn’t there a good way to sync it with a good database like discogs.

    there are many more things like this.

    I suppose people that want to organize their music in such detail as myself are probably minority music geeks, and itunes is clearly concerned with just satisfying the average user. I wish that someone would step in and make something for us cataloging geeks.

    Or at least that itunes developers would think about things a little more seriously on the music playing/organizing end, not just the syncing/app and music buying side.

  • Dan

    This is a minor nit, but it would be really awesome if there was a way to link the record label name to all their releases. I envision it would work the same as if you clicked on a link to an app developer to see all their other apps.

  • Jeremy

    People always complain that it’s bloated and slow, but on my C2D it doesn’t seem too bad. I wouldn’t mind them stripping the iTunes store out and making it a separate app, but i can see why they keep it together. Makes people more likely to open and use the iTunes store. I wouldn’t mind a newer, updated interface though.

  • Graham

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the interface or functionality as it is. I think of it as a one-stop solution for all iDevices. Everything that needs to or can be synced to a device can be done through iTunes. Removing any features now would mean that they need to be added elsewhere and I’d rather not have to deal with multiple apps but if Apple can come up with an elegant way of separating content management and syncing, I won’t complain.

    I think the main problem with iTunes is how sluggish and bloated it feels. It reminds me Firefox after being bogged down with extensions. I would like Apple to re-write iTunes from the ground up because most of the new features feel like they were tacked on.

    I would not like to see a an overhaul of the interface. Some of the newer features could be better integrated but I don’t want a radical change. Other programs already do that and they do a good job of it but not come close to offering the flexibility and management ability of iTunes. I hope the minimalist player approach is left to apps like Ecoute and Sonora.

  • Kerwin

    FLAC support, but that’s not going to happen because they’d be forced to give the entire iPod series the same support.

  • Jared F

    Open up the library to be updated by 3rd party apps. IE DJ’s using Traktor/Serato/etc could modify their playlists without having to go back to iTunes.

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