What's Wrong With iTunes

Recently I've tweeted a couple of times about wanting to see iTunes killed off, and both times I've received replies asking why. It's not possible to explain what's wrong with iTunes in 140 characters so I've moved it here.

Apple mostly follow the Unix philosophy - write programs that do one thing and do it well. If you look at Mail, Address Book and iCal they all have one primary use case, and they interoperate perfectly. Each is far better than its Outlook counterpart and as a whole they produce an experience that is infinitely preferable to Outlook's combined approach. In iTunes we have an application that was originally written to do one thing and do it well - manage and play music. Over the years so much has been bolted on to iTunes that has little or nothing to do with playing or managing music that even the name iTunes now seems completely irrelevant to what the application is actually used for. iTunes is now so bloated with unwanted features that it's not even a good music player any more, it's a mish-mash of functionality and disparate content types. It makes Microsoft Word look clean and considered.

iTunes now manages and/or plays your TV shows, movies, audiobooks, podcasts, iOS apps and course material. It even has a shop to let you buy all this content. But most baffling of all of iTunes' functionality is the iOS device syncing.

To manage the content on an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad, you need to connect it to your computer and open iTunes. To copy music, photos, movies, apps and even documents on to your iPad, you have to use iTunes, even though all but one of these things have nothing to do with "tunes". Managing any of these things through iTunes is a painful experience, made even worse by the fact that you need to have the device connected before you can access any of the settings.

To return to the 'one thing well' philosophy iTunes should be broken down and split into its component parts. Let iSync handle my phone syncing, surely that's what it's for? Let the iTunes store run in a browser instead of my music player; it is after all a website built out of normal HTML, CSS and Javascript. Let the Finder be used to manually manage content on my iOS devices, that's how I manage content on every other device I ever need to connect to. But most of all, let iTunes be just a music player.