I used to use Itunes for years. It worked pretty well to manage music. Then Apple started to add all kinds of features on it, and the interface got so complicated that it was no longer easy or fun to use. At the same time, frequent Itunes updates kept coming out and better options for getting music online were available. I stopped using Itunes and haven’t regretted it.

I can understand why people would want to use Itunes. For most people it is the easiest thing for them to use. It’s already installed and the Apple geniuses will help them with it for free. The problem is that when you really start to use it, it breaks down and doesn’t work very well. For example, the interface.

Itunes returns to an earlier interfaceApple has always had a strong interface that is intuitive. It is part of the appeal of Apple. So for Apple to change interfaces it is a big deal. I was surprised at many of their design choices in the past. For example, Steve Jobs wanted huge icons in the first version of OS X. It seemed more like a toy than a useful thing. I understanding wanting to show of the technology but it was more than a little ridiculous. Fortunately subsequent versions toned down the childish styling, into something more subtle and elegant.

Itunes has always been a difficult program because Apple has tried to stuff too much functionality into it. I used to help people daily with it, and the average person struggled with it. Of course separate applications might have been better, but customers didn’t really have that choice. Really this was a failure of design, and a glaring failure for Apple. I am not a designer but I thought the interface was inconsistent, and obviously more of a comprise between different ideas than a unified theme.

Now Apple says that the next version of Itunes will have the older interface with the left side navigation. People seem to understand left side interfaces with tabs at the top. It is an interesting choice, and one they rarely make. Apple rarely changes its interface in such a public way and admitting that people prefer a different style than Apple suggests. Steve Jobs famously said that people don’t know what they want until they are told. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Or rather, it says that public feedback is taking the place of a better idea of how to manage the Itunes challenge.

Instead of Itunes I have been using Tidal to listen to music which is a streaming service. I don’t want to hold onto music because my tastes change too much for that. My intuition says that iTunes is going to get the ax like iPhoto/iWeb because it was a failure of design. A new app will combine the podcast app and streaming music. Well whatever it is I hope they listen to designers and test it.

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Categories: Opinion