The problem? It’s everything.
The solution? I won’t claim to have the answer, but the criticism from so many different angles is merited. Everyone wants change. iTunes needs to be rewritten as something lean, efficient, unbelievably rapid and beautiful.
Kinda like what Chrome did for Browsers…
…Now there’s an idea: Divide iTunes into 2 apps: iTunes (the music player) and iTunes Store (the store). When you open iTunes Store, all you have is a search bar, and it functions just like the Omnibar in Chrome: it searches everything, suggests with eerie reliability and loads as you type. Promoted content can go below the search bar.
Here’s a crude (I’m no photoshop expert) mock-up:
In this situation, iTunes (the music player) basically goes back to what it does best: letting you see your music in a beautiful UI and then letting you listen to it, except this time it’s beefed up with iTunes Match and iCloud, so the second you purchase music (in the iTunes Store), it’s there in your iTunes (music player). Get a new laptop and need your old music? Easy: open iTunes, login with your Apple ID, iTunes Match does the rest. Selectively download your most-listened to music, stream the rest. Powered by iCloud.
I’d even go so far as to suggest renaming iTunes (the music player) to “iPod” à la iOS. For iOS users migrating to OS X from Windows, this translates perfectly. Currently, on iOS, we have iPod for playing music and iTunes for purchasing. The more I think about this, the more I like it.
I think my solution goes down the route people suggest: splitting the app, but doesn’t split it as much as people suggest. This is because I don’t view this as necessary: iTunes becomes the media player, iTunes Store is the Store. It’s a decoupling rather than a full on hack attack. I still think iTunes (the music player) could be beautiful and elegant as a simple media consumption app, kind of like an amazing VLC. It would not (and I really mean this) be ugly to also have TV Shows and Movies in iTunes if presented correctly, and I think we all know Apple are more than capable of that.
So it’s simple: separate the store from the app and let everything sync through iCloud. No more cables. The store is where you purchase, the app is where you consume.
Jason Snell was leaning that way too, but not far enough in my opinion:
The program should be simpler. It might be better off being split into separate apps, one devoted to device syncing, one devoted to media playback. (And perhaps the iTunes Store could be broken out separately too? When Apple introduced the Mac App Store, it didn’t roll it into iTunes, but gave it its own app.)
Forget syncing: use iCloud.