5 Features iTunes 11 Still Needs

iTunes 11 is the best thing to happen to Apple's media hub in a long time. But while the cosmetic changes are nice, there are still plenty of underlying problems with iTunes that need to be addressed. At its core, iTunes is still just a shopping mall with a snazzy jukebox attached. But it could be so much more.

Here are five fixes we wish were in iTunes 11 and are hoping for in iTunes 12.

A music subscription service like Spotify

If you don't own a track you want to listen to, the only way to get it from iTunes is to buy it. That was a winning model for years, but a lot of people don't use iTunes for the simple reason that they've turned to cheap subscription services like Spotify or Rdio instead. A flat $10 per month subscription fee for access to millions of tracks beats buying the latest hit record for 10 bucks.

Apple has reportedly been trying to get all of the major labels on board for some kind of radio service like Pandora, but that has yet to materialise. And even then the value of Pandora is rapidly diminishing because Spotify is so much better. Some sort of streaming service, however, would be better than the none that we've got now.

A web player for iTunes Match

If you pony up $35 a year for iTunes Match, Apple will store your music collection in the cloud and allow you to stream it. The problem? You need to use iTunes on a desktop or an iOS device to listen to the music. Lame if you use anything other than an iPhone, and double lame if you're sitting at a computer that's not your own.

Sure, Apple's got an interest in making sure that the iTunes store is always just a click away, but the competition is offering a better service here. MOG has a a gorgeous HTML 5 interface you can use anywhere, and Spotify has said it will have one by next year. Google Music will let you store 20,000 songs in the cloud for free and stream them from anywhere for nothing. So why would you pay $US25 for a less useful iTunes Match?

Real discovery

Simply put, iTunes does a crap job helping your discover new music. Recommendations in the iTunes store based on what other "Listeners also bought..." don't count. It's a sales pitch Apple hopes will tempt you into an impulse purchase. And Genius? Genius remains a joke.

Pandora's Music Genome and Spotify apps are awesome for discovery because you can find new music and try it out without paying a toll. Unless Apple gets licenses for a music subscription service, or at the very least makes Genius more helpful, iTunes might just keep sucking at discovery forever.

Better social sharing

No matter how smart the iTunes recommendation algorithm gets, it's never going to be better at recommending music to you than your friends. In the wake of Ping's implosion, Apple has finally added social sharing to Twitter and Facebook in iTunes 11. Unfortunately, it's poorly implemented. You can only share from the iTunes Store, and there's no way to see what your friends are sharing from within the application.

Consider Spotify, which has nailed social music with deep, deep Facebook integration. In the Spotify client, you can see what friends are listening to and easily send tracks them. If you're not Facebook friends with someone, Spotify makes grabbing a URL easy.

With their one billion and 500 million users respectively, meaningful Faceook and Twitter integration is no longer optional. Apple needs to bite the bullet and bake social into far more strongly iTunes so that people can advertise what they like to each other. Apple sells more tracks, your music collection gets better, everybody wins.

Keep the iTunes store separate

For ages, the iTunes Store has been the cornerstone of the application, but whereas a decade ago it was a convenient way to legally get your music fix, it just feels tastelessly tacked onto the new streamlined interface. For all of Apple's attempts to integrate your listening habits with your purchasing habits this time around, the store's still not a seamless partner to the player. Apple should break it off into its own isolated zone, like the App Store on iOS or the Mac App Store on OS X.


Comments

    TL;DR: The iTunes store is too expensive and no one wants to own music anymore. The only decent point is facebook integration.

      I still prefer to own my music. At least until mobile data is cheap enough and reliable enough for me to depend on at all times.

      That said, I buy physical copies 98 times out of 100. Unlike video games on a store like Steam, digital music isn't really priced overly compelling. It's good for the off single where I don't want a full album, but generally albums are no cheaper than at retail I find.

        Since signing up to Spotify, I rarely open iTunes up anymore, and certainly not to play music. I subscribe to Spotify's subscription service which lets me create an offline playlist to take with me, so I don't even need to worry about mobile data usage. It just downloads the music to my iPhone through my home or work wifi and then on I go.

        It's $12 a month, has more or less every song or artist I've ever searched for and now I have no good reason to buy music. If Spotify continues to exist until my dying days, I'll continue using it and I'll probably never buy another album again.

      Talk about generalisation based on your own circumstances...

        I for got my sarcasm marks :p I actually much prefer owning my music too. Also, what did I say to get my comment removed?? I don't remember it being that controversial...

    I find Genius works great.

    For me anyways.

    You know - you probably could have made that into 10 points.

    Then again, to me you missed the most important one. Why the bloody hell does it load so slowly? It still loads like a dog, even on an SSD it takes some serious time (albeit much faster on an SSD) purely because it goes and fetches the whole archive of your music, then connects to iTunes.

    Why does it take so long for this to load? it'd only need a small index file to grab from the disk then bring it up.

      The invisible stuff in iTunes is archaic. The database is an XML file indexing an SQLite store.

      But if Apple didn't think it wise to rewrite that stuff for 11, I bet they think the software will be EOL soon enough.

      I'd like them to fix the unbelievably slow iTunes match syncing.

    WHERE IS MY COVER FLOW???????!!!!!!!?????????? THIS NEW ITUNES IS COMPLETE UTTER CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Am I the only one who just wants a simple music player? I put my music it, it get's tagged, I can find it and play it. I don't want streaming top 40 shits, I don't want my music player to recommend songs to me that I almost certainly wont like, I don't want to share what I'm playing on facebook, twitter, linked in, pintrest, reddit, myspace or ICQ. Just a music player, sure the music player features I want is somewhat advanced, but They're all about playing back MY music. If the internet goes off (which is a far to common occurrence), I'd still like to be able to play back music while I cry waiting for it to come back up again.

      Agreed. They should have split iTunes up a long time ago.

      I agree 100% on this.
      The only reason I use iTunes over WMP/foobar/vlc/etc.. is because of my iPhone, and how nicely iTunes organises and displays my music.

      If it wasn't for the iPhone portion of it, then I would probably just forget about display and enjoy a nice, fast, foobar with FLAC support (none of this bs ALAC.)

    A version that can reliably transfer all the cover art I meticulously added to my music would be great.

    What I actually want to see in 'iTunes 12' is the feature that you can tag artists, composers, labels etc. so you can find music that (for example) is listed with the artists "Hardwell & Dannic" when you're in artist view of Hardwell but also in the artist view of Dannic (I hope you get what I'm trying to say). This will clean up all the artist and composer mess many people have.

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