iTunes 12.2: New Version a Missed Opportunity for Apple Music

Apple released a new version 12.2 of iTunes for OS X and Windows this week as part of the launch of its Apple Music service. The initial reactions from users are anything but positive. But aside from obvious bugs, there’s a bigger problem: iTunes needed a revamp, not more features. By simply adding the subscription service, Apple squandered an opportunity for a fresh start.

Apple released the new version of iTunes late Tuesday. On Wednesday, complaints began to mount, with a number of users experiencing issues with mismatched song titles, artist names and album art. Reviewers generally suggested to hold off on updating iTunes, and one even called the latest version of the app “a disaster.”

But the mishandling of existing music libraries isn’t the only problem. Apple also added its music subscription service as one more layer to an already very complex app: Users can now access their own local music files, the subscription catalog, personal recommendations and the existing iTunes download store, all in separate tabs, with crucial links missing. For example, someone browsing the iTunes store isn’t informed that an album is also available as part of his subscription tier.

This pattern continues throughout the app. The music section of iTunes has a radio tab, which showcases Apple’s new Beats 1 online radio station as well as a number of genre stations. But there’s also a whole separate Internet radio section, tucked away in a sub-menu, that also organizes online streams by music genres — except these aren’t streams curated by Apple, but actual radio networks from all around the world. Plus there are podcasts, again in a separate section of the app, even though many are published by the very same radio stations.

There’s also a section for home movies, and one for movie rentals and purchases, which is separate from educational downloads, even though both are somehow available through the iTunes store. Add audio books, ringtones, iOS apps and the ability to manage your iPad and iPhone storage, and it’s all too much of a good thing.

Apple should have taken a cue from the way it manages content on iPhones and iPads, and broken out many of these sections into separate apps. There’s no real reason why movies and TV shows have to live in the same app as Apple’s music service, and it really doesn’t make sense to manage devices with the same software also used to listen to music.

iTunes didn’t need a refresh. It needs to be broken up, and Apple needs to launch an Apple Music app for Windows and OS X in its place.

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