Apple has announced that former flagship software iTunes is to be dissolved after 18 years.
The service which was once hailed as a potential saviour to the music industry is to be replaced by three apps that will handle music, podcasts and TV separately.
Propelled into the music world in 2001, iTunes was seen as a ground breaking platform where users could copy music from CDs into digital copies. In2003, the iTunes store was brought in which means users could purchase music via file sharing services such as Napster.
“The attraction of Napster was not just that it was free, but more importantly, it gave people a way to connect with pretty much any piece of music,” the former Warner Music vice-president Paul Vidich told Rolling Stone in 2013. “What Steve was doing with iTunes was to replicate that type of experience – a vast catalogue, available on a singles basis, with a convenient interface. It had to be easier than Napster.”
Sadly for Apple, as quickly as downloading music onto your own personal library because revolutionary, it soon became old news. Music streaming services such as Spotify emerged that allowed users to access a near endless catalogue of music for a relatively nominal fee. The first signs that iTunes might be on its way out came in 2015, when Apple launched its own streaming service, Apple Music, and it was rumoured that iTunes would not last beyond 2020. From there it seemed the wheels were in motion and it appears Apple are happy to move with the times – even if it means leaving its former flagship iTunes on the scrap heap.
Users across social media reacted in predictably misty-eyed fashion to the news, as many long-time users aired perhaps slightly ironic concerns that their entire libraries would be wiped. Apple has of course assured its legions of fans that all saved items will be transferred onto one of the three replacement services to take the place of iTunes. While it hasn’t been expressed exactly how the syncing will work, technology editor at Finder Alex Kidman explained to news.com.au why users shouldn’t be concerned.
“That’s data that Apple already makes available to your existing iOS devices, and there’s no real reason to think that it won’t take this approach with split apps under MacOS,” he said.
“If you’ve got content purchased through Apple, it’ll still be on record with them and should be accessible on compatible devices.
“For PC users, we’ll have to wait and see what Apple’s replacements will be, but again, it’s not like Apple wants to lose consumers who have Apple Music subscriptions, or those who buy or rent movies or TV shows through Apple. That’s still a lucrative revenue source for them.”
While many might act with sadness or surprise at the dissolution of iTunes, to those paying attention both to the way the internet streaming services have been evolving and way Apple have been attempting to distance themselves from the service it will come as no surprise, as Kidman elaborates.
“[it’s] not surprising in the least — it’s been rumoured for some time that Apple would go down this path,” he said.
“If you look at what it’s done on the iPhone, it’s been weaning users away from thinking in terms of setting up the phone or syncing tracks or content via iTunes to getting it from iCloud and the App Store.
“With the shift to iOS apps running on MacOS, and the way that Apple’s already split content out there into apps for music, podcasts and the like, iTunes’ days were numbered.”
The news that the plug is to be pulled on iTunes was announced at Apples annual developer conference in San Jose this week.
As well as the news about iTunes, other key announcements at the conference concerned OS changes designed to improve security and privacy for Apply users. A host of new security features were announced, including new functionality to protect user information on apple devices through sign in features, and to prevent Facebooks data tracking tools.
iOS 13 was also announced. The next phase of the iPhone operating system boasts a range of alterations to its interface as well as a series of new added functions. Among these are a screen setting that allows users to view the iPhone on a black background; a new apple maps service which allows users to take a virtual 3d tour of locations much like google street view; better searching in messages; and predictive typing for a whole host of new language such as Arabic, Vietnamese, Thai as well as 22 separate Indian languages.
The key takeaways from the conference show exactly what apple is looking to focus on. Recent conversations around online privacy and security – especially around social media – have prompted Apple to act to keep customer data private. The announcement about itunes shows that the tech giant is acting upon the ever changing way that we consume media. Vastly improved internet speeds and computing capability now means that users no longer need to download any media that they wish to consume meaning that streaming services can now take centre stage with apple not looking to get left behind.