Dear Apple, Please Fix iTunes
As Apple enthusiasts, our team normally writes about what's useful and fun. However, in this column I've decided to discuss a product central to the iPhone and iPad experience that I find almost unusable—the desktop version of iTunes.
Impossible to Comprehend
Using iTunes to manage my content is overwhelmingly complicated. I often feel lost as I attempt to manage my apps, music, podcasts, movies, iCloud, shopping experience, and devices. Not only does the bloat of the desktop version make iTunes difficult to navigate, but it also contributes to the software's painful sluggishness.
Apple, Get Your Priorities Right!
With each new iTunes update, organizing my content just gets harder. All the while, Apple gets progressively more aggressive in promoting its stores. Sure, it's nice to have 10 ways to traverse the Apple Store, but I want to easily access my own digital content first and foremost.
For a company that puts so much emphasis on the user experience, when it comes to iTunes, Apple treats its customers surprisingly poorly. I have purchased lots of apps and paid for an iCloud subscription to help manage my large personal library of music and spoken audio. Unfortunately, the kludgy interface was not written for large collections, and through the years I have spent countless hours organizing and reorganizing my apps and music.
The user experience differs across devices. The functionality of the single desktop app is spread out among a number of iPhone apps, including Music, App Store, Podcast, iTunes, iBooks, and iTunes University.
Even when I master a version on a device, its functionality and interface changes with major software updates, altering iTunes significantly with no discernible benefit, wasting time and adding frustration.
Unintuitive and Confusing
Unsurprisingly, iTunes can confound even the savviest users, what with its excessive software bloat, emphasis on selling stuff, and ever-changing interface. I often can't figure out how to do what I want. There's little documentation, and what is offered doesn't address major issues. I haven't used Apple Support, but many online users express dissatisfaction.
A Few Suggestions
Please, Apple, start over with iTunes and redesign the desktop version from the ground up. When possible, mimic the iOS apps and create different functionalities as separate desktop apps.
It's time to make iTunes like your other great products—all about the user experience, both for the newbie and the serious consumer of apps and music.
To my surprise, PC Magazine online gave the latest desktop version of iTunes 4.5 out of 5 stars, and CNET awarded it 4 out of 5 stars. However, many of those commenting on the reviews shared my outlook. One user aptly called it the “worst consumer experience since dentistry.” Another snarked, “It's enough to make a grown man cry. Why does Apple hate us?”