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Apple starts cutting the bloat from iTunes by removing iOS App Store (theverge.com)
66 points by mrzool on Sept 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments

All I want for Christmas is a standalone native Apple Music application for Mac and Windows (and Linux, why not?). I'd accept an Electron "native" application, even.

I own a 2016 MacBook Pro and a custom built Windows gaming machine with an i7-7700, GTX 1080ti, 32 GB DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB SSD and on both systems iTunes lags terribly. I sometimes can't even drag the window around without slideshow rendering. Updating takes 2-3 minutes and sometimes requires a restart (for a media app!). It's time to rewrite - maybe this is the start of that?

I simply do not believe this.

I have a loaded 2017 13" MacBook Pro (i7, 16GB RAM) and iTunes is fine.

A few months before that my machine was the least-powerful 2015 MacBook Air (11", i5) and iTunes was fine on that too.

The problems are much more pronounced on my Windows machine but I assure you the iTunes experience is far worse than that of Spotify. I have no reason to lie about it.

It's a big enough application, I'm sure some people have issues with it under certain workloads.

I'm the same as you however -- I've never had issues with iTunes performance. I don't love the design, I'm glad they're simplifying it, but it always performed better than Spotify for me (which is the main reason I switched actually; I found the Spotify app to be terrible).

I simply do not believe this.

Your profile implies that you write software for a living, and you're going with "resolved: works on my machine"? Especially with something that has the breadth of iTunes, along with the vast number of users, I'm most certainly willing to believe that there are cases of iTunes not running well on powerful machinery.

> you're going with "resolved: works on my machine"?

We're on a casual forum, all evidence here is anecdotal, and I don't work for Apple, so yeah.

> write software for a living

> resolved: works on my machine

Haven't we all thought this at least once in our careers?

Thought it? Hell, I've got the sticker: https://blog.codinghorror.com/the-works-on-my-machine-certif...

Got a 2013 MBP (also i7, 16Gb RAM) and iTunes flies on it. It's perfectly usable on my i5 T440 with 8Gb of RAM on windows 10 as well.

The only thing that pisses me off about it is the ellipsis next to the track names on the song list.

This looks like a great solution for those with a local music collection, but unfortunately my main use for iTunes is for Apple Music. I don't keep music on my drive.

upvote isn't enough: I love swinsian! Switched over to using it after iTunes introduced a bug where an annoying popup happens if you turn off wifi and try to play a song.

This looks damn good! Trying it now.

I gave up on Apples' Music app .. and just use VLC, now.

There is something very liberating about using VLC on iOS, and managing my own music archive, manually. Sure, it feels like 1996 all over again - but at least I know exactly where I stand, and what I'm bringing with me, with VLC.

On Mac OS X an app doesn't do anything if you drag it across the screen. If that causes problems they are caused somewhere else.

For instance if you open a million large windows so they don't fit in your graphics card memory the system will fail to composite them smoothly.

I never have performance issues with iTunes other than the rendering in Apple Music views, but I feel like that's more of how the code is written than iTunes itself struggling.

My main issue with AM at least is that when I add music to my library, I wind up getting a bugged library. As in, there is music I added to my library 3 months ago that for whatever reason is always at the top of my most recently added music. I haven't touched it since adding, but it winds up being on top of my actual most recently added music. That's definitely a bug.

I'm a pretty big fan of Vox. If you're looking for a stripped down iTunes/Foobar2000-like player for Mac it's a good option.

In addition to local media, there's even Soundcloud integration if you get your tracks from there, which beats using their web app.

I still use iTunes 10.6.3 because it's the last version with Miller Columns on the top, playlist folders (with a Library view), a miniplayer that I can use to fast-forward, and sync.

Syncing music. Contacts. Calendars. Safari Bookmarks. Notes. Apps. Ringtones. Videos. Photos.

The killer feature of the Apple ecosystem was the way the Digital Hub worked together. It's all gone by now. They demand always-on Internet to connect to the cloud.

I'm trying to rewrite my own ecosystem one app at a time (I've done Notes and Maps, halfway through contacts & calendars, and still need to start music & photos). It's going to take years of on-and-off work, but I don't trust Apple to keep providing that, so I must make my own. Some shell scripts linking other apps just won't cut it for me - I want a scriptable, syncing ecosystem that Just Works.

> I still use iTunes 10.6.3 because it's the last version with Miller Columns on the top, playlist folders (with a Library view), a miniplayer that I can use to fast-forward, and sync.

None of these features have gone anywhere.

Columns are still available as an option in the Songs library view. (Check the View menu if you're not seeing it.) They aren't available in the newer sorted library views like Artists or Genres because those views already have some form of filtering "baked in".

I don't believe playlist folders ever changed. They're certainly available in current versions.

The mini-player has changed a bit, but you can certainly fast-forward by pressing and holding on the forward button, or by dragging the playback indicator.

Sync… I'm not quite sure what you're referring to here?

Syncing contacts and calendars was removed in iTunes 11.


Syncing Notes and Safari Bookmarks were removed in Mac OS 10.8.


Syncing apps was removed in iTunes 12.

The mini-player doesn't show the track name.


"Some soft of filtering baked in" doesn't cut it for my large library. I want to be able to navigate quickly through a deep hierarchy (Genre/Christian -> Artist/IHOP -> Album/Jon Thurlow). I'm dealing with tens of thousands of songs. iTunes 10.6.3 could do it. Since then it's been dumbed-down beyond recognition.

> Syncing [stuff] was removed...

As it should be. None of that functionality made sense to have in iTunes. It was essentially a relic of the iPod era.

> The mini-player doesn't show the track name.

It's a little dependent on window size, but there are definitely still mini-player modes that will show the track/album/artist names when the mouse is outside the window. (When the mouse enters the window, they're replaced with the player controls.)

> "Some soft of filtering baked in" doesn't cut it for my large library.

So use the Songs view with the column browser. (Cmd+B will show/hide it on macOS.) It hasn't changed. The new library views are entirely optional.

The most frustrating aspect of iTunes is the things that break from release to release...I shouldn't really say 'break' as its more they simply remove functionality.

Case in point: Look at your iTunes screen right now in Artists view. See lots and lots of missing artist pics (pink microphones)?

It used to be that you could manually set an artist pic, but they simply removed that and offered no workable solution. Its like a year 1 programmer approach.

Its sorta amazing to me that the same company that produces Logic Pro, Garage Band, Final Cut...has such a lackluster music player. Its schizophrenic. Sadly as Apple has ballooned in size, I only see these problems getting worse.

> They demand always-on Internet to connect to the cloud.

It's interesting, you're talking about a syncing system (syncing requires connectivity) and have an issue with requiring access to one of the most convenient sources of connectivity, which is the internet.

We're in a transition time right now. Access to the internet is not always available. It is not always fast. But this time will pass. It makes sense, to me, to design for this future.

> I'm trying to rewrite my own ecosystem one app at a time [...] I must make my own.

I sympathize with this (and good luck!). But I could spend a lot of effort organizing my digital life, but (for me) it feels like I would be a slave to this effort, and what does it get me, really? I spent a long time organizing my digital movie collection; now most films I want to watch are on streaming services. I spent a long time organizing music; now Apple Music and Spotify are much more convenient.

There was an essay from a while back floating around online about the ever-increasing burden of organizing our digital lives. I wish I could find it now, but it really summarized a lot of what I feel about this.

We're in a transition time right now. Access to the internet is not always available. It is not always fast. But this time will pass. It makes sense, to me, to design for this future.

Sometimes, internet is also expensive and metered. It might be where things are going, sure, and I'm all for that. But I think forcing this stuff with no other option is either elitist or disconnected from reality.

Having an internet connection as a requirement is "disconnected from reality"? In 2017?

I travel the world quite a bit and it's quite difficult to be offline, in any populated area of non-trivial size. Whether it's South-East Asia or Europe or South America, I'm never far from some kind of WiFi access point.

Where the heck do you live ???

I agree with you, but I think syncing is itself a 'first-world problem', in that you need to be able to own multiple devices in the first place to even worry about syncing.

If you have metered/expensive internet, modern smartphones are going to present all kinds of problems, syncing aside (e.g. app download sizes for one).

What country do you live in and where?

I live in Taiwan. Mobile phone companies require a monthly payment to offer 3G/4G services. Prepaid doesn't provide Internet access. There is a lot of free WiFi, so I use that + SMS when I need to communicate.

On a hike to a waterfall, my friend Lenard asked if someone can play music on a Bluetooth speaker. There was no phone signal so he couldn't get Apple Music. More seriously, he couldn't even get a map to find his way home. This wasn't a problem for me.

There are many popular posts on HN complaining about Facebook these days. I don't have a problem, because I only check FB when I'm online. It can interrupt my work in the office, but not dates. I can enjoy mealtimes without disruption. I have offline Wikipedia (10GB of text on a 64GB phone) if I need to check any facts. Internet access is only needed for real-time communication, and the telephone can do that.

Every carrier in Taiwan offers prepaid voice, text and data. In both 3G and 4G.

If you need help getting setup, give me an email at me@drsr.me.

At the moment, in a country with much worse/more expensive internet than what I'm used to, though still very good by global standards.

In seriousness though, I'm optimistic for fast worldwide internet. There are new solutions for low-population density areas on the horizon. If you look at current stats, about 47% of the world are online now, up from 16% a decade ago. In the developing world it's 40% up from 8%. I actually think in some ways it's an easier problem to solve than, for example, access to clean water. I wouldn't be surprised if this reaches 90% in a decade.

I imagine bigger problems will be variance in speed and latency, and artificial restrictions on supply/metering, and product design not accounting for this. Which we're already seeing in e.g. app sizes, webpage sizes.

You must be using a third party for your mapping imagery still? Unless you have launched a satellite or done extensive exploration?

Yes, I use a third party, and download tiles using MOBAC. Having my own cache was important when Google Maps removed pinyin for a couple of weeks.

At this point it is pretty clear that, at least on the Mac side, iTunes has no future. The Mac is clearly moving towards an iOS-like setup where there are seperate Apps for Videos, Music, Podcasts, and so on. Now that Apple has discontinued all non-iOS based iPods (so everything except the iPod touch) this raison-d'être has also disappeared.

What remains to be seen is how this plays out on Windows.

> What remains to be seen is how this plays out on Windows.

My bet would be that iTunes/Win32 will be replaced with web apps, requiring Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) for DRM.

iTunes for Windows currently relies on QTML ("QuickTime Media Layer"), which is the porting layer that the QuickTime team created to bring QuickTime (and QuickTime Player, etc.) to Windows. I'm sure that Apple would love to kill QTML as soon as they can.

I'm also reasonably sure that Apple isn't interested in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) development. That leaves web technologies as a likely solution, which (based on iCloud's web apps) Apple's pretty good at, and seems to be betting on in earnest.

> My bet would be that iTunes/Win32 will be replaced with web apps, requiring Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) for DRM.

That does not allow managing your iDevices... while I believe there is some html5 way to access Bluetooth, I rather hope they won't ever implement USB...

Well, there is https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2016/03/access-usb....

Luckily, they aren’t that insane:

"Attacks against USB devices

The WebUSB API does not even try to provide a way for a web page to connect to arbitrary USB devices. There are plenty of published attacks against USB devices that makes it unsafe to allow this.

For this reason, a USB device can define a set of origins that are allowed to connect to it. This is similar to the CORS mechanism in HTTP. In other words, WebUSB devices are associated with a web origin and can only be accessed from a page from the same origin."

> What remains to be seen is how this plays out on Windows.

Given that a computer isn't really necessary to operate an iOS device these days, could Apple just cancel the Windows version of iTunes without a replacement?

That would leave Windows users without access to Apple Music, Podcasts, Movies, TV Shows, and so on.

They could just use their phones or other iOS devices. I would think the number of Windows users who use iTunes and do not have an iOS device must be vanishingly small.

When I’m gaming, I don’t want to use my iOS device. I want the music coming out of the same headphones I’m already wearing.

Yeah, that's not very likely.

Itunes is only used on my mac to backup my phone.

libimobiledevice has tools, idevicebackup2 and idevicerestore, and I'm fairly sure they work on osx. Take a look!

Damn, I liked the iOS feature to sync applications, back in the day when Apple was blocking Bitcoin applications it was the only way to get Coinbase back onto your phone.

Yeah I found it somewhat annoying when they moved all the apps to the cloud and off local storage because my internet is metered and expensive. But that happened quite a while ago.

So... how do I get my iOS .ipa files onto my phone now without submitting it to the iOS store?

fwiw, you can still download older versions of iTunes for macOS and Windows:


It's kind of a relief given the App Store orientated nature of the Apple ecosystem.

XCode organizer

And if I don't have Xcode (or macOS)?

Then you can’t publish iOS apps, or develop them. You need macOS. You can run hackintosh if you really need it.

I don't need to publish or develop them. I need to install them. It's frequently needed for testers.


TestFlight is not usable. The real alternative is something like diawi, but it's still less convenient than manual installation via iTunes.

They should also address the crap Music app on iOS/iPhone.

Interesting. What will be the flow for users who click on 'Download on the App Store' links in desktop browsers now? Will Apple enable purchase in browser on itunes 'preview' pages like this https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monument-valley-2/id11872657... ?

Clicking that started a loop for me. Safari attempted to open iTunes, which showed a blank screen for a moment and then opened the link in Safari, which attempted to open iTunes, and so on. I had to quit iTunes to stop it.

Wow, same here. This is actually pretty appalling from a user interface perspective.

Edit: must be something related to the query string, as this URL does not have the same issue.


Any ideas how to get custom ringtones onto an iPhone now?

Plug the phone in with a cable, and drag them into te Tunes folder on the device. There doesn't seem to be any way to delete them now though!

I'll have to give that a try. I just moved phones, and I want to get the custom ringtones I've already created onto the new phone. I don't particularly want to delete them. :)

This is super annoying. Having to use the tiny phone screen to scroll through apps and read reviews is a terrible user experience.

I assume the store will still work on the web (including the purchase by fingerprint if you have a recent MBP); after buying your app you would then download it from your phone.

Good move.

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