“When the developer Erik Kemp designed the first metadata system for MP3s in 1996, he provided only three options for attaching text to the music,” Robinson Meyer writes for The Atlantic. “Every audio file could be labeled with only an artist, song name, and album title.”
“Kemp’s system has since been augmented and improved upon, but never replaced. Which makes sense: Like the web itself, his schema was shipped, good enough, and an improvement on the vacuum which preceded it. Those three big tags, as they’re called, work well with pop and rock written between 1960 and 1995. This didn’t prevent rampant mislabeling in the early days of the web, though, as anyone who remembers Napster can tell you. His system stumbles even more, though, when it needs to capture hip hop’s tradition of guest MCs or jazz’s vibrant culture of studio musicianship,” Meyer writes. “And they really, really fall apart when they need to classify classical music.”
“But as streaming services have flooded out MP3s, the situation worsened. Apple, which long paid classical more mind than other big tech companies, debuted Apple Music with dismal classical options,” Meyer writes. “And even beyond the streaming service, the new version of Apple’s signature music software seems especially broken. In the name of creating a ‘complete thought around music,’ iTunes 12 has crammed a streaming service and a media library and a recommendation service and a file store and a device manager into one interface. The sum is that nothing ‘just works’ — and MP3s especially don’t work well. I wondered: How were professional musicians handling the change? And how did they organize their music in the first place?”
Tons more in the full article – recommended – here.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple deserves all of this and then some. This has been building for years. With each new version of “iTunes” (even the app’s name hasn’t been right for many years), we’ve had such high hopes, but all we ever get are more and more appendages bolted on to the bloated mass, when it’s exactly the opposite that’s called for!
iTunes is the Yoplait yogurt cup of UIs. Upside-down, inefficient, messy, unusable in spots and woefully inefficient. The foil top always tears in half; it never comes off in one piece. Trying to spoon it all out of an ever-widening cup maddeningly gets yogurt all over the spoon’s handle and your fingers. And inconvenient bumps molded into the horrid thing to go along with a wide yogurt-catching lip around the top thwart even the most determined of spoon scrapers. The amount of Yoplait yogurt thrown away due to poor packaging design could feed several impoverished nations. The amount of media hidden away, seemingly inaccessible, and lost inside in iTunes is like leftover yogurt forlornly and forever stuck in that awfully-designed Yoplait cup. What a stupid waste!
Apple, take a step back and look at the iTunes app anew. Look at it as if, say, it was a piece of Microsoft software (it certainly looks and acts like one) and approach it as if you’re about to enter the market. What would Apple do? Laugh at what a POS it is and then get to work creating a coherent, easy-to-use solution.
Just like you did with personal computers, MP3 players, smartphones, and tablets make this experience for end users again. Look at what Apple did with non-linear editing via iMovie. You made something very complex into something simple, understandable, and usable for everyone. Reinvent. Simplify. Delight us. Surprise us. That’s why you get the big money.
Give “iTunes” to another Apple team, or teams, or even bring in some outside talent, and see what their fresh eyes might imagine.
Apple, especially under Steve Jobs, has shown a great and admirable willingness to cannibalize themselves. They obliterated their iPod business with the iPhone, for one example. But, when it comes to iTunes, they seem paralyzed by fear of change. Apple paralyzed by fear is not a pretty thing and it doesn’t yield pretty things. It yields hot messes like iTunes.
iTunes screams to be broken up into separate, streamlined apps. It’s been screaming that for years. But Apple seems to be scared silly to do so — perhaps 800+ million credit cards have something to do with it — so they’ve tinkered around the edges, making questionable tweaks here an there and bolting on even more bloat.
Grow a pair, Apple, and do what needs to be done already. — MacDailyNews Take, July 17, 2015
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015
Dear Apple, please go thermonuclear on iTunes – July 28, 2015
Marco Arment: iTunes is a toxic hellstew – July 27, 2015
Jim Dalrymple: I got (most of) my music back; Apple working to fix Apple Music issues shortly – July 26, 2015
Jim Dalrymple: Apple Music is a nightmare, and I’m done with it – July 23, 2015
Apple’s iTunes: Whatever happened to ‘It Just Works? – July 17, 2015
The iTunes Report: Still a mess – July 14, 2015
Apple releases iTunes 12.2.1, fixes iTunes Match issues – July 13, 2015
Apple Music, both on iOS and OS X, is an embarrassing and confusing mess – July 10, 2015
iTunes 12.2 is mangling network-shared libraries – July 6, 2015
Serious iTunes Match issues for some users ahead of Apple Music launch – June 26, 2015