Designer mocks up standalone Apple Music app for Mac (and Windows)

“What makes Apple Music so un-Apple is the total disregard for user experience in many areas of the service. On iOS, it’s more of tropical storm than a level 5 hurricane– the app is generally gorgeous, laid out in (fairly) logical sections, but still complicated beyond the level of Spotify,” Andrew Ambrosino blogs. “The level 5 is the Mac (and Windows). And the source is easy to spot– iTunes. For Apple Music to win, iTunes as we know it must die. Anyone who uses Mac regularly with Apple Music is clamoring for a standalone Apple Music app, just like on iOS, and just like Photos on OS X.”

“Being a designer, complaining about it wasn’t enough for me. I was curious to see what I could put together, so I took three or four days to work on a concept,” Ambrosino writes. “Right off the bat we’ve got a standalone app. One navigation bar up top, one player down bottom. Content in between.”

“Smoother search with clustering and one source, not two. Why is it that now ‘My Music’ search does result clustering and “Apple Music” search doesn’t?” Ambrosino writes. “‘My Music’ was interesting to design. Apple has had a war on the sidebar for several versions of iTunes and even groups playlists in a separate section. This creates two major issues. First, the discoverability and simplicity of switching from song view, artist view, or a playlist is poor. Second, most users don’t know you can drag a song into a playlist, since the playlist pane only appears when dragging begins. In trying to visually simplify the UI, Apple just made it more complicated.”

“Here, I’ve made a few changes. One is a double-level ‘sidebar’ on the left that provides discoverability, speed, and simplicity both in interaction and in visuals,” Ambrosino writes. “Second point– from this screen, I’m not limited to just my own music.”

Apple Music as a standalone app for Mac and Windows by Andrew Ambrosino
Apple Music as a standalone app for Mac and Windows by Andrew Ambrosino

Read more, and see all of the screenshots, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’d love to have Ambrosino’s 3-4-day redesign on our Macs which tell you all you need to know about Apple’s current offerings.

As we wrote last week:

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.

And, as we wrote on July 17th:

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.

The tragedy of iTunes: Nothing ‘just works’ – July 28, 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
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. I’ve always thought that search should work like search in the finder in that it reduces what is displayed in the main window based on what you type. If you’re in a playlist, like in a folder in the finder it will show the stuff in that playlist (and possibly allow you to save that search to be part of the playlist or make a new one), or give you the option to expand it out to your library as a whole (much like searching your entire mac), the store, etc.

  2. Personally, the advantage of iTunes on a Mac is that you have the screen space to show lists of playlists, your songs and other information in one place so that you can manage your music as you see fit. Especially as you increase the screen size, you don’t need to make everything invisible – you can always invoke a mini player or something if you just want basic information visible. I don’t want every bit of information under the sun visible, but they just don’t need to strip it down like they have. Why not take advantage of the increased real estate of a desktop computer interface?

  3. iSync was always a bit confusing when people had rubbish Third Party devices they were trying to sync and it was just iPods that Apple needed to sync themselves, but with so many Apple devices that in theory are straight forward to sync surely it would make sense to strip out that part of the interface from iTunes (and possibly even Photos)?

  4. Right now I turned OFF Apple Music after starting to mess with my long time “on my mac” library, disabling and changing my editings. Some songs and albums bought at Apple Store (not many) disabled. I don’t care much about that. JUST DO NOT MESS WITH MY LIBRARY, APPLE!!!

  5. I think this mockup does a really great job of showing why splitting iTunes up in of itself accomplishes nothing.

    It’s also cheating a bit as it’s showing the absolute stripped down view layouts, much of which are currently available, and pretty useless when managing significant libraries.

    1. Agree that splitting up iTunes is pointless. But some people just gotta see it for themselves to believe.

      Eddie Cue should have two separate competing teams working iTunes. One team should focus on splitting up iTunes into separate apps to manage each of the different types of files and the other team should focus on improving the iTunes IU for file management, playback and streaming services. Then test the two models out internally or even share them with the developer community. The feedback will make it clear which model works better.

      1. Christ, if Apple just tested whatever the hell they are working on things would be massively better than today. Apple Music was clearly barely Alpha tested if even that. The level of disaster that Apple Music is could never have been possible except for its total lack of vigorous testing.

        1. I agree. Apple Music should’ve gone through a beta test that was isolate to developers and then a public beta. Many of the issues were back end and would’ve been caught as things scaled up.

  6. I don’t know why iTunes on OS X and the music app on iOS does not let me see all my songs in alphabetical order in each genre. They both sort everything by album, which is unhelpful for me. I would rather have a list of songs in each genre.

  7. Please note that this is a designer mockup. That’s it. It’s not a real piece of engineered software thats gone through testing. Anyone can mock up a UI in software. But that’s not the same as designing UX from the ground up.

  8. I don’t know what all the complaints are about. I’ve spent some time getting to know AppleMusic and it works fine for me. There’s a logical sequence to integrating it with iTunes rather than a stand alone app. BTW I have Match with lots of funny labels on tracks – and NOTHING has been lost or misplaced. I suggest a lot of the complaints about AppleMusic are as a result of OPERATOR ERROR!

    1. Just like Windows. Everything you say can apply to Microsoft Windows. It’s a fine OS if you spend stupid amounts of time learning it and its inane interface.

      The same goes for Apple Music.

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