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iTunes Overhaul?

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iTunesThis post started as a simple screencast reveling in the simplicity that was early iTunes. Remember the multi-button? Click on a CD and the button became an Importer. Click on a playlist and it was a Burner. The interface was fantastically simple and surely helped iPod mania spread like wildfire.

That interface element is long gone. In its place Apple has added new innovations including DJ, Genius, remote speakers, and of course – video. It’s come a long way – so far that it’s hard to believe folders for organizing our playlists were once on the still-not-there list.iTunes 4

Now on the brink of iTunes 9 the murmurs have begun about what to expect. Topping the list is social networking. Also likely: The ability to arrange your iPhone / iPod touch icons on your computer instead of playing the tile game on your iPhone. Far less likely: DVD ripping.

If you watched the screencast and you appreciate a good interface you have to wonder what happened to iTunes. It’s become somewhat scattered. And you have to wonder at what point Apple realized TV Shows and Movies would reside in the iTunes Library.

iTunes could improve in a few areas:

  • Why can’t I search Movies, Music, and TV Shows at once? Clicking the node seems a wasted step, especially when search results could easily be grouped by container.
  • Adding information for imported video, like episode information, is messy. This is one of the places where iTunes shows it wasn’t built for video.
  • Why isn’t there something like the Migration Assistant to help someone move iTunes to a new computer? I would never expect anyone to be able to accomplish this feat without help from someone who reads stuff like this.
  • Why can’t I remove a watched episode from a playlist from my Apple TV? Or my iPhone? So it doesn’t come back on the next sync.
  • Why does syncing my first generation iPod touch take twenty-five minutes?

I’m not saying iTunes is a disaster. Some of the features are great. I use an Apple TV, an EyeTV, an iPhone, and an Airport Express. I remote control iTunes from the iPhone. I stream from the Apple TV directly to the Airport Express. It’s all good – and they could take it further. How about Starbucks running iTunes in DJ mode and letting customers vote songs up the queue with their iPhones?

But at some point iTunes needs an overhaul. Apple should take a look at tools like PowerTunes and the massive AppleScript library at Doug’s Scripts. They’ll find functions that should be built into iTunes. Maybe they can give it a better name too. ┬áThe screencast is short, take a look.

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