Saturday, November 10, 2007

ITunes feature creep getting out of control

iTunes started out as a fantastic tool for organising, searching, browsing and playing digital media files. The ability to browse by genre, album, date added and so on, was a revelation to me - and it was really fast too.

But now, iTunes has changed so much the name doesn't even suit it any more. 

Here's my list of features that have ended up in what used to be iTunes:
  • Update firmware in telephones
  • Purchase electronic books
  • Synchronise calendars
  • Monitor RSS feeds
  • Share music on the local network
  • Burn CDs
  • Enforce parental controls on content
  • Backup phones and one model of iPod
  • Movie rentals soon too?
Does this sound like feature creep to anyone else?

When Apple created iSync and the whole Sync Services concept, it sounded like we would get a single place for doing that hard task of synchronising our computers with our portable devices.

Of course it's more extreme on Windows where an install of iTunes also installs QuickTime, I think they should extend this software beach head and also install Safari 3 (weird how it's still a beta even though Leopard has shipped).

It's easy to be a critic, so here's what I'd suggest:
  • Split up the iTunes functionality, give us back that simple media player with fantastic slicing and dicing features
  • Create a "device manager" that is responsible for talking to devices, including media players, Apple TVs, phones, cameras, tablets, and doing the syncing that needs to be done.
  • Put the iTunes store on a web site and just make it part of the general excellent Apple online store experience, sure you can link from tracks but don't make me shop inside that little box.
iTunes must be well overdue for a re-write, I still see the old watch cursor from classic days so my guess is that it's still a carbon app - that must be a nightmare code base to work on!

There's no doubt that the iTunes team has been the first to show us new user interface features that have ended up in the OS: smart folders, live search, and now coverflow. That must be a hot team, but I think it's time to split up and focus.

1 comment:

Drew said...

Don't have much to say except that I think "burn cd" is a pretty integral part of iTunes and am surprised at your inclusion of it in your list of feature creep.