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It’s Time to Blow Up iTunes

Editor’s Note: I wrote the original draft of this post in December 2018 and never published it. With the launch of Catalina, I thought it was worth posting.

When I wrote recently about some redesign ideas for Apple Music on iOS, I naturally also took a look at the current state of iTunes on Mac OS X. And were I to deliver a state-of-the-union address for the iTunes nation, I’d have to conclude that it is dire.

Keep in mind that I’m talking about the latest version of iTunes (12.4), according to the dialog I see when I check for updates. It features the return of the sidebar when viewing “my” media (My Music, My Movies, My TV Shows); the sidebar doesn’t exist for any other sub-media options like For You, Unwatched or Store.

To be fair, this version is an improvement. There’s a really consistent design pattern at work: choose a media type from the dropdown menu in the upper left corner of the screen, access my content from the left sidebar, and access other content, like the stores, from sub-menus for each media. If I’m viewing My Music and switch from Music to Movies, I see My Movies. If I’m viewing the iTunes Store under Movies and switch to TV Shows, I see the iTunes Store filtered for TV Shows instead of Movies. In some ways, this is a very smooth, elegant and consistent user experience.