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What happened to iTunes?

iTunes 7 logoGenerally, Apple does software reasonably well. The company understands that the user experience doesn’t end with the plastic and the circuits, but also encompasses the on-screen interface, the dialog boxes, and even the fonts used in its applications.

So what happened to iTunes? Version 7 is, frankly, one of the slowest, most annoyingly designed applications I’ve used in years. It takes more than a minute to launch (previous versions were relatively snappy). When I drag a tune to my Shuffle (or delete a song from it), it takes iTunes a minute or two to do the update, and often this locks up the interface so I can’t do anything else. The library has been subdivided into five categories and I can’t get a total view of all of them — a problem, since some of my podcasts are in the “podcast” category while others, perplexingly, are filed under “music.” The video playback is bizarre and counterintuitive. And the bottom section of the screen is filled with a bright blue ad for the MiniStore. I don’t want the MiniStore! I want it to go away! I just want to listen to my music, and get some podcasts onto my Shuffle, and not have iTunes taking over my computer, churning the hard drive while I’m trying to work on something.

Bottom line: iTunes 7 is a terrible mishmash of poor design decisions and poorly-implemented software architecture. Whoever was in charge of this revision to iTunes desperately needs to be reassigned. And in the meantime, I need to find a lightweight alternative.


  1. thane

    Here here. They should at least stop calling it iTunes. Call it iCantFindMyButt or something.

  2. You Mon Tsang

    I would say try iTunes 6, but the primary reason why I use (podcast) it’s been very flaky (downloads old podcasts, shows duplicate listings). blah.

  3. Dylan

    You Mon, I don’t recall version 6 being especially good either. I’m not sure what the last version that I really liked was.

    All: If you really want to download version 6 (or even older versions) if iTunes, here’s a link You Mon sent me offline:


  4. Scot Hacker

    Sundry complaints about UI changes in iTunes 7, but speed is not one of them. Sounds like a classic example (c.f. QuickTime) of Apple sucking at doing Windows versions of Apple software. Shame, because from where I sit, iTunes 7 still rocks.

  5. Dylan

    Scot — it seems to work fine on my iMac, though that system is getting a little long in the tooth (1GHz G4, only 768MB RAM) so everything is a bit slow on this system. It’s the Windows version that really sucks.

    I dislike the UI on both platforms though! Wish I could just get a single, combined list of all my music, videos, and podcasts. And, I used to be able to make changes to my Shuffle playlist when the Shuffle wasn’t plugged in; it would just update the thing later when I did plug it in. Not sure what happened to that.

  6. Scot Hacker

    That’s pretty bizarre about your Shuffle playlist. Is it a standard playlist, or a smart playlist? Is it grayed out?

  7. Dylan

    Scot, it’s not a playlist I created myself. The way the Shuffle works has actually changed sometime between when I bought the Shuffle (about a year ago) and now. The way it used to work: There was a permanent icon for my Shuffle in the left side of iTunes. I could drag files to and from this icon whether or not my Shuffle was plugged in. When I plugged it in, it would update.

    At some point in the last year that icon went away. I suppose I could recreate its functionality by creating a playlist, then setting my shuffle to sync with that playlist. But that would require, you know, work.

    I don’t know if this change in behavior is due to iTunes 7 or not, but it’s annoying. It’s making me think about something I never had to think about before.

  8. Scot Hacker

    Interesting. Well dang, that pretty much sucks. I agree with you about work!

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