But is Apple really 'killing' iTunes at WWDC 2019?
Apple isn’t killing iTunes on Monday. Tim Cook isn’t coming to your house and deleting all the music and movies you’ve bought and downloaded over the years. There will be no Thanos snap live on stage. No decimation around the world. None of that is true or real in any true or real way.
So, why are there so many headlines saying iTunes is ending and the age of digital downloads is over? Because, apparently, writers can’t read, fact checkers can’t check facts, and editors are too busy baiting clicks and not busy enough thinking about the needless stress and anxiety they’re causing the audience that relies on their reporting.
Burn iTunes, burn
Nerds have been wanting Apple to tear down iTunes for a decade or more. It’s big, it’s bloated, and the iPhone has long shown that individual apps for Music, TV, and Podcasts were a better, sleeker, smarter way to go.
What about everyone who just wants to sync their iPad without using iCloud, or rip CDs onto their iPod nano from their Windows PC? Screw ’em. Who cares about their comfort level? iTunes has to burn.
This year, though, there have been credible rumors that Apple is getting ready to do just that. Kinda.
It started, as many things do, with Steven Troughton-Smith on Twitter.
I am now fairly confident based on evidence I don’t wish to make public at this point that Apple is planning new (likely UIKit) Music, Podcasts, perhaps even Books, apps for macOS, to join the new TV app. I expect the four to be the next wave of Marzipan apps. Grain of salt, etc
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) April 5, 2019
Just a month before, at their March Show Time event, Apple had announced the TV app was coming too macOS, so it made the kind of sense that did.
Then, naturally, it escalated to Gui Rambo at 9to5Mac:
I’ve been able to independently confirm that this is true. On top of that, I’ve been able to confirm with sources familiar with the development of the next major version of macOS – likely 10.15 – that the system will include standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, but it will also include a major redesign of the Books app. We also got an exclusive look at the icons for the new Podcasts and TV apps on macOS.
In May, though, Gui followed up on 9to5Mac saying Music wouldn’t be a Marzipan app after all. I’ll quote this part verbatim since it’s important:
The new standalone Music app on macOS will actually be an AppKit application, based off of iTunes. It will include many of the advanced features iTunes users are accustomed to, including things such as smart playlists, advanced library management, syncing with iPods and iOS devices, and even disc reading and burning.
Mark Gurman had been saying similar things on Bloomberg as well.
There will also be a new Apple Music app, which is being developed as a standard Mac program.
And on Twitter clarified it wouldn’t be a Marzipan app.
The Mac Podcasts app will be a ported iPad app (Marzipan), but the Music and TV apps will likely be true Mac apps. https://t.co/C64UMD7Su7
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) May 6, 2019
Then, just yesterday on Bloomberg, and again, I’ll quote verbatim because important:
iTunes has been the way Apple users listen to music, watch movies and TV shows, hear podcasts, and manage their devices for almost two decades. This year, Apple is finally ready to move into a new era. The company is launching a trio of new apps for the Mac – Music, TV, and Podcasts – to replace iTunes. That matches Apple’s media app strategy on iPhones and iPads. Without iTunes, customers can manage their Apple gadgets through the Music app.
Now here’s the LA Times’s headline — and, to be 100% crystal clear, the LA Times is only one of the many terrible reports on this circulating today:
Apple will shut down iTunes, ending the download era, report says
And the lede:
The iTunes store is a dead service walking.
Oh, so clever. If only we cared as much about accuracy as cleverness, right?
Why accuracy? Because the report the LA Times cites and links to is Bloomberg’s from Yesterday. The one I just quoted verbatim. The one that, if you command or control F and search for iTunes Store or downloads you know what you find? Nothing. Because Gurman didn’t mention the store or the downloads. He only mentioned the app.
So, yes, the iTunes app for Mac is likely going to be replace by new Music, TV, and Podcasts apps. Deprecated might even be a better word, at least in the macOS 10.15 beta released to developers on Monday. But that has nothing to do with the iTunes store, potential rebranding to Music Store or whatever aside, or the downloads any of us have in our existing libraries.
Gui Rambo ended his last piece by positing:
With the standalone versions of Apple’s media apps coming to the Mac, it’s natural to ask: what about iTunes in macOS 10.15? According to sources, the next major version of macOS will still include the iTunes app. Since Apple doesn’t have a new solution for manually syncing devices such as old iPods and iPhones with the Mac, it’s natural to keep iTunes around a little longer.
When Photos for Mac launched a few years ago, Apple didn’t eradicate the old iPhoto app immediately and Tim Cook didn’t show up at to your house to delete all your photos off your drives.
The Times even says as much at the very end of its… whatever you want to call this word soup:
The specifics of iTunes’ reported demise haven’t been made public, but music fans will probably be able to access all offerings, including download purchases, through the Apple Music app.
Good thing nobody just reads the headline and everybody skips right to the end, right? God.
Even if Apple announces the new apps on Monday, they won’t be released to the general public until this fall and it will likely be years until the existing version of iTunes finally stops running on future versions of macOS. Again, if past is prologue and, in these cases, it pretty much always is.
If only because we haven’t seen any reports yet of what’s going to happen with iTunes for PC, which is a non-insignificant part of the install base.
So, if you’ve been at all stressed or worried about any of this, please don’t be. And please tell your friends and family they don’t have to be either. Hell, send them this video if it helps.
Just don’t let the Times or anyone else steal your attention. It’s our job to inform and empower our audiences, not panic them just for papers or cheap clicks. Because, the facts matter. Even and most especially in the age of clickbait and social, which has become more virus than viral anyway.