Apple Is Overhauling iTunes in Favor of Separate Apps (Report)

Anyone who's ever enthused about Apple's commitment to elegance and simplicity must never have spent much time around iTunes, which over the years has morphed from a pretty good music player into a bloated media management tool. But relief could be on the way in the form of this fall's macOS update.

Credit: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

(Image credit: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

A pair of developers with a track record of identifying upcoming changes to Apple products have said that Apple is going to revamp its music app for the Mac, splitting out a separate Podcast app and revamping its Books app to be more like the one in iOS 12. That comes on the heels of Apple already promising a Mac version of its TV app for this fall during last month's Show Time event.

The latest news of Apple's plans to split off some of iTunes functions comes from a report by developer Guilherme Rambo, writing for 9to5Mac. Earlier this month, developer Steve Troughton-Smith took to Twitter to say that he was "fairly confident" that Apple was planning new "Music, Podcasts, perhaps even Books, apps for macOS."

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With the exception of Books, which has its own macOS app, those features are now currently bundled into iTunes on the Mac. When you want to listen to a song, queue up a podcast or watch a movie or TV show, you do so by heading to iTunes and using a drop-down menu to navigate whatever media you want to consume.

And, frankly, it's a bit of a mess. iTunes began life as a well-designed music player, but every time Apple extended its reach into a new aspect of digital media — first video, then podcasts, books and apps — it simply bolted those features onto iTunes. The result is an app that's a sort of Frankenstein's monster, even after shedding some features like mobile app management.

This newfound push toward separate apps for different forms of media on the Mac is part of Apple's UIKit efforts, launched at last year's Worldwide Developer Conference. At the time, Apple introduced tools aimed at making it easier for app makers to bring their iOS apps over to the Mac, and it launched Mac versions of News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home with last fall's macOS Mojave update. We're expecting to hear more about these efforts at the 2019 WWDC, which begins June 3.

The changes would likely appear in macOS 10.15, due out this fall. Rambo's report contains the most information about potential changes to the Books app in macOS. It will look a lot like the News app on the Mac with a sidebar; a title bar will provide access to Library, Book Store and Audiobook Store. Audiobooks currently appear in iTunes, so that would be one of the ways Apple is splitting off some of that app's current media management duties.

As for Music, Podcasts and TV, Rambo says those apps will be built using Marzipan, Apple's program for bringing more iOS apps to the Mac.

iTunes doesn't sound like it's going away entirely, according to Rambo's report. Apple will still need a way for older iOS devices to still sync manually with the Macs. Still, anything that breaks up iTunes into a easier-to-manage set of apps sounds like a step in the right direction for Apple.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.