Apple iTunes' demise will usher in a trio of better apps - here's what to expect

Apple TV, Apple Music and Apple Podcasts are set to replace iTunes

Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California on June 3, 2019.  / AFP / Brittany Hosea-Small
Powered by automated translation

Apple is replacing iTunes with a trio of new apps that give the tech giant a much-needed re-boot to its entertainment offering.

The app, a music jukebox that revolutionised the digital entertainment industry when it was introduced eighteen years ago, will be phased out with the introduction of macOS Catalina, the new version of Apple's desktop operating system, and replaced with Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV, the company announced at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday.

"I am glad that Apple is splitting [iTunes] up into dedicated apps," Abbas Ali, managing editor of TechRadar Middle East, told The National. "iTunes became unnecessarily bloated over time, supporting everything from songs, podcasts, movies and devices."

Launched in 2001, iTunes was for downloading, playing and organising digital multimedia files such as music and video on personal computers, iPhones and iPads. In recent years, the primary function of iTunes became a muddled catch-all for e-books, podcasts and the place where data backups are stored for iPhones and iPads.

Meanwhile, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify edged in, fragmenting media audiences and nabbing market share from Apple.

As of January 2019, nearly 50 million people use Apple Music. Its closest competitor, Spotify Premium, around for three years, has nearly 75 million paying subscribers.

Greg Harwood, pricing specialist and director at marketing consultants Simon-Kurcher & Partners said iTunes became "out-dated" and "less relevant" over time.

The music side of iTunes will be moved to Apple Music where subscribers paying $9.99 a month can explore over 50 million songs and playlists.

Video content will be moved to Apple TV – an app for watching movies and TV shows on a pay-per-episode basis. Apple TV+, the company’s original content subscription service, will be available in the Apple TV app from September. It is set to give tough competition to rival streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The new Apple Podcasts app will have more than 700,000 shows and search tools that can find episodes by host, guest or discussion topic. Listeners can search for a specific phrase spoken on a particular episode and it will pop up in search, pulling the quote from the episode's transcript.

Tech reviewers are saying that perhaps the greatest improvement to user experience is there will be no more annoying iTunes window pop-ups each time an iPhone is plugged into a computer for backup. With the new software update, devices will sync using Finder in the computer's toolbar.