ITunes

Last updated

iTunes
ITunes 12.2 logo.png
Screenshot of iTunes.png
Screenshot of iTunes 12.7.1 on Windows 10
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial releaseJanuary 9, 2001;19 years ago (2001-01-09)
Stable release
12.10.7 / May 21, 2020;43 days ago (2020-05-21)
Operating system
Type
License Freeware
Website apple.com/itunes/

iTunes ( /ˈtjnz/ ) [1] is a media player, media library, Internet radio broadcaster, mobile device management utility, and the client app for iTunes Store, developed by Apple Inc. It is used to purchase, play, download, and organize digital multimedia, on personal computers running the macOS and Windows operating systems, and can be used to rip songs from CDs, as well as play content with the use of dynamic, smart playlists. Options for sound optimizations exist, as well as ways to wirelessly share the iTunes library.

Contents

Originally announced by CEO Steve Jobs on January 9, 2001, iTunes' original and main focus was music, with a library offering organization, collection, and storage of users' music collections. In 2005, however, Apple expanded on the core features with support for digital video, podcasts, e-books, and mobile apps purchased from the iOS App Store (the last of which it discontinued in 2017). The original iPhone required iTunes for activation. Until the release of iOS 5 in 2011, iTunes was required for updating mobile apps. Newer iOS devices have less reliance on iTunes in order to function, though it can still be used to back up the contents of mobile devices, as well as to share files with personal computers.

Though well-received in its early years, iTunes soon received increasingly significant criticism for a bloated user experience, with Apple adopting an all-encompassing feature-set in iTunes rather than sticking to its original music-based purpose. On June 3, 2019, Apple announced that iTunes in macOS Catalina would be replaced by separate apps, namely Music, Podcasts, and TV. Finder would take over the device management capabilities. [2] [3] This change would not affect Windows or older macOS versions. [4] By the mid-2010s, streaming media services surpassed iTunes' buy-to-own model, starting to generate more revenue in the industry. [5] [6]

History

SoundJam MP, released by Casady & Greene in 1998, was renamed "iTunes" when Apple purchased it in 2000. [7] The primary developers of the software moved to Apple as part of the acquisition, and simplified SoundJam's user interface, added the ability to burn CDs, and removed its recording feature and skin support. [8] The first version of iTunes, promotionally dubbed "World’s Best and Easiest To Use Jukebox Software", [9] was announced on January 9, 2001. [10] Subsequent releases of iTunes often coincided with new hardware devices, and gradually included support for new features, including "smart playlists," the iTunes Store, and new audio formats. [10]

Platform availability

Apple released iTunes for Windows in 2003. [11] In May 2017, Microsoft and Apple announced that they would bring iTunes to the Microsoft Store by the end of that year [12] in order to work on Windows 10 S devices, which are limited to software available in the Microsoft Store. [13] However, Apple told ZDNet in December that it "[needs] a little more time to get it right", and thus won't be available in 2017. [14] Apple released the Microsoft Store version on April 26, 2018. [15]

Music library

iTunes features a music library. Each track has attributes, called metadata, that can be edited by the user, including changing the name of the artist, album, and genre, year of release, artwork, among other additional settings. [16] [17] The software supports importing digital audio tracks that can then be transferred to iOS devices, [18] as well as supporting ripping content from CDs. [19] [20] iTunes supports WAV, AIFF, Apple Lossless, AAC, and MP3 audio formats. [21] It uses the Gracenote music database to provide track name listings for audio CDs. When users rip content from a CD, iTunes attempts to match songs to the Gracenote service. For self-published CDs, or those from obscure record labels, iTunes will normally only list tracks as numbered entries ("Track 1", "Track 2") on an unnamed album by an unknown artist, requiring manual input of data. [22]

File metadata is displayed in users' libraries in columns, including album, artist, genre, composer, and more. [23] Users can enable or disable different columns, as well as change view settings. [24]

Special playlists

Introduced in 2004, [25] "Party Shuffle" selected tracks to play randomly from the library, though users could press a button to skip the current song and go to the next in the list. [26] The feature was later renamed "iTunes DJ", [27] before being discontinued altogether, replaced by a simpler "Up Next" feature that notably lost some of "iTunes DJ"'s functionality. [28]

Introduced in iTunes 8 in 2008, "Genius" can automatically generate a playlist of songs from the user's library that "go great together". [29] "Genius" transmits information about the user's library to Apple anonymously, and evolves over time to enhance its recommendation system. It can also suggest purchases to fill out "holes" in the library. [30] The feature was updated with iTunes 9 in 2009 to offer "Genius Mixes", which generated playlists based on specific music genres. [31] [32]

"Smart playlists" are a set of playlists that can be set to automatically filter the library based on a customized list of selection criteria, much like a database query. Multiple criteria can be entered to manage the smart playlist. [33] Selection criteria examples include a genre like Christmas music, songs that haven't been played recently, or songs the user has listened to the most in a time period. [34]

Library sharing

Through a "Home Sharing" feature, users can share their iTunes library wirelessly. [35] Computer firewalls must allow network traffic, and users must specifically enable sharing in the iTunes preferences menu. iOS applications also exist that can transfer content without Internet. [36] Additionally, users can set up a network-attached storage system, and connect to that storage system through an app. [37]

Artwork printing

To compensate for the "boring" design of standard CDs, iTunes can print custom-made jewel case inserts. After burning a CD from a playlist, one can select that playlist and bring up a dialog box with several print options, including different "Themes" of album artworks. [38]

Sound processing

iTunes includes sound processing features, such as equalization, "sound enhancement" and crossfade. There is also a feature called Sound Check, which automatically adjusts the playback volume of all songs in the library to the same level. [39] [40]

Video

In May 2005, video support was introduced to iTunes with the release of iTunes 4.8, [41] though it was limited to bonus features part of album purchases. [42] The following October, Apple introduced iTunes 6, enabling support for purchasing and viewing video content purchased from the iTunes Store. At launch, the store offered popular shows from the ABC network, including Desperate Housewives and Lost , along with Disney Channel series That's So Raven and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody . CEO Steve Jobs told the press that "We’re doing for video what we’ve done for music — we’re making it easy and affordable to purchase and download, play on your computer, and take with you on your iPod". [43]

In 2008, Apple and select film studios introduced "iTunes Digital Copy", a feature on select DVDs and Blu-ray discs allowing a digital copy in iTunes and associated media players. [44] [45] [46]

Podcasts

The icon used by Apple to represent a podcast Podcasts (iOS).svg
The icon used by Apple to represent a podcast

In June 2005, Apple updated iTunes with support for podcasts. [47] [48] Users can subscribe to podcasts, change update frequency, define how many episodes to download and how many to delete. [48]

Similar to songs, "Smart playlists" can be used to control podcasts in a playlist, setting criteria such as date and number of times listened to. [49]

Apple is credited for being the major catalyst behind the early growth of podcasting. [50]

Books

In January 2010, Apple announced the iPad tablet, and along with it, a new app for it called Apple Books (previously known as iBooks). The app allowed users to purchase e-books from the iTunes Store, manage them through iTunes, and transfer the content to their iPad. [51]

Apps

On July 10, 2008, Apple introduced native mobile apps for its iOS operating system. On iOS, a dedicated App Store application served as the storefront for browsing, purchasing and managing applications, whereas iTunes on computers had a dedicated section for apps rather than a separate app. [52] In September 2017, Apple updated iTunes to version 12.7, removing the App Store section in the process. [53] [54] However, the following month, iTunes 12.6.3 was also released, retaining the App Store, with 9to5Mac noting that the secondary release was positioned by Apple as "necessary for some businesses performing internal app deployments". [55] [56]

iTunes Store

On April 28, 2003, Apple introduced the iTunes Music Store. It allowed users to buy and download songs, with 200,000 tracks available at launch. In its first week, customers bought more than one million songs. [57] Music purchased was protected by FairPlay, an encryption layer referred to as digital rights management (DRM). [58] The use of DRM, which limited devices capable of playing purchased files, [59] sparked efforts to remove the protection mechanism. [60] Eventually, after an open letter to the music industry by CEO Steve Jobs in February 2007, [61] Apple introduced a selection of DRM-free music in the iTunes Store in April 2007, [62] followed by its entire music catalog without DRM in January 2009. [63]

In October 2005, Apple announced that movies and television shows would become available through its iTunes Store, employing the DRM protection. [43]

iTunes U

In May 2007, Apple announced the launch of "iTunes U" via the iTunes Store, which delivers university lectures from top U.S. colleges. [64] [65]

With iTunes version 12.7 in August 2017, iTunes U collections became a part of the Podcasts app. [66]

iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match

In June 2011, Apple announced "iTunes in the Cloud", in which music purchases were stored on Apple's servers and made available for automatic downloading on new devices. For music the user owns, such as content ripped from CDs, the company introduced "iTunes Match", a feature that can upload content to Apple's servers, match it to its catalog, change the quality to 256kbit/s AAC format, and make it available to other devices. [67] [68]

Internet radio and music streaming

When iTunes was first released, it came with support for the Kerbango Internet radio tuner service. [69] In June 2013, the company announced iTunes Radio, a free music streaming service. [70] In June 2015, Apple announced Apple Music, its paid music streaming service, and subsequently rebranded iTunes Radio into Beats 1, a radio station accompanying Apple Music. [71]

iPhone connectivity

iTunes was used to activate early iPhone models. Beginning with the iPhone 3G in June 2008, activation did not require iTunes, making use of activation at point of sale. [72]

Ping

With the release of iTunes 10 in September 2010, Apple announced iTunes Ping, which CEO Steve Jobs described as "social music discovery". It had features reminiscent of Facebook, including profiles and the ability to follow other users. [73] Ping was discontinued in September 2012. [74]

Criticism

Security

The Telegraph reported in November 2011 that Apple had been aware of a security vulnerability since 2008 that would let unauthorized third parties install "updates" to users' iTunes software. Apple fixed the issue prior to the Telegraph's report, and told the media that "The security and privacy of our users is extremely important", though this was questioned by security researcher Brian Krebs, who told the publication that "A prominent security researcher warned Apple about this dangerous vulnerability in mid-2008, yet the company waited more than 1,200 days to fix the flaw". [75]

Software bloat

iTunes has been repeatedly accused of being bloated as part of Apple's efforts to turn it from a music player to an all-encompassing multimedia platform. [53] [76] [77] [78] [79] Former PC World editor Ed Bott accused the company of hypocrisy in its advertising attacks on Windows for similar practices. [80]

During the announcement of macOS Catalina, Craig Federighi addressed the evolution of iTunes, and joked about the potential to include Email, Calendar, and Safari in iTunes before announcing iTunes's separation into independent apps, Apple Music, Apple TV, and more.

See also

Related Research Articles

iPod Line of portable media players by Apple

The iPod is a line of portable media players and multi-purpose pocket computers designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The first version was released on October 23, 2001, about ​8 12 months after the Macintosh version of iTunes was released. As of May 28, 2019, only the iPod Touch remains in production.

iTunes Store Digital media store

The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple Inc. that opened on April 28, 2003, as a result of Steve Jobs' push to open a digital marketplace for music. As of April 2020, iTunes offers 60 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 TV shows, and 65,000 films. When it opened, it was the only legal digital catalog of music to offer songs from all five major record labels. As of June 2013, the iTunes Store possessed 575 million active user accounts, and served over 315 million mobile devices.

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iLife suite of software applications for organizing, editing, and publishing photos, movies, and music

iLife is a discontinued software suite for macOS and iOS developed by Apple Inc. It consists of various programs for media creation, organization, editing and publishing. It comprised: iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iWeb and GarageBand. Only iMovie and GarageBand remain and are now sold separately on Apple's Mac App Store. iDVD and iWeb have been discontinued and iPhoto has been succeeded by Photos.

FairPlay is a digital rights management (DRM) technology developed by Apple Inc. It is built into the MP4 multimedia file format as an encrypted AAC audio layer, and was used until April 2009 by the company to protect copyrighted works sold through iTunes Store, allowing only authorized devices to play the content.

Apple Lossless, also known as Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), or Apple Lossless Encoder (ALE), is an audio coding format, and its reference audio codec implementation, developed by Apple Inc. for lossless data compression of digital music. After initially keeping it proprietary from its inception in 2004, in late 2011 Apple made the codec available open source and royalty-free. Traditionally, Apple has referred to the codec as Apple Lossless, though more recently it has begun to use the abbreviated term ALAC when referring to the codec.

History of iTunes The history of the iTunes application and e-commerce platform

The history of iTunes started in 2001. Initially conceived of as a simple music player, over time iTunes developed into a sophisticated multimedia content manager, hardware synchronization manager and e-commerce platform. iTunes enables users to manage media content, create playlists, synchronize media content with handheld devices including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, re-image and update handheld devices, stream Internet radio and purchase music, films, television shows, and audiobooks via the iTunes Store.

Apple TV Home media receiver device made by Apple

Apple TV is a digital media player and microconsole developed and sold by Apple Inc. It is a small network appliance and entertainment device that can receive digital data for visual and audio content such as music, video, video games, or the screen display of certain other devices, and play it on a connected television set or other video display.

iOS Mobile operating system by Apple

iOS is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. exclusively for its hardware. It is the operating system that powers many of the company's mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPod Touch; it also powered the iPad until the introduction of iPadOS in 2019. It is the world's second-most widely installed mobile operating system, after Android. It is the basis for three other operating systems made by Apple: iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

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iCloud cloud storage and cloud computing system

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iTunes Radio Internet radio service by Apple

iTunes Radio was an Internet radio service by Apple Inc. that let users listen to automatically generated playlists based on direct input as well as collected data on music preferences. It was launched on September 18, 2013, as part of iOS 7 and was available in the Music app on iOS devices and Apple TV as well as in iTunes 11.1 on OS X and Windows. It was only available in the United States and Australia.

iOS 8 Eighth major release of iOS, the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.

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Apple Music Music streaming service

Apple Music is a music and video streaming service developed by Apple Inc. Users select music to stream to their device on-demand, or they can listen to existing, curated playlists. The service also includes the Internet radio station Beats 1, which broadcasts live to over 160 countries 24 hours a day. The service was announced on June 8, 2015, and launched on June 30, 2015 in over 100 countries worldwide. New subscribers get a three-month free trial period before the service requires a monthly subscription.

iOS 10 Tenth major release of iOS, the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.

iOS 10 is the tenth major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc., being the successor to iOS 9. It was announced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 13, 2016, and was released on September 13, 2016. It was succeeded by iOS 11 on September 19, 2017.

macOS Sierra 13th major version of the macOS operating system

macOS Sierra is the thirteenth major release of macOS, Apple Inc.'s desktop and server operating system for Macintosh. It was the first version of the operating system issued under the June 2016 rebranding as macOS. Sierra is named after the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and Nevada. Its major new features concern Continuity, iCloud, and windowing, as well as support for Apple Pay and Siri.

Music is a media player application developed for the iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS operating systems by Apple Inc. It can play music files stored locally on devices, as well as stream from the iTunes Store and Apple Music.

Podcasts is a media player application developed by Apple Inc. for playing podcasts from the iTunes Store. It is available for the iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS operating systems.

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