Apple has finally called time on iTunes on the Mac, as it breaks the app down into three different streams - Apple Music, Podcasts and Apple TV. With three separate apps, it takes the load off iTunes, which has been absorbing functions since its 2001 launch.
The new apps will mean that each element of entertainment happens in its own bespoke space, rather than slotting into a single app and making it more complex to switch between functions and content than it needs to be.
That means that when you plug in your iPhone, iTunes won't pop open trying to do everything. Instead, you'll be able to find your iPhone or iOS device syncing options in a Finder sidebar, if you want to sync or backup via cable.
The changes will be swept in with MacOS Catalina, the next release of Apple's Mac software. But rather than bore you with the details of everything new that Apple will be bringing in your next software update, let's take a look at where iTunes came from and some of the key moments along the way.
- 2001: iTunes launches to allow iPod owners to sync their music via the Mac.
- 2003: Apple launches the iTunes Music Store allowing you to buy music to download. Songs are locked to only be played on iPods and within iTunes. It would take till 2009 for the music you download to be "DRM free".
- 2005: Video and Podcast support is added with the launch of iTunes 4.8.
- 2006: Apple adds the ability to buy movies and TV shows for the first time. The service launches with a number of partners including Disney.
- 2008: iTunes becomes the main hub to manage your iOS apps and activate your iPhone. The company also adds iTunes Digital Copy feature that allows you to buy physical DVDs and Blu-rays but still get a digital copy to play on Apple devices.
- 2010: Beatles comes to iTunes ending a dispute between Apple and the band.
- 2011: iTunes moves to the cloud. A new feature called iTunes Match lets you match any song you had manually imported with online versions from the Apple servers.
- 2013: Apple announces that it has sold over 25 billion songs sold on the iTunes Store since its launch.
- 2015: Apple Music is announced to compete with Spotify allowing you to stream millions of songs for a monthly subscription.
- 2019: iTunes, 18 years old, has served its purpose and is spilt into a number of individual apps.
In reality, the decommissioning of iTunes is long overdue. The app has been providing more and more functionality as a portal to Apple's mobile devices, which it held onto well beyond its usefulness. For many users, iTunes no longer really served any purpose, or was a nasty place to go.
As Apple looks to bolster services - and push more content though Apple Music and Apple TV+ - the apps that those services run through become more important. Split into Apple Music, Podcasts and Apple TV, things will be a lot cleaner - and if you don't want anything to do with music or podcasts, you never have to use them.
So say goodnight to iTunes. It's been around for a long time and will never be forgotten.
For Windows users, as far as we know, iTunes will remain, but we wouldn't be surprised if it's replaced in the future.