Apple's iTunes reboot: 4 rumored changes

The media app is often described as slow, unresponsive, and cumbersome, but big changes could be on the horizon before year's end.

By Jul 2, 2012 1:27PM

In Apple's (AAPL) expansive catalog of products, one of the most glaring sore spots is its signature music application, iTunes. "Why does iTunes suck?" is a top search query on Google (GOOG), and users often complain about the application's maddening unresponsiveness, overcomplicated settings, propensity to freeze on a dime, and seemingly endless slew of time-consuming updates.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is finally preparing to overhaul the media application by the end of the year. What's supposedly in store?

Here, four rumored changes.

1. It'll become more like Spotify
Apple's go-to music product already boasts a catalog of 28 million songs and 45,000 movies, which have to be purchased. To help iTunes stay competitive with music-streaming service Spotify, Apple is said to be working on a deal with music labels that will let users listen to a song for free if it's shared by a friend, says Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica.

Some tech analysts think that Apple feels "threatened" by Spotify's recent entry into the U.S. market, and no wonder: Recent figures suggest that Spotify's streaming model has already become the second most profitable revenue stream for record labels behind iTunes, surpassing even CD sales. Some sources even say that the music industry is "urging" Apple to launch a "subscription-based all-you-can-eat music download model," says Tom Cheredar at VentureBeat, but this probably won't happen because it would decrease Apple's media sales revenue.

2. Tighter integration with Facebook and Twitter
For its last update to iOS, Apple had Twitter-access built into its applications. With the impending release of iOS 6, it'll finally do the same for Facebook (FB), and that "tighter integration of social networks" is also rumored to be coming to iTunes, says Bloomberg, which falls in line with Apple's strategy to encourage music sharing.

3. iTunes will be divided into separate applications
As it stands, iTunes badly needs a trim. It's an overcrowded "do everything" app, says Cheng, and would benefit from being pared down to concentrate on a few core services. Though podcasting used to be built into iTunes, Apple earlier this week released a standalone Podcasts app for iOS users, and is rumored to be doing the same for iTunes U, the education tool that lets teachers upload audio and video resources for students.

4. Better syncing
Organizing material across iPhones, iPads, and iPods has become "increasingly difficult," says Bloomberg, and Apple is looking to further integrate its iCloud internet-based storage service to make the experience smoother. The idea is to give users the ability to sync media across multiple devices without having to plug them in. Although a few of these purported changes are sure to raise eyebrows, says Cheng, at least Apple is doing something to finally "un-cruft-ify" its software.

Sources: BloombergArs TechnicaVentureBeat, Death and Taxes

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