The iTunes Platform

It’s no secret that iTunes is one of Apple’s best apps. Of all the iApps, iTunes remains the only one I have no critical feature requests for. With version 4.5, Apple adds to what was already a solid app, and they continue to do so in a way that fits well inside the two foundation pieces they’ve created: the basic music library interface and the iTunes Music Store.

I noticed the other day that they now have trailers and music videos inside of iTunes. The investment they made in the old trailers site was initially just to showcase QuickTime, but it ties perfectly in with the store soundtrack collection.

So what’s next? Here are some more random ideas for the iTunes platform:

  • Movie showtimes. Can they give this a good/fast UI? Sherlock 2 isn’t so bad, but I never have the app running. iTunes is always there.
  • Music magazine. Both original articles and syndicated articles from major magazines and even weblogs.
  • RSS reader. What app couldn’t use a little RSS? I’d like music feeds (which Apple already provides) directly in iTunes instead of NetNewsWire. Double-click a news item to hear a song preview, of course.
  • Recommendations from library. This has been suggested before: An option to feed local playlists to iTMS servers to improve recommendations. This is different than publicly shared iMixes, but maybe could be an extension of that feature.
  • Amazon integration for CDs. Not all music is available in iTMS. I’d like a simple Amazon interface off of their search results, for those times I can’t find what I’m looking for in iTMS.

In “What if Mail.app were like iTunes?”, Rui Carmo rattles off a dozen features that would be nice in Mail, but he only hints at the real question. What makes iTunes such a great app? Clearly some of it is interface design. Then there’s the incredible speed, which also affects usability. iTunes is the only iApp still written in Carbon, is that a relevant distinction? Does iTunes (because of the music store and iPod) simply get more resources within Apple? Maybe. But even with all of these things, you can’t continue to build and ship a great app without a smart team and tight integration between related groups (UI, WebObjects, etc), and ultimately I think that’s what makes any product a success.

I can’t wait to see what the iTunes folks come up with for 5.0.