This week, the world was shaken to its digital core, if not surprised, by the news that Apple will soon be shutting up iTunes, ready to replace it with three new apps. The announcement, made at its Worldwide Developers Conference in California last Monday, has been a long time coming, not only because iTunes itself has become something of an outdated software program, but because Apple’s nature as a technology company has dramatically evolved too.
When Apple first launched iTunes, it was the answer to the music industry’s problems, following years of people ripping and sharing their music from CDs. iTunes provided a way to organise all of those tracks into albums, playlists and folders, and, most importantly of all, provided a way to purchase songs legally, and simply, off the web. Since then, though, Apple has begun to sell everything from apps and movies to games and TV, and iTunes has become a multi-purpose hub that’s more bloated than Apple’s designs would normally allow.
And so, it’s time is up: Apple will soon have three apps, one for podcasts, one for music and one for TV and movies. The shift emphasises Apple’s new role as a media company as well as a tech giant, and that new role is accompanied by a shift from transactional payments to an emphasis on subscription payments: Apple Music and Apple TV, its two most prominent apps, are both geared around its Apple Music subscription service and its upcoming Apple TV+ service, which will have original TV shows and movies from creators such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams. Indeed, Apple TV will also be launched on smart TVs from Samsung, LG and Sony, and eventually on Roku and Fire TV devices.
Apple Music, however, will still organise local libraries and Apple TV will also include purchased movies and TV shows. iTunes, meanwhile, will not be removed completely, nor immediately: the iTunes Store will remain the primary way to buy music and buy or rent movies and TV shows, with Apple Music and Apple TV both linking into it. And not everyone will see their iTunes Store disappear.
Here’s what the changes are and what they mean for you:
When will iTunes be replaced?
The change will begin when Apple drops its next phase of its operating system, OS X 10.15 (Catalina), which is expected to arrive in September, alongside the new iteration of iOS (and any other new iterations of iPhones and iPads.)
iMacs will only be affected when they upgrade to the Catalina operating system. However, the Music app and TV app will still enable users to get into the iTunes store, by selecting “View” and then going to “Show iTunes Store”.
The iTunes Store app will remain the place for iPhone and iPad users to purchase music, movies and TV shows, but the Apple TV app will be able to be used to purchase or rent movies and TV shows too.
The iTunes Store app will remain the home for all media on Microsoft Windows computers, with no word yet on when any changes for PC users might be introduced.