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iTunes 9 Wishlist: 10 Ways Apple Can Improve Its Media Organizer

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With Apple’s (s aapl) music oriented media event right around the corner, everyone is abuzz with thoughts about new iPods, Apple TV updates, tablet rumors and more. The one thing we can all but guarantee besides new iPods is an update to iTunes. But what will this version bring? Social aspects have been rumored, but there is still room for improvement. So, here’s my Top 10 wish list for iTunes 9.

1. More Stable & Efficient On Windows

This particular point doesn’t apply to me, as I am a Mac user, but I do know that the Windows version of iTunes has suffered in comparison to its Mac brethren. Though some of the programming technologies in the Windows world are not as robust as their Mac equivalents, I do hope Apple will continue to optimize iTunes as it adds new features. Currently, it’s just a resource hog.

2. Better Audiobook Support

iTunes is a great application to manage your audiobooks and Apple’s partnership with Audible makes it even easier to buy them. What really strikes me as problematic though is how cumbersome it is to sync specific audiobooks to your iPod or iPhone. At the moment, it’s either “all” or “none.” When you consider that some audiobooks have multiple files and some users have insanely huge collections of audiobooks, it really seems like an issue Apple would have refined already. Due to their length, most users listen to one or two audiobooks at a time and don’t need to bring their entire collection with them. The only solution to this dilemma is creating playlists for specific audiobooks and that’s more time consuming than it should be.

3. Better File Organization for Large Libraries

As our libraries of media content grow and grow, Apple is focused on being center stage in helping us organize it all. iTunes is a powerful application and supports a wide gamut of different file types (music, movies, TV shows, audiobooks, podcasts, etc.). It would be ideal for Apple to allow users to manage those specific areas on different hard drives since some of us have iTunes libraries that are growing too fast to store on just one drive. We can work around this at the moment by turning off the “Keep iTunes organized” feature when adding new content, but a more elegant solution would be welcome.

4. Ability to Import Unencrypted DVD & Blu-ray Content

We all know there are licensing issues to work out, but since Apple feels its the company’s lot in life to manage all of my digital content, why not figure out a way to manage all of the physical content I have laying around too? If I can “find a way to decrypt my DVD” (hello VLC), then iTunes can make a copy of it. This has actually been rumored and I would love to see it come to fruition.

5. Support for HD content on iPhone & iPods

While at first this really doesn’t seem like an iTunes feature, I personally hate having to maintain two copies of content with compatible versions for my Apple TV and Mac (HD content) and my iPods and iPhone (SD content). For some cases this isn’t a problem, but I find myself watching a lot of HD podcasts and they simply will not sync. If Apple could resolve this issue, users wouldn’t have to download iTunes Store content like TV shows twice (one in HD and one in SD). They could just download the HD file and be ready to rock.

6. More Robust Tagging

There are lots of apps available (like MetaX) that give users the ability to tag their content with more useful information than what iTunes allows them to do on their own. Content from the iTunes Store features some of this useful information (like movie director, actors, etc.). Why can’t I edit this for my own content directly within iTunes? Why can’t I tag my own music as clean or explicit from within iTunes?

7. Lyric & Metadata Lookups

iTunes has the ability to lookup artwork for our own music that may be missing covers, but now that iPhones and iPods support lyrics, wouldn’t it be great if iTunes could search, download and tag your files with the appropriate lyrics? Better yet, it would be even better if iTunes could fill in missing metadata information like some third-party apps do.

8. More Robust Sharing Support

iTunes 4 brought about the ability to stream playlists to other iTunes users on a local network. This feature was hacked to allow users to stream across the Internet and Apple quickly released a patch to fix this. Since then, several vendors, first and foremost being SimplifyMedia, have risen up to provide this service again. While SimplifyMedia is great, a more ideal solution would show you your entire iTunes library, with podcasts, audiobooks, TV shows, and the like. To be honest, if Apple even rolled this out as a feature exclusive to Mobile Me users, and allowed the ability to view this content streamed via, that would be enough to justify a membership to me.

9. Music Videos

Probably the smallest of all the content types in my library, music videos are just lumped together in my main library. How come there isn’t a separate section for music videos?

10. Easier Syncing Between Multiple Macs

At the moment, I sync my iPhone on my iMac, where the bulk of my media is stored (simply because it has the biggest hard drive). It would be great if I could sync my iPhone or iPods there for some content, but sync it to my laptop for contacts, calendars and iPhone apps as that content changes more frequently.

In short order, we’ll actually see what Apple announces at its media event. In the meantime, what features would you like to see added to iTunes 9?

56 Responses to “iTunes 9 Wishlist: 10 Ways Apple Can Improve Its Media Organizer”

  1. Steve Coates

    I’m starting to think the whole iTunes/AppleTV relationship is the wrong way round. At the moment iTunes is the hub and appletv is just a sync device. I would like to see appletv become the hub and serve out content to all macs in the house. The appletv content could still be managed by any connected mac with iTunes.

  2. As noted, good comments. Particularly re: classical.
    I have 2 obscure wishes.
    1. To be able to create a fairly wide band equalizer setting that underlies ALL system audio and that THEN allows specific ‘equalizer’ categories (‘rock’ etc.) in iTunes to overlay it. (not replace it.) Because I have hearing issues and would like to add my hearing aid profile so I wouldn’t need them w/ computer or, particularly, w/ iPod.
    2. I’d like to see the features of “The Great Slow-Downer” added to iTunes so for trying to learn songs I could (at least) slow the tempo without effecting the pitch of songs and also (at least somewhat) isolate the instrument from the rest of the music.
    Obscure stuff, I know.

    • There are already numerous free and priced programs available with this ‘great slow-downer’ feature, specifically designed for learning/transcribing music… and you’ll get a much better result (sound wise) than if iTunes had such a feature.

  3. My most wanted features (in no particular order):

    1. Music videos separate from music
    2. Organization of iPhone apps in iTunes
    3. WiFi syncing with iPods/iPhones and other computers (Mac or PC)
    4. DVD ripping
    5. Snappier interface (after seeing how responsive Finder is in Snow Leopard, it leaves me wanting similar enhancements in iTunes)

  4. Adam Jackson

    My Wishful Feature:

    Better music organization. Apple keeps putting up walls & features without solving the problem.

    the solution is “sub-menu organizing”

    I want to sort by Artist THEN sort that artist by Albums.

    Now I have to take an entire Guns & Roses catalogue and put it into a play list to organize it to my liking.

    Coverflow – useless
    Album Art View – sucks if you don’t have all of your album art or songs labeled correctly.

    Also, every other media player has dozens of visualizers we only have one. What’s the deal?

    • Bob Smith

      What iTunes are you running? My iTunes always sorts first by Artist then by Album. My gripe is that you can only sort Albums by anything other than Name, so you can’t chronologically sort Albums. Even that wouldn’t be quite right: since there is only a Year tag and not a Release Date tag, if a band released more than one Album in a year you still couldn’t properly sort them.

  5. one word:


    well, maybe more than one word:

    subtitles in general need a MODERN robust mechanism …

    closed captions are FINALLY supported in quicktime (natively afaik, not just via perian) – which i think also means ipod/iphone/itouch …

    but apple needs to understands how much it could scoop up if pioneered a robust nexgen mechanism for advanced syncronization (karoke adds a graphical fx to emphasize the timing/spacing of the characters).

    the karaok is a multi-billion industry – and the appletv would be the perfect platform to capture this sector if apple would just enhance itunes (and quicktime) to do the job right!

  6. 1. Different default locations for Music, Movies & TV Shows
    2. The ability to transcode tracks on the fly to any device, not just the iPod shuffle.
    3. integration
    4. Lyrics downloads
    5. DVD & BD ripping
    6. New fields for Track Version, and perhaps 3 custom fields.
    7. Organize iPhone apps in iTunes
    8. Support for HD playback on iPhone 3G

  7. gurney-graphics

    The biggest gripe I have is that iTunes… well… it belongs on Windows, to me. It operates like Windows programs do, anyway: it takes over EVERYTHING. Apple has given Mac OSX great individual programs for every kind of file/niche, but iTunes seems to want to take over — even from other programs.

    My computer feels like there is some epic Napoleonesque campaign run by iTunes. Why can’t it just play music? Why does it think it needs to take over the movies? Does it have to synchronize everything? I’m wondering if when I install Snow Leopard there’s just going to be iTunes; maybe the rest of the programs have quailed at the sight of iTunes monstrous weight gain and have been scattered. New! “Snow Leopard: OS iTunes.”

    On a really small and more realistic note, I would love to see them fix their visualizer so that it works on full screen with dual/multiple monitor setup. It’d be nice to USE a monitor while the other has visualizer running!

  8. I think this is a great list, and hit on some of my pet peeves.

    iTunes meta tags, MP3 tags in general, look like they were designed by people that only listen to rock bands. As you pointed out they don’t work for Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Classical Music, Audio Books.

    Audio Books, that have multiple parts, aren’t treated as one item with multiple parts, but as multiple items.

    iTunes could analyze music for tempo (bpm) and key.

    Your observation about Music Videos, I agree. Why should I have to create a smart playlist just to find them.

    Why are Movies and TV Episodes stored in the Music folder? Shouldn’t there be an iTunes Movies in the Movies folder?

    Searching in iTunes and the iTunes Music Store could be improved a lot. Wild cards, boolean operators? There is power search in the iTMS, but not for your local library. Search is limited to the library that is in context, no global option.

    If I add a radio station stream, it gets added to the music library, rather than the Radio library.

    If a podcast is offered in several different formats in iTMS, I should be able to automatically select the one that matches my preferences, such as iPhone compatible.

    Why can’t I view, and then add content from YouTube to my library?

    Well I could go on, but won’t

  9. I would love to see iTunes have a feature where you could tag multiple artists, albums, genres, etc. so you wouldn’t have to worry about keeping copies of files (say if you had a greatest hits album, but also the original album it appear on). It seems like this is a long time coming.

  10. How about making iTunes not be a complete and utterly total retard when it comes to classical music. The single artist per track, single track per work paradigm doesn’t work at all for classical. Doesn’t work very well for jazz either.

    • Bob Smith

      Blame the people who invented the tagging system, not iTunes. There is the Grouping tag to group tracks into a single work, but there’s no option in iTunes to display the Group as a Group rather than as individual tracks like it does now.

    • Grouping is useless. Apple ignores it everywhere from what I can tell — nothing I have (Mac, iPhone, Apple TV, iPods) lets me play a “group.” That would help. As it is I cannot randomize playing classical music in a way that makes sense. I get one movement of something, and then the next random selection. I want a group of something and then the next random group.

  11. You currently don’t have to sync all your audiobooks, at least if they are purchases, just uncheck them in the list view and they are gone. I have 10 Audible books, and only 2 on the iPod.

  12. Also is absolutely necessary to have App icons in iPhone-iPod “Applications” tab. I have over 500 apps and is a pain to remember what app is what.

    …And come on guys, the green button is for zooming windows!!! Not for minimize windows…

  13. I’m praying for some integration

    mainly, sync stuff like tags (especially), playlists and loved tracks would be a dream.

    it could also scrobble so i wouldnt need the app open all the time.

  14. iTunes works just fine for me, there aren’t a whole lot of things that I need it to do that it doesn’t. Number one on my list has to be iPhone application organization. Not just the ability to organize them on my iPhone’s homescreen from within iTunes but I’d also like to see a description of the application added to “Get Info.”

    I have a lot of applications and sometimes I can’t remember exactly what a given application in my iTunes library actually does. Aside from installing the app and trying it or searching the iTunes Store for the app, iTunes doesn’t give you any way of know what the application does.

  15. Rather than any of this, I would rather they re-organise the app itself so it makes sense. By this I mean:

    – it’s called iTunes, but manages device syncing, movies, photos, ebooks, notes and email accounts as well.
    – it manages movies (even though its a music app), but there’s a separate app, top separate user-level folder, and separate organisation strategy for the movies you make *yourself*, which are somehow not “movies”?
    – it acts as a master library for media, but instead of transcoding that media on the fly to fit the output device, you have to encode the movie when you import it to work on all possible current and future devices ahead of time.
    – there’s no backup and no splitting of the library allowed so you end up with a two hundred gig monster on your hard drive and only Time Machine to preserve it?
    – it’s more suited to *purchasing* media than it is to actually managing your media.

    There needs to be a separate iPhone syncing app that manages the content on mobile devices and iTunes needs to be renamed “iTunes store” or something like that with all the junk taken out of it.

    The syncing app could then connect to whatever repositories (iPhoto, iMovie, The iTunes store, Mail, Notes, etc.), for content.

  16. It wouldn’t upset me if iTunes automatically gathered genre information. A toggle switch for genre display in the browser would be nice for all those people who don’t like to use terminal. I also wouldn’t mind if they switched the interface to cocoa to match virtually every other program on mac os x. Tracking iPod play counts would be nice as well.

  17. I wish there was a change in the coverflow interface that allows to hide column view just showing coverflow screen. iPod touch / Iphone interfaces allow this: with a single click on the cover you can access to all the songs of the album. It’s a great idea and I don’t know how it have not been included in iTunes yet.

    I’m also waiting for a way to change from playlists to main library without loosing the song focus. I use “Last imported” playlist a lot, but you can’t delete songs of the library from there.

    Just one more thing related with Apple TV: it’s ridiculous you can’t choose synchronize some contents and stream some others from the same computer.

  18. It is already possible to have your iTunes library on different hard drives or folders (e.g. movies/TV shows on an external, music on the internal) without having to turn off “Keep iTunes folder organized.” Simply hold down Option while dragging the media into your library (from the source where you’d like it to stay). iTunes will not make a copy in your iTunes folder. This could be improved and more clearly explained, however.

    • The method that Rick is talking about uses one “library file” with multiple locations for iTunes media files. The library file is like the index to all your media, which is normally all stored in the iTunes Music folder. By using the “option-drag” method, you can leave files in a different location and iTunes will not copy that file to the iTunes Music folder.

  19. Howie Isaacks

    Meh… Who cares about Windows? No matter how well Apple designs their software, Windows will still drag it down. I have never seen iTunes run really well on Windows, even very fast systems with clean installs of Windows. Have you ever looked closely at just how well Windows Media Player runs on Windows? It’s a hog too. This indicates a general issue in the way Windows handles applications that need a lot of resources to run. I remember the initial hype about Windows 2000 in 1999, and then Windows XP in 2001. Microsoft kept mentioning multitasking, protected memory, and other “modern” features. Even in Windows Vista, these features still haven’t received full implementation. The reason for this is because Windows is largely unchanged since the first introduction of the NT kernel. Windows is full of conflicting code that has been pasted on in haphazard fashion for over 20 years. In Mac OS X, these features were inherited from NeXT. They have always been there, and they are built into the core of the OS. Because of these features, apps like iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and Apple’s pro apps can function very well — even on Apple’s slowest computers.

    • Janine Bennett

      I agree! who cares about windows, you don’t see them going out of their way to make their programs easier or more compatable for us! Let them go and buy a decent computer then they can experience the best programs!

  20. How do you expect iPods and iPhones to support HD content? They simply don’t (currently) have the processing resources to do it, and even if they did it would destroy the battery life. Also, what about the effect on storage? They have limited capacity as it is. The compromise of having an SD version for portable devices is a much easier compromise.

    As for file organisation, I can see it going the way of iPhoto – in to one large database, inside a special zipped up folder, rather than the nested folders we currently have. I never look inside that file for iPhoto (or Aperture), why does it matter for iTunes? I’ve never understood why people actually want to deal with files and folders. Just leave it up to iTunes. What would most people gain from such a feature?

    • You apparently have a very small photo collection and an even smaller music collection.

      My iPhoto library for a year ranges between 8-15 GB in size. That’s not too easy to backup onto DVD when it’s a single file.

      My music collection is only 10 GB (not including podcasts). This would be a royal pain to backup to DVDs – and I have a relatively tiny collection. My wife has nearly 80GB of music alone.

      Keeping the files separate allows users to backup the files in any way they see fit.

    • My iPhoto library is about 20GB, my Aperture library is about 42GB (I shoot RAW), and my iTunes folder is currently a smidgin under 40GB. I back up to a 500GB FireWire 800 drive using Time Machine.

      Using optical media to back up in 2009 is the same as using a stack of floppies 10 years ago. You need to move on to a better system that is more in keeping with the volume of content we now deal with. That is why Apple invented Time Machine. No sensible computer person would suggest you back up to optical media now.

  21. Bob Smith

    1) Support for alternate codecs like FLAC, or a plugin architecture so we can do it ourselves
    2) An option to ignore inserted discs
    3) Real multiple-library support, including an option to view all your libraries as one merged library (even though they aren’t, physically)
    4) Create a separate lossy library from a lossless one