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iPhone OS Got a New Name, So When Will iTunes?

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By now, a lot folks with an iPhone (4 or otherwise) have been running iOS 4, the new name for iPhone OS. The new operating system for these great devices is nice, and overall seems to be a hit. But more interestingly, Apple made the jump to renaming its mobile OS — even going so far as to license the name from Cisco, who uses the IOS moniker for its routing and switching software.

And the move makes sense too; I mean, with the iPad and iPod touch, “iPhone OS” is a misnomer. But if Apple has seen the point in renaming the OS, at what point will it admit that iTunes is horribly named at this point in time, considering all the functions it fulfills?

More to the point, is iTunes in need of a new name for all of its functionality? Or is there perhaps a different/new application that should take on the tasks that iTunes has handled for the past few years? This line of thinking isn’t a new one, but now that the mobile operating system has gotten the new treatment, and brings additional functionality which allows PDFs to be synced and reviewed using iBooks, there’s a better argument than ever.

Here’s a quick review of the things that iTunes facilitates a sync function for at this point in time:

  1. Music
  2. Videos – Movies, Music Videos, TV shows, Home Videos
  3. Photos
  4. PDF documents/books
  5. Books
  6. Browser bookmarks
  7. Address Book Contacts
  8. Calendars
  9. Email Accounts
  10. Audio Books
  11. Applications
  12. Podcasts
  13. Notes

With so many disparate pieces of information and media content being pulled in from so many different applications, I don’t understand the need for iTunes, in its current state, to remain the hub for syncing all this data to our mobile devices. My point here is that iTunes isn’t the single repository for all of the stuff we push to our devices — while it does manage some media, it also tries to play middle man to various applications’ data sources that we decide to pull from.

OS X still includes a little utility (that I’m not sure many people even use anymore) called iSync. Seems like a good name — it certainly conveys the idea of what one may want to do with such a program! So a possible solution could be to re-purpose iSync as the central place to push/pull all of the content listed above, to the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad.

The other, less invasive change (though Apple marketing would have a big job with re-branding efforts) would be to slap a shiny new name on iTunes. iMedia? iStuff? iHub? iXfer? But I don’t know where to begin with such a nebulous collection of functions iTunes is in charge of.

So, what names would you give to iTunes, to better relate all that it does? Or should iTunes even continue to be a jack of all trades?

30 Responses to “iPhone OS Got a New Name, So When Will iTunes?”

  1. I think, iTunes is good enough.
    Even though it manages apps, books and PDFs, but it doesn’t READ those formats. When I can use iOS apps and read books on iTunes maybe they should rename it to something reasonable like iMedia.
    I don’t know, thats just my opinion and besides, it would be very awkward since we’ve used it for so long.

  2. iCrash?

    Joking aside, iTunes is one of most bloated, slow, crashy, pieces of software I have ever used. It’s one of the main reasons that I have a Zune HD. iTunes is just too painful for me to use on a regular basis, especially compared to the elegantly designed Zune desktop app.

  3. Alexis

    well here are my thoughts…as I have read everyone’s opinions on this subject

    the fact is iTunes doesn’t mean music to people anymore…it’s just a name now…and it has one of the most iconic names on the planet today…everyone knows what iTunes is and only a few know how much it can do…

    there have been some great ideas here in these comments and I am surprised because the article wasn’t that great…(sorry)

    iSync is a great idea…and I would love to have a separate program handle the syncing of stuff to my iDevices…even the TV…and many have said it before…a rebuild in Cocoa instead of Carbon is a given

    the only program that I get a beach ball in is iTunes of late…or it’s because of iTunes that something else gets hung up

    rebuild iTunes…keep all the iDevice stuff there…add Documents you want to sync there as well…and let iSync do the leg work…allow iSync to access this info without making iTunes freeze up and make us crazy…I have no idea how people can take it on a PC (well I’m sure they are used to crashes and freezes…lol)

    remake iSync to do it’s sync task for iOS devices
    rebuild iTunes to be the repository/store (Cocoa please)

    peace out

  4. While a name change is in order, I say don’t fix what isn’t broken. iTunes does a great job of pulling in data from various sources, and then synching that data to our devices. I’m sure that, right now, Apple is trying out new names for iTunes, along with a new icon.

  5. iTunes doesn’t need rebranding, it needs debloating. I would like to see Apple remove everything not music related from iTunes. The videos could be handled by a new iVideo application, syncing to iOS devices could be handled by (oh my god this one already exists) iSync, ebooks and pdf’s could be handled by a desktop version of iBooks. The only thing I am not sure about is what they should do with iOS apps. Either spin off its own application or build it into iSync I guess.

    I guess this shows what kind of application user I am. I prefer focused applications to ones that try to do too many things and this used to be a big part of Apple’s application design philosophy. Why carry around a Swiss Army Knife when you can have a switchblade instead?

  6. Kevin Keheley

    I think a rename and a recoding of iTunes is in order. The most important being the recoding of it. iTunes is still being coded in Carbon and that leaves a lot to be desired. I hope that iTunes will get a reworking from the code up, and I would be looking for an iTunes X brand or something similar to QuickTime.

    The rewriting of the iTunes code is more important than we all may think, Apple is making more devices and stores and things to store in iTunes. Having bought into Apple’s digital world (Apple TV, iPhone, iPad) I am getting a little bit upset at the bad performance in iTunes these days. I have a large over 1.5TB library and iTunes handles it worse and worse with each update or device that is added that syncs with iTunes. iTunes X written in Cocoa would do wonders….

  7. Jurģis

    iTunes is actually quite appropriate. When it comes to music it’s obvious, but syncing the iOS device stuff is like tuning your guitar.

  8. David Finnamore

    iTunes has “turned into the clunkiest, un-Apple hot-mess-on-a-Twinkie program on the planet. It’s like a beta Microsoft product.”


    I just downgraded to 8.2 because 9.x had gotten so buggy I could no longer use it to add metadata to mp3s of media I had created myself. It used to be the best for that! So, YES, make iTunes the world’s best media player again, and let something else do the rest. iSync sounds like a plan.

  9. Booger McGee

    Change the name??

    That’s easy. How about overhauling the app entirely? It’s turned into the clunkiest, un-Apple hot-mess-on-a-Twinkie program on the planet. It’s like a beta Microsoft product.

    Don’t worry about the name – bring iTunes into 2010 and worthy of the Apple style brand finally.

  10. Burger King sells more than burgers… They should change the name!
    Nick, you have too much time on your hands. We all know what iTunes offers. There is no reason to rename it. Moreover, having to use multiple programs would be a pain to most users. The vast majority of iPhone users barely scratch the surface of the units functions. Expecting these technologically challenged individuals to learn a new piece of software (most probably have a hard enough time with iTunes) would hurt the accessibility of the iOS platform.

  11. Well, consider this: They retired the iBook name in favor of MacBook, but then brought iBook back in the form of the iBooks store.

    By the same token, seeing how the iTunes store now sells everything under the sun, how about renaming it the iPod store?

    Then, rename the iPod Touch as, simply, the iPod (seeing how it’s become the flagship iPod model anyway). The iPod Classic, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle would keep their names as is.

    Although really, they should scrap the current Shuffle model and go back to the previous one. This was a case of making the product too damned small, when there’s not even enough room for the controls on the product itself and the headphones weigh more than the iPod…

  12. nameless

    So much discussion into a “horribly named” application? itunes still foremost remains a media library/management program. If anything apple would decide on creating a new application as iOS drifts away from music centered syncing to app and file centered syncing.

    Still, I couldn’t care less what they name their god forsaken product so long as it does what I need it to do.

    iOS? iPhone3g 4gsp? They just names for a product that people are going to use regardless of it’s name. What a magnificently mundane conversation.

  13. I have often thought this. The renamed the iPod to the iPod Classic, and now the the OS to iOS. So they clearly aren’t shy of changing things for clarity, but like others have said the branding and association with the iTunes name, (vouchers, festivals, store etc) is too strong.

    An interesting one.

  14. Flávio Lopes

    First of all, the books/magazines stuff should be separated from iTunes. What the hell is that thing about a book/magazine having an artist, an composer, an so on? I think Apple failed the fans a lot with that one.

    Then, I think that the sync should be done by an app that grabs information from other programs, like iSync does for other devices (I recall my nokia experience), and like iTunes does for calendars/contacts/photos.

    About a Windows version of iSync, in order to accomplish all this… I think it doesn’t gonna happen, and this is what is pulling some niceness of the mac users experience with their iDevices

  15. ShavenYak

    I think it would make sense to have a smaller app (perhaps a repurposed iSync) would handle all aspects of syncing, including choosing what stuff to sync, and it would be the app that launches automatically when the device is plugged in. This should be quicker than launching iTunes. Of course, iSync would of course hook into iTunes and other apps to retrieve the data to sync. iTunes should simply manage and play music, movies and TV shows. I’d create a desktop iBooks app for managing ebooks, audiobooks, and other documents – and make it function as an ereader as well. Then, rename the store to the iShop or something, and both these apps can hook into it.

    Finally, you’d have your photos in iPhoto or Aperture, and home movies in iMovie, all of which could be synced (right now home movies have to be exported from iMovie into iTunes to sync, which seems weird to me). And contacts and calendars are of course in their respective desktop apps.

  16. I agree with above… ‘iMedia’ – the problem with iSync is that you’re not going to open ‘iSync’ to play your music or watch a movie.


      Although, if they were to use iSync, they would have to make a windows version. I don’t think apple will spend the hours on iSync for window.

  17. Matt Larson

    Funny, I was just compaining about this an hour ago!

    My wild idea is that iTunes will stay the same until Mac OS 10.7 when all of the extraneous syncing iTunes does will get blended into the Finder app.

    The idevice would show up in the devices list of the finder (like it does now) and when you click on it, instead of seeing the folders in the finder window, you would get the sync management screen that is in iTunes.

    I guess music, TV and Movies would stay in itunes and rename to iMedia or something, and move iBooks to it’s own desktop app.

  18. iTunes started off as a music management program that now encompasses a whol;e lot of other media and personal data, so I can see how iSync fits with that.

    However, iTunes is also the name of the world’s most popular online music store, with massive brand recognition. Do you mess with this, now that the store sells not just tunes, but video, books and apps?


  19. The thing with iTunes is that it’s the primary brand that is established in the consumer market like
    iPad, iPhone etc whereas iOS isn’t the main brand you purchase into. Like you said, it would be too much (unnecessary) work for the re-branding. Plus it’s a strong enough brand to not need to be completely
    Descriptive of it’s uses.

  20. iMedia!

    Just started using it as my PDF manager; it’s already been taking care of my music, movies, and tv shows (obviously). Also, now that PDF is officially supported, it’s that much easier to manage those (I was using Yep before).