iTunes is a multimedia player, media library, Internet radio broadcaster and mobile device management application developed by Apple Inc. It was announced on January 9, 2001. It is used to read, download and organize digital media files, including music and video, on personal computers running macOS and Windows operating systems. The content must be purchased through the iTunes Store, while iTunes is the software that allows users to manage their purchases. The original and primary goal of iTunes is music, with a library offering the organization, collection and storage of users’ music collections. It can be used to extract songs from CDs, as well as play content using dynamic and smart playlists. There are options for sound optimization, as well as ways to wirelessly share the iTunes library. In 2005, Apple expanded core functionality with video support, adding podcasts, e-books and a mobile app management section to Apple’s iOS operating system, which was removed in 2017 The original iPhone smartphone required iTunes For activation and, until the release of iOS 5 in 2011, iTunes was required for the installation of software updates for the company’s iOS devices. The new iOS devices rely less on iTunes software, although it can still be used for backing up and restoring phone content, as well as for transferring files between a computer and individual iOS applications. iTunes has received significant reviews for a bloated user experience, with Apple adopting an all-inclusive feature set in iTunes rather than sticking to its original musical goal.
iTunes is available for Windows and macOS personal computers. In May 2017, Microsoft and Apple announced that they would bring iTunes to the Microsoft Store by the end of 2017 to work on Windows 10 S devices, which are limited to software available on the Microsoft Store. However, Apple told ZDNet in December that it “needs a little more time to get it right,” and will not be available in 2017. Apple released the Microsoft Store version on April 26, 2018.
SoundJam MP, published by Casady & Greene in 1998, was renamed “iTunes” when Apple bought it in 2000. The main developers of the software were transferred to Apple as part of the acquisition, and simplified the user interface from SoundJam. , and removed its registration function and support of the skin. The first version of iTunes, known as “Best and Easiest Software in the World,” was announced on January 9, 2001. Later versions of iTunes often coincided with new hardware devices and gradually included support for new features. , the iTunes Store, and new audio formats.
iTunes features a music library. Each track has attributes, called metadata, that can be edited by the user, including changing the name of the artist, album, and genre, year of release, artwork, among other additional settings. The software supports importing digital audio tracks that can then be transferred to iOS devices, as well as supporting ripping content from CDs. iTunes supports WAV, AIFF, Apple Lossless, AAC, and MP3 audio formats. It uses the Gracenote music database to provide track name listings for audio CDs. When users rip content from a CD, iTunes attempts to match songs to the Gracenote service. For self-published CDs, or those from obscure record labels, iTunes will normally only list tracks as numbered entries (“Track 1”, “Track 2”) on an unnamed album by an unknown artist, requiring manual input of data. File metadata is displayed in users’ libraries in columns, including album, artist, genre, composer, and more. Users can enable or disable different columns, as well as change view settings.
Introduced in 2004, “Party Shuffle” selected tracks to play randomly from the library, though users could press a button to skip the current song and go to the next in the list. The feature was later renamed “iTunes DJ”, before being discontinued altogether, replaced by a simpler “Up Next” feature that notably lost some of “iTunes DJ”‘s functionality. Introduced in iTunes 8 in 2008, “” can automatically generate a playlist of songs from the user’s library that “go great together”. “Genius” transmits information about the user’s library to Apple anonymously, and evolves over time to enhance its recommendation system. It can also suggest purchases to fill out “holes” in the library. The feature was updated with iTunes 9 in 2009 to offer “Genius Mixes”, which generated playlists based on specific music genres. “Smart playlists” are a set of playlists that can be set to automatically filter the library based on a customized list of selection criteria, much like a database query. Multiple criteria can be entered to manage the smart playlist. Selection criteria examples include a genre like Christmas music, songs that haven’t been played recently, or songs the user has listened to the most in a time period.
Through a “Home Sharing” feature, users can share their iTunes library wirelessly. Computer firewalls must allow network traffic, and users must specifically enable sharing in the iTunes preferences menu. iOS applications also exist that can transfer content without Internet. Additionally, users can set up a network-attached storage system, and connect to that storage system through an app.
To compensate for the “boring” design of standard CDs, iTunes can print custom-made jewel case inserts. After burning a CD from a playlist, one can select that playlist and bring up a dialog box with several print options, including different “Themes” of album artworks.