by Miles Raymer
This is a big deal because aside from OS X and iOS, iTunes is the most important piece of software that Apple makes. Over the years the company has grown it from a simple music player to the multimedia platform at the center of nearly all Apple applications, and more than a few PC ones. Apple wants iTunes to be our first and only stop for purchasing and playing audio and video content and synching it to our mobile devices, so when they make a misstep with it, it really matters.
And iTunes 11 is full of missteps. Its designers implemented myriad tweaks to its look and feel, and all of them seem to be mistakes, and pointless ones at that. Why can't I simply drag a playlist from the sidebar to my iPhone? Why don't the arrow keys' track forward/back functionality work like they used to? And why the hell doesn't it display the running time of albums anymore?
These are minor complaints, and essentially so is the popular one that its redesigned appearance is not so easy on the eyes, but when you use iTunes constantly through the day—which again, is exactly how Apple wants you to be using it—it's like stubbing your toe against a coffee table dozens of times a day, and moving the coffee table isn't an option.
Or it is, it's just not simple, and Apple doesn't want you to do it. But last night, after a second failed attempt at the complicated process of making iTunes 11 interact correctly with the DJ software that I use I decided I'd had enough. Today I gave my hard drive a fresh backup and went through the multistep process of safely downgrading to iTunes 10.7 and now I am a (relatively) happy man. It's still a bloated monstrosity that hogs way too much memory in order to be able to do a ton of things that I don't need my music player to do, but at least it works.
With a massive installation base that's led to it being tied into a whole ecosystem of non-Apple products (like DJ software, for instance), iTunes isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future, especially if the competition stays as weak as it's been. (WinAmp, I love your lean profile and clean interface, but why can't I drag and drop MP3s into your library? That doesn't seem like much to ask.) But considering the enthusiastic response I got when I posted that link to downgrading to 10.7 on Twitter, Apple should do a lot of thinking before they release the next version.
And I'm just brainstorming here, but how about some more visualizer options?