Robinson Meyer on iTunes’ design flaws

Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic has more to say about iTunes. After his earlier piece on the metadata mess, here he eviscerates the design rather thoroughly:

Focusing on that bar, here’s what sticks out to me: iTunes can’t decide how to address the user. The user’s MP3 library sits behind the menu title “My Music.” But Apple Music’s recommendation interface is accessed by clicking on “For You.”

Is the user “my” or “your”? Is iTunes an extension of the user or is it in conversation with them?

That’s just careless, and again uncharacteristic of Apple.

Hellstews, iTunes, and classical music

There’s been a welcome storm brewing recently on iTunes, starting with developer Marco Arment’s blog post (which, to his extreme discomfort, got picked up by CNBC), jokingly riffing on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s description of Android as a “toxic hellstew” of malware. Arment’s earlier piece on the unreliability of recent Apple updates was noticed by Apple (possibly because it was also picked up by CNBC), and I can only hope that they pay attention to this too: iTunes started well, but it’s become so bloated over the past several years that it’s a barely-usable mess. Having all your music in one place is great. Having all your TV shows in one place is great. Having all your films in one place is great. Having all of them together, along with sync data for your iOS devices, apps, books, audiobooks, podcasts, radio stations and who knows what else, inside an interface that’s increasinly obfuscating and bizarre: that’s not so great.

Anyways, Robinson Meyer has a great piece in the Atlantic on the travails of being a classical music fan using iTunes:

The CDDB, the industry’s leading database of MP3 metadata, is now privately owned and controlled, but it began as a crowd-sourced project with volunteer contributions. There is no reason this now-private database couldn’t be supplemented by a more robust, more complete database of audio file information maintained on a wiki-like basis.

I’ve long since given up trying to use the CDDB for tagging classical music, and started tagging everything manually (which has led to its own problems). Even tagging two discs from the same album is woefully inconsistent, often to the point of giving data in different languages for each disc. I’ve been thinking about something like this for years. I’d love to see it happen.