After 18 years of making music history, Apple has decided to discontinue iTunes. The service had been vital in ushering in the digital music era, making downloads a ubiquitous part of the music landscape.
The decision, which is expected to be announced during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, comes after years of speculation that the company would do so. Rumors went back as far as 2016, which the company had been denying.
Apple’s latest devices will no longer include an app for the iTunes service, instead opting for separate music, television and podcasting apps. This new set up has already been rolled out on iPhones and iPods, and will now be included on newer editions of Mac desktops and Macbooks as well.
The company has already started putting more thought into these new apps. Back in March, Apple announced a plan to add more original content to their television app, including programs featuring Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Moma, Kumail Nanjiani, Sara Bareilles, J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Steven Spielberg, Octavia Spencer, Hailee Steinfeld. According to Rolling Stone, the Music App will continue to provide syncing and purchasing functions from the original iTunes program, but have a “sleeker interface” that is “more closely bundled with” the company’s Apple Music streaming service. Their Books, Messages and Mail apps are also said to be getting upgrades.
According to Rolling Stone, this new, separate line-up of apps will let Apple:
“draw attention to itself as a multifaceted entertainment services provider, no longer as a hardware company that happens to sell entertainment through one of its many apps.”
The shifted focus comes as Apple’s services continue to grow while their iPhone sales have started to lag.
Launched in 2001, iTunes aided the music industry in combatting the growing issue of illegal music downloading by becoming the first broadly available jukebox music software. The iTunes store provided a simple user interface that those who weren’t tech savvy could easily interact with to purchase music (and later video) and organize media files.
Over the years, however, users started to complain that iTunes became unwieldy. Apple continued to add more and more functions to the program and gave the interface few updates, leaving it slow, bloated, unreliable and out of date.
Also expected to be announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference are a new iOS (iOS 13), iOS apps being brought to the Mac operating system and a new Apple Watch operating system that will allow it to be less tethered to the iPhone. The company’s first new iPod in four years was announced on May 28 and will be available for purchase as soon as this week.