07/03/2011

Redesigning iTunes


When Apple bought SoundJam in 1999 and it turned it into iTunes, it was a small but innovative piece of software for converting, sorting and playing a mind blowing one thousand songs. Today it's not so small, not so innovative and 1,000 songs is but a sniff of the average digital music collection. It's fair to say that with Apple's current focus on development for handheld devices iTunes has become the gateway to its product experience, a real cornerstone in it's business.

With all this in mind it amazes me that Apple has never taken on the task of redesigning the iTunes UX from scratch. It's continually adding new features and little improvements, but all of it is on a very old structure. So one night I was feeling a bit bored (and supremely arrogant) and I started to wonder how I would redesign iTunes.

1. Cloud Based Service
I guess it's no secret Apple has been sniffing around this change for a while. Looking at Spotify it seems a no brainer to move away from files clogging up your hard drive and allow users to access their music from anywhere.

2. iOS Design Lead
It's clear the software lead is now coming from Apple's devices, so I've used the iPhone and iPad version as a lead for the visual design



3. Tabs for Media
The current UI tries to swtich between music, films, books, tv shows and apps whilst applying the same approach. I've segregated the different media with tabs to allow each one it's own space and navigation.


4. Tabs for Devices
Instead of dropping devices in to the left hand list with Media types and Playlists. I've created a flexible space for them to be added and removed more gracefully.

5. Playback Controls Grouped
All of the playback tools are now together at the top of the application, instead of being scattered around the edges.


6. Cleaner Filters
In it's current version (10.1.2) there is no less than 39 different ways to sort music. I've stripped this back, leaving only the neccessary. But giving the option for adding a couple more if the user specifies.


7. Proper Sharing, No More Ping
Sorry Apple but Ping is Poo. There is no need to try and build a singular social network when you can utilise Facebook and Twitter. My design allows you to share songs, albums or playlists with comments.

8. Better Exploring/Recommendations
Within every track you can access Genius to serve up recommendations for similar material.

Overall I've removed, what I felt was, all the superfluous features including visualiser, sidebar, coverflow and a few others. I've tried to design within what I understand of Apple's philosophy. I'm sure I've overlooked something in there, but it shows what can be achieved in one night.

You can take a closer look at my design on my Flickr stream.