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iTunes () is a software program that acts as a media player, media library,
mobile device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer small enough to hold and operate in the hand. Mobile devices typically have a flat LCD or OLED screen, a touchscreen interface, and digital or physical buttons. They may also have a physical k ...
management utility, and the client app for the
iTunes Store The iTunes Store is a digital media store operated by Apple Inc. It opened on April 28, 2003, as a result of Steve Jobs' push to open a digital marketplace for music. As of April 2020, iTunes offered 60 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 ...
. Developed by Apple Inc., it is used to purchase, play, download, and organize digital multimedia, on personal computers running the
macOS macOS (; previously OS X and originally Mac OS X) is a Unix operating system developed and marketed by Apple Inc. since 2001. It is the primary operating system for Apple's Mac (computer), Mac computers. Within the market of ...
and
Windows Windows is a group of several Proprietary software, proprietary graphical user interface, graphical operating system families developed and marketed by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. For example, W ...
operating systems, and can be used to rip songs from CDs, as well as play content with the use of dynamic, smart playlists. Options for sound optimizations exist, as well as ways to wirelessly share the iTunes library. Originally announced by Apple CEO
Steve Jobs Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American Entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, industrial designer, media proprietor, and investor. He was the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer, CEO of Apple Inc., Appl ...
on January 9, 2001, iTunes' original and main focus was music, with a library offering organization and storage of Mac users' music collections. With the 2003 addition of the iTunes Store for purchasing and downloading digital music, and a version of the program for Windows, it became a ubiquitous tool for managing music and configuring other features on Apple's line of
iPod The iPod is a discontinued series of portable media players and multi-purpose mobile devices designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The iPod Classic#1st generation, first version was released on October 23, 2001, about months after the Ma ...
media players, which extended to the iPhone and
iPad The iPad is a brand of iOS and iPadOS-based tablet computers that are developed by Apple Inc., Apple Inc. The iPad was conceived before the related iPhone but the iPhone was developed and released first. Speculation about the development, ...
upon their introduction. Starting in 2005, Apple expanded on the core music features of iTunes with support for digital video, podcasts, e-books, and
mobile apps A mobile application or app is a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a smartphone, phone, tablet computer, tablet, or smartwatch, watch. Mobile applications often stand in contrast to desktop appli ...
purchased from the iOS App Store. Since the release of
iOS 5 iOS 5 is the iOS version history, fifth major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc., being the successor to iOS 4. It was announced at the company's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Worldwide Developers Confer ...
in 2011, these devices have become less dependent on iTunes, though it can still be used to back up their contents. Though well received in its early years, iTunes received increasing criticism for a bloated user experience, which incorporated features beyond its original focus on music. Beginning with Macs running macOS Catalina, iTunes was replaced by separate apps, namely
Music Music is generally defined as the The arts, art of arranging sound to create some combination of Musical form, form, harmony, melody, rhythm or otherwise Musical expression, expressive content. Exact definition of music, definitions of mu ...
, Podcasts, and TV, with Finder taking over the device management capabilities. (This change would not affect iTunes running on Windows or older macOS versions).


History

SoundJam MP, released by Casady & Greene in 1998, was renamed "iTunes" when
Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus ''Malus''. The tree originated in Central Asia, wh ...
purchased it in 2000. The primary developers of the software moved to Apple as part of the acquisition, and simplified SoundJam's user interface, added the ability to burn CDs, and removed its recording feature and
skin Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate animal, with three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation. Other cuticle, animal coverings, such as the arthropod exoskeleton, have diffe ...
support. The first version of iTunes, promotionally dubbed "World’s Best and Easiest To Use Jukebox Software," was announced on January 9, 2001. Subsequent releases of iTunes often coincided with new hardware devices, and gradually included support for new features, including "smart playlists", the
iTunes Store The iTunes Store is a digital media store operated by Apple Inc. It opened on April 28, 2003, as a result of Steve Jobs' push to open a digital marketplace for music. As of April 2020, iTunes offered 60 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 ...
, and new audio formats.


Platform availability

Apple released iTunes for Windows in 2003. On April 26, 2018, iTunes was released on Microsoft Store for
Windows 10 Windows 10 is a major release of Microsoft's Windows NT operating system. It is the direct successor to Windows 8.1, which was released nearly two years earlier. It was Software release cycle#Release to manufacturing (RTM), released to ma ...
, primarily to allow it to be installed on Windows 10 devices configured to only allow installation of software from Microsoft Store. Unlike Windows versions for other platforms, it is more self-contained due to technical requirements for distribution on the store (not installing background helper services such as Bonjour), and is updated automatically through the store rather than using Apple Software Update.


Music library

iTunes features a music library. Each track has attributes, called
metadata Metadata is "data that provides information about other data", but not the content of the data, such as the text of a message or the image itself. There are many distinct types of metadata, including: * Descriptive metadata – the descriptive ...
, 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 Ripping is extracting all or parts of digital content from a container. Originally, it meant to rip music out of Commodore 64 games. Later, the term was used to extract WAV or MP3 format files from digital Sound, audio compact disk, CDs, but got a ...
content from CDs. iTunes supports WAV, AIFF, Apple Lossless, AAC, and MP3 audio formats. It uses the
Gracenote Gracenote, Inc. is a company owned by Nielsen Holdings that provides music, video and sports metadata and automatic content recognition (ACR) technologies to entertainment services and companies, worldwide. Formerly CDDB ("Compact Disc Data Base ...
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 label A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark of Sound recording and reproduction, music recordings and Music video, music videos, or the company that owns it. Sometimes, a record label is also a Music publisher (popular music), pub ...
s, iTunes would normally only list tracks as numbered entries ("Track 1" and "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.


Special playlists

Introduced in 2004, "Party Shuffle" selected tracks to play randomly from the library, though users could press a button to skip a 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 In computing, a database is an organized collection of Data (computing), data stored and accessed electronically. Small databases can be stored on a file system, while large databases are hosted on computer clusters or cloud storage. The Databas ...
query. Multiple criteria can be entered to manage the smart playlist. Selection criteria examples include a genre like
Christmas music Christmas music comprises a variety of Music genre, genres of music regularly performed or heard around the Christmas and holiday season, Christmas season. Music associated with Christmas may be purely instrumental, or, in the case of Christmas ...
, songs that haven't been played recently, or songs the user has listened to the most in a time period.


Library sharing

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.


Sound processing

iTunes includes sound processing features, such as equalization, "sound enhancement" and crossfade. There is also a feature called , which normalizes the playback volume of all songs in the library to the same level.


Online music functionality


iTunes Store

Introduced on April 28, 2003, The iTunes Music Store allows users to buy and download songs, with 200,000 tracks available at launch. In its first week, customers bought more than one million songs. Music purchased was protected by FairPlay, an
encryption In cryptography, encryption is the process of Code, encoding information. This process converts the original representation of the information, known as plaintext, into an alternative form known as ciphertext. Ideally, only authorized parties can ...
layer referred to as
digital rights management Digital rights management (DRM) is the management of legal access to digital content. Various tools or technological protection measures (TPM) such as access control technologies can restrict the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. ...
(DRM). The use of DRM, which limited devices capable of playing purchased files, sparked efforts to remove the protection mechanism. Eventually, after an open letter to the music industry by CEO Steve Jobs in February 2007, Apple introduced a selection of DRM-free music in the iTunes Store in April 2007, followed by its entire music catalog without DRM in January 2009.


iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match

In June 2011, Apple announced "iTunes in the Cloud", in which music purchases were stored on Apple's servers and made available for automatic downloading on new devices. For music the user owns, such as content ripped from CDs, the company introduced "iTunes Match", a feature that can upload content to Apple's servers, match it to its catalog, change the quality to 256kbit/s AAC format, and make it available to other devices.


Internet radio, iTunes Radio and Apple Music

When iTunes was first released, it came with support for the Kerbango
Internet radio Online radio (also web radio, net radio, streaming radio, e-radio, IP radio, Internet radio) is a digital audio service transmitted via the Internet. Broadcasting on the Internet is usually referred to as webcasting since it is not transmitted ...
tuner service. In June 2013, the company announced iTunes Radio, a free music streaming service. In June 2015, Apple announced Apple Music, a subscription-based music streaming service, and subsequently integrated iTunes Radio functionality. Music tracks provided by Apple Music via iTunes are available at up to 256 kbps AAC fidelity. The Apple Music app also integrates
Apple Music 1 Apple Music 1, previously branded as Beats 1, is a 24/7 music radio station owned and operated by Apple Inc. It is accessible through iTunes or Apple Music, the Apple Music app on a computer, smartphone or tablet, smart speaker (such as the Appl ...
, a live music radio station.


Other features


Video

In May 2005, video support was introduced to iTunes with the release of iTunes 4.8, though it was limited to bonus features part of album purchases. The following October, Apple introduced iTunes 6, enabling support for purchasing and viewing video content purchased from the
iTunes Store The iTunes Store is a digital media store operated by Apple Inc. It opened on April 28, 2003, as a result of Steve Jobs' push to open a digital marketplace for music. As of April 2020, iTunes offered 60 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 ...
. At launch, the store offered popular shows from the ABC network, including '' Desperate Housewives'' and '' Lost'', along with
Disney Channel Disney Channel, sometimes known as simply Disney, is an American pay television channel that serves as the flagship property of Disney Branded Television, a unit of the Disney General Entertainment Content division of The Walt Disney Com ...
series '' That's So Raven'' and '' The Suite Life of Zack and Cody''. CEO Steve Jobs told the press that "We’re doing for video what we’ve done for music — we’re making it easy and affordable to purchase and download, play on your computer, and take with you on your iPod." In 2008, Apple and select film studios introduced "iTunes Digital Copy", a feature on select DVDs and Blu-ray discs allowing a digital copy in iTunes and associated media players.


Podcasts

In June 2005, Apple updated iTunes with support for
podcast A podcast is a Radio program, program made available in digital format for download over the Internet. For example, an Episode, episodic series of digital audio or video Computer file, files that a user can download to a personal device to l ...
s. Users can subscribe to podcasts, change update frequency, define how many episodes to download and how many to delete. Similar to
songs A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at melody, distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various song form, forms, such as those includ ...
, "Smart playlists" can be used to control podcasts in a playlist, setting criteria such as date and number of times listened to.
Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus ''Malus''. The tree originated in Central Asia, wh ...
is credited for being the major catalyst behind the early growth of podcasting.


Apps

On July 10, 2008, Apple introduced native
mobile app A mobile application or app is a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a smartphone, phone, tablet computer, tablet, or smartwatch, watch. Mobile applications often stand in contrast to desktop appli ...
s for its iOS operating system. On iOS, a dedicated App Store application served as the storefront for browsing, downloading, updating, and otherwise managing applications, whereas iTunes on computers had a dedicated section for apps rather than a separate app. In September 2017, Apple updated iTunes to version 12.7, removing the App Store section in the process. iTunes 12.6.3 was released the following month, retaining App Store functionality, with ''9to5Mac'' noting that the secondary release was positioned by Apple as "necessary for some businesses performing internal app deployments".


iTunes U

In May 2007, Apple announced the launch of "iTunes U" via the
iTunes Store The iTunes Store is a digital media store operated by Apple Inc. It opened on April 28, 2003, as a result of Steve Jobs' push to open a digital marketplace for music. As of April 2020, iTunes offered 60 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 ...
, which delivers university lectures from top U.S. colleges. With iTunes version 12.7 in August 2017, iTunes U collections became a part of the Podcasts app. On June 10, 2020, Apple formally announced that iTunes U would be discontinued at the end of 2021.


Apple mobile device connectivity

iTunes was required to activate early iPhone and
iPad The iPad is a brand of iOS and iPadOS-based tablet computers that are developed by Apple Inc., Apple Inc. The iPad was conceived before the related iPhone but the iPhone was developed and released first. Speculation about the development, ...
devices. Beginning with the iPhone 3G in June 2008, activation did not require iTunes, making use of activation at point of sale. Later iPhone models are able to be activated and set-up on their own, without requiring the use of iTunes. iTunes also allows users to backup and restore the content of their Apple mobile devices, such as music, photos, videos, ringtones and device settings, and restore the firmware of their devices. However, as of iTunes 12.7, apps can no longer be purchased and installed using iTunes.


Ping

With the release of iTunes 10 in September 2010, Apple announced iTunes Ping, which CEO Steve Jobs described as "social music discovery". It had features reminiscent of
Facebook Facebook is an online social media and social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dusti ...
, including profiles and the ability to follow other users. Ping was discontinued in September 2012.


Criticism


Security

'' The Telegraph'' reported in November 2011 that Apple had been aware of a
security vulnerability Vulnerabilities are flaws in a computer system that weaken the overall security of the device/system. Vulnerabilities can be weaknesses in either the hardware itself, or the software that runs on the hardware. Vulnerabilities can be Exploit (comp ...
since 2008 that would let unauthorized third parties install "updates" to users' iTunes software. Apple fixed the issue before the ''Telegraph''s report and told the media that "The security and privacy of our users is extremely important", though this was questioned by security researcher Brian Krebs, who told the publication that "A prominent security researcher warned Apple about this dangerous vulnerability in mid-2008, yet the company waited more than 1,200 days to fix the flaw."


Software bloat

iTunes has been repeatedly accused of being bloated as part of Apple's efforts to turn it from a music player to an all-encompassing multimedia platform. Former ''
PC World ''PC World'' (stylized as PCWorld) is a global computer magazine published monthly by International Data Group, IDG. Since 2013, it has been an online only publication. It offers advice on various aspects of personal computer, PCs and related ...
'' editor Ed Bott accused the company of hypocrisy in its advertising attacks on
Windows Windows is a group of several Proprietary software, proprietary graphical user interface, graphical operating system families developed and marketed by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. For example, W ...
for similar practices. The role of iTunes has been replaced with independent apps for Apple Music, Apple TV, as well as iPhone, iPod, and iPad management being put into Finder, starting with macOS 10.15 Catalina.


See also

*
Apple Music Apple Music is a music, audio and video streaming service developed by Apple Inc. Users select music to stream to their device on-demand, or they can listen to existing playlists. The service also includes the Internet radio stations Appl ...
* iTunes Festival *
iTunes Store The iTunes Store is a digital media store operated by Apple Inc. It opened on April 28, 2003, as a result of Steve Jobs' push to open a digital marketplace for music. As of April 2020, iTunes offered 60 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 ...
* iTunes version history * AirPlay * List of audio conversion software * Comparison of iPod managers * Distribution Into iTunes * FairPlay * Feed aggregators: ** Feed aggregators, comparison ** Feed aggregators, List * Media players, comparison * Music visualization


References


External links

* – official site {{navboxes , title=iTunes , list1= {{Podcast distribution platforms {{Media player (application software) {{Apple software {{macOS {{Aggregators {{Apple Inc. Apple Inc. services Online music database clients Computer-related introductions in 2001 Products and services discontinued in 2019 2001 software Apple Inc. software IOS software IPod software Mobile device management software MacOS CD ripping software Podcasting software Internet properties established in 2001 Internet properties disestablished in 2019 Jukebox-style media players Macintosh media players MacOS media players Music streaming services Tag editors Transactional video on demand Windows CD ripping software Windows CD/DVD writing software Windows media players