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The iTunes 10 UI is an abomination

This post should be treated as an historical artifact. It probably contain broken external links and it may no longer reflect my views or opinions.

So, iTunes 10 looks like Apple’s college intern office bitch slapped the design together over the weekend while on a bender. What happened to those LEGIONS of UI designers they employ?

Let’s Talk About That Icon

It’s pretty damned terrible. It’s so bad that I don’t even care that the software runs faster than before (and it does). The improved respon­siveness has taken a backseat to shame. Ping? HOST UNREACHABLE. It’s an embar­rassment to use or to be seen using. Here are two pieces of shitty MS clipart that my wife found in Office 2007 in less than 45 seconds:

These sad eighth notes are all brown notes.

If these two crazy kids tried to get shitty on cheap wood­working glue and Mad Dog 20/20 one weekend and “made an oopsie”, you’d get some­thing that looks a lot like that icon.

Oh, and here’s a serious question: why are the window controls vertical? Chew­bacca lives on Endor! It does not make sense! Styl­is­ti­cally and concep­tually the whole thing feels clumsy and a bit like an attempt to get “in your face.”

iTunes 10 Window Controls

Almost every damned widget is A) yet again custom to iTunes, not the OS; B) different than it was before. They’re almost all univer­sally ugly. Things that should be buttons are just sort of decal looking sections of the screen and a lot of stuff has tremen­dously crappy bezels for no real reason.


Is There Anything They Did Right?

The speaker management window is a tremendous improvement?

This however is a welcome improvement

I think I like this hybrid cover art view they’re pushing for column based browsing.

You Like Third Party Library Servers?

Too bad. iTunes 10 has munged with the DAAP protocol (which, admit­tedly, is Apple’s protocol, so it’s their right) and broken 3rd party DAAP servers. So, your Drobo, your Synology DiskStation, your Netgear ReadyNAS, and those Western Digital disks that support streaming music? They’re all basi­cally going to need firmware updates when the someone figures out what to patch or change in MT-DAAP (or Firefly, if you prefer) to make it work again; you can make a pretty safe bet that Apple won’t rev the protocol back to help fix this problem.

Final Thoughts

I have to believe that someone, some­where is laboring away on music library management software that isn’t encum­bered by goofy widgets and ridiculous business deci­sions. It’s probably not coming from the Linux camp (see: Rhythmbox, Banshee, Amarok, Clementine, & Guayadeque for an idea of where they’re rein­venting the wheel). Songbird is wrapped in XUL interface hell (never mind tech­nical backend “iffiness”). I think iTunes has been the dominant player in this space (at least in OS X) for so long that no one even bothers trying anymore.