Beware the new iTunes

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Beware the new iTunes if you manage your iOS apps on your Mac. As of version 12.7, they’ve removed the iOS App Store from iTunes. While I applaud the thinning of iTunes, there is no real replacement. Some things become more of a pain. Some things are lost entirely.

To download an app, it must be done on your iDevice, once for each device.

There’s no way to get a list of the apps downloaded but not installed, at least not a convenient list like the Library list that was in iTunes. You can still list the Mobile Applications folder, but I don’t know if it gets kept up to date. There certainly won’t be an easy way to delete an app with the intention of re-installing at some point in the future. You’ll have to remember it and re-download it.

If you have to restore your iDevice, the restore re-downloads all the apps again. I expect that a backup will keep track of installed apps, but may not actually store the apps on your Mac. That means that if an app is pulled from the App Store, you may not be able to re-install. I’m not sure of this but it seems to be what they’re doing.

One thing they did keep was the ability to transfer files directly through iTunes. It’s called File Transfer and is in the left side menu panel for an iDevice.

There are also changes to ringtones.

If you’ve already updated, you can go back if you have a copy of the old iTunes. This is why I always keep at least one old version. There’s a folder in your iTunes folder called Previous iTunes Libraries. In there you’ll find the last version’s library. So you can copy it out and remove the date from the name. You’ll have to delete the new iTunes directly since I don’t think an older iTunes will install over a new one. I did this and I’ve got back the old iTunes and App Store. Now I have to decide how to manage the change because the new iTunes is needed for iOS 11.

Bob

4 thoughts on “Beware the new iTunes

  1. Yeah, with Apple’s impulse to make devices a bit more independent and not managed from the desktop, along with the industry move towards streaming, I’m definitely worried about music.

    Apple flirted with ditching 1-5 star ratings from devices for a simplified “heart”, but mercifully an outcry led to them restoring it – though de-emphasized, it used to be the backflip of the currently playing song card, now it’s 3 taps to get to it. So I take some hope that they’re not totally deaf to people like me who are deeply vested in a careful rating and curation.

    So the 3 things I would need to find a replacement for if Apple moved from desktop:
    1. Smart playlists – I have pretty simple requirements, “3 stars or more” “4 stars or more”, “5 stars”. I do NOT want to be managing this my manual playlists
    2. adding mp3s not purchased through the iTunes store
    3. is there anyway to edit title/artist/album/genre (not that I care that much about genre… I mean I’m a little obsessive about music but not THAT obsessive) on the device?

    I’d like to think there’s a “Apple knows it will lose millions of users if they do this” but honestly those arguments are hardly worth anything. So it’s kind of Apple being kind, and/or at least trying to placate a potentially very vocal audience.

  2. Oh, also: I’d be more upset about this apps thing if it wasn’t already so weird. There are some apps I’ve lost, like this really smart little Tron tanks game released to push the movie, that I couldn’t get back.

    For a person with digital archivist tendencies, who would like to preserve old options it’s been a sad space for a while.

    (That said, the old iTunes management of apps was kind of stupid, when I transferred phones, all the apps were set to old versions, as if the phone was set up with whatever version I started with. But I was astonished how robust the old versions of apps were with my “new” data and settings, however. Somehow Apple standards have got developers really smart about shielding the format of user data from upgrades to the version of the app…

  3. Apparently iOS 11 supports downloading ringtones directly without using iTunes. So as long as you have a way to create the ringtone…

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