iTunes 11 will not bring anything fundamentally new I bet, and according to previews. The interface is undergoing cosmetic changes, adding history of searches, a mini player showing the artwork, but is this really the game changer - I don’t think so.
iTunes ever since the iTunes Store has been around has never really changed, and it has been plagued with 2 major issues:
1) It keeps music locked in devices
2) It is not geared toward productivity - oh no
1) iTunes music sync feature only adds or deletes music tracks onto a device. That means it populates a specific device with selected contents from your iTunes media library. This isn’t an issue, unless you have more than one computer, or no computer at all. If you have lost your library there is no way you can recover the library that you created and saved onto the device (to the only exception of the tracks you have purchased in iTunes, if they were DRM free). Period.
The next time you connect all that remains of your collection sitting on the device iTunes will wipe it clean, no alternative, no turning back. No matter if this was your entire CD collection you purchased and ripped religiously. No way. Why is that, I would really love to know - but by the same token working around this aberration is my everyday bread.
The problem in reality lies in the fact that one device can be tied to one computer and if a device has been paired to a computer there is no other way to connect it to another but to delete and overwrite it’s contents. Even if the two computer and libraries are owned by the very same person, share the same iTunes account and the same tracks. Most of Mac users have had more than one computer, come on, what is the logic here?
2) iTunes is a media supermarket. It’s a wonderful application that truly embodies the definition of multi media distribution channel. But it is the single and only interface between the computer and the iPhone. This can be a serious issue in itself in the corporate world. The choice left to IT managers is let employees use the iPhone as a business phone and use iTunes - with all the bells and whistles - or nothing.
This does not seems like a big deal since the iPhone supports Overt The Air syncing with so many platforms, including Microsoft Exchange. But what about files, documents, folders, all the data that one would carry on an iPad or iPhone on the road? No solution. The bare bones File Sharing in iTunes isn’t a real solution either, to tell the truth.
No one will be surprised. The idea of a file structure in an iOS device is something dogmatically loathed by Apple. iOS is an operating system without a file system, there is no reason why iTunes or any other subsidiary Apple software would achieve proper file sharing. Nonetheless by experience, we know that there are millions of users that still rely on a file system organised in folders - a file tree of some sort. Doctors, pilots, police, clerks, salespeople (to name a few) need to keep documents into a central location, organised by folders that gather different file types and have something in common that can’t be materialised without the help of a folder.
Will iTunes 11 - change this, I don’t think so. But after all it’s not an issue. The new interface will please, the performance will rise, so be it. That will leave room for innovation and execution of a better iOS/computer experience to developers and this is rather a good thing to believe that Apple leaves this open, after all.
PS: The views expressed above are mine - but keep in mind that at DigiDNA we designed an iPhone file transfer desktop shareware and a file browser for iOS.