iTunes is a media player program developed by Apple for playing and organizing digital music and video files on desktop computers. It can also manage content on iPhones, iPods, and iPads. The latest versions are 12.8.3 for OS X 10.11.4 to 10.14.6, as well as 12.10 for Windows 7 or later.
iTunes is available as a free download and can connect to the iTunes Store to purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, iPod games, audiobooks, podcasts, movies and movie rentals (not available in all countries), and ringtones (only available on iPhone and 4th-generation iPod touch or later. At one point, it was also used to download application software from the App Store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. However, iTunes has been criticized for not being able to transfer music from one portable device to another.
During the 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that iTunes' functionality would be be divided up among three utilities included with macOS Catalina (version 15), which are Music, Podcasts, and TV. An open source utility called Retroactive can be used to allow iTunes to run on macOS Catalina or later. This would result in the iTunes app no longer being available on newer versions macOS. However, iTunes can still be downloaded and used on Windows through the Microsoft Store.
SoundJam MP, developed by Jeff Robbin and Bill Kincaid and released by Casady & Greene in 1999, became the basis for iTunes when Apple purchased it in 2000. Apple had also tried to acquire the developers of rival MP3 program Audion, but were unable to reach a deal.
Apple added a new user interface and the ability to burn CDs, and removed its recording feature and skin support, and released it as iTunes in January 2001. Originally a Mac OS 9-only application, iTunes began to support Mac OS X when version 2.0 was released nine months later, which also added support for the original iPod. Version 3 dropped Mac OS 9 support but added smart playlists and a ratings system. In April 2003, version 4.0 introduced the iTunes Store; in October, version 4.1 added support for Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP. Version 7.0 introduced gapless playback and Cover Flow in September 2006. In March 2007, iTunes 7.1 added support for Windows Vista, and 7.4 marked the end of Windows 2000 support. iTunes lacked support for 64-bit versions of Windows until the 7.6 update on January 16, 2008. iTunes is currently supported by 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and later. The 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are not supported by Apple, but a workaround has been devised for both operating systems. The last major update, version 8.0, added Genius playlists, grid view, and a new default visualizer.
A version of iTunes was shipped with phones from Motorola, which included the ability to sync music from an iTunes library to the cellphone, as well as a similar interface between both platforms. Since the release of the iPhone, Apple has stopped distributing iTunes with other manufacturers' phones in order to concentrate sales to Apple's device. In the absence of support from Apple, Nokia has released a Mac application called Nokia Multimedia Transfer that supports transferring data from iTunes and iPhoto onto some Nokia devices. iTunes 9 introduced the Genius mix feature, and Home Sharing, allowing computers with the same account to share music without having to transfer files. With iTunes 10, Ping was included as a music social network, somewhat like Twitter. As revealed by Apple executives Arthur Levinson and Tim Cook, iTunes 11 was launched on July 4, 2012. It included support for Facebook, Apple ID, or Twitter accounts that are registered to have an almost-entire catalog of music, movies, TV shows, and audio books that are each in full-length form instead of 30-second samples.
To compensate for the lack of a physical CD, iTunes can print custom-made jewel case inserts as well as song lists and album lists. After burning a CD from a playlist, one can select that playlist and bring up a dialog box with several print options. The user can choose to print either a single album cover (for purchased iTunes albums) or a compilation cover (for user-created playlists). iTunes then automatically sets up a template with art on one side and track titles on the other.
iTunes 10.3 can run a beta version of iCloud. It can manage the music, app and books feature of iCloud.
iTunes Match was a $25 a year service for all of your ripped music. It could take all of your ripped music, finds a match in the iTunes Store (because it is likely there) and turns it into a high-quality 256 kbps AAC file. Album covers, ID3-tags are uploaded to iCloud, as well as songs not found in the iTunes Store. The service has since been integrated into Apple Music.
Individual songs, albums and playlists can be downloaded on iOS devices from iCloud any time. Songs can be deleted from any device, but deletion from iCloud can only be controlled from iTunes on a Mac or PC. Song ratings and play counts update via iCloud, but only from playlists.
- iTunes through the ages by Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica (2012-11-23)