Today’s Obsession: What Jobs Didn’t Say

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Today in eyerolling news, iTunes’ interface has been totally redesigned yet again, after being totally redesigned in version 9 a year ago. The good news is it’s a bit more bearable to look at now; icons are dimmer and sapped of all color. It may take me a touch longer to find my iPhone’s icon in the source list now, but I most certainly feel less like I’m sorting through my favorite bag of jellybeans to find it.

Apple’s iTunes event was yesterday, which means we are all now carrying last-generation objects, and the sense of scorn that comes with that. Weep if you must.

I watched the keynote looking for the things that weren’t said. I came away from it with two major impressions: first, the iPod as we have known it for the past decade, is no more. The iPod Classic, the last remaining member of that form factor, wasn’t even mentioned. Why is it still here? Simple: technology hasn’t caught up just yet. All the other iPods contain flash-based storage drives, which has yet to produce the capacity the Apple Classic’s characteristics (“Eleventy thousand songs in your pocket!”) demand. Here’s a little backstory on that one.

Even more interesting to me, and possibly indicative of the future of the now-misnamed iTunes, was a quick mention of a renaming: AirTunes was renamed AirPlay, to reflect its new broader abilities. The iTunes icon now no longer has a CD, just a blue jellybean with two connected quarter notes. That move leaves me wondering if Apple’s finally considering rebranding iTunes more appropriately—possibly as iPlay. I hope so; I have to explain to new users all the time that iTunes actually manages music, books, podcasts, videos, movies, and TV shows. (A comb through the US Patent and Trademark Office’s search, however, showed no evidence that Apple had registered iPlay.)

Whatever they do, if their track record is any indication, it’s not going to happen until next year, which makes sense chronologically, as it will be the tenth anniversary of iTunes. Apple’s not a company to do anything as a major design or brand change—everything’s done in small moves, so that new versions are never uncomfortable or unfamiliar. Hopefully this current branding change means things will move forward.