Why does iTunes update so often?

Just when you’ve organized your iTunes, arranged your playlists and become accustomed to the layout, you’re hit with a request for a software update. Will you encounter bugs, glitches or simply dislike the new layout?

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to know until you update. Sometimes, they only take a few minutes, other times it can take up to an hour or more. iTunes is currently on version 12 which means that it’s been through hundreds of updates. Improvements and tweaks to this scale would understandably beg the question: is it all necessary?

When we grow frustrated at the next update, we should all bear in mind just how far iTunes has come. For those with good memories, they will remember that it started as Soundjam MP in 1998, before it was bought and incorporated into Apple branding in the mid-2000s. In its early days, iTunes was not much more than a music playlist, allowing users to find, sort and play music.

But as technology began to evolve, iTunes needed to do more. With the introduction of other Apple products, such as the iPhone or iPad, users wanted to be able to play and share their music across all their devices. So Apple added syncing. To move with gaming and streaming trends, Apple also added App store access, video and TV shows and connections to IoT devices such as Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home. Today, iTunes exists as a complete content hub. Users can watch videos, listen to music and podcasts, play games and connect with their favorite artists all on one platform.

As all these features are managed in one place, updates can understandably be quite cumbersome and time-consuming. On your iPhone, iTunes is split into different apps (Apple Music, iBooks, Videos, App Stores etc.) and so the updating process is not as concentrated. This is why iTunes updates are often more noticeable and larger in size.

But this does not necessarily explain why they are so frequent; in 2014 for instance, iTunes was updated a total of nine times. To explain, users must remember the growth and size of the market. Technology and consumer demand move so quickly that product managers must keep pace with the latest trends or lose out. If they’re not making improvements, users can become apathetic and turn off from the service. Moreover, software is prone to bugs and security failures, so updates keep the platform running smoothly.

This is not to mention, of course, that as Apple introduces new products to the market each year, its services need to become compatible. This requires an update which is often quite large.

Do you have any questions around iTunes updates? Let us know in the comments below.