ben treston

iTunes and Safari - An integration too far?

The latest rumour bubbling under the current iPad 2 rumours is that there is a plan for Apple to merge Safari and iTunes.


Smart move or a step too far?

We won’t know until Apple does it, and if they do it would have to be done in a way that is beneficial for both apps and I can’t see that from here. Safari is my favourite browser — especially now with extensions, and although I think iTunes is “fine”. It has slowly become a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ situation where more and more features are being added (I’m looking at you, Ping) without adding real value to the app or experience.

I think iTunes — and Im not alone here - needs to be rewritten from the ground up in Cocoa. Not so much 64-bit out of the starting blocks but as people’s iTunes libraries are growing larger and larger this may end up being one of the largest folders on someone’s Mac or PC, so therefore a 64-bit rewrite is not out of the question. There can be a lot of file activity when someone is syncing an iPhone or iPad for the first time. By the time a rewrite happens it may be time for 64-bit anyway.

Safari I like because it is lightweight and puts the content front and centre, and the UI gets right out of the way. And generally performs very well - although the odd memory leak will need to be looked at in future. Of course both iTunes and Safari use the underlying WebKit rendering engine (and share this with other apps as well) which actually means Apple already has millions of WebKit browsers already installed on PC’s as iTunes - but are people going to want to browse the web though it as well? I find it odd that while on the iTunes store or App Store links are not parsed as clickable URLs (no doubt a security measure for them) but is that a sign that this is looming?

There is just too many questions here - will all Safari extensions stop working if this goes ahead? What will happen to plugins such as Flash / Java etc?

Some even argue that iTunes should be split up, so the stores are separate apps (al la Mac App Store) and perhaps even syncing is done though iSync (an idea which I like) as combining all functions is becoming a little cumbersome and creating a monster of an app with a UI and performance limitations.

I personally think adding a browser to this, is certainly a step too far.