iTunes isn't the only way to manage audio media on your various Apple devices, but it is the official Apple software. And iTunes it isn't just about providing access to the media you happen to already have -- CDs you have bought in physical form and ripped, for example. It's also about media you don't already have -- music, podcasts, films, TV, even audiobooks. All of these are available through iTunes, and once you have them, you can stream them across your full range of devices -- laptops, phones and tablets -- regardless of whether they run iOS or Android.
iTunes provides access to 50 million tunes and more than 100,000 movies and TV shows. There's a serious selection of media available in 4K for those who use Apple TV 4K. And the ability to download what you've bought so it can be watched direct from anywhere means there's no need to be in Wi-Fi range. The sheer number is irrelevant, though, if it is difficult to find what you are looking for and hard to browse all that content. iTunes makes both tasks simple.
Streamlined interface: iTunes hasn't always been the easiest of apps to get along with, but the current interface is clean and sharp. It manages the feat of putting what you need at your fingertips and offering lots of options and choices, without making the screen dense and confusing. Ultimately it is the media that takes center stage here.
Easy to browse: Obviously enough, it doesn't matter how many movies, songs or TV shows you can access if it's difficult to find what you want. iTunes has lots of ways into its content. You can search for something specific, but often we want to browse. For movies you can browse "New and Noteworthy," 4K movies, selections for kids, bundles and movie series, and even see the most popular pre-orders. There's a chart so you can see what's popular at the moment, and you can browse by price, genre and cinema rating. TV shows has a similar structure. The Music, podcasts and audiobooks sections are slightly differently organized but based around the same principles. The Podcasts section includes an easily accessible list of featured providers.
Easy to get to your stuff: Just hit the Library button when looking at any of the different media sections in the app (music, films, TV programs, podcasts and audiobooks), and you'll go straight to everything you've already purchased.
Easy synchronizing: Once you've created a music playlist you can easily listen to it from any device -- so that classic chill-out selection can be made the most of while you are relaxing at home or travelling on a crowded train -- or anywhere else!
Try songs before you buy: It's sometimes difficult to know if you will like a song -- especially if it is by an artist you are new to. So there are 90 second previews available to help you work out whether a tune really appeals or not. If you want to try a couple of tracks from an album before committing, that's easily doable, and if you buy the full album the cost of those tracks is knocked off the album price.
Free trial of Apple Music: You start with a three month free trial of Apple Music, which includes ad-free listening, streaming to all your devices and the ability to follow friends and share playlists with them.
Family sharing: Up to six people in your family can share iTunes purchases, and all the sharers can download purchases. Any user under the age of 13 can be set up with "Ask To Buy" -- so that their purchases have to be approved by an adult.
Too much choice: OK, maybe this isn't really a con -- but with so much choice of music, films, TV programs, podcasts and audiobooks you are going to need to set some boundaries. After all, you do need to work on the other parts of your life too, right?
iTunes has so much media across so many different formats that it's difficult to see how an appetite could ever be sated by using it. You don't have to restrict use to iOS devices either -- it will stream to Android and to Windows as well. The family sharing catering for a generous six users is a real plus point too.