Here’s what a standalone Apple Music app could look like on the Mac


A few days ago, I argued that iTunes was now so clunky it should be nuked from orbit, and suggested standalone apps as a possible way forward. A little over 70% of you agreed with me, including UX designer Andrew Ambrosino, who created some concept images showing how a standalone OS X Music app might look.

I like what I see. Check out the images below, and let us know your thoughts … 

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As Ambrosino says, having the app have only one job immediately allows for a much cleaner look: music tabs at the top, player at the bottom, and content between the two.

Next up, Ambrosino turned his attention to the search. Granted, there would come a point when there are so many hits you just want to see the results in the main window, but this is a very neat way to present the top hits.


He’s also taken an interesting double-sidebar approach to enhance discoverability and make it really obvious that you can simply drag tracks to a playlist.


Ambrosino also proposes the addition of social features, so you can choose to share playlists with your friends.


Check out the full gallery over at, then let us know your thoughts. If you were one of the 20% who thought iTunes should be rescued as a single app, does this change your mind? And if you favored the single app approach already, how does this concept look to you?

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  1. j0hnf23 - 8 years ago

    looks indeed very nice!

    • rogifan - 8 years ago

      Design is about more than looks. Of course it’s easy for “designers” to mock stuff up in Photoshop or whatever because there’s zero engineering involved. That’s why we get these mockups of impossibly thin iPhones with no bezel and no home button. its easy to mock up cool s–t when you doing have to take it the next step and build something that actually works.

      • lkrupp215 - 8 years ago

        Yep, people get to thinking you can just snap your fingers and things just appear as if by magic. Hardware and software engineering is not for the casual crowd. Apple tends to be the best but even then there are times when engineering can’t cash the checks marketing is writing.

      • j0hnf23 - 8 years ago

        yeah you are right but this is still software, so it can be programmed somehow. with hardware it’s a lot difficulter I think.

  2. Tim McDonald - 8 years ago

    Give that man a cookie! I’m sold.

  3. Love the concepts but it’d be nice to have larger album art than the fingernail-sized images that iTunes currently employs. Can only hope that Apple’s working on a better version for El Capitan.

  4. nordpinsel (@nordpinsel) - 8 years ago

    Great, and unbelievable that Apple needs design advise

    • rogifan - 8 years ago

      Right because fixing iTunes is as simple as mocking up a UI in Photoshop or whatever. I wish rumor sites would quit promoting stupid mockups from “designers”. It’s easy to mock something up when there’s no engineering involved and you don’t have to have something that actually works.

      • CJ Sheets - 8 years ago

        UX is a lot more than just design and aesthetics. You can tell this UX designer put a lot of thought in not only how the app should look, but how a user should interact with it.

        iTunes is bloated, I don’t think anyone would argue against that. Apple can do better. They certainly have the resources and money. Is it harder than just making a mockup? Of course it is. But that’s why UX designers, graphic designers and software developers work together. Apple would benefit by looking for ideas from people like this.

      • Jassi Sikand - 8 years ago

        I’d argue against iTunes being bloated. I don’t think that it’s bloated at all. I’d be really irritated if I had to have 3 different programs open to enjoy movies, music, and TV Shows. I think that we, as a tech-y elite, have forgotten what it is to be an average consumer user. The average user doesn’t want 3 different programs to do 3 different things if they can have 1 to do everything. The mobile strategy of splitting everything into it’s own app doesn’t translate well to the desktop. Admittedly, I think that Apple Music has made the Music tab a bit more complicated than it needs to be, but certainly not to the level of ‘bloated’.

  5. lcsaint - 8 years ago

    Please send this to Apple!

  6. Serge Descamps - 8 years ago

    now also for photos, both on osx and ios9. Albums look terribele compared to the look of Google Photos. Where is the time when it was Google with no design skills….

  7. Cory © (@Nardes) - 8 years ago

    They NEED!!!! to add a social aspect to the app. I love being able to say hey friends, here’s this killer song/album without having to do it in another app. I want them to be able to click play and boom it’s playing. Basically make it like Spotify in that sense!

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      Yes, I think this is a very obvious thing to do – perhaps the company hasn’t yet gotten over the trauma of Ping …

      • J.latham - 8 years ago

        I think it’s a mix of how far should we go. Connect was a first step. It’s ability to share posts, videos, and songs for artists is huge. As someone who loves the IDEA of Ping when it was out its a great first step. Having the ability to repost through the share button was brilliant.
        I think social aspects for artist is going to be step two personally. Things like tour dates, promotional appearances, etc.
        Then once there is a big enough presence opening (reopening) the ability to make public playlist on the user side with the ability to share via other networks will come along.

  8. Not to be a devil’s advocate here but this approach could easily be used for the whole of iTunes…and even to include Apple Music. there would only need slight variations to it to have this look/style for how it is today. I’d like Apple to have a universal app but one that takes the approach of just showing clearly each section needs. if you need an overview, go to accounts, otherwise just click on the appropriate tab/button/text for each section and that is a clean layout.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      Yes, it could indeed be done via tabs. I wouldn’t have a massive preference for one over the other if it were done right.

  9. Marvin Gräfe - 8 years ago

    This is so awesome :) I hope so much that Apple finally kills that mess of a software called iTunes! I want a Music app, a Videos app (including movies and TV shows) and a Podcast app. Audio books can be included in the already existing iBooks app (as it’s the case on iOS) and iTunes U can also get a dedicated OS X app that can be downloaded on the App Store for free if needed. The ringtone feature can be integrated in the Music app and the iOS App section can finally be removed from the Mac… who uses offline synching of iOS apps anyway anymore? The iTunes Store would be included into the Music and Videos app as it’s already included in the iBooks app.
    Every app would be rewritten in Swift to be modern and fast. I guess this will forever be a dream of mine… Apple, please let iTunes go and move forward.
    For Windows, I guess it would be better to continue developing one single app.

  10. Chad Hill (@JavaChilly) - 8 years ago

    Dear Designers, The death of contrast in your color choices continues. Gray text on a gray background is harder to read. Please stop jumping off the lemming cliff with Apple on this gray-on-gray BS. Thank you.

  11. Justin Stanley - 8 years ago

    amazing! i really hope this comes to fruition.

  12. This is a new *design*, not an improved UX. Without understanding the full breadth of how I’d go about doing something (you know, the workflows that actually matter to user interaction), it’s just pretty pictures. I’m not sure where I go to buy music in this, nor where I might create a new playlist. What was done here was more “removing features that don’t look good” than honestly reevaluating what does or doesn’t belong in a music app.

    And, honestly, all we’ve done here is move the complication of having a tab bar with different media types within iTunes to having a Dock filled with different apps. I’m not sure how that’s better.

    This isn’t to say iTunes couldn’t use some serious love and can’t steal some ideas from iOS9 and these mockups. But it’s become trendy to rip on iTunes and the herd mentality is starting to get stron without much reason.

  13. PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

    I’m in the 30% camp. The camp that thinks iTunes should be the synching app for iOS devices, which does everything in a single app. How will this work on Windows? That’s the majority of iPhone users, who need to sync their media. They aren’t going to install 7 apps, which all need to be started up every time they want to sync 7 different media types over.

    TV Shows
    iTunes U
    Apps, including the layout
    Photos/Photo Albums
    (tones, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across someone using that)

    I use gear from Garmin. Not because their gear is any good, is just less crappy than the rest. So I install the required software for it. Yup, all separate apps (6), complete bazurk.

    Then there’s this dreamed up design, the mockup. Just the other day I was reading the negative comments on the new design of this website. People complained about pictures being Full Width. But now when this iTunes mock up does the same it’s “great design!”. I’m not getting this.

    Then search gets a pop-up windows. Huh? Pop-up window? This mockup must be either made by a 12 year old or an old fool who’s living in the past. Look at the Colplay screen; it has two buttons with he same name (My Music). How’s that not going to confuse people?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      As a fellow Garmin user, to me the issue is more that I can see no logic to all those different apps and which one you’re supposed to use for what function.

      • PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

        Indeed, quite messy. You’d expect the “Garmin MapManager” to, well, manage your maps. But no, the management you do in BaseCamp. I really don’t like software designed by Garmin; I think it’s clunky, lots of ‘design flaws’.

        And missing a lot of features that would make sense. I just got the Fenix 3, a watch for triathletes, but there isn’t a bike profile on it. Meaning I have sensors on different bikes but cannot simply chose 1 bike for my next ride. No, I need to disable / enable sensors when switching bikes, a mundane task. No Quick Release Kit for it either; and this watch was designed for triathletes(?)

        I could go on, but this is an Apple-oriented site (so may slip in an occasional dislike of Garmin – “sorry ’bout that”)

      • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

        Yeah, I’ve switched Garmin maps to Open Street Maps, and just manage those on the GPS – with a 64GB card, I can have the whole of Europe plus the bits of North America I need, and still add in individual cities elsewhere as I visit.

      • PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

        (ok, last post on the subject of Garmin) That’s a good tip Ben; thanks.

        I bought RubiTrack (for my Mac, + iPhone) and that has OSM as well. I thought it looked silly last time I used it, some years ago, but it’s actually very good. Think I’ll try your suggestion to use OSM on my Garmin. No, not ‘think’; I’ll install that tomorrow morning, before heading out: I got a 200km/125mi ride planned.

  14. andrewplacker - 8 years ago

    This new layout is just awful!

  15. MaxBay - 8 years ago

    The new 9to5Mac design is a big disappointment. Makes me less interested in the stories,
    and those blue-on-white ads are ugly.

  16. It’s the web components, in my opinion, that need the most help with iTunes and Apple Music. Try to drag a track manually into your library? You select multiple tracks with a Finder style select. Not to mention the random appearance of buttons (I still haven’t figured out why “Add to my Library” or “Love it” appear in some locations but not in others, no consistency).

    iTunes itself hasn’t changed too much fundamentally over the years, and that’s not a bad thing, though I’ve never been a fan of that set of icons (Music, Video, etc) that appear only on the “My Music” tab, ugh, which were more of a recent addition.

    What I hope, is if they go this route, they don’t pull out a bunch of the features that made sorting, organizing, and playing tracks in your music library super powerful.

  17. ValourBaby (@valourbaby) - 8 years ago

    This looks WAY better than what we currently have. I can’t stand iTunes as of right now its so clunky. I love apple music on iOS but I refuse to use it on the mac. I revert back to Spotify for the desktop.

  18. J.latham - 8 years ago

    It’s a good look. I still think you need to apply some of Apples general design guidelines. Just as on iOS how the tab navigation is at the bottom, so is the mini player. I would follow the same guidelines here where the player is at the top along with the tab bar.

  19. AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

    People already complain about the whitespace in iTunes, this is so much worse that even I don’t like it.

    iTunes needs to be broken apart, but not this far. Apple Music needs to be integrated into the same app as the player and the store. Apple Music is the start of the blurring of the lines between music your own, music your stream, and music that you can buy. Trying to make all of those points a separate app is dead on arrival. Things like TV shows and movies need their own app, audiobooks need to go into iBooks, podcasts and iTunes U maybe should be their own apps, but all things Music should remain together.

  20. Bôya Kouaich (@kouaich) - 8 years ago

    Should we start a petition so apple will consider something like this.

  21. Sacha - 8 years ago

    That would be a very satisfying change.

  22. Paul Andrew Dixon - 8 years ago

    I can see the appeal to having a separate Apple Music app — after all on the phone the music app is separated from itunes, ibooks, and the apps store

    BUT i do think it is crucial to have one app where i can sync everything together — i don’t want to have to go to all these different apps to do stuff…

    I think they should have Apple Music player app — just like a dedicated ibooks app and iphotos app on the mac — but you still need itunes to access stores, the keep your account and personal details, to keep your back ups, and to sync everything…

    Hopefully in the next OS they will do this — but to be honest — iTunes isn’t that bad… :-P

  23. charilaosmulder - 8 years ago

    iTunes is like an old truck with a fresh (but not great) coat of paint on top. Scroll beyond the edge and you can see s grainy texture from the Lion days. It does need the “from the ground up” treatment. This redesign has two great aspects (aside from the improved aesthetics):

    1. The inclusion of the Friends tab (hopefully based on your Contacts list), because sharing externally through Messages feels clunky.

    2. The exclusion of device sync. A Music app should be for Music, not for syncing calendars and Safari bookmarks. There’s iCloud now, and there should be a separate app just for manual syncing.

    What this design misses out on are another two important things:

    1. The Store. One might prefer owning music as opposed to unlimited streaming (from a slightly limited catalog) at a monthly fee.

    2. The Now Playing bar should be able to show the album or playlist it is playing from. When you start playing a playlist from the For You tab and you navigate away, there’s no easy way to navigate back.

    When Apple has developed this Apple Music app on the Mac, my real last media wish would be a streaming service based on all the movies and tv shows in the iTunes Store, integrated into the Videos app on iOS, and then bring that same app to the Mac, just like with Photos and Apple Music.

  24. Salvador Ochoa Ochoa - 8 years ago

    iTunes need a makeover. There is no “Apple Music” tab anywhere to be found. I think adding a stand alone app makes sense as long as it syncs with your music…kinda what Spotify does already.

  25. Pietro Di Meglio - 7 years ago

    It’s definitely time for separate Music, Video and Podcasts apps. The iTunes Store should be a single app, the same as iOS.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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