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Apple previews a trio of apps that will finally replace iTunes for Windows

Apple's rendition of what a PC running iTunes looks like.
Enlarge / Apple’s rendition of what a PC running iTunes looks like.

Apple

Apple discontinued its iTunes music player for macOS in 2019 when it split the app’s functionality between four apps in macOS Catalina. But for Windows users with large local media libraries or who wanted to back up their iDevices or subscribe to Apple Music, iTunes has soldiered on, receiving minor maintenance-mode updates to maintain compatibility with Apple’s devices and services.

Today, as part of a new Windows 11 preview build for Windows Insiders, Microsoft has announced that previews of new Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices apps are available in the Microsoft Store for download.

The Apple Music and Apple TV apps handle iTunes’ music and video functionality, just as they do on macOS, and provide access to the Apple Music and Apple TV+ subscription services. The Apple Devices app is what you’ll use to make local device backups, perform emergency software updates, sync local media, and the other things you can do with an iDevice that’s plugged into your PC (in macOS, similar functionality was added to the Finder, rather than being broken out into its own app).

For now, if you install any or all of these three apps, you’ll no longer be able to use iTunes, so don’t upgrade if you still rely on iTunes for anything specific that the apps don’t handle. You can use iTunes again if you uninstall the new apps.

iTunes handles two things on Windows that the new apps will not: podcasts and audiobooks. We don’t know whether Apple plans versions of Apple Podcasts or Books to run on Windows, if that functionality will be added back to the Apple Music app for Windows, or whether Apple will rely on the cloud versions of both apps.

The release notes for Apple Music say that podcasts and audiobooks on Windows PCs “will be inaccessible until a compatible version of iTunes is released.” This suggests that Apple is working on a version of iTunes that can run alongside the new apps, and that iTunes may continue to handle some features in the absence of official Windows versions of Apple Podcasts and Books.

Microsoft announced that versions of Apple Music and Apple TV would be coming to Windows last October, alongside other new Windows 11 features and refreshed Surface devices. For now, the apps require Windows 11 with the 2022 Update installed to run, though it’s possible that the final versions may be compatible with Windows 10 or older Windows 11 versions as well.


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