iTunes is one of the most used applications across any platform, and there’s a good reason for that: iOS devices. No one will ever tell you that iTunes is a stellar piece of software that everyone absolutely loves to use, but the entire range of Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPods heavily relies on the software for media/music transfer, device management, software updates, and almost everything else. Granted, with the passage of time, Apple has somewhat lessened that dependency, but what to do with the fact that even the drivers for iDevices only get installed on your computer when you have actually installed iTunes.
The problem with iTunes isn’t that it doesn’t look great. On the contrary, its interface is (arguably) better than a number of apps on our list. The problem is that the software is bloated and unreliable. There’s just so much clubbed into one utility that it is kind of setup for failure from the get go. Which is why you need alternatives for iTunes that can serve as your daily driver, while the iTunes application, inevitably required as it is, just sits in the corner without needing to go back to it. With this, here’s our list of top 10 iTunes alternatives for Windows, Mac and even Linux (in some cases).
Note: Because iTunes is more than just a media manager/player, we have tried to include in this list various tools that address other aspects of iTunes as well, such as iOS device management and sync with Android phones. However, most of the choices here put the media player capability of iTunes first and anything else later.
A lightweight media player that has a unique interface, in that certain elements only become available at larger display sizes. It automatically detects and imports your iTunes library, and provides playback notifications through an always-on-top widget. The tool also supports connecting your Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm accounts. Ecoute also has a capable iOS app that can replace your native music player on your mobile device or tablet as well.
Platform: Mac, iOS
Availability: Ecoute (Free)
2. Wondershare TunesGo
Wondershare TunesGo is a heavyweight, multi-purpsoe package that aims to eliminate the need to visit iTunes altogether, no matter what you need. It’s more than your average media player/manager; it is a complete iDevice management suite that even allows reverse copying, in that you can import music from your iPhone/iPod to your computer instead of the traditional, other way around. TunesGo also allows direct syncing of iTunes media library with an Android smartphone, among others.
TunesGo for Windows has a fairly capable free version, which will serve the needs of many users. However, for Mac, only trial is available for free, while the actual full software is paid.
Platform: Mac, Windows
Availability: Wondershare TunesGo (Paid)
Swinsian is another OS X-only alternative to iTunes that focuses on the media playback part, and ignores anything else. This tool, too, has social integration and allows you to connect your last.fm account. Two unique features that set Swinsian apart from others are the easy metadata/ID3 tag editing that this tool offers, and the auto-detection of AirPlay ports if any is available. The interface of the program is highly reminiscent of iTunes, so you’ll find navigating around it fairly simple and familiar.
Availability: Swinsian (Paid)
Back in the day when I used Windows, MediaMonkey was my personal favorite. It’s an extremely powerful media management suite that not only brings all your music and videos together, but will also find missing track information automatically and fill in those gaps, including album art. It will also help you clean out duplicates, auto-build playlists based on your listening habits, can record music from audio/video disks, supports a plethora of formats, including FLAC (which iTunes doesn’t), and can sync music to iPhone, iPods etc, along with a number of other devices.
MediaMonkey is basically a free software, but has a “gold” version that you can upgrade to for some additional features. The only beef that I have with this fantastic tool is the relatively large learning curve associated with using MediaMonkey.
Availability: MediaMonkey (Free/Paid)
doubleTwist is a diverse, cross-platform media player and manager that has clients for Mac, Windows and Android, and keeps your media library in sync across devices over a WiFi connection. Consequently, this is also one of the most reliable solutions if you have a Mac and an Android phone, and want to sync your music library with iTunes.
As a music player, doubleTwist does the job, but there aren’t many bells and whistles to write home about. It’s one of those tools that have a no-nonsense kind of approach, with a familiar interface that will force you to use it. This app, too, is free for use, with an optional paid version available with advanced features.
Platform: Mac, Windows, Android
Availability: doubleTwist (Free/Paid)
SynciOS is a fully equipped, hardcore device manager for iPhones, iPods and iPads. It has every feature on offer that you’ll expect from a device manager, including media transfer (both ways), backing up device content, syncing wallpapers, ringtones, books, photos, music, videos, and pretty much anything you can imagine. SynciOS also gives you a number of useful information pieces pertaining to the connected device. The best part is that the software is free, even if its just available for Windows.
Availability: SynciOS (Free)
PodTrans is like a cross-platform, trimmed down version of SynciOS. While it has a number of capabilities that you’ll expect from a traditional device manager, what sets this tool apart from others is that it doesn’t require an iTunes installation to transfer music to and from an iPhone/iPod. PodTrans also supports drag-n-drop actions, making it one of the most easy-to-use choices in the lot. Oh, and it has a native music player built-in, too, in case you’re wondering.
Platform: Mac, Windows
Availability: PodTrans (Free)
Fidelia is the OS X-only media player for serious audiophiles, let me be very clear about that. From its $20 price tag to the high-fidelity sound prioritization for which the app prides itself, everything about Fidelia speaks quality and business. This tool come with an interface that’s reminiscent of high-end radios of today, and has accurate wavelength visualization of the music being played. The number of format supported by Fidelia is pretty high, including support for FLAC. This is also the only media player that utilizes iZotope technology for optimal sample rate conversions.
Availability: Fidelia (Paid)
Allow me to admit, I wasn’t familiar with Vox until I started researching these tools for this article, and since then, I’ve fallen in love with Vox. From its looks to its working, there’s nothing that you won’t like in Vox. It’s the best media player that I have come across with such seamless integration of SoundCloud, and painless last.fm scrobbling. Like Fidelia, Vox also favors high-fidelity sound and provides best results if you have a tracks of high quality. However, what truly sets Vox apart is its “Loop” technology, which basically allows you to store your entire music library in the cloud without any loss in quality, for as little as $4.99/month.
Vox also has an iOS app, in case you’re looking for one.
Platform: Mac, iOS
Availability: Vox (19.99)
Tomahawk is another giant when it comes to media management. First, this is the only tool that supports as many platforms as it does, and it’s also the only program on our list that connects with this many social channels, including Soundcloud, Spotify, Last.fm, and network servers if there are any. The premise is that if you want to listen to a particular song, irrespective of whether it exists in your library or not, Tomahawk will crawl through all the connected sources and find the best version for you. There is also Google, Facebook and Twitter connectivity to share what you’re listening to with your friends and followers. This is all on top of the plethora of artist and track info that Tomahawk gathers regarding the music being played.
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux, Android
Availability: Tomahawk (Free/Paid)
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That’s it for our list. Which ones are your favorite iTunes alternatives? Let us know.