Last week, Apple announced the end of its venerable iTunes application on the Mac. In its stead, the next version of macOS will feature three applications: Music, Podcasts, and TV.
This change is long-coming. Managing media such as music, podcasts, and movies is one of the uses of computers that requires regular folks to think like information architects; they must consider categorization schemes, the nomenclature of artist names, the integrity of their metadata, and so on. (Most people lack the language to describe the challenges in these terms, of course.) By separating media types into their own applications (as has long been the case in iOS), Apple eliminates the confusion inherent in presenting different types of stuff that nevertheless share similar structural underpinnings.
Now Spotify seems to be moving in a similar direction. According to an article on The Verge, an upcoming release of the app will more clearly separate podcasts from other types of audio types. It will also introduce a clearer structure for podcasts:
Podcasts on Spotify are currently only organized by shows that users follow, unplayed shows, and downloaded shows, which is to say it’s chaotic. In the new design, the podcast category will be broken up into three sections: episodes, downloads, and shows.
I haven’t yet seen the new design myself (nor am I a Spotify user.) However, this strikes me as yet another example of how businesses are using information architecture as a way of making their products and services more competitive. As I’ve said before, good IA is good business.