Even if you are not buying movies or songs from the iTunes store, it’s still a perfect place to learn about new audio books and free podcast shows that have just been released onto the web. Other than that, iPod Touch and iPhone customers use the iTunes store to download games and apps for their devices.
Now a problem, or let me say limitation, with the iTunes store is that it is very tightly integrated with the iTunes desktop application and Apple doesn’t provide a web front end to enable users access the iTunes store without downloading iTunes software.
For example, I neither buy stuff from iTunes nor do I have an iPhone or iPod touch but I am still forced to install the iTunes software because there’s no other way to navigate their excellent Podcast directory.
Though Apple could have used HTML like format for writing the iTunes store, they have chosen some cryptic XML format for delivering iTunes pages and hence they can’t be read using standard browsers.
Well not anymore. Nikhil has developed a Google App Engine powered tool – App Store – where you can browse the iTunes store as a website without having to install iTunes. He could successfully decode the complex XML format of iTunes and render them as regular HTML pages in real time.
Here are some more reasons why a web version of iTunes store is useful:
1. You are behind a corporate firewall or working on a computer that doesn’t allow software installation.
2. You use Linux while iTunes is only for Mac and Windows.
3. You have a website and need to link to some new iPhone App available on the iTunes store. Normal iTunes links would open only if visitors have the desktop software so you can instead link directly to the online App store.
4. You use Zune but the podcast directory at Zune marketplace is not extensive as iTunes.
5. You use another podcast catcher program to download podcasts.
6. The iTunes Online store may not be available in your country.
Nikhil’s iTunes App Store doesn’t have search but you can easily do that with without the desktop software, just go to itunes.apple.com and use the search box available near the iTunes showcase box.
And while iTunes is bloated when compared to other media players, you may still need it for making iPhone ringtones or for adding more music in your iPod.