My name is Stephen.

I like to write and tweet.

I work, code and photograph.

Learn more about me and my blog.

iTunes Instant Manifesto

iTunes Instant is an instant search interface for iTunes. I built in on a whim one night, after seeing the success of YouTube Instant. It ended up going viral overnight on Twitter. The articles on the blogosphere soon followed. iTunes Instant ended up being my lucky home run.

What is iTunes Instant?

iTunes Instant is a web-based iTunes search engine that delivers instant music results on a clean interface.

Why did you make it? Doesn’t iTunes already have a search feature?

Yes, the native official iTunes application does provide search functionality for songs, albums, apps, etc. But I think there are two major problems that are keeping people away from using it:

1) The lack of speed. If you use iTunes, you know what I am talking about. The speed (especially on searching) is nothing comparable to the search on web (like Google or Bing search). It is just way too slow. When I originally purchased my iPhone, I was irritated by iTunes’ slow speed because there were always few seconds of freeze/lack every time I was searching for a song/app to download/buy.

2). The clutter interface design. I know Apple is usually doing a pretty good job on cleaning their use interface clean and simple. But I think iTunes (I mean the desktop one, the mobile one is actually fairly organized) is an exception. When you are performing a search, there are too content displaying upfront. You will be definitely overwhelmed once search results are being shown.

So how is iTunes Instant going to solve these problems?

Solutions for problem #1:

a). It is web-based, which means searches and results can be transfered back and forth at a rapid speed, whereas every search within the iTunes native app requires few seconds of waiting time.

b). Using search-as-you-type functionality that searches the term as it’s being entered and show off results automatically on the page. It will saves your time from hitting enter and seeing the progress bar and wait.

Solutions for problem #2:

a). Minimized CSS style. I’ve been a fan of super clean UI, so the site basically contains a title, a text input box, an area to display search results and few sharing buttons. That’s all, I don’t even want to put one of my intuitive background texture on it.

b). Some Javascript/jQuery magic. If you’ve been following me, you know I highly focus on details. Examples on the site: the text field is auto-focused, that saves you one click; you can click the title to clear the text field and search results, no need to hit delete, that saves another few seconds. Feel free to dig into the site and you can probably find out some more.

Did Google Instant give you this idea?

Yes and no. I’ve actually had this idea in my mind for a while (reasons listed above). But this instantization hype started by Google really makes me believe now is the right time to develop and release it.

What do you think of Google Instant?

As I said to ReadWriteWeb, I definitely see Google is making a big move through Google Instant, not only for their own user/advertising growth, but also they started to lead off a whole industry move toward instant search. And I am sure this trend will continue to grow and grow in the upcoming months.

Woo, I love the app! What can I do for you?

You’ve got a plenty of options: tweet it, vote on it, like it, and like it again.

Also, if you know someone who is a blogger, feel free to tell them they are awesome and ask them if they want to check out iTunes Instant!

Again, thanks everyone for using iTunes Instant!