by Charles Ying

Does iTunes 9 use WebKit?

September 9th, 2009

So, was John Gruber right? This is what I found while browsing the new iTunes Store (cool stuff, btw!):

User-Agent: iTunes/9.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.5.8) AppleWebKit/531.9

Survey says: Yes.

It’s important to understand that iTunes is only using WebKit to render the iTunes Store and iTunes LP. The rest of the iTunes UI still remains native in Carbon.

Previous versions of iTunes had a custom native UI for viewing the iTunes Store and were definitely not WebKit based prior to iTunes 9.

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35 Responses to “Does iTunes 9 use WebKit?”

  1. PetieG Says:

    What can we say, John is the man!

  2. Mateo Says:

    I’m pretty sure that only applies to the Store, not the whole of the iTunes UI which is what John was suggesting

  3. Hawkman Says:

    The Store has always been a webview, though – it uses WebObjects – so forgive my ignorance, but is this any different?

    Charles: Hawkman, the iTunes Store has never been a web view prior to iTunes 9, and WebObjects is the server-side portion of the iTunes Store.

  4. Tirno Says:

    That’s not true. iTunes still is the Carbon app and does use carbon framework. Just open Activity Monitor, select iTunes, click inspector, select the tab “open files and ports” to see the (sad) true.

  5. Hawkman Says:

    Follow up: seems like maybe the iTunes Store used to use a combination of web-related technologies to roll its own custom view, and now it’s a vanilla web view. That’s sensible.

  6. Preston Says:


    “The Store has always been a webview, though – it uses WebObjects – so forgive my ignorance, but is this any different?”

    WebObjects is the server-side technology Apple uses for its online services and is not related to WebKit. iTunes previously used Quicktime for rendering the iTunes store.

  7. Jonathan Holbert Says:

    From what I’ve read in the past, iTunes used QuickTime to render the iTunes Store.

  8. T Says:

    Hawkman: No, iTS has never used WebKit before. Heck, it didn’t even use HTML, but some proprietary XML-based format. Not sure how it works in iTunes 9.

  9. Jacob Says:

    Do you know if it is built with sproutcore, the same framework they use for MobileMe?

  10. orta Says:

    Someone with access to a Leopard machine and F-Script could easily tell you if the UI is built in webkit, I really doubt it though.

    The shop’s always been a webkit webview, you’d see new updates from the Webkit blog used on the store quickly afterwards, things like the reflection or drop shadows.

  11. simon Says:

    iTunes even alerts you that Safari 4.0.3 is required for viewing the iTunes Store if you haven’t installed it already. So it definitely must be using WebKit.

  12. Hans Gerwitz Says:

    In the early days of the iTunes store, the XML was transferred as cleartext and easy to intercept and modify. I created a third-party store that iTunes happily browsed and used by simply using itms: URLs. The XML was HTMLish, but included some serialized controls.

    Then they made it opaque and switched to a binary format, as well as “hard-coding” the hostname into the app (maybe this is merely a default config, but you can no longer spoof with a simple URL).

    Sounds like now they’ve come full-circle and are using a more standard web stack for the store rendering. That just makes sense, and has nothing to do with freeing the app itself from 32-bit Carbon.

  13. John Lascrettes Says:

    How about the easiest test of all to tell if Gruber was right? I checked my activity monitor. iTunes is still running as Intel 32 bit, not as 64 bit, which switching to a full WebKit–based app would have allowed for. Seems as though the app itself is still not (fully) WebKit based yet.

  14. Ray Shackleford Says:

    I sit corrected. Nice call.

  15. grzegor Says:

    But previous iTunes versions did use WebKit to render XML contents (after doing some on-the-fly XSLT conversions).

    After listing shared libraries used by 8.x otool prints: /System/Library/Frameworks/WebKit.framework/Versions/A/WebKit (compatibility version 1.0.0, current version 1.0.0)

  16. Stormchild Says:

    The iTunes Store always did use WebKit. Nothing new here, really, except that most of the store is now done in HTML instead of a custom XML markup.

    Gruber was saying the entire app’s UI might move to WebKit; this did not happen. It could still happen in a future version (I don’t see why not, really), but for now, no, Gruber’s prediction has not come to pass.

  17. iTunes 9 usa WebKit para a navegação da nova iTunes Store | MacMagazine Says:

    […] disso, outros desenvolvedores conseguiram rastrear o user agent (código que determina a versão instalada de um navegador) usado pelo aplicativo, […]

  18. coolfactor Says:

    iTunes 9 (the store) is now fully HTML-based. That’s plainly obvious. I’m not too fond of its lighter, muted appearance. I preferred to deeper contrast and interactivity (ie. the “feel”) in the earlier versions. But, with HTML 5 now being supported by WebKit, the possibilities are endless for what they can do in the store.

  19. coolfactor Says:

    Just as further proof, pressing the Delete key takes you back a page, as it does in a regular web browser. This is new in iTunes 9.

    (BTW, I detest that “feature” wholeheartedly…. darn IE abusing keyboard shortcuts!)

  20. Jonathan Holbert Says:

    coolfactor: I, too, noticed the delete key thing. I decided to try it.

    I can’t remember where I head it previous versions of the iTS weren’t rendered by WebKit.

    Which leads me to ask: Is the QuickTime (7) Player using WebKit for its Content Guide (first open window), or something else? It certainly doesn’t seem like WebKit, which is one of the reasons I felt that previous versions of the iTS were using something other than WebKit.

  21. Jonathan Holbert Says:


  22. Jonathan Holbert Says:

    And here we go:

    I’ll stop linking now. I promise!

  23. Does iTunes 9 Use WebKit? « Says:

    […] Original source :… […]

  24. Hawkman Says:

    I’m interested that there are serious performance problems with scrolling, while large numbers of albums are visible in the Store. I’m betting that’s due to the drop shadows (from past experience). I wonder if we’ll see a focus on performance improvements WebKit-side for the fun bells and whistles that the new Store uses?

  25. Maciej Stachowiak Says:

    iTunes prior to version 9 did not use WebKit to render the store or anything else. Apps can get linked to WebKit for all sorts of weird arbitrary reasons.

  26. – iTunes 9 Says:

    […] look that’s inconsitent with other OS X apps, but the redesigned store is great. Even better, the store appears to use WebKit instead of a custom UI – why they didn’t implement this change earlier is beyond […]

  27. Friday Moaning Nudes | MacTalk Australia Says:

    […] out with the old and in with the new, and that applies to iTunes 9 as well. Finally transitioning from WebObjects to WebKit for the iTunes Store after I-don’t-actually-know-how-many-years (yeah, there was nothing on Wikipedia. Cut me some […]

  28. Webkit: Rebasando las fronteras del navegador | Dupermag Says:

    […] ¿Otro ejemplo? Dos de las nuevas características en el iTunes 9 presentadas ayer por Apple son WebKit puro y duro: La nueva iTunes Store y iTunes LP. […]

  29. X-Men Evolution: Season 1, Episode 5 « comics Says:

    […] » Does iTunes 9 use WebKit? […]

  30. Moriah Says:

    I just upgraded to Itunes 9 because I wasn’t able to view certain aspects of the Store. Now it’s telling me that I can’t even view the Itunes store unless I have Safari 4.0.3 but when I search for Safari updates (I currently have 3.0.4) I can’t bring up any newer versions. Am I doing something wrong? Can I just go back to the older version of Itunes?

  31. Frank Says:

    iTunes 9 definitely uses WebKit and HTML 5 elements. You can use your WebKit-based browser for iTunes via this experimental proxy:

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  35. Webstandard-Blog Says:

    Thx for sharing those informations about iTunes!