Can you still get iTunes U?

iTunes U was an iOS app developed by Apple Inc. that allowed users to access educational content like audio and video lectures, textbooks, and other materials from universities, museums, and other institutions. iTunes U was launched in 2007, providing institutions with a simple way to distribute educational content to students and lifelong learners beyond their campuses. At its peak, iTunes U offered over 750,000 individual learning materials from thousands of institutions.

In 2017, Apple announced that it would be phasing out iTunes U in favor of Apple Podcasts and other apps. By December 2021, iTunes U was discontinued. While you can no longer download the iTunes U app, much of the content that was previously hosted on iTunes U has migrated to Apple Podcasts or institutional websites and apps.

What Exactly Was iTunes U?

iTunes U was a dedicated iOS application that gave users access to free educational content from participating institutions. This included:

– Audio and video lectures and presentations
– Course materials like syllabi, readings, and assignments
– Textbooks, guides, and ebooks
– Study materials like flashcards and notes
– Archived content from conferences, guest speakers, and events
– Image galleries and interactive 3D visualizations
– Education-focused audio podcasts and video shows

The iTunes U app organized all this content into collections created by each participating institution. This content was available for download so you could access it offline.

Over 1,000 universities participated in iTunes U. This included Oxford, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Cambridge, and other top global universities. It also included museums like The Museum of Modern Art and The New York Public Library. Apple claimed iTunes U offered over 500,000 individual learning materials in 2013.

iTunes U offered an easy way for schools to record lectures, distribute materials, and expand access to their educational content beyond just enrolled students. It provided a centralized platform for lifelong learners to discover free courses and materials from some of the top institutions around the world.

When Did iTunes U Launch?

Key dates in the history of iTunes U:

– May 30, 2007: Apple officially launches iTunes U as a dedicated section of the iTunes Store. It originally contained content from 6 universities at launch.

– June 30, 2008: Apple announces there are over 75,000 individual iTunes U downloads. Over half of the 120 participating institutions had achieved over 10,000 downloads.

– May 30, 2011: Apple announces over 500 million iTunes U downloads from over 800 universities.

– February 28, 2012: iTunes U app launches for iPad. This provides a dedicated tablet experience for iTunes U content.

– July 8, 2013: Apple announces over 1 billion iTunes U downloads. There are over 2,500 materials available.

– January 28, 2015: iTunes U app launches for iPhone. Now available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

– October 25, 2017: Apple announces iTunes U will be phased out in favor of Apple Podcasts and other apps. Many universities begin migrating materials.

– December 2021: iTunes U formally shuts down. The app is removed from the App Store.

iTunes U experienced rapid growth between its launch in 2007 to its peak number of materials and downloads in the early 2010s. It remained popular through mid-2017, when Apple announced it would wind down iTunes U over the next few years.

Why Did Apple Discontinue iTunes U?

In October 2017, Apple announced it would be ending iTunes U in favor of expanding its other education products and services. Some of the main reasons behind this decision include:

– **Declining usage:** While iTunes U saw massive growth for the first several years after its launch, usage had declined by 2017. The expansion of online course platforms and digital textbooks gave users alternative options.

– **Duplicative features:** Many of the capabilities of iTunes U were now duplicate features found in other Apple apps. Course audio and video content could now be hosted on Apple Podcasts. Digital books and materials worked better on iBooks. App development allowed institutions to create their own education apps.

– **Encourage institutional branding:** Apple wanted educational institutions to create their own branded apps and digital materials that would be used across iOS devices. Rather than focus on iTunes U as a centralized platform, Apple shifted to providing the tools for institutions to build their own digital content.

– **New education features:** Apple developed additional education capabilities like Classroom and Schoolwork that allowed teachers to guide students through lessons and track their progress using iPads. Expanding these kinds of platform features became the priority over maintaining iTunes U.

While convenient as a central repository, iTunes U was limited as an app and many of its core capabilities were now duplicated elsewhere. Shifting to tools that enabled direct institution-student interactions better fit Apple’s education strategy.

What Happened to All the iTunes U Content?

When iTunes U shut down in 2021, the vast amount of educational content hosted on the platform did not simply disappear. There were a few main ways this content was handled:

– **Migrated to Apple Podcasts:** Apple worked with many institutions to transfer their audio and video materials to Apple Podcasts, which became the preferred platform to host this type of content. For example, Stanford migrated over 35,000 audio and video files to its [Stanford on iTunes U]( channel.

– **Moved to institutional apps and websites:** Many colleges and universities chose to create their own education apps and portals to host iTunes U materials. Harvard published its [Harvard on iTunes U]( content directly on its website rather than Apple Podcasts.

– **Digital Content Stores:** Materials like ebooks and digital textbooks were often transferred to digital content stores operated by the institutions. The University of Phoenix moved its iTunes U materials to its [Digital Content Store](

– **YouTube and video platforms:** Some institutions uploaded video assets like lectures to YouTube or video content sites. However, copyright restrictions prevented mass reuploads.

– **Removed from public access:** While Apple encouraged public migration, some content from iTunes U has become inaccessible or been removed from public view by institutions. However, this represents a minority of content.

In general, most iTunes U content found a new public home on either Apple Podcasts, official university sites and apps, or other platforms. But links, embeds, and search results pointing to iTunes U materials are now defunct.

Can You Still Get Access to iTunes U Content?

While the iTunes U app itself has shut down, much of its content is still publicly accessible:

– **Apple Podcasts:** Search Apple Podcasts for your desired institution, as many have migrated audio and video content there. For example, [Oxford University’s channel]( still hosts hundreds of lecture podcasts.

– **Institutional websites and apps:** Look for a teaching section, online courses page, or iTunes U content portal on the institution’s website. Or find the school’s dedicated education app in the App Store.

– **Web searches:** Search for the name of the iTunes U course, material, or collection you want. This may surface the content on the institution’s site, YouTube, or a media platform.

– **Wayback Machine:** You can attempt to access archived versions of iTunes U materials on the [Wayback Machine]( if they are no longer live. However, availability is mixed.

– **IT help desk:** For older materials, try reaching out to the institution’s IT help desk to request downloads of specific iTunes U courses or collections. Availability varies by school.

While some iTunes U content has been permanently removed or placed behind paywalls and logins, a good portion is still freely available. It just requires using search tools, institutional education portals, and web archives to locate. Dedicated enthusiasts are also compiling iTunes U materials and torrenting them.

What Apps and Platforms Have Replaced iTunes U?

While no platform has directly replaced the centralized educational content repository iTunes U provided, its shut down accelerated existing trends towards more decentralized and fragmented learning platforms. Some popular replacements include:

– **Apple Podcasts:** Became the preferred Apple platform for hosting free course audio and video content. Massive growth in education podcasting overall.

– **Institution apps:** Schools like Johns Hopkins and MIT developed apps to host courses, lectures, materials replacing iTunes U’s offerings.

– **Learning management systems:** Platforms like Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle see greater use for course content distribution and online discussions, assignments.

– **YouTube:** Fast growth of education-focused channels, especially during COVID-19 pandemic online learning surge. Easy video hosting.

– **Canvas Network:** This open online course platform run by Canvas saw expanded usage after iTunes U’s closure.

– **Academic Torrents:** Illegal but massive torrent repository hosting large educational content libraries.

– **OER repositories:** More open educational resources offered on platforms like Merlot, OER Commons, OpenStax. Freely useable teaching materials.

Rather than a single “iTunes U replacement”, education access now comes from Apple Podcasts, institutional branded platforms, LMS systems, video platforms, OER libraries, and online sharing sites.

Can You Still Get iTunes U App Updates?

No, with the discontinuation of iTunes U in December 2021, the iOS app was fully removed from the App Store. This means:

– The iTunes U app can no longer be downloaded by new users.

– Existing iTunes U users can no longer download updates to the app. It is frozen at its final version.

– Over time, as users upgrade iOS devices, the app will cease to function as it becomes increasingly incompatible with newer iOS versions.

– Ongoing bugs and issues impacting existing users will remain unfixed since no new updates are coming.

– Remaining iTunes U app holdouts will eventually lose functionality and be forced to migrate to other platforms as the app stops working.

– The iTunes U app will completely cease to function once too outdated to run on required minimum iOS versions. Likely within 3-5 years.

So while you may still have the non-functional iTunes U app installed on an older device, no users can download updates anymore. The app is on a path to becoming obsolete over the next few years as iOS advances.

Can You Still Access Previous iTunes U Downloads?

If you previously downloaded content from iTunes U before its closure, you may still be able to access those files:

– **Locally stored:** Any files like PDFs, ebooks, or videos you downloaded directly to your device storage should still be accessible in your photo gallery or file explorer app.

– **iCloud Drive:** Downloads may have been saved to your iCloud Drive if you had that enabled. You can open iCloud Drive on iOS or Mac to find them.

– **Student archives:** Check university student portals, archives or cloud storage if you were a registered student. Some schools migrate student downloads.

– ** backups:** Syncing apps like iMazing may have backed up iTunes U downloads from your device to a computer.

However, there are limitations:

– Downloaded streams like podcast episodes may no longer play without the app.

– Materials will not automatically sync across new devices.

– Access is lost once a device is wiped or storage lost. No way to redownload.

– School archives likely only retain a few years of data.

Locally saved materials should still work. But iTunes U offered millions of pieces of content, and downloads were likely just a small fraction users engaged with. Most content relied on the now gone app.


While the iTunes U app itself has shut down, much of its content has migrated to new homes across the web. You can still access many courses, lectures, textbooks and materials that once populated the platform using archives, institutional portals, Apple Podcasts, and other means. However, iTunes U as a singular education content hub is gone. Piecing together offerings from disparate replacement options provides the closest experience. For those who fondly used iTunes U over the years as lifelong learners, remnants live on through these resources.