Apple just released the long-awaited iTunes 11. After downloading, users should expect a totally redesigned version. In October, the company said that there would be a one-month delay. Little has changed over the years, but today’s new version represents a major milestone and a much needed simplification in some ways.
We have picked a few major new features in iTunes 11 to give you an idea of what you should be looking for when it comes to improvements. The general philosophy of the application remains the same: iTunes is your digital hub for all your entertainment content (music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, books…) with a store to buy, rent and download new things. It is also the iOS media and software synchronization application.
The interface is totally new with more whitespace and less UI chrome. Content comes first. Among the new features, the default view is now a grid of album arts that you can expand to reveal song listings. The left-side column is gone. You can switch back to the old artist, album, song column view just like in iTunes 10.
The iTunes Store has a new design as well, in order to share the same user experience across all devices and operating systems.
The most important improvement is a deep integration with iCloud. Users are now able to browse and stream their content much more easily than before. For example in the screenshot above, you can see that this particular user has only a few downloaded songs of the Maroon 5′s album. He can stream and download the other songs that he has already bought and buy the remaining songs without leaving his music library.
It is new paradigm that will certainly boost iTunes Store purchases as most clients usually buy individual songs instead of albums. For example, a user should be able to listen to a one-minute preview without having to search the store.
It should attract a bit of backlash as well, as clogging up the interface with a dozen of songs when you only bought one song from one artist is a lot of cluster and a hard selling technique. You can switch back to the old column view, but many users don’t change default settings.
iCloud integration built-in is a much needed improvement for video content as well, as you don’t want to keep gigabytes of HD movies and TV shows on a small SSD.
A new feature, “Up next”, is very reminiscent of the “queue” feature in Spotify. It allows you to put some tracks in a queue to play automatically after the current track, without building a playlist.
For example, after starting a track in your library, you may already know what you want to play next. With iTunes 10, you can either switch back to the application after the current song or build a playlist. Now you can just queue up the song you had in mind immediately after starting the first one.
As Spotify users will tell you, it was one of the key features that made the service popular. It is a perfect party tool as well.
New Mini Player
The mini-player is redesigned, with the ability to search directly from the small window. You can even manage your “Up Next” queue without opening the app.
In addition to being added to the mini player, the search function has been greatly improved as well. It now has a pop-up interface that returns results for artists, albums and songs with album art for each result.
To download the new version, head over to Apple’s website.