Apple Takes The Lid Off iTunes 11
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Nearly a month after they promised it, Apple released iTunes 11 yesterday. This new software, now referred to simply as “iTunes,” packs a new interface, a new and greatly improved Mini Player and a new design of the iTunes store.
Apple announced in September during their iPhone event that this new iTunes would ship in “October,” a wide target that turned out to be a little too narrow for Apple to hit.
Shortly after their October iPad mini event, Apple also sent Scott Forstall, the head of iOS software, packing with a pink slip.
Eddy Cue, who oversees iTunes, was tagged in to take his spot. Not long after, and just before October had passed, Apple made another announcement regarding iTunes 11, saying they needed some more time.
This new player has finally arrived and has given Apple fans plenty to play with and discover.
Many of the changes are instantly seen. For instance, the sidebar which used to hang out on the left of the screen is hidden in Album view, which is selected by default. Users can call it back again if they long for the good old days, but out-of-the-box, it´s been removed to make room for the new album view.
Also gone is the old cover view, a UI choice Apple tried their hardest to get users to adopt throughout OS X. It still remains in the Finder in Mountain Lion, of course.
The main options found in the left sidebar – Songs, Albums, Artists, Genres, Videos, Playlists, Radio and Match – are now located above the album view. Most of these categories bring up a left sidebar; For instance, clicking “Artists” brings up a list of artists in the left sidebar. Clicking playlists calls up all created playlists in the left sidebar.
Perhaps one of the coolest and best looking elements to the New iTunes is the Album view. When an album is selected, for instance “A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio,” all the available songs are unfurled underneath. What´s cool about this view is the way iTunes manages to match the color scheme of each album. Selecting “A Charlie Brown Christmas” displays the song titles in green and the song numbers and play lengths in red, all on top of a snow-white back ground. In another example, selecting Radiohead´s “Kid A” displays the song titles in a cream white and song numbers in blue, all on top of a stark, black background.
Apple has also made some serious efforts to integrate the iTunes store even more tightly than it had been before. There exists two buttons in the top right corner in a specific album view reading “Songs,” and “In the Store.” When Songs is selected, only those songs which exist in the library are shown. If any songs or missing, or if a listener wants to download another album from the same artist, they can select “In the Store.” This brings up a list of top songs, top albums and recommended songs, all right there in album view.
To get to the main store, simply click “iTunes Store” in the top right corner of the app. This brings up the new iTunes layout which finally looks the same as it does on iOS devices.
Finally, the New iTunes also brings the new mini player, a feature which deserves its own post. When selected, this newly designed mini player sits unobtrusively in the corner of the screen and displays only the album artwork, band and song title. The new mini player finally gives users more control over what they hear next without asking them to jump right back into the entire app. Mousing over the mini payer brings up the Back, Play, and Forward buttons, as well as AirPlay and the option to create a genius playlist from the current song, as well as visit the iTunes Store to buy even more songs from the artist.
To the right of the album artwork, band and song title sits a button which, when clicked, displays the next several songs set to be played. This is particularly helpful when listening in Random mode. If a guilty pleasure song shows up somewhere in this list, listeners can simply click the “x” to the left of it to have it removed, saving them from any embarrassment. Additionally, if a user has an itch to listen to a particularly catchy and guilty pleasure song, they can search for it by clicking the magnifying glass. Once found, they can add it to the list or even have it play next, all without disrupting the current stream of music.
The New iTunes is available now from Apple.com or from iTunes itself. Simply check for updates to download the latest version.