iTunes is an audio and video player that lets you manage your iOS devices as well as download content from the iTunes store.
iTunes 11 has been completely redesigned from the ground up. Development of iTunes has been stagnant the last few years so Apple needs to get this one right. Has Apple nailed it or is the new iTunes a mess? Read on to find out.
The interface of iTunes has been completely re-imagined. Everything is simpler and space is better utilized. In the previous version of iTunes, there was a persistent bar on the left where you can access playlists, albums, devices, and more. While it provided quick access to those features, most users didn't use them most of the time. Apple has scrapped this and has made the default album view take up the entire window.
Browsing by album is a pleasure. Click on an album and the tracks will show up below. iTunes also analyzes the color of album artwork to create a colored background for each individual album. It works well for the most part but the effect blurs the album art around the edges.
New in iTunes 11 is the "Up Next" feature, which is basically a fancy name for your queue. Add songs to your queue from wherever you are in the interface. You don't need to manage a playlist to arrange and rearrange the tracks to your liking.
Creating playlists is much improved. Instead of having to jump in and out a playlist to add and arrange tracks, playlists now have a dedicated pane on the right where you can manipulate tracks without having to jump around the program.
iCloud integration has also been tightened. Every track you've bought in iTunes will now show up in your music library, whether or not it has been downloaded. Click on it to download the album. User can now also stream directly from the cloud instead of having to download the track first. This also applies to all your TV and movies that were purchased in iTunes. There's also a dedicated tab for iTunes Match, Apple's music matching service to make all of your tracks available across devices, if they're available in the iTunes store.
The iTunes store has also gone through a redesign with featured content up top. Top lists are still there and are easier to browse. iTunes 11 will also allow you to access the iTunes store content from your music library, suggesting similar artists and tracks, without having to take you to the iTunes store.
The mini player has also been completely redesigned and is actually useful now. The mini player has gotten smaller but utilizes that small space much better than previous versions. Player controls will show up with you hover your mouse over the mini player. There's access to search and your Up Next queue can be manipulated from the mini player.
Devices now show up as a button at the top right. Clicking on it will take you to a detailed page where you can manage everything. Choose what you want synced, manage your apps, and even play music directly from your iOS device. Everything is easier to read and comprehend in the device tab.
The only thing missing from iTunes 11 is a music streaming service. iCloud gives users the ability to download tracks locally but not stream them. There is no subscription service in iTunes to compete with the likes of Spotify, Rdio, and Xbox Music. It's only matter of time before Apple releases its own music subscription service but it's disappointing that Apple didn't release it with iTunes 11.
iTunes is still one of the best media players around. It has gotten easier to use, feels less bloated, but is still missing a music subscription service.