iTunes was long overdue for some changes. It’s not the same application it was when it was introduced twelve years ago. When it was introduced, it was only used for playing music on computers and burning CDs. We’ve come a long way since then.
We might be burning CDs occasionally in iTunes, but more often than not, we’re content listening to music on our iOS-enabled devices. There’s no need to lug around a case full of CDs. Additionally, we’re watching movies, television shows, and podcasts. We can store it all on our phones or tablets. And for those times it doesn’t all fit, we can store it in iCloud. This means we need iTunes to reflect the new way we’re using it, and this led to the release of iTunes 11.
The first thing you’ll notice about iTunes 11 is the visuals. The original iTunes was based around a system that used text for its listings, but more and more visuals were gradually added to it. iTunes 11 now gets rid of most of the textual lists, leaving you with just album covers, movie posters, etc. That left sidebar menu is gone. However, if you’re feeling nostalgic for it, you can always get it back by going to the View menu at the top and selecting Show Sidebar. Otherwise, the only textual menu you will find is the songlist.
As an offshoot of the new visual way to view everything, iTunes now offers an Expanded View of the albums. When you click on an album, it offers an expanded listing of what’s on the album. It’s similar to what you would find in the iTunes Store, without the reviews and the summary. It also offers you a quick link to the Store, just in case you want to buy more music by the same artist or similar.
While iCloud was implemented in both OS X and iOS earlier, it didn’t really work together as much as it does now. As soon as you download a song or movie from your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or computer, it will show up on your other devices. Playlists will all coordinate as well. Add a song to a playlist on the computer, and it will automatically make the change to the playlist on your iPhone. If you have added music from another source, you can sign up for the iTunes Match service, which costs $25 a year, but will allow you to add your music that you rip from a CD to the iCloud service so that you can have it all on all of your devices. iCloud also syncs with the information from Apple TV.
If you’d like to plan out what will be on your playlist next, you can use the new Up Next feature. It’s accessed in the right-side of the Now Playing Window. It allows you to delete songs off the list and also allows you to reorder them. You can click on the arrow next to a song for even more information. Clicking on the small clock icon at the top of the list allows you to see the songs that played previously. Click on the plus sign next to the songs to add them in to what’s coming up to hear them again.
iTunes has had a Mini Player for quite some time, but now it’s been expanded. The size of it hasn’t been expanded, but the options definitely have been. It is accessed by clicking on the tiny rectangle in the upper right of the iTunes window. You can do just about everything in this tiny little window that you can in the main player. This includes play, forward, reverse, AirPlay, and Search. It also includes an option for the Up Next menu to pop up.
The iTunes Store has been improved as well. If you use iOS devices, though, it doesn’t look very new. It looks nearly the same as the what you see there. The main difference is that instead of having menu choices at the bottom, you have them in a borderless menu on the right. The rest is the same, big graphics of album covers, movie posters, etc. Once you buy anything here, be it music, movies, books, etc., if you use iCloud it will transfer over to your devices.
Many times we look forward to an application update only for it to not be worth the wait. iTunes 11 was worth the wait, and it’s an update you don’t want to skip over, deciding to just wait for the next one.