iTunes 11 Introduces Powered-Up MiniPlayer
Apple released its 11th iteration of iTunes on Thursday, giving it a more graphical look and more cross-device functionality. Media files can now be paused and picked up in place between devices. "It has come a very long way from where it started," said Yankee Group Research Director Carl Howe, "which was a jukebox player for syncing music to an iPod"
11/30/12 5:00 AM PT
Apple released a new version of iTunes for Windows and OS X on Thursday, revamping the software's interface, refreshing the look of its store, and enhancing integration with cloud services. It was the software's first major overhaul since September 2010.
In user libraries, Apple has abandoned the spreadsheet look in favor of a graphical layout consisting of thumbnails of all media content in the collection.
A click on a thumbnail displays more detail about its content, so to see what songs are on an album, click a thumbnail and a song list will pop up.
Another addition to the software allows you to start watching a movie or TV show -- as well as listen to a podcast or start a lesson at iTunes U -- pause it and return to the same spot on another device.
The iTunes's MiniPlayer has also been redesigned. It's smaller, but has more features. For instance, there's a Next button that reveals the next song to be played. In addition, you can search and play songs from your music library without leaving the MiniPlayer.
Apple has also beefed up the recommendation engine at the iTunes store. When you select an album, artist or genre, iTunes will suggest similar music.
iTunes now also includes a preview history that keeps track of content that you preview in the software. It also updates the history across all your devices, making it easy to recall anything you've listened to or viewed in the past.
The new iTunes also has improved iCloud integration. For example, when you buy any media from Apple's online store, it's instantly accessible in your iTunes library on a Mac or PC. Double-clicking the content will play it on that Mac or PC, as long as the hardware is authorized to do so.
Not A Jukebox Any More
While Apple has continued to make additions and improvements to iTunes since its introduction more than a decade ago, the look of the program has remained essentially the same.
"It has come a very long way from where it started, which was a jukebox player for syncing music to an iPod," Yankee Group Research Director Carl Howe told MacNewsWorld.
"The world has changed a lot since iTunes debuted," Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, told MacNewsWorld. "While there's still a need for the kinds of tasks that iTunes addresses today, it has grown to encompass a huge range of things that have very little to do with its original mission."
Shadow Of Maps
This version of iTunes was originally scheduled for release in October, but that deadline drifted into November.
"After Maps, they're working a little harder to make sure that when they release something, it's really ready to be released," Howe observed.
Because iTunes touches all parts of Apple's business, it's important to get it right, maintained Rubin. "We're long past the time when iTunes was the software management interface for the iPod," he noted.
There's a big difference between Maps, which was still essentially in beta when it was launched, and a mature product like iTunes, argued Ben Bajarin, principal at Creative Strategies.
"Apple has been doing iTunes for a decade now, so it's not something they're new to the game in," he told MacNewsWorld. "Any delays didn't have anything to do with Maps. They're just being as cautious as possible to make sure everything is solid when it goes out the door."