Apple has finally released iTunes 11, which features greater integration with iCloud and boasts a sleek new interface that emphasises album artwork.
The new iTunes 11, available to download now on PC or Mac, has been streamlined to put content first and let users enjoy album artwork and artist photography in all their glory, so the first thing you’ll notice is how visual it is and how large the album thumbnails have become.
The new iTunes 11 comes with an ‘Up Next’ feature that lets you see which songs are coming up next in your playlist.
Music lovers can also play songs purchased direct from iCloud, which is quite an interesting development, or store them locally by downloading them onto their devices, which has been the traditional route.
The upshot of this is infinitely more space on your devices, be they an iPad, iPod or iPhone by opting to stream directly from iCloud.
The other bonus is iCloud synching allows you to play an album or TV show on one device and continue consuming the content on another, just like using Netflix, really. So you could begin watching the Expendables 2 on an Apple TV and continue watching it elsewhere on an iPad.
One of the other pluses of the new iTunes 11 is search. Instead of having to scan through lists and lists of music, an improved search mechanism means you can search instantaneously across your entire music or video library.
Content is king
The emphasis is on content and I get the impression Apple wants content owners to no longer view their music, video and apps as things apart from one another.
In other words it has refined iTunes to be a better content hub for managing an increasingly diverse range of content assets in people’s busy digital lives.
The ability to compile playlists has also been given a boost. Instead of dragging and dropping songs into a new playlist folder and having to come back and reorganise it later, a new pane appears that lets you see the playlist grow as you compile it and reorganise the list on the fly.
While iTunes 11 has arrived later than Apple intended (it was due out in October) it represents the most dramatic upheaval in design and functionality to hit iTunes in its decade-long history.
You get the sense Apple is applying that design and usability ethic that made the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad and finally applying it to iTunes. Because it knows, content is king.