Itunes 11 from Apple for both Mac and Windows seems to be a full redesign of the media management software. It has some subtle changes and some notable interface changes, but there are some issues. Let’s find out if this presents a net gain for the consumer in the end.
As we mentioned iTunes has a undergone a quite extensive makeover where the interface is dramatically simplified, iCLoud is more fully integrated and there is a new mini-player mode. The design is more user-friendly and has a more polished look doing away with many elements that were just there to look good. That is to say the optics are more uniform. At the same time, iTunes was due and as long as they dont go trying to revolutionize the underlying basics, they should be fine.
There is a full screen desktop media player that might not be for everyone, but at first look it has a lot of promise. When opened to the full window, the media libraries that were on the left-hand side isn’t the content hub that anymore. Instead there is a drop-down where you can select and you can drill down by selecting the buttons at the top. The main menu now is populated by the selected category. Basically the menu selection is content driven so that video has buttons that are related to video (menu, tempo, et al) and music has buttons related to listening to music. It doesn’t take long to get used to, and it feels about right. At any rate you can always go back to the view on other versions if you so choose.
The traditional view does pop up for some functions where it makes more sense, such as when viewing an artists it gives you a view of their works on the right-hand side. This only happens when you view the entire set of media available in your collection.
The best part of it seems to be when you look at your music library from the album perspective. Selecting an album expands it where the tracklist is shown in the same motif. You can arrange the tracks, and add content from the store. You can match your own content with that shown in the iTunes Store where works from the artist are shown along with suggestions based on what you have selected. Essentially, it helps you to find new sounds from similar artists or stuff you maybe haven’t yet added to your library from the selected artist. This is definitely a benefit.
MiniPlayer funtions are standard (skip, play, pause) as well as functioning as a control for the library. When you have it in use, there is an icon that displays the playback options and the name. Via Airplay you can send the song to connected devices and search for songs without opening the main window. You can also add songs without opening the primary window. You can also arrange songs in a playlist exactly the way you want for whatever you are doing at the moment. You can also get an overview of the playlist content by album, songs or the artist in the store.
The iTunes Store also has undergone some changes. Icons are larger and they display the artwork in a more appealing manner. The animation of the on-scren items is intuitive as features orbit and you still see the latest releases, popular items lists for each category are also available on the right-hand side. The view seems more uniform with varying degrees of change that bring about an overall better experience.
The common problem with the software over time has been that it seems to be trying to do too much. Switching from menu to menu is crisp if not blazing fast, but it still uses a lot of system resources. That seems to be the case on Windows systems, but the Mac version doesn’t have many changes. When you consider all of the functions that are integrated (iOS devices, iPod, television shows and the like) it became a little burdened down and wasn’t quite as nimble as one would hope. That said, it doesn’t seem as though iTunes is as slimmed down as one would like.
In the end the new update is an overall improvement with the aforementioned memory usage being the biggest minus point. The Miniplayer funtions are greatly improved and the aesthetics are pleasing to the eye. As has always been the case, it works much smoother on a Mac than on a Windows machine, but even still on both platforms moving from one module to the next has been greatly improved over previous versions.