After much waiting, iTunes 11 arrived yesterday as an update for both Mac and Windows. The latest software update offers a “completely redesigned” media player, one that will likely take some getting used to for those who have been using iTunes 10 for the past few years.
The iTunes Store has been redesigned for your Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, so now it looks and works the same wherever you shop. Easy-to-browse shelves serve up popular music, movies, TV shows, and more. And all the features you know and love are even easier to get to. It’s the best kind of shopping — simple.
Since its debut in 2001, iTunes has morphed from a standard music player into something larger and more complex. The desktop download includes a new MiniPlayer for playing tracks in a widget-sized window, called an “Up Next” feature for ranking songs and viewing what’s next at a glance, and — if you cannot decide which tune to rack up — Apple‘s software will now offer “instant recommendations” of its own.
At the same time, Apple has been working to move everything into the popular cloud. Your iTunes music can now reside there as well as your other media files, and you can choose to keep it there and call it on demand if you do not want to take up space on your various machines, or if you have several different machines you use. iCloud integration will allow you to play back your library on any device, while an offline option will allow in-flight or underground listening sessions to continue without a hitch. Now, iTunes 11 is mostly appearing as an option in Software Update for existing users, although it should not be long before manual downloads are at hand.
Also useful is the fully revamped search. Unlike playback, where you can see small delays if you’re streaming from the cloud, search is lightning-fast and happens as you type. Just type one letter and you will see the artists, albums, song, music videos, movies, etc, that you own immediately, even if they are in the cloud.
Movies and TV shows are given the same beautiful artwork-centric treatment in the new iTunes update. Also useful in these drop-downs is the “In the Store” area, where you can see (and, of course, buy) related films and TV shows. This is great for music as well, obviously.
Start a movie, TV show, podcast, iTunes U lesson, or audiobook on one device. Pause anytime, and you can pick it up later on another device. iCloud remembers right where you left off. It’s just smart that way.
Now when you preview a song or movie, it’s always easy to find again. Just click the Preview History button for a quick rundown of all the music, movies, and TV shows you’ve sampled. iCloud keeps your preview history up to date across all your devices. So if you preview a song on your iPhone when you’re out and about, it’ll be right there waiting for you when you want to hear it again — or buy it — on your computer at home.
You can find iTunes 11 here for download.