New iTunes Goes to 11

Published on November 29, 2012
by John Paczkowski

It took a little longer than expected to arrive, but the latest iteration of Apple’s iTunes is finally here — albeit a month after it was promised.

Moments ago, Apple released iTunes 11, the biggest update to the company’s media software since it debuted more than a decade ago. A complete redesign of what began in 2001 as a simple music jukebox, the latest iteration of iTunes features tighter integration with Apple’s iCloud service and iTunes Store, and an iOS-inspired user interface that more elegantly incorporates the many elements that have been grafted and patchworked onto it over the years.

Gone are Cover Flow, the source-list sidebar,* the not-really-mini-at-all mini player and Ping — Apple’s ill-starred social network for music — replaced by a spartan horizontal source bar, a truly diminutive mini player, and … well, no social integration with the user library that I can see — not with Facebook, not with Twitter. Social integration in the iTunes Store remains the same as it was in iTunes 10. In other words, if you’re looking for the social experience that Ping was intended to provide, you won’t find it in iTunes 11. You can only tell people what music you’re interested in on the iTunes Store, and you can’t tell them what you’re listening to at the moment.

iTunes 11 Store

Also newly added to the software: Playback syncing via iCloud, improved search and “Up Next,” a neat feature that displays which songs are playing next.

It’s far too early to say, as there are plenty of other tweaks and additions to play with here, but overall iTunes 11 looks like a pretty slick remodel of software that had been generally overburdened with unnecessary complexity. It seems clear that Apple design guru Jony Ive played a prominent role in recasting the software. Also of note: There’s a much stronger connection to the iTunes Store here. It is ever present across the software, and that’s something content partners must be very happy about.

The view of a user’s iOS device in iTunes 11

And now, something else that goes to 11 …

* iTunes 11: View -> Show Sidebar.

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