iTunes 11: Worth Upgrading?

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iTunes 11 has been released and is available for download. The convergence with iOS is apparent throughout this new release. The user interface is much simpler and easier to use. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much improvement with the often troublesome wi-fi sync. In fact, you can no longer drag and drop media from your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch onto your computer’s iTunes Library. This never worked well with iTunes 10.7. Instead of fixing it, such transfers need to be done via iCloud. The introduction of iCloud streaming may make up for this deficiency for those with extremely fast Internet connections.

AirPlay also seems to crash much more often with iTunes 11. In one hour of listening to music, it crashed four times. Additionally, DJs will not be pleased with the fact that iTunes 11 is missing many DJ-friendly features of its predecessor. If your Mac or PC has a small screen, iTunes 11 may be a good option. For those who use AirPlay or DJ, this release is not recommended.

New Appearance:

iTunes 11 has been streamlined. The first thing you’ll notice is that there is no Sidebar or Status Bar. These have been replaced with buttons on the top to access the same functionality.

iTunes 11 main screen

You can show the sidebars by going to View > Show Sidebar or View > Show Status Bar. Since I have a large monitor, I prefer the sidebars. However, users with smaller screens will enjoy the new design. If you launched iTunes 11 and are wondering where your movies, tv shows, iPad or iPhone are, look at the buttons on the top.

There is a new way to browse albums in your Library. The slick Cover Flow UI has been replaced by a new album view which looks very much like iOS. When you click on an album, however, you see the new Expanded View, which is different from Music on iOS, and much more useful. Everything you would want to do with an album is presented to you in a user interface resembling an expanded iOS folder.

iTunes 11 Expanded View

You can access the artist’s other offerings in the iTunes store from this new Expanded View. Indeed, iTunes Store integration is a big part of the new iTunes. Expanded View adds a much nicer user experience to the simple pop-up menus and check boxes of past iTunes releases.

iTunes 11 has new pop-up menus that are a bit more advanced than their predecessors.

iTunes 11 pop-up menu

Just about every media object has a pop-up menu that is launched by pressing the “>” symbol next to the item. From this menu, you can play the media directly, add it to a new ad hoc playlist (“Up Next”), add it to an existing playlist, find all music from the artist, or view the artist’s offerings in the iTunes store.

If you need to select multiple items, this can be a bit confusing. In this case, you will need to right-click (or do a two finger trackpad click) on the multiple selections, to bring up the pop-up menu. Simply clicking on one of the “>” icons will only operate on that single item. (continue…)

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