iTunes 11: Worth Upgrading?

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iTunes 11 has some minor innovations. You can redeem iTunes gift cards using the camera on your computer. The new visualizer has fewer options in the menu, but you can change things up on the fly. By hitting the ‘M’ key while the visualizer runs, it will change the patterns. Hitting the ‘F’ key toggles “relaxing” the visualizer. The movement calms down as the objects move to the background. Overall, the visualizer seems to have some new tricks up its sleeve.

Reliability Still an Issue:

Despite all the work that went into iTunes 11, there are still some glaring reliability issues. When I first started iTunes 11, it did not find my iPad. This is still an issue. When it does find my iPad, it takes about 5 minutes for it to “dock” and show its contents. If you have the same problem, I wrote a how-to article to fix it.

There was missing album art when I first started iTunes. This was for iTunes purchases that had album art in version 10.7. This actually fixed itself, without prompting it to download album art. This is something I have seen on iOS, and now it’s happening in iTunes for OS X.

Syncing is still very slow. When I try to drag and drop media onto my iPad, it still takes a long time to complete the transfer. This should not be the case. I have an Airport Extreme router and run a 802.11n wi-fi network. It should not take over 5 minutes to transfer less than 2 GB of data.

Overall iTunes 11 seems to be slower than its predecessor. Those hoping for better performance will be disappointed. There is often a lag between pressing a button or choosing a menu option and the associated action executing. Indeed, the new iTunes version will not run on older Macs. Apple has not published system requirements. If in doubt, just stick with your current version of iTunes. My hunch is that you at least need Snow Leopard (10.6.8) to upgrade to iTunes 11. It may prove to be too slow, however.

AirPlay crashes more often with iTunes 11. When playing music from iTunes 11 to my Apple TV, it crashed far too often. The crashes and poor audio quality have me using a wireless audio transmitter instead. If you must use AirPlay, here’s some tips on how to ameliorate the issue.

It is now clear to me that iTunes 11 has something to do with the crashes. It is not just Apple TV. Playing video works fine, with few crashes. However, ever since the major Apple TV update in late 2011, AirPlay has not been able to play music without crashing. With iTunes 11, this is even worse.

What’s Missing:

Several features have been removed with the iTunes 11 release. As mentioned, browsing through albums is no longer accomplished through the slick Cover Flow UI. The deduper has been removed from iTunes. If you want to remove duplicates from your iTunes Library, you can do it through the file system or by using 3rd party software such as TuneUp or Dupin. (continue…)

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