Review Of iTunes 11–More Than A Fresh Coat Of Paint?

The long-awaited iTunes 11, originally slated for October but delayed to ‘sometime in November‘, was finally released for Mac and PC this afternoon. Though iTunes 11 seems to be similar to iTunes 10.7 at its core, the updated version of the popular music playing (and iOS syncing) software is a major overhaul both visually and functionally.

Is iTunes 11 more than a fresh coat of paint?

Open Album View

In Open Album View background, text, and highlight bar match their palette to the album art.

I prefer to listen to albums in their entirety. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate iTunes’ improved Album view, which creates a dialog below the album you’ve opened including enlarged album art, basic information, and the track listing. By default this dialog box’s background and text will even be colored to match the pallette of the album art. While this effect is visually interesting, it may look ugly with certain albums. You can disable the the custom colors for open albums and movies in the General Preferences Menu.

Optional view for Top songs, Top albums and Recommendations for the open album.

iTunes Mini Player

The new Mini-Player’s default view (left), on mouse-over (right)

The iTunes Mini Player has been expanded with improved functionality over the player in iTunes 10.X. The MiniPlayer displays the track and band name as well as the album art. When you mouse over, the interface changes to playback buttons. There’s also the magnifying glass and list buttons. Press the magnifying glass and you can now search through your library. Press the list button to bring up a list of what’s up next or what you’ve previously played. You can even create playlists from the new mini player. It’s a handy feature.

Mini Player List View and Album Art Mini Player

Clicking on the album art in either the iTunes or the mini player will launch the Album Art Mini Player, which is still more or less a playback widget with simple controls.

iTunes Store

iTunes 11’s iTunes Store view.

The iTunes Store also received a major overhaul, with coverflow-like previews alongside icons that fit the media they represent. Album art and movies are familiar squares and VHS/DVD-box shaped rectangles, but now iTunes U has been given a dose of skeumorphic treatment, with curly workbook bindings and dividers added to the sides of the image previews. Bing has been replaced with the ability to send iTunes links through Twitter and Facebook.

Syncing to iPhone, iPad, and iPod

Familiar view with larger text.

iTunes 11 behaves similarly to iTunes 10 when syncing with the iPhone, iPad, and iPods. It still offers to update my devices to iOS 6.0.1 (thanks, but no thanks). The information provided on the device info pages have been updated to look better, with bigger text, but the actual information or options haven’t been significantly changed.


Same old preferences view.

Out of all the features that received changes in iTunes 11, the preferences panel has been changed the least, with only minor additions for new content, like the custom colors for the open album view.

Added Functionality

Downloads pane along with the new Preview History

In addition to a coat of fresh pain, iTunes 11 adds new features like the song previews history (useful when shopping for music), as well as iCloud integration. Tired of storing all your music on your computer? With iTunes 11 you can play back music stored on iCloud. iTunes 11 will also keep track of how far you are through movies, TV shows, movies, and podcasts, keeping your progress in sync between your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in iOS 6.

Despite all the new iCloud connectivity, it’s annoying that iTunes still insists on backing up my apps (or deleting everything on my iPad in retaliation). I almost never sync my iPhone or iPad with my computer, unless I’m importing music from CDs. Since the apps do nothing with my windows computer, I prefer to use that 16 GB of storage for anything else.

Overall Impression

If iTunes is your day-to-day music player, you’ll likely appreciate the changes made to iTunes 11. That said, we wish Apple would recognize that not everyone wants to burden their hard drives with useless iOS app data.

Where to get it: You can download iTunes for Mac or PC for FREE directly from Apple’s website.

Have you tried iTunes 11 yet? What do you think of the update to Apple’s popular music player? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • Shams

    With the exception of the improved apple store, the native player was jus reshuffled. If you select “show side bar” in the views tab, you’ll get that familliar impression – like upgrading from iOS 5 to 6.

  • Stephen Downs

    Is iTunes 11 jailbreak safe?

  • Michael Schnier

    As much as any version of iTunes is. Don’t let it download the new version of iOS when it prompts you, and you should be safe.

  • iPhone4SGuy

    I find it much better. Im on windows, it doesnt crash and hasnt crashed yet (fingers crossed) Its much better with wi-fi syncing for me and is just better :) It was worth the wait, anyway