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Apple iTunes 11 review

Verdict

A sprightlier and better-looking iTunes, although not the deeper overhaul we were hoping for

Review Date: 11 Dec 2012

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
4 stars out of 6

Forget the iPhone 5; the September Apple announcement that made us leap from our seats with a very un-British whoop was that of a new version of iTunes. For years we’ve moaned about Apple’s bloated mess of a management tool – its antediluvian interface, clumsy synchronisation tools and huge memory footprint – so news of an overhaul was welcome.

After a month-long delay it has finally arrived, and in most ways it’s a much-needed improvement. The interface design has been streamlined wherever possible. Gone is the sidebar, with the library sections moved to a dropdown menu in the top-left corner and a Store button in the top right.

The various listing views have been tidied up with some nice enhancements. Click an album cover and a full-width detail panel slides open beneath, complete with track listings and an “In the Store” button to buy related content.

iTunes 11

The old iTunes DJ feature has been replaced by Up Next. This allows you to queue tracks in a playlist that pops out from the playback area at the top, and comes complete with its own contextual menu full of “Go to” options, ratings filters and Genius suggestions. The goal is to allow users to browse seamlessly between a music library and the store, creating playlists organically, and it does its job well.

Once a playlist has been set up, you can switch to the Mini Player – a tiny floating playback control bar. The Up Next list and all its related menus remain usable in this mode, along with AirPlay functions, giving a surprising level of control in such a small window.

The redesign is all well and good, and the design of the store itself now matches its iOS 6 counterpart, but what we really wanted from iTunes 11 was evidence of a diet. On our test Mac, an idle iTunes 10.7 occupied 89MB of RAM, rising to 343MB when browsing the store; after upgrading to iTunes 11, the same actions occupied 76MB and 221MB. As for peak memory use, that was 363MB for iTunes 10.7 and 325MB for the new version.

iTunes 11

It’s a step forward that sums up iTunes 11 as a whole: necessary and welcome, but hardly earth-shattering. Synchronisation with devices remains as clumsy as ever, and it’s surprisingly buggy – some store pages failed to render with a readable layout, while the In The Store link on albums gave us broken, unreadable fonts on some test systems.

If you have iTunes installed for whatever reason it's worth an upgrade, but this update is unlikely to convince the naysayers.

Author: David Bayon

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User comments

Opportunity missed

I hate the new itunes.
I may one day actually be able to find everything as quickly as before but I'm not holding my breath.

I was hoping that the redesign split itunes into a music player, video player, radio player, sync tool, and store
all as seperate 'apps' linked with a control panel like the icloud one.
Like I said opportunity missed.
Apple without Jobs is beginning to look and feel more than a little frayed round the edges.
I hope this is only a minor blip

By Speedy1974 on 11 Dec 2012

Worse

They've made it even more messy. Odd buttons and semi-menus sprout from every corner. Ant opportunity to clean up the interface has been kicked out of the park by what must be 5,000 "engineers" all anxious to cram in their own potty idea.
Someone please suggest a substitute that works in Windows so I can ditch this thing from 1992.

By c_webb31 on 11 Dec 2012

Looks pretty but dire to use.

I've always hated iTunes. The way simple things like moving your iTunes storage from default C drive to another drive is complex and requires a search on Google to figure out.

Searching for stuff - like Apps is often easier via Google in a browser and then openining in iTunes. The actual iTunes search interface is not fine tuneable enough. If you know the name of what you want fine. But if not there is no easy way - as there is on Amazon for example - of browsing all calculator apps with a 4+ star rating that were released in the last 6 months.

By cyberindie on 11 Dec 2012

???

No mention of all the rubbish that iTunes STILL installs onto the host machine?

By rhythm on 11 Dec 2012

@c_webb31

Windows Media Player + Amazon mp3 downloads?

By rhythm on 11 Dec 2012

@rhythm

I am with c_webb31. I would love an iPhone, but wouldn't dream of letting iTunes on to my PC. All they need to do is implement USB mass storage, and we will never need to see that monstrosity again.

By tirons1 on 11 Dec 2012

Downgraded - awful update

Appallingly bad update. What really did it for me is the inability to change a files media type to 'Podcast' (presumably a bug); and the removal of the so called 'column browser' mode on the device itself (iPhone)

By henryg_1 on 11 Dec 2012

Still just works though

Must say I've never really understood why everyone is so down on iTunes. Both on Windows and Macs for me it has synced Nano, Iphone and iPad without problems or fuss, ripped and sorted music and kept apps up to date and devices backed up. Also brilliantly easy to subscribe to and download free podcasts and buy music etc. I never remember Windows Media player working as well.

By AdamD6 on 11 Dec 2012

@AdamD6

When was the last time you used Windows Media Player?

My partner uses iTunes all the time and she loves it when playlists no longer play the songs but i try to ignore itunes as much as possible.

By rhythm on 12 Dec 2012

Alternative

If you want an alternative I used to use J. River Media Center for years.
It's EXTREMELY powerful and they listen to user feed back.

By nniillaa on 12 Dec 2012

@rhythm

Agreed. Including all the services and start-up programs that are added too.

David.

By artiss on 12 Dec 2012

itunes screwed my music

Hyperbole maybe, but...
I found I had to convert around 6000 wma files, all filed by Album Artist>Album, to mp3. In order to get a DNLA hifi working. Use itunes said everybody. Its free... And just works....
3 days later when it had finished, I found everything reorganized to Song Artist>Album. And no way to put it back. Except file by file, by hand.
My love of fruity stuff reached a new nadir.

By nickallison on 12 Dec 2012

Too many usability glitches

Looks like it hasn't been adequately tested: too many obvious usability glitches to annoy us.

I use iTunes for music but primarily to manage a lot of podcasts. I think I've lost more than I've gained in iTunes 11. The much more informative but space-consuming layout for podcast listings would be nice if you could turn it on and off, as it makes seeing what's there a lot harder. I used to be able to make a playlist without losing my place in my podcast listings, but not any longer.

By martinstacey1 on 13 Dec 2012

Analysis of iTunes on Windows

Well nice to see a 'starter' article on iTunes 11, but where is the rest of it ?
Any changes to all the extra services installed ?
Do those processes perform better (less hogging).
I would also like a thorough test of iTunes on Windows as that is where I end up supporting end users !

By MikeRobins on 13 Dec 2012

^^

It seems less buggy and cleaner, but useability for certain tasks is far worse.

11 handled processing my very raw, very messy collection of about 35000 tracks, sorted and got artworks. Itunes 9 and 10 both froze up doing the same job.

It is lacking a nice tabbing system, and changing pages in itunes is way to flaky / slow.

So a neutral review for me.

By Gindylow on 13 Dec 2012

Windows??

I too would be interested in how it works on Windows. I had to put the old version on my 2x Xeon processor 16GB Ram workstation, a matter of life or death... honest! Damn near killed the PC, ground it to a near halt. I know Apple users (shudders :-) ) with machines with 1/10 of the power that run ITunes fine!

By mrmiley on 13 Dec 2012

Appalling

1. No de-duper for all those extra copies that iTunes produces.
2. No longer synchs playlists with iPad or iPod
3. Problems buying albums - buy on PC and it appears on iPad but not PC (Apple had to reset the download)
4. Version 11.1 released already.
5. DNLA no longer works properly

By SimplyGrey on 18 Dec 2012

I don't like it

If i knew it was gonna be so different from my other itunes, I wouldn't have downloaded it. I miss my cover flow (i don't like the "list"), when i'm on my library i have to use my wheel on my mouse to scroll down cause theres no bar on the side. To get to the store i have to go to the store tab and then click on store. Just more work than before. The only thing i notice thats different and better is, if i click on a song to preview or a podcast to play and then i go back to another screen, the song or podcast keeps playing which it never did before. All in all I miss my old itunes :(

By cathyd on 23 Dec 2012

Windows 8 and iTunes 11

Can't understand why Apple releases new iTunes version but hasn't integrated it into windows 8s new interface, so was having to go back to old desktop mode to change a song. i did find a free app called rtRemote in the Windows Store that fills the gap and let's me control iTunes from within the windows 8 touch interface but it would have been nice if apple had made the effort themselves in iTunes 11!

By JoeBarnes on 25 Jan 2013

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