The redesigned iTunes that Apple promised in September is finally live. Along with a new "edge-to-edge design" customized for each album, movie or TV show in the user's library, the iTunes 11 upgrade includes a new look for the store and the MiniPlayer, as well as the ability to play music directly from the iCloud.
For most of its span, iTunes has seen little changes and updates here and there. This is the first time that Apple has undertaken a complete reimagining of the most popular media player on the planet. The biggest change is that the left-hand navigation sidebar is now hidden, but it's not completely gone; listeners can still access it by clicking Show Sidebar under View.
Expanded View browsing (similar to what is now known as Cover Flow) places album art front-and-center in this new redesign, so it may look a bit bland if users haven't bother to include album art in the library. Luckily, Apple has already solved this issue by including a Get Album Art feature under the Advanced menu.
Apple also took a few cues from popular music streaming services like Spotify by adding an Up Next feature. With a click of a button, users can see which song will be playing next, as well as reorganize the list of upcoming songs, add new songs or skip songs altogether. The Up Next feature is also available in the MiniPlayer.
Creating playlists in the new iTunes is as simply as dragging and dropping tracks or entire albums. This ease of use also applies to adding songs or other media, like movies and TV shows, to synced-up Apple devices. The synchronization of the Apple devices goes a step further with this upgrade; with playback syncing, iCloud remembers where viewers left off while watching a movie or show, regardless of whether it was watched on the iPhone, the iPad or Apple TV.
The new iTunes Store focuses on simplifying music that listeners may like. Ping, Apple's attempt at a music-based social network, has been replaced with a social recommendation engine in the store. The Store also helps listeners discover new music based on the current contents of their libraries.
The new iTunes 11 is available fo download here.