iTunes 11 is set to arrive some time in October 2012, as the world found out at the iPhone 5 press conference. Even if you don't want to splash out on a brand new handset, you can at least grab yourself something different to play with in the shape of the Apple software you use to connect with the handset you already own.
iTunes 10.7 is available now as some sort of taster to keep you going for a few weeks but iTunes 11 is what will ring in the major changes when it arrives. So, what's new in iTunes 11? Read on...
iTunes 11: new look
Gone is the clunky boxiness of iTunes 10.whatever-you-have. iTunes 11 is what the iPhone 4 design was to the iPhone 3GS - smarter, smoother and more modern. The Library view of iTunes 11 sees the left side menu disappear with all the main headers of Music, Books, Movies and the like now shrunk into a drop-down menu in the top left. It’s the central panel just above your library window which now houses the more granular sub-category options with, for example, Playlists, Radio, Songs all now joining Albums, Artists and Genres.
The player section in the top left is also now far slicker. The clunky File, Edit etc menus at the top have evaporated and the player icons have been released from their bubble buttons. They sit, less fussily, on their own.
Finally, the typeface and alignment of the information under each track has changed and, conveniently, a new and dedicated iTunes Store button has appeared in the top right ready to receive your money at all times.
iTunes 11: Expanded View
Probably the most interesting change to the look and feel of iTunes 11 is what Apple refers to as the Expanded View. Click on any of the album and song names below each track and a middle section full of information relating to said tune opens up. It brings up full album information for the record to which that track belongs and, of course, gives you the option to buy the whole album or the rest of the tracks individually.
iTune 11: In the Store
Once in the Expanded View, you’ll also see a carefully placed tab option button appear on the right-hand side reading In the Store next to Songs. Click on it and, yes, there are more opportunities for you to part with your cash. This time, though, the Apple algorithms will select a clutch of other albums that you might like based on the one you have expanded upon.
iTunes 11: Up Next
Up Next is designed to make it easier to add tracks to an on-the-fly playlist. Click on the button and you can see which songs are up next as well as shift them around, add to or delete them.
iTunes 11: Mini Player
The iTunes Mini Player has got itself a much needed facelift for iTunes 11. Along with all round better styling, you also get the ability to click to see which tracks are up next as well as to use the search function to find something else you’d like to listen to - and all without having to maximise your way into the full iTunes window.
iTunes 11: iTunes Store
The experience of the iTunes Store has been slightly different across Apple devices until now. Yes, it’s still the iTunes Store wherever you choose to use it but Apple is searching for a uniform look and feel which it’s happy to unveil in iTunes 11. Hit the Store on your iPad, iPod, PC or Mac and you’ll get the same structure.
iTunes 11: Preview History
You’re one of those people who listens to a million 30-second previews on the iTunes Store without actually buying any of those songs, right? Yeah, thought so. Well, Preview History is for you - presuming you do actually want to go back and buy something.
It brings you a list of all the songs you’ve previewed and easy links to get back to them. Using iCloud, it means it can give you a complete list no matter on which device you listened to those previews. Preview History also works across Films and TV.
iTunes 11: iCloud
Anything you buy on the iTunes Store from any device becomes available instantly on your Mac or PC through iTunes 11. Click the button next to the entry to stream it or even download a new copy all over again if you’re about to step on a plane.
What we really like though is the Amazon Whispersync-type feature from iCloud which allows you to pick up from a song, podcast, film or anything you have on a different device in exactly the same place that you left it on another device.