It was announced yesterday that Apple would be releasing their newest version of iTunes in the early hours of this morning. And as if by magic, the Apple Software Updater today alerted me that a new version of the software was available. So I’ve downloaded it, given it a spin and here’s what I have to say.
If you’re just a casual user of iTunes, you probably won’t notice any huge difference except from the new design and interface. They’ve replaced the CD logo with a new logo of a music note. The general UI of the program has been changed quite considerably. I quite like it, but I think this new approach to listing my music library looks very untidy.
The biggest new feature to the program is the new “Ping”. Essentially, it’s just a copy of last.fm with the ability to like, review and follow artists/songs that are of interest to you. You can then share this with other users that you happen to be following. The software will give you up to date information from the artists you are following.
Personally, I quite like the feature. I’ll find it very useful for “discovering” new music as Apple like to put it. However, I think it’s sad that Apple are so desperate for ideas that they have to go and copy a concept that already exists. I much prefer last.fm’s approach and I think Apple will have a job getting people to convert to their idea.
I happen to think performance has improved considerably with the new version. Even with a dual core 2.8ghz processor and Windows 7, iTunes 9 still seemed to be pretty sluggish. The new version appears to load up pretty quickly and navigating through the software seems to be much more speedy. Gone are the days when you have to wait several seconds for iTunes to respond to you clicking a menu option.
Other than that though, there isn’t really much the casual iTunes user will notice. The store hasn’t really changed much, except for “Ping” integration. The iPod management is almost identical to the old version, with exception to a tiny bit of new design.
Overall, I’d go grab it. It’ll probably be essential to upgrade soon anyway. You can get it from apple.com/itunes or from the Apple Software Updater.