You might have a love it/hate it relationship with iTunes. You might love the iTunes store, an unparalleled digital gateway to a world of music and movies, TV shows and podcasts, books and apps. But you might hate the iTunes interface, which is slow and, some argue, far clunkier than the word ‘clunky’ can ever describe.
We’d argue that you can look past the fiddly UI because (a) Apple has already tinkered with the design, and (b) the current incarnation of iTunes still has its strengths.
For starters, Apple’s software is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, the second of which gives the media player an extra lick of speed on compatible computing systems. It’s also free and like any other media player you can use it to import your MP3s and audio CDs, burn your own compilations and transfer playlists to your mobile gadgets.
iTunes 11 introduced a new interface and it improved upon version 10 with a smarter layout (you can view your content by type - Songs, Albums, Artists, Genres, Videos, Playlists and Radio), a splash of colour (although it’s still predominantly grey), an improved MiniPlayer, plus some handy iCloud integration that adds your Store purchases to your iTunes library, regardless of the device you buy them on.
It’s a powerful way to organise your content and Apple also improved the search functionality in iTunes 11, making it even easier to find the song or TV show you’re looking for.
If you have an iPod, iPad, or iPhone you'll want to use the sync feature. Depending on the settings, new songs or whole playlists can be transferred automatically. iTunes 11 can also automatically create playlists that are tailored to your musical preferences. Plus, you can bring your mobile music player up to date manually via drag and drop.
It’s worth noting that the music files Apple sells are only offered in the AAC format. But you can trade that off against the built-in Genius feature, which allows you to analyse your titles, buy similar music or automatically create playlists with suitable songs. There’s also a new Up Next feature, which replaces the old track randomizer, iTunes DJ.
Apple’s updates to iTunes 11 have included a number of bug fixes plus small enhancements - adding album art to the MiniPlayer, the integration of Apple’s iTunes Radio service, and the ability to see your Apple wish list in your iTunes library.
Verdict: The software is a must-have for the iPod/iPad/iPhone owner, but it's also ideal for anyone looking to manage a big music library and who wants an easy way to buy new content.