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iTunes 11.0.3 Update Brings Redesigned Miniplayer, Improved Songs View

You kind of have to admire the timing. While most of the tech world is focused on the ramifications of Google’s I/O yesterday, Apple followed up its perfectly timed 50 billion app downloads milestone with today’s minor but notable update for iTunes. New features include a pleasing new interface for the miniplayer and additional support for multi disc albums. It doesn’t reverse many of the unpopular design shifts made with 11.0, but it’s good to see an update that adds some cool new features without adding unnecessary bloat.

The most visible new changes are those made to the miniplayer, which now allows displays the cover artwork for the album you’re playing to the left of the minimalist interface, which now includes a progress bar. Is that’s not enough album cover goodness for you, you can also expand the miniplayer to display a larger version of the cover art, along with an adjustable progress bar towards the bottom.

We were also pleased to see that the update heralds the return of the expandable playlist for the miniplayer that went missing in action with iTunes 11, along with the new ability to search through your entire iTunes library through the miniplayer.

The update also brings with it the ability to play multi-disc albums as one album, ridding some of us of the need to make specialized playlists when we wanted to listen to a full album spread across multiple CDs. Another addition includes the ability to see all your individual songs with the album artwork (accessible through the “View” options in the menu bar), as well as a welcome sorting option to keep videos from playing when you have your entire library on shuffle.

It’s a patch that mainly focused on aesthetics, then, and one that might reveal yet another example of Jony Ive’s work in overturning the some of the design decisions of predecessor Scott Forrestal.

Follow this article author, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Microsoft’s Pleas for Windows 8 Version of iTunes Fall on Deaf Ears

Windows 8 Start menuMicrosoft has been pretty good at throwing its formidable weight around to get key applications on Windows 8, but not surprisingly, it’s finding resistance from the folks in Cupertino.

CNN Money is reporting that Microsoft has been pushing Apple for a Windows 8-native edition of iTunes, which currently only runs in traditional Desktop mode on the company’s Metro-style software — and not at all on the tablet-centric Windows RT.

“You shouldn’t expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon,” laments Windows Division CFO Tami Reller. “ITunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It’s not for lack of trying.”

While Apple has grudgingly carried over iTunes, Safari, QuickTime and even iCloud to the Windows platform, the company has largely ignored Windows 8, which debuted six months ago and claims to have sold 100 million licenses during that time.

Thus far, the sole exception is a recent OS X Mountain Lion update which added Windows 8 compatibility to Boot Camp — but that’s for running Microsoft’s OS on Apple’s hardware, not for Apple software on Windows computers.

Windows RT owners are the ones suffering most from Apple’s neglect — they can’t install iTunes at all since it requires Intel hardware, which means a traditional desktop or laptop computer or more expensive Windows Pro tablet.

However, even that is a less than ideal experience, since iTunes doesn’t currently take advantage of the native Windows 8 experience, instead running as a window inside the classic Desktop view.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



iTunes Store Turns 10

iTunes keynoteWhile the iTunes software itself is actually a couple years older, the virtual storefront that powers the media player celebrated its 10th anniversary over the weekend — and what a decade it’s been!

TIME published a look back at a decade of the iTunes Store on Sunday as Apple’s media powerhouse celebrated its 10th birthday on April 28. And it wasn’t alone: Music industry players and artists alike spent the day tweeting out their love for iTunes, most of which was retweeted by the store’s official account.

The iTunes software actually appeared more than two years earlier, on January 9, 2001, after Apple purchased the popular third-party SoundJam MP from Casady & Greene a year earlier. While it’s hard to imagine now, there was a brief period of time where iTunes was strictly about organizing and playing music — but that all changed on April 28, 2003 with the debut of iTunes 4.0.

With the iPod firmly entrenched for almost a year and half, Apple answered the prayers of music fans everywhere by introducing the iTunes Music Store, a playground chock full of 99-cent tracks, all untethered from the obligation of buying an entire album. By 2009, the iTunes Store celebrated its position as the largest online music store in the world with six billion tracks sold.

Looking back, it’s hard to imagine a time when iTunes didn’t serve up music, let alone the TV shows, movies, books and apps yet to come. Here’s to a decade of the iTunes Store — and we look forward to seeing what’s ahead in the next decade!

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Apple Celebrates “A Decade of iTunes”

A Decade of iTunesApple isn’t letting the somber tone of its quarterly earnings stop it from popping the champagne cork on one of its biggest successes, with a celebration for the 10th anniversary of iTunes.

April 28, 2013 marks a decade since the introduction of the iTunes Music Store in 2003, and Apple is celebrating early by posting an interactive timeline in the very same place where it all started.

“Celebrate 10 years of iTunes — a decade marked by stunning musical and technological evolution,” Apple’s new section reads. “From historic iPod releases to the debut of groundbreaking artists, our timeline captures key moments in our history. Plus, take a look back at the defining albums and songs that hit the top of the charts each year.”

A Decade of iTunes is available from the Mac and Windows versions of iTunes as well as from any iOS device by heading to the Music section and selecting the banner of the same name, or clicking the direct search link above.

Which milestone is your favorite?

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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