While the big news to come from the Apple press conference was the highly anticipated iPhone 5, Apple also snuck in an update to its iTunes music store. After hyping up just how great the product already is, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddie Cue, told the crowd at the Cupertino headquarters that the “number one music store in the world” was going to get better — or at least different.
After realizing that two thirds of all iTunes purchases have come from iOS devices, Apple started with a redesign of the mobile app, according to executives. The new look is more streamlined and consistent throughout the store, from music to books and videos. The screenshots show a banner of featured content at the top of the store, followed by rows of new and popular items below it. The store is promising to yield better search results and improved performance. You’ll also be able to preview products while browsing, a handy feature for anyone that actually likes to try — or listen — before buying. The App Store also got a new layout that prominently features Facebook integration. You will be able to “like” and share your favorite apps through the Store. The iTunes iOS app will be available September 19 along with iOS 6.
While the iTunes app got a nice revamping, the desktop application also got its share of changes. The new iTunes comes with an edge-to-edge design will make the browsing and viewing experience more immersive, as options from your library and the store sprawl across the length of the screen. Clicking on an album cover will cause the album to expand in line, revealing the tracks of the selection. It’s very much a design cue from iOS. A new feature called “In the Store” will show top songs and albums from an artist, allowing you to finish off your discography of your favorite musicians.
Browsing the new iTunes library by artist will allow for some artist-to-listener sharing. For instance, when you look at Coldplay’s library, you can also see pictures that the band is sharing with their followers. It feels like a feature borrowed from the ill-conceived Ping music network.
If you’re playing music from a playlist or a full album, the music player will have a drop-down menu called “Up Next” that will show songs that are next in the queue. The pop-out mini player also got a redesign. It’s smaller, sleeker, and has the same handy drop-down feature. The mini player displays a small clip of the album art with the name of the song and artist currently playing. The same area becomes the control panel for when you want to change songs. You can also pull up the search bar, which now provides a live preview of your search term, including album covers.
Movies received an overhaul similar to the music department within iTunes, with the edge-to-edge view of all your video collections. Because iTunes has full iCloud integration, films you were watching on your iOS device can now be continued on your desktop or other computers running iTunes with the iCloud. The iTunes 11 download will be available late October.