iTunes 11: A giant leap forward, a small step back.

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The new iTunes 11 was released a couple of weeks ago. Many lauded the new version as the boldest change ever made in the history of iTunes. Almost everything from how your multimedia files are displayed, organised, played and looked, were given a major overhaul. After trying out extensively, iTunes 11 is a giant leap forward in how we interact and organise our music files, but at the same time, it is mired with small bugs and annoyances.

One of the biggest things i like about the new iTunes 11 is how fast it all feels. Gone were the days where iTunes just feels bloated and sluggish even if you have the top of the line mac computers. Playing your songs and choosing from your library felt more like looking at spreadsheets with all the information out there on the screen. Now, with the new version, the sidebar is gone (though out can opt it in again if you wish), leaving you (at default settings) looking at all your albums and its covers in your library. Clicking on an album displayed will expand the menu and show all the songs related to the album. Its a neat way at how iTunes now shows your songs in your library. Of course, you can still search and organise your library by Artists, Genres, or look at all Songs for example.

Another small but really neat feature is that when you click an album, the list of songs and the background colour would closely match to the image of the album. For example, if the your album cover has lots of reds and blues, then you background would be read with blue song titles. This small customisation really makes looking at your album and songs within that album unique and colourful.

Going to the iTunes store feels much faster and your can simply switch between your library and the store with a simple click of a button on the right hand side of the application. The iTunes store now has an updated look that is slicker and faster. Previewing song is now so much easier. Like in previous versions, you just have to click on the play button on the left side of the song title you wish to preview. Browsing other albums, song, or even navigating to other parts of the iTunes store will not interrupt your preview. I prefer this way, rather than not being able to preview the song and navigate to other parts of the store or checking out another album in the store without interrupting the music.

The iTunes mini player is now more robust and packed full of features. You can now see what songs are queued to be played next, and see what songs you have played previously. The user interface of the mini player is cleaner and more discreet. Talking about queueing songs, you can now browse your library, and simply add songs to your queue list rather than making a separate playlist to play the songs you wish to listen to for each session. Anytime you wish to listen to that song, simply add it to the queue and it will play the song according the queue you have just created. Its a great new feature that allows you to add and drop songs as you see fit and listen to songs according to your mood without much hassle.

The new iTunes 11 has given me a huge problem, one that I am thus far unable to solve. Every time when I tried to turn on iTunes Match, iTunes will freeze. Now I am unable to use iTunes match continuously, matching songs as I add new ones to my library every now and then. iTunes Match is in my case a little crippled when the new iTunes 11 always freezes when I turn in on. I have no choice but to switch it off for the time being until they get this fixed. This means that I would not be able to listen to my songs while on the go using my MBA unless I bring my entire music collection with me stored in my portable hard drive. iTunes Match is able to match songs when i turn it on, but after it’s done with its synchronizations and song uploads, it will then freeze again.

Another annoying bug I have experienced is the search feature. Right now, the Search bar is a little buggy. Whenever I want to search the entire library for a song or album title and that title begins with an “A” like Adele for example, my entire iTunes will freeze. This has so far happened to any search that begins with “A”. So now I have to uncheck “search entire library” for the time being in the search bar to prevent iTunes from freezing again.

So far, iTunes 11 is a good experience for me, but what I really hope is that they fixed these annoying bugs in the next update soon. I really want to be able to use iTunes Match seamlessly and without hassle, making my subscription worth every penny. Browsing your albums, especially using the trackpad in your Macbook Air feels great and smooth. Despite having close to 1000 albums, almost all with album covers, you rarely experienced any lag as you scroll down the albums covers.

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