New Apple iTunes 11 interface revealed

Vintage ad scanned and Flickr'd by James Vaughan.

Wouldn't it be nifty if the newest iteration of iTunes, which in my opinion is one of a great company's poorest products, looked like this? The Ping-less iTunes 11 is set to launch this month, likely today, according to hints dropped in this Wall Street Journal profile of Apple exec Eddy Cue. It's not that big a secret, anyways; the iTunes splash page says it's "coming in November," and there aren't many days left in November.

Below, *actual* screenshots of the new interface. Come to think of it, the new UI resembles the vintage ad more than iTunes 10 does! But I don't like it. I wish iTunes were a skinnable, interpret-able service with an API, like Twitter is (for now, anyway)—imagine if you could use any third-party client you wanted to access the service, as cleanly and free of cruft as you please.

Library view

Album view


  1. So basically they’re replacing the horrible iTunes 10 UI with the only thing that I hate even more: the iTunes store interface.  Great.

  2. Ugh, the fact that when you click on an album, it lists the songs and splits them up between multiple columns is pretty inexcusable from a UI perspective.  To me, straight, consistently-formatted lists of things are always more readable than being broken up and placed randomly.  (Same reason I hate those tiles on Windows Phone and the Windows 8 start screen, the Windows ribbon toolbars, etc.)

  3. The other day I discovered that J River’s Media Center Pro is finally being developed for OSX…. exactly the ” skinnable, interpret-able service with an API” that makes for a great PC media player/metadata control/archive organizer… been using it for years and hoping that they would get around to making a mac version. The way iTunes new version is looking… well… feh.

    1. Really? I’ve been going from Winamp to Songbird to everything else, and I still can’t find a decent media player for Mac OS. I hope what you’re describing is what I’ve been after. 

      Can it play FLAC? Can I sort songs by BPM, Key, or other metadata? Finally, can it stream to a airtunes like device? Those are all features that every player should universally have had since 2005… 

    1. No you don’t. I’m old enough to remember the end of that era. It was always scummy. The loss leading deal was the only good thing about it, and there was usually a contract involved that nobody in my young teen age group could afford. Half my friends in highschool had outstanding accounts in collections from these things. 

      1. One could always write “refused” on the package, forcing BMG to pay for the postage sans sale. I ‘knew a guy’ who did that repeatedly as a way of getting back at the man.

  4. What’s the bet they still don’t have a Right Click “Play next” function.

    (Yes I’m aware you can use a playlist to do this, yes I still believe that is too many steps for a simple but important function).

    1. That’s one of the features that’s included in iTunes 11. The iPad mini launch event featured a demo of iTunes 11 that explains the redesign in more detail than this article. You might want to check it out.

  5. It would be nice if somebody in Apple actually gave the tiniest bit of a sh*t about iTunes. I mean, it’s their primary money-maker these days, you’d think that would lead them to want to make it at least decent, if not actually good.

  6. I don’t care what iTunes 11 looks like as I use it mostly on my phone this days; I just want iTunes Match to work correctly when you have multiple devices synced and let me manually fix things like tracks uploaded without their actual content which, since they’re synced now, are impossible to get rid of because you’re essentially navigating the drive file system blind by clearing tracks, waiting a bit and praying they unsync correctly before trying again.

    It’s great for things they have in the store, but if you venture out into the world of old/indie/live/personally ripped tracks, make sure you keep a local copy.

  7. Only feature I’d like is to not have to wait an eternity for the program to load, and once it does load, not make my hard drive sound like it’s spitting pieces of platter as it downloads files.

    On both my mac and my windows box, itunes by far takes the longest to present me with a usable interface when I launch the app.

  8. Not that I am in any way a fan of iTunes or its new interface (amarok ftw!) but no, I don’t think it would be great for any computer interface to look like a 1960 print ad. Skeuomorphism is never the way to intuitive UI/UX design in computers.

    1. What a broad generalization.
      I’ll put it to you that the major reason that home computers caught on was skeumorphism. A desktop with icons and hints is definitely more intuitive than a command line. Whether it’s better or worse is up to who’s using it, but skeumorphism is the easiest way to harness the user’s prior experience to make an interface more intuitive.

      It doesn’t always work, and there are many anachronistic ideograms used in skeumorphic interfaces these days, but to throw the whole concept out is a mistake.

      1.  That was a good argument twenty years ago, when computers were new and people needed the skeumorph metaphor to understand what was going on. This is the future, people. I don’t need my music store to look like a catalog page to understand how to use it, nor my calendar app to have fake leather. Please.

        1. I get what you’re saying now.
          When you said skeumorphic, what I thought was the desktop metaphor, icons, windows, tabs etc. But what you meant (if I may guess) has more to do with the chrome. And I agree on that point. I certainly don’t care about whether an image on the screen has leather trim, as long as the layout makes sense and the fonts are readable.

          And a lot of skeumorphic ideograms are hilariously anachronistic. Save is still represented woth a floppy disk, nobody uses real world filing cabinets at home anymore, and the most common use of paperclips in my house is to get dvds out of stuck drives.

        2. This is now the knee-jerk reaction to the leather look. When did the Linux crowd ever produce a usable anything? Computer nerds got nothing useful to say about design

  9. Too bad it’ll never look like the record club ad. I used to love reading every detail of those as a youngster. Joined a few, too.

  10. I’ve used iTunes since before it was iTunes (SoundJam MP). There was a miller-columns-style browser (not quite, as it didn’t enforce hierarchy) in some of the early mac versions which I think is wonderful — but if that feature still exists I haven’t found it in a while (at least not on Windows). That’s the interface I want: A column of all artists, all albums, all genres, etc., and as I click or highlight from each column all the remaining columns (and the playlist below) automatically filter. I’ve tried several MP3 players over the years but have yet to see this.

    Meanwhile iTunes tries to be more and more more graphical. Obviously I disagree with the Apple philosophy on this: cover art and music videos, I don’t care if I never ever see them again. Viewing by cover art has got to be the worst possible way to access a database.

    1. The column browser has always been a part of iTunes, and it’s still there in the latest version.  If all you want to see is a list of tracks and the column browser, iTunes will gladly do that for you.  

      1. Woo hoo! You’ve made my day. I don’t know how I missed it. (Actually, I do: it used to be a button that triggered this behavior, and now it is a menu item.)

    2. While I’m a fast reader, I prefer the cover art thingie. It may be it’s because I’m a graphic designer, but as fast as I read, I find it easier to find an album with its cover. 

  11. My hatred for iTunes is blinding. However, even more than the crappy new UI, I am annoyed with the lack of usefulness: it used to just be an MP3 player. Now it’s bloated into a music and video player, music server, podcast and live radio tuner, mobile device sync, cloud file manager, and on ad nauseum. It doesn’t perform any of these functions particularly well, or efficiently anymore. It’s slow and it crashes, often. 

    Instead of putting lipstick on the pig, I wish Apple would actually look at all of what iTunes does (badly) and split the functionality into individual apps that would be more appropriate and useful.

  12. What are those little pictures, and what do they have to do with the music? At least the trash bucket icon makes some sense.

  13. Can someone point out the “cruft” in those screenshots, because I’m not seeing it. 

    I think Apple hit it out of the park with this release.  All of the power-user features are still there, all of the old views are still there, and there are a number of new views as well that are great and make it less intimidating to me casual user.

    And the new Queuing/recently-played UI is fantastic.

    Apple did a wonderful job with one of their most important pieces of software.  It’s a masterful redesign.

  14. I don’t get all the angst against iTunes.

    Maybe if you guys used it like I do, you’d like it fine.  I just make Playlist Folders for each band and then make Playlists for each album inside the Playlist Folders.

    I can click on the entire folder and play all music from that band or individual albums if I click on those.   I then sort songs by however I want including some tricks with smart folders, etc.

    iTunes is very customizable if you bother to try it.  You CAN change the skin of iTunes, BTW.  But, I haven’t bothered with changing skins since the early 90’s, hahah… what a bore…  I’m more focused on the music, I suppose…


    1. That sounds like a shitload of work just to play some music.  Do you go and update all your playlists whenever you add a new album or band to your colelction?

      1. sounds like a shitload of work

        Wat?  Not at all..

        To add an album:

         1) Click on band’s Playlist Folder, type “command-n” on Mac, Copy or type name of album into new Playlist that’s now within Folder.

         2) Drag n’ Drop music content folder into album’s Playlist created above.


        Metadata, etc. transfers automatically along with proper album song order, etc. Total mouse time: Approx. 5 seconds.

        Creating a new band Playlist Folder is pretty much just as easy as well. I could do this automatically with an Applescript, but it’s so fast to do manually, why bother?

        I will say this, I do HATE how iTunes handles individual equalizer settings. It should be much more user friendly that how it is now.

          1. Excuse me…

            MMMmmmm…. yessss?

            why do this when you can browse the music through artists/albums already?

            Take a closer look at my screenshot. I’m able to have a far more compact view of an entire band’s discography and quickly browse through my bands/albums with less scrolling than you do.

            I’m also able to type the first few letters of the bands to jump to their folder without having to jump all the way over top-right to do a spotlight search or fumble with a bunch of extra space to get where I want while doing it (once again, check out how compact my albums and artists are).

            It also works perfectly with my Smart Scroll prefpane that makes poking around my collection an absolute joy because of the added scrolling control, hover scrolling, etc..

            Of course, sometimes I’ll change search methods and utilize smart playlists (sometimes in conjunction with my standard playlists), but that’s just another plus with using iTunes.

            I only use playlists to select individual songs for working out or whatever

            I use playlists for things like that too, but you’re missing out by not using them to organize your collection if you deal with a lot of band discographies like I do. I comb through my music collection faster with less effort. I’ve tried it your way and don’t like its various limitations.

  15. “I wish iTunes were a skinnable, interpret-able service with an API”

    I wish it supported FLAC and OGG, 
    I wish it allowed sorting songs by other Metadata such as Key and Color, 
    I wish it didn’t suck memory like a 7 headed hydra… 

    Unfortunately, Apple does not have a history of listening to it’s users polite requests. Lately, it only seems interested in leveraging it’s marketshare massive money-bins of cash to shovel us all into walled garden/prisons.

    1. I wish iTunes were a skinnable

      It is.  I shared a link on how to do it above.

      I wish it supported FLAC and OGG

      I play those formats with iTunes as we speak.  Just as simple as installing this free XiphQT.  They have a free Windows version too.

      I wish it didn’t suck memory like a 7 headed hydra…

      I’ve used many other music players on my Mac over the years and all of them (that compare to iTunes) use more RAM than iTunes does after importing my huge library.  And, I haven’t had any issues with memory leaks whatsoever.  So you might want to investigate what’s wrong with your system.  Then again, you might be on Windows and may be screwed no matter what you do, I dunno.

      shovel us all into walled garden/prisons.

      Maybe with iOS, but I don’t use that.  I use the Mac OS and I very rarely ever use the App store.  It’s just an app I can choose to run or not for the most part.  I run whatever I want, whenever I want (including Windows XP, 7, 8 for testing, etc.).You’re only as “walled in” with any device as much as you allow yourself to be and the Mac OS is no exception.  And, I don’t even use the iTunes store to purchase music and my mp3’s, etc. work perfectly with it.  Once again, I’m not walled in… at all.

Comments are closed.