After Delays, Apple Releases iTunes 11, Touts New Features

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iPhone - 2007

(CNET) – Apple released iTunes 11 on Wednesday, the latest version of its popular music software following a monthlong delay.

The program was originally slated for a release sometime last month. Just ahead of a self-imposed October deadline, an Apple spokesman told CNET the company “wanted to take a little extra time to get it right.”

Users now get the chance to put that claim to the test. The software went out as a free update to current iTunes users on Mac and Windows this morning, and later as a download from Apple’s iTunes site.

iTunes 11’s headlining feature is a visual redesign that takes a cue or two from Apple’s iOS software, with a focus on large album covers that can expand to show you songs — both in your library, and other tracks from Apple’s iTunes Music Store. It’s a stark departure from Cover Flow, the slick, never-ending stream of album covers that could be flipped through one by one or at warp speed, and was once the hot new look.

Other features in iTunes 11 include deeper integration with Apple’s iCloud service, a new “up next” song feature, redesigned storefronts, and a revamped mini player that lets you search for songs, albums, and artists without going back to the full view.

Collectively, Apple is touting it as “easier” and “smarter” than its predecessor, in no small part to go up against numerous people opining that the software had become too bloated. Earlier this year Apple cut at least some of the functionality, removing any traces of its music social-networking experiment Ping.

As of September, Apple said it had more than 435 million iTunes accounts set up with 1-Click purchasing, meaning accounts with credit cards or other payment options attached. The company’s digital music store has a catalog of 26 million songs, of which there have been 20 billion purchased by consumers during the past nine years.

Apple’s last major iteration of iTunes, version 10, was released in September 2010 with Ping in tow. Since then Apple has added additional features like iTunes Match, iTunes in the cloud, and 1080p videos from the iTunes Store.

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