Three Random iTunes 11 Thoughts

  • The times change: iTunes emphasizes a more visual approach now. The program wants you to look at album covers as much as possible to find what you’re looking for. The problem is, in the digital age, I don’t think in terms of cover images anymore. Yes, for albums more than a decade old, those album covers click for me. I haven’t bought a CD in years now, though. I buy everything on-line, whether through iTunes or Amazon. I barely glance at the cover image. I’ll be doing as much searching as possible via text, I think.

  • I never realized just how much missing album art I had until iTunes 11. I might need to do an iTunes Match subscription just for those images. I used to have a program that helped look for album art, but that was so long ago that I think it was a PowerPC program that broke in the Intel world.

UPDATE: Nope, no Match subscription needed. iTunes has it as built-in functionality. This may not be new. I don’t know. I do know that I am not a Match subscriber, so it doesn’t depend on that.

iTunes lets you download cover images

  • The problem with reviewers: A new iTunes also means a lot of bloggers reviewing the program and including screen shots carefully selected to illustrated their points, iTunes’ new features, and oh-so-hip music collections. They’re very careful about what they let the world see, so be prepared for lots of Brooklyn Hipster Genius Mixes and classic rock, with a dash of modern indie label artists.

Here, because I try not to be a hypocrite, is a selection from my iTunes library:

iTunes 11 sample image

Avril Lavigne and Neil Diamond. Because I have no shame. While playing Christmas music from Pentatonix. (“Carol of the Bells” is awesome.)

iTunes 11 Header Bar

iTunes 11 Header Bar

This is the new header bar atop the iTunes 11 interface. Right now, it bugs me. I may get used to it, but here’s what’s annoying me about it right now:

  • The updating window in the middle has a gray gradient shadow thing that doesn’t feel natural. I guess they’re trying to give you the impression that that part of the window is concave, while the rest of the header bar is convex. The convex part works thanks to a very tiny gradient that you only notice if you look closely. (It’s brighter on the top half than the bottom.) But the concave part feels unnaturally shadowed somehow. It’s too dark under the top lip there.

  • That active convex portion of the window feels too crammed in. It needs a little more white space surrounding it, I think, particularly on the top and bottom.

  • It also feels like the rewind button is hanging out just a tad too far to the left. It shouldn’t be right under the green dot in the corner. It’s not, but it looks like it is. That makes the proportions seem just a bit off.

  • On the right side, the search box is too far to the right. Resize the window and pay attention to how the search bar moves. It stays pinned to the far right side, while the music controls on the opposite side stays pinned to the far left. The problem is, the search bar is narrower, so you wind up with a lot more lost negative space on the right side, and that unbalances the whole header.

I’m still exploring the new iTunes and trying to get used to some things. I am bothered at the way iTunes now thinks I have two subscriptions to the same podcast in the same way the iPhone App does. (I’m guessing one is subscribed from the computer, while the other was added on the iPhone. This is all related to iCloud, which I don’t use yet.) But I do like the way it segments music from podcasts from Audiobooks, etc, while pushing your connected devices over to a separate dropdown menu. That makes a lot more sense.

I also like the use of Helvetica. The overall look of iTunes 11 reminds me a bit of the Gnome desktop environment for Linux, oddly enough. The sidebar-less window looks a lot like an iPad app to me, too.

So, yeah, my thoughts are scattered right now. With time, I hope to pull them together better. . ..