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DRM GUI Music Software Upgrades Apple

Apple Declutters, Speeds Up iTunes With Major Upgrade 295

Posted by timothy
from the not-fixed-enough-for-me dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Washington Post reports that Apple has finally unveiled their new version of iTunes, overhauling its look and feel and integrating it more closely with the company's iCloud Internet- storage service with one of the biggest upgrades Apple has made to the program with 400 million potential users since its debut more than a decade ago. The new design of iTunes moves away from the spreadsheet format that Apple has featured since its debut and adds more art and information about musicians, movies and television shows. It also adds recommendation features so users can find new material. According to David Pogue of the NY Times Apple has fixed some of the dumber design elements that have always plagued iTunes. 'For years, the store was represented only as one item in the left-side list, lost among less important entries like Radio and Podcasts. Now a single button in the upper-right corner switches between iTunes's two personalities: Store (meaning Apple's stuff) and Library (meaning your stuff).' Unfortunately, Apple hasn't fixed the Search box. As before, you can't specify in advance what you're looking for: an app, a song, a TV show, a book. Whatever you type into the Search box finds everything that matches, and you can't filter it until after you search. It feels like a two-step process when one should do. 'Improvements in visual navigation and a more logical arrangement of tools are good, but for me the biggest positive within iTunes 11 remains its vastly improved performance on all three Macs I've tested it on, including a relatively ancient five-year-old MacBook,' writes Jonny Evans."
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Apple Declutters, Speeds Up iTunes With Major Upgrade

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  • by jbolden (176878) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @09:31AM (#42160737) Homepage

    The layout on the top bar helps to separate out: player from store from device management. I will admit I do like the sidebar with the old layout for familiarity.

    Anyway I think the big difference is that more of the functionality is exposed on the interface, sort of like an office application. I think they are assuming that iTunes user base is sort of stable and they can make things less obvious. That's a typical Apple pattern:

    lots of new users = aim for obviousness
    lots of experienced users = decrease obviousness and increase features

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2012 @09:37AM (#42160757)

    I was looking at an artists website, and clicked on the link to buy an album. It too me to the iTunes website. OK I thought, I'll try it. Except that I couldn't. To actually buy the album it said I had to do so through the iTunes software. Whoops. I guess I won't be buying anything from iTunes at all then.

    You know, 'cause I run GNU/Linux.

    It doesn't matter how fast the software is, if I am required to use it to buy shit, I ain't buying it. Websites work as store front ends for many other people, so why not Apple?

    • by tepples (727027)
      Buy Windows and run it in a VM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      I was looking at an artists website, and clicked on the link to buy an album. It too me to the iTunes website. OK I thought, I'll try it. Except that I couldn't. To actually buy the album it said I had to do so through the iTunes software. Whoops. I guess I won't be buying anything from iTunes at all then.

      You know, 'cause I run GNU/Linux.

      It doesn't matter how fast the software is, if I am required to use it to buy shit, I ain't buying it. Websites work as store front ends for many other people, so why not Apple?

      Did you contact the artist and let him know that? If not, then your 'vote with your wallet' ballot was not submitted.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @09:53AM (#42160827)

    As a PC user, always found Apple's software beyond the OS baffling and counterintuitive, probably because they hide what they are doing. Something as simple as moving and saving songs to my phone seems like an excercise in frustration - syncing is not backing up for some reason and I always end up with duplicate songs or apps from other family members' devices. If they didn't have to hide the file system.

    Amazing that a company that makes decent hardware and a decent OS and ok apps can't make decent software. Hope this update fixes some of the bullshit.

    • by Bogtha (906264) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @10:23AM (#42160941)

      Something as simple as moving and saving songs to my phone seems like an excercise in frustration

      That's because it's not designed for the exact opposite. It's designed so that the user shouldn't have to "move and save songs to their phone". iTunes should just take care of it for them.

      I always end up with duplicate songs or apps from other family members' devices.

      It sounds like you're using a single user account on your computer for multiple users. Rather than expect every application on your system invent their own ways of dealing with multiple users, you should just have a user account for every user on your computer.

      Granted, iTunes is by no means perfect, and the sharp corners show through in some cases, but if you're looking at an Apple product and thinking "I can't do X manually", it's probably because you have an XY problem [stackoverflow.com], and they are solving X while you are asking about Y. X in this case being listening to your music on your phone and Y being manually putting them there.

      • Guest accounts (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        you should just have a user account for every user on your computer.

        Including everybody who might visit and use the computer? A lot of people have only one guest account.

      • it's probably because you have an XY problem

        Yet when I try to diagnose XY problems by asking "Why do you want to do Y?", I often get called a troll.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        That's because it's not designed for the exact opposite. It's designed so that the user shouldn't have to "move and save songs to their phone". iTunes should just take care of it for them.

        Most phones, especially Apple phones where there is no SD card slot, have limited space available so there must be some way to select which ones you want to sync. By default iTunes just tries to sync everything as soon as you add it to your library, filling your phone up immediately.

        iTunes does actually support manual syncing. It is the only option if you have multiple devices and want different songs on each of them.

        Rather than expect every application on your system invent their own ways of dealing with multiple users, you should just have a user account for every user on your computer.

        But then you have to buy the same stuff four or five times so everyone in the family can ha

        • by Bogtha (906264)

          Most phones, especially Apple phones where there is no SD card slot, have limited space available so there must be some way to select which ones you want to sync. By default iTunes just tries to sync everything as soon as you add it to your library, filling your phone up immediately.

          iTunes does actually support manual syncing. It is the only option if you have multiple devices and want different songs on each of them.

          Yes, I know all that and the fact that manual selection is sometimes necessary is

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            But most people don't have enough music to fill their devices and most people don't want different songs on different devices.

            Now there are two giant assumptions. It isn't just music people put on their devices either. A 720p 45 minute TV show is about 1.3GB, a 1080p movie is in the 8GB range. Lots of people have 16GB devices with no way to expand them, and that "16GB" is actually 14.9GB due to 2^10 sizing, plus it has to store the OS, apps and so forth.

            If you're syncing one library to devices belonging to multiple people, you're probably committing copyright infringement.

            I have not read the iTunes TOS but Google specifically allow it when you buy anything from Play. After all, if I buy a CD everyone in my family can listen to it. They don't have to

            • But most people don't have enough music to fill their devices and most people don't want different songs on different devices.

              Now there are two giant assumptions. It isn't just music people put on their devices either. A 720p 45 minute TV show is about 1.3GB, a 1080p movie is in the 8GB range. Lots of people have 16GB devices with no way to expand them, and that "16GB" is actually 14.9GB due to 2^10 sizing, plus it has to store the OS, apps and so forth.

              If you're syncing one library to devices belonging to multiple people, you're probably committing copyright infringement.

              I have not read the iTunes TOS but Google specifically allow it when you buy anything from Play. After all, if I buy a CD everyone in my family can listen to it. They don't have to borrow my CD player when they want to hear it.

              OK, seems to be some misinformation going around.

              Syncing one account to multiple devices belonging to family members is almost certainly not Copyright Infringement. While I haven't read the Google Play TOS, I assume that it and iTunes are actually pretty similar with Apple likely being only slightly more restrictive if at all. You can authorize up to 5 different computers (or separate user accounts on a single computer) with an iTunes Store Account and any of these computers/separate user accounts will be

        • by immaterial (1520413) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @03:46PM (#42162617)

          iTunes does actually support manual syncing. It is the only option if you have multiple devices and want different songs on each of them.

          Umm, no. Each device has its own unique sync settings. If you dont want to have different itunes libraries for everyone, you can still sync different playlists/albums/artists/songs to each device automatically from one library.

          Android lets you have multiple Google accounts associated with each device so you can have a family one for app purchases and then everyone also has their own individual ones for email and other personal stuff.

          Ignoring the potential licensing/copyright infringement angle (I believe Apple considers sharing within your family to be just fine; hence the existence of the Home Sharing feature) your Apple devices can in fact have separate AppleIDs for app downloads and email/messaging/iCloud. You can even use multiple different accounts for the store itself, though you have to go to settings and log out/in to switch accounts (only when you want to buy an app for the account you're not currently logged in with; updates don't care what account you're logged in with). My mom gets access to all my apps this way, while she also has her own account for when she wants to buy something I don't already have (so that I don't get charged for silly sudoku apps I won't ever use).

    • by TejWC (758299) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @11:03AM (#42161103)

      Apple makes great software; its just that they make the worst Windows software you could ever use. iLife is half the reason why I was using a Mac for so many years. General rule of thumb for all Apple software:
      If it ends in .exe, it will be slow, bloated, and unintuitive
      If it ends in .app, it will be fast, slick, and makes sense

    • by mkraft (200694)

      I agree, some of the changes in iTunes 11 are downright baffling. For example, if you want to sync updated apps, you now need to do a "backup" instead of "sync". I suppose that makes syncing faster, but it makes little sense otherwise.

    • by jsdcnet (724314)
      Set your phone to "Manage manually" instead of Library sync. Then you can just drag and drop stuff onto it. No more syncing weirdness. Syncing is for people with a small amount of music that will fit neatly on one device. If you buy new things on the phone or on the computer, it doesn't matter, they will always be exact mirrors of each other after syncing (and with iCloud, you don't even necessarily have to sync any more).
      • by immaterial (1520413) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @04:05PM (#42162725)
        No, syncing can be incredibly powerful for people who have more music than fits on their device. Smart playlists are incredible for updating your device without adding any manual effort in your part at all (aside from setting up your smart playlists once, of course).

        Stuff like "sync songs I haven't listened to in the past week" or "sync 7GB of my top-rated songs" or "sync everything I've listened to over 100 times, and fill the rest of the space with songs I haven't rated yet" or any AND/NOT combination of criteria you can imagine: "sync all my 4-star and higher rated songs, and sync any 3-star songs I haven't listened to in the past month, and sync everything in my favorites list regardless, do not sync anything I've listened to more than 200 times, and then fill the remaining space on my device with songs I haven't rated yet".

        Every time you plug in your phone to charge in the evening, you can automatically end up with a new selection of music perfectly tailored to you with no effort whatsoever despite the fact that you couldn't fit it all on the device at once.
    • by ruiner13 (527499)
      Apple didn't write the original iTunes. Apple bought SoundJam MP [wikipedia.org] from Casady and Green. I still remember using SoundJam fondly. For its time, it was way ahead of the curve (which is why Apple bought it, I'm sure). SJ and iTunes are similar, but iTunes was redesigned as a store as much as a music player. SJ just wanted to help import, organize, and play music.
  • by alcourt (198386) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @10:02AM (#42160853)

    Too many of the same old flaws are still there. For example, it insists on sorting artist rather than composer in many views. If I have an album where two different pieces have different featured soloist artists, it insists in some views as treating it as two separate albums, while other views may not. For larger works, this can be a problem, like the complete symphonies of Haydn.

    Groupings remain the red-headed stepchild, poorly used, despite being the only way to logically group together movements of a larger work within an album.

    It introduced a few new flaws. In playlist view, it appears trivial to turn on shuffle and start playing a random piece. In library/songs view, that no longer appears possible. Multiple testing shows it always plays the first piece of the playlist, then shuffles.

    The column browser is gone, just gone inside a playlist. I have some very large playlists. I want to be able to use the column browser within that playlist. I now have to go outside the playlist to the library view and use that, hoping I remember correctly the criteria that form the smart playlists.

    I never had much of a performance issue, so I can't speak to that, but the first thing I turned off was album art based views. If I wanted an album, I'd pick it from the column browser.

    • by tepples (727027)
      Would you rather have it sort by composer, so that contemporary pieces show up under Holland-Dozier-Holland, Stock Aitken Waterman, etc.?
      • by alcourt (198386)

        I want to *choose* my sort and list criteria. If I want to listen to Brahms, I shouldn't have to remember that the conductor of my most of my Brahms is Bernstein, but I have other Brahms conducted by someone else. Or they may choose to list the featured soloist as the artist, especially on concertos. I look for composer long before I look at performer.

        In the new album view, I see no way to change the secondary criteria displayed from artist (confusing, useless to me) to a more useful field, such as compo

    • by cob666 (656740)

      The column browser is gone, just gone inside a playlist. I have some very large playlists. I want to be able to use the column browser within that playlist. I now have to go outside the playlist to the library view and use that, hoping I remember correctly the criteria that form the smart playlists.

      I just tried this and if you select a playlist, you can still go into View / Column Browser / Show Column Browser

      • by alcourt (198386)

        Odd, completely grayed out for me. Might be the difference that I'm using smart playlists, not regular ones. I create playlists based on combinations of genres or comments put in the comments field (Moody is a nice tool for me).

    • by ruiner13 (527499)

      For example, it insists on sorting artist rather than composer in many views.

      Have you tried playing with the sort options under the "View -> View Options" Menu? This menu has a drop-down that lets you control the primary sort, and a sub-section to refine how to sort beyond that (including "sort composer"). Perhaps this is the option you want?

      • by alcourt (198386)

        Take an album. Have two different featured soloists. The album is now split into two separate "albums" in album based view, one with the pieces with one soloist, the other with those with the other soloist. If you listen to concertos, this is a problem since they so often have a featured soloist.

        The view you're referring to is more about some of the basic views I ended up using. I wanted to use the other views in older iTunes. I did. But it insisted on emphasizing artist rather than composer, even tho

  • 7 Features Apple Killed Off in iTunes 11 [cnet.com]. I was originally annoyed by removing the ability to edit the 'gapless' state of files (removing that one just seems stupid), but as no other player I use on any other platform supports the feature, I gave up caring.

    • by SOOPRcow (1279010)
      Winamp has supported gapless playback for a decade now. I honestly can't understand how gapless playback isn't a default feature/setting in any music playing software.
      • by acroyear (5882)

        I hadn't really noticed the distinctions in winamp, but winamp is usually what I'm playing at work so I'm only barely paying attention.

        The lack of gapless more sticks out on the music players of my tablet, and the cd-rom player in my car, which are the two times I'm more likely to listen to classical. If the CD broke the tracks up (a-la most recordings of Rite of Spring and Firebird) the gaps are very frustrating and I'm going to slowly re-rip most of them to be single-track (at least iTunes hasn't gotten r

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dare (18856)

      "5. Multiple windows"

      Tried this on my test machine, and it appears to be true. What The Hell. This completely wrecks my workflow for creating playlists (which was to have library open in one window, playlist in another, and to drag files from the library into the right place on the playlist).

      For fnord's sake. It seems that these days every update from Apple ends up just frustrating me. Not installing this one either, just like Safari 6 (no RSS, again WTF?)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The gapless field was removed because it is for the most part needlessly redundant. For some time now, the iTunes application and Apple's iDevices playback as gapless by default already [apple.com], regardless of whether the gapless field is checked.

      In fact, for some time it's been difficult or impossible to disable gapless playback. But this is an entirely different complaint.

  • by mbourgon (186257) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @10:20AM (#42160931) Homepage

    For some reason, on some machines the ATH.exe (wifi sync) will take up 100% of one CPU. Happened on the old iTunes, happens on the new iTunes. https://discussions.apple.com/message/20463456?ac_cid=tw123456#20463456 [apple.com]

  • by TraumaFox (1667643) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @10:24AM (#42160943)
    Once I figured out how to get it to sort my albums by title rather than artist again, I have to say I'm getting used to the minimalist interface. iTunes has always been minimal on features, so it never made sense that its UI was such a mess. Now it's more, uh, pushbutton-y? Feels like it was designed for touchscreens, oddly enough. I definitely like the new pop-out Visualizer, now I can properly have that running on my secondary display without jumping back and forth between the full interface. The only thing I'm not digging is how double-clicking an album immediately starts playing it instead of opening the song list. There's actually no way to get to that song list anymore, you have to start the album and then skip to the track you want, else you have to sort through the Songs view which includes your entire library. Oh well.
    • Correction: Apparently the album view does have a neat expanding songlist if you single-click on an album, there is just an obnoxious delay which is why I didn't notice it before. Double-clicking still only plays the album without opening this list though, so it's now a two-step process. -1 intuitiveness.
  • by hackertourist (2202674) <hackertourist&xmsnet,nl> on Sunday December 02, 2012 @11:38AM (#42161291)

    I got my iPod nano 1G replaced with a 6G in the battery recall program, and it feels like a downgrade.

    - The interface defaults to the useless album art screen, so that's one extra action every time you want to do anything.

    - A touchscreen is way inferior to the clickwheel. It's now impossible to operate the iPod without looking at it, even for simple things like skipping a track. So I attached a remote controller which halves its battery life.

    - the touchscreen also means that you have to press the button to wake up the screen before you can do anything. Two actions before you get to a useful screen.

    - Some idiot has decided that when you're playing music from a playlist, you then can't easily navigate back to the playlist from the default (album art) screen. You have to go all the way back to Music->Playlist->select the list you're in->scroll down to wherever you are.

  • by fa2k (881632)

    Have anyone tried it under Wine yet? (the previous one didn't work at all, and it may be useful to have the MP3 store)

  • The Power search tool, in the uTunes store is gone. For those who use this to find versions of a song, or research other tunes by artists, this is a valuable tool
  • new simplified interface means I cannot view the list of all songs so I can drag them to a playlist. kinda sucks to be me.
  • I really like the redesign visually and speed wise. It's impressive since I haven't used Itunes regularly in half a decade. My main program of choice has been Foobar2000. It's instantaneous in its library even with 100 thousand songs. When I heard the new itunes was much faster and saw the beautiful screenshots I had to check it out.
    Itunes 10 opening speed with a large library was well over 15 seconds on an SSD. Itunes 11 is now around 2. Foobar2000 is about half a second, but still, very impressive.

    The min

  • by epine (68316) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @02:26PM (#42162175)

    Hells bells, they removed the progress bar on mini player. I don't use my partner's iMac all that much, but I do use it to manage voice diction and to sync podcasts onto our iPod. Some of my dictation files are long. Without a progress bar, it's really difficult to note and return to critical thoughts. But I only used iTunes as a stopgap measure, so I can sit back and enjoy the suffering of others more deeply invested.

    What a triumph of populist design over broad-minded utility. There's a fair amount of frustration, annoyance, and anger out there over Apple's random feature regression of the moment. I used to tell people to install Ubuntu because, you know, we had continuity all figured out. Since the Unity debacle, I keep my mouth shut.

    Apple also removed the multiple window feature. So much for workflow equity. How do people live in a world with no feature continuity? I would have never guessed at the outset of PC era thirty years ago that things could go this direction, and people would stand for it. It's pretty much my personal definition of low self-esteem to see someone suffer a major setback in their workflow equity and go "oh, well". Maybe I should have completed Learned Helplessness 101 after all. I'm starting to think it really is a life skill _and_ you save a fortune in Tums.

    The foolishness we all felt back in the day that upgrades were built on top of what you had already delivered. Turns out we could have just randomly discarded any feature that bored us or seemed inconvenient to maintain, and without any explanation to the customer, either. Shit, did we ever do things the hard way.

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