iTunes 11 adds cool features, but can be jarring to longtime users

By Kirk McElhearn, Macworld |  Software, iTunes

When you're in Albums view, you can click a graphic to see whats behind it. The expanded view shows the tracks in several columns (if there are enough tracks), with the album artwork to the right. The background and text take on colors from the album art. (To turn off the expanded views colors and album art display in the General preferences, uncheck Use custom colors for open albums, movies, etc.)

The limited information shown in Albums view can make it harder to choose what you want to play. Imagine that you have an album containing several songs you like, but you cant remember which ones. If you haven't rated them, there's no way to identify your favorites. In previous versions of iTunes, you could see information such as play counts and last-played dates, but in iTunes 11 you can't. So if you don't remember the song you liked so much on a particular Radiohead album, say, you wont be able to find it quickly. You can get the information in Songs view, but that view is sterile and uninviting, with no album art and no clear separation between albums.

Also in Albums view, iTunes groups compilation albums at the bottom of the list. This leads to two problems. First, nothing tells you that the compilations are compilations; as there are no letters to give you milestones in the album list -- such as A, B, or C, for artists names -- you don't known where the compilations section starts (and its hard to tell where a particular artist is at a glance). Second, the artist listed below the title of a compilation is the artist of the first track of the album; identifying the performer as Various Artists would have been more helpful.

You cant change the size of the icons in Albums view, most likely because of the new track display in the expanded view. The fixed icon size limits the way you view your content, and the very wide display of tracks is neither very practical nor economical, at least on a large display. On my 27-inch Cinema Display, 15 albums string across the screen in Albums view, and as many as four columns for track names in expanded view, which looks odd to me; when I make the window smaller, as on a laptop, the two or three columns that display are much more readable. Another drawback: The small icons truncate titles that are longer than about 20 characters.

Other elements of iTunes 11 suggest that it was designed for small displays. If you don't show the sidebar, the buttons for accessing different features are very far apart. On the left, a pop-up menu lets you choose which library to view. But to access your devices -- iPhones, iPods, and iPads -- or to go to the iTunes Store, you have to move your mouse all the way to the other side of the screen. Clicking the button to activate the Mini Player involves the same long-distance mouse travel, though there's a keyboard shortcut for that: Command-Option-3.


Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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