We’ve seen the pushing back of the iTunes release date to mid-November, although it’s unclear at this point what’s holding back the release of iTunes 11. Most likely, its fine-tuning and making things work well at launch, a long-held Apple standard. Here’s something else that might be affecting the iTunes release date ... although there doesn’t seem to be a lot of people making the connection right now. The new Apple Radio streaming music service has been in the news fairly heavily for a few weeks, and I think this is playing a role in the delay.
“The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right. We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.” is what Apple rep Tom Neumayr said to CNET about the delay. The operative word here might be iCloud, which I think could spur an open platform combined with Apple Radio for music apps.
So the looming questions are ... what will Apple Radio as a streaming music service bring us? If they look at the open development potential of iCloud apps (and take a cue from Spotify with their open apps platform) they could potentially have a new standard on their hands. Everybody wants to talk about Apple Radio as a *Pandora Killer*, but what about Spotify? Why wouldn’t they combine the Apple App Store potential with Apple Radio as an open platform to compete with both Spotify and Pandora Radio, both obvious top of the list competitors. The user benefit would be great also ... think what happens when free-form music apps are released?
The new iTunes 11 is a substantial overhaul, both on user experience and programming. It will include the following, some of which are obvious expectations with any new iTunes release, but this time bigger and better than previous updates: better iCloud integration, better performance and design, a revamped mini-player, improved search, and a new approach to the iTunes Store. The difference this time is that the overhaul is substantial (see the video below) and not just a small improvement.
This will the first major iTunes update to work iCloud into the software in a big way. iTunes playlists have gotten much better, with the ability to see your library and the iTunes playlist that you're building at the same time. This is long overdue but a welcome addition. There's also the "Up Next" feature, which is a running temporary playlist of what songs are cued to be played next, whether you're using a playlist, in random mode or playing an album. You can seamlessly drop one-off songs here if have a song you need to hear right away. The iTunes Store will now include concert info on artists, with their touring schedule highlighting shows in your area. If you want to see the entire Apple keynote speech from September 2012, with all of the demos, watch here.