Today at the iPod event, Apple announced, and subsequently released, iTunes 9. The major improvements are the iTunes store and the ability to rearrange apps through iTunes. There are also some slight cosmetic changes in iTunes 9. For comparison, I have screenshots of both iTunes 8 and 9.
There are some small aesthetic changes. Apple moved buttons around a bit, and the toolbar itself is different. It no longer looks like a standard Leopard unified toolbar, which is a little odd. Apple intended Leopard to be completely unified, yet they’re breaking the appearance once again.
h4. iTunes Store
The new store, on the other hand, presents a significant improvement over the previous incarnation. The old store was written in a custom XML format, with a proprietary rendering engine. The new store uses webkit as the engine, with the layout being in HTML and CSS. I know most users won’t care about that and will just say “Oh look the store changed,” but I like to know how the underpinnings work. Visually, the store is a huge improvement. It feels modern and clean, unlike the previous store, which was starting to show its age. I also like that the new store has a global navigation bar, something I feel was sorely missing from the previous version.
The old iTunes store
The new iTunes store
The shopping system has changed as well. There is no longer a shopping cart, but a “wish list.” Now, if you click “buy” on an app or a song, it’ll buy and download immediately. Though this was probably meant to streamline the buying process, I can’t help but feel that users will feel deceived, when they just click “buy” and it instantly charges instead of going to the shopping cart. If you want to use the “wish list” feature, you have to right-click on the store item and pick that option.
Although many speculated that iTunes 9 would be in 64-bit Cocoa, it’s still in 32-bit Carbon. In English, this means that the new iTunes isn’t going to be as fast as some wish it would be. However in my experience, iTunes proved to be a bit more snappy and responsive, both on launch and on starting/stopping music. Although this might be from restarting my computer and not from any improvements.
h4. App Control
iTunes 9 now allows you to rearrange and manage apps right from iTunes. It’s a pretty nifty little feature, especially when doing a lot of rearranging, which usually tends to be quite a pain.
In summary, iTunes 9 is an improvement over iTunes 8, but it’s still not that great.