The tried-and-true iTunes program is still the finest in its class, despite the fact that Apple’s music strategy currently focuses more on its relatively new streaming service, Apple Music. The Apple Music area in the most recent edition of iTunes receives a makeover to match the iOS version. It contains the new Connect music-focused social network in addition to all of the features you’ve grown accustomed to and enjoy in iTunes, such as the music player and store, movies, TV, books, iTunes U, podcasts, and Internet radio. The amount of media consumption tools available on iTunes surpasses those of any rival.
Even if iTunes moved a few interface elements to other locations in its window, the interface still manages to look familiar. The button that toggles between Store and Library mode is no longer there, and instead of using a dropdown menu to access different content kinds, it now has permanent buttons. You can easily navigate between any visited pages using arrows that resemble browser back and forward buttons.
It has never been simpler to switch to the mini-player. You may access the smaller, square CD Cover view by clicking on the tiny icon that looks like a double box when your cursor is hovered over the album art thumbnail. Squeezing the icon turns even that view into a bar. The X button on the smaller sizes weirdly returns you to the full window rather than shutting down the application.
On the main window, both the Wish List and User Icon buttons have been removed. The usual menu, the left-rail content selection (music, movies, TV, etc.), and the large top-center buttons for Library, For You, Browse, Radio, and Store are your only access points to app features.
The majority of the modifications make earlier iTunes interfaces less mysterious. You can purchase new content at any moment by using the search bar or the large Store link, for instance, so you don’t have to alternate between the Library and Store modes.
Speaking of search, it now includes both products from your own store and those from your library, and it now displays trending searches so you can see what’s hot. When you click on an album cover, album view still appears below the album art, but now all of the colors are gray instead of being the same as the album cover. From this screen, you can click the… button to share a music through email or link, love it or detest it, or add it to a playlist.
When creating playlists, you have three options: New Playlist, New Smart Playlist, or New Playlist Folder. A new list is added to the left panel when you do so, and you can drag objects onto it from any other view.
Service for subscribing to Apple Music
To compete with services like Slacker Radio, Spotify, and Microsoft’s Groove Music, which all charge a monthly fee to play any song in their collection on demand, Apple Music offers a streaming music service. After a generous 90-day free trial period, Apple Music has a monthly fee of $9.99 like the majority of other services. Family memberships for six listeners cost $14.99 per month, while monthly fees for eligible students are only $4.99. Apple Music obviously caters to users of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but there is also an Android app for the service, and as was already said, Apple Music is available to Windows PC users via the iTunes software. Unfortunately, there is no Web interface for the service.
The service is now clearer and simpler to access thanks to the latest overhaul. The For You, Browse, and Radio options will lead you to Apple Music’s features even if there isn’t a specific Apple Music option in the interface. Although the service gives choices from a sizable catalog, it does not contain all of the items available for purchase on iTunes; albums like Prince’s Purple Rain are absent. I could, however, stream the whole Beatles discography. Although the Beats1 station is built on the assumption that its DJ knows what everyone should like, which is definitely not the case for many listeners, the curated and Pandora-like custom radio stations provide.
In addition, Apple Music now includes Connect, a music-focused social network where you can follow your favorite musicians. Connect can be accessed under the For You menu. (Apple seems to have failed to learn from the Ping mishap.) On Connect, artists can post ideas and content that followers can remark on and engage with in a card layout similar to Pinterest. Pharrell debuted his new song, “Freedom,” on his page. You can share playlists, albums, and Apple Music’s extensive collection of ad-free HD music videos through Facebook and Twitter, among other social media platforms. It’s convenient that your Connect profile automatically follows musicians whose music you’ve bought. Read our complete review to learn more about Apple Music.
Finally, I should mention that Apple Music does not offer free listening, in contrast to Spotify and Pandora, with the exception of the Beats 1 Internet radio station, for what it’s worth. An alternative with ads would be preferable to me. That would prevent more users from leaving Apple Music to join Pandora or Slacker Radio. I also wish that the albums and songs in the iTunes Store were aware of your Apple Music subscription because if they were, you might not have to pay for a song you could have listened to for free. Although you may genuinely wish to acquire a track that is also available on Apple Music, it would be wonderful to receive some notification or confirmation. This is handled better by Groove Music and the Windows Store: If you arrive at a song that is included in your membership, the Store directs you to it Groove so that you can hear it without making a further purchase.
Family Sharing with iCloud
If you own an Apple iOS device, you can set up Family Sharing. This feature enables the head of household to create an account that purchases media for family members’ accounts and allows them to use the main account’s purchases. It makes sense that purchases made on child accounts must first be authorized. Once everything is configured, the Family Purchases page displays all media purchases made by members of the family. I just wish you could configure this in the desktop version of iTunes rather than just viewing purchases. Check out How to Set Up Family Sharing on iOS for more information on the service.
How to Connect iOS Devices
When an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is plugged in, a button appears next to the media buttons in the top left corner and a useful tooltip with the device’s name and kind appears. Upon clicking it, a left panel displays two lists of every type of content, one for settings (including syncing choices) and one for the actual content. You can see your battery charge, configure all of your media, apps, images, and other files, check for iOS upgrades, restore data from backups, and more. The most recent design makes it more easier to transfer music from the PC to the iOS device. Simply slide it over to the device’s icon from the main panel. Additionally, more practical Wi-Fi synchronization for iOS devices has been and continues to be available for years.
Nowadays, unless you’re browsing a gadget, the Store link is always visible. The 3D cover flow view has been removed, and the design has been flattened to place prominent information at the top. It closely resembles the experience you have on an iPhone or an iPad. “New from Your Artists,” which lists recent releases by bands you’ve previously purchased, is one part I like. In addition, I want to point out that the Mac version does not allow you to spin the mouse wheel while holding down the control key if the text and photos are too small.
Through iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match, iTunes has long been connected to iCloud. As long as the device is approved, content you purchase on an iOS mobile device is instantly accessible on your Mac or PC. I struggle with the entire authorization process since I have to sign into so many test Macs and PCs at home and at work that I soon exhaust my five authorizations. Only the current device or all devices can be deauthorized; neither action is helpful. Although it probably won’t be a huge concern for the typical user.
Each album you’ve purchased on any of your devices appears as a thumbnail album cover on your Albums page after the computer has been successfully authorized. Each of them has a download button in the shape of that now-familiar cloud icon. It enables offline playback of the content that has been purchased. With iCloud, you may pause a show on one computer or device and resume it on another, just as with Netflix. Pretty clever.
Features for iTunes Podcasts
iTunes has significantly streamlined podcast consumption after a recent update that was podcast-focused. The left panel with your subscriptions and options to see unplayed and saved episodes are all that is visible in the main view. Your podcasts can be arranged into collections with similar themes using My Stations. You can choose which podcasts to include in a station, how many current episodes to include, the sequence of play, and whether to play video or just audio. It’s a useful feature, if not particularly noteworthy.
Actually, the auto-delete function is rather helpful. After you’ve previously viewed the media file, why would you want it to take up space on your hard drive? If you really want to listen to it again, you may typically download it again, unless the specific podcast charges for older episodes. The majority of these capabilities are available in MusicBee, another music player I’ve been using, in addition to a useful podcast directory, but neither Windows Media Player nor the geek favorite VLC come close to offering this level of control over podcast consumption.
Director commentary, short films, high-resolution image galleries, and behind-the-scenes footage are all included in the iTunes Extras category. The same supplemental functions are made available via Apple TV through that set-top device. Both newly purchased movies through iTunes and movies you already own come with extras. In other words, if Extras for a movie that you already own become available. They can be found on iOS devices as well.
The movies having Extras are identified as such in the Store view, and prominent films like The Legend of Tarzan, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Captain America: Civil War are among them. Two behind-the-scenes featurettes and a gallery of still pictures are included in the Grand Budapest Hotel’s extras, while other titles provide deleted scenes, commentaries, and buttons that enable you fast-forward or rewind to the sections you want to see. These are pleasant benefits, but they are not necessities.
The Apple Ecosystem’s iTunes
This all-in-one media player and buyer still offers a plethora of features we haven’t covered that might fill entire books, such as Home Sharing, iTunes U, a book store, and TV show rentals and purchases. The best software for acquiring and playing media is Apple’s iTunes. As a digital music, movie, and podcast player, it’s tough to match. Family Sharing is a fantastic convenience for families, and the enhancements in the revamped iTunes address interface clutter and performance difficulties. We now have an unlimited music streaming subscription service, like those provided by Groove Music, Spotify, and Tidal. Our Editors’ Choice for media-playing software goes to Apple iTunes because of its plethora of cutting-edge features, vast content catalog, stylish interface, and quick performance.