As revealed yesterday, The latest version of Apple’s iTunes media-managing software, iTunes 10, is now available to download through Software Update or via direct download here.
iTunes 10 has long been rumored to be the first version of iTunes that capitalized upon Apple’s acquisition of Lala and brought cloud-streaming to the masses, but Steve Jobs belied that expectation yesterday by saying that Apple remains “skeptical” of the cloud for the time being.
Instead, the major new feature in iTunes 10 is Ping, a baked-in social network based around music discovery. You can follow friends and artists like on Twitter and be alerted to new music that they rate and review, while also giving the heads up to friends about hot new tracks you might enjoy.
To be honest, Ping’s pretty barebones in its current form. There aren’t a lot of artists on it yet, it doesn’t seem to support the ability to recommend artists or albums to your followers (only tracks) and it seemed absolutely determined to broadcast the existence of the sole Katy Perry track in my library to the entire world before I shut it off. Right now, it just seems like more feature creep bloat on Apple’s busiest application, but none the less, Ping is likely a big part of the backbone that will drive a future live-streaming, cloud-based version of iTunes. It’s way too early to write it off yet.
iTunes 10 also supports AirPlay, Apple’s new beefed-up version of AirTunes, which is now capable of streaming video and photos to any AirPlay-compatible device in the house. Syncing has also allegedly improved, though we haven’t noticed any real performance gains ourselves, and you can now rent $0.99 from ABC or FOX.
The other changes to iTunes 10 are largely aesthetic. The icon has changed, dropping the CD that we have loved so much for years because digital delivery is now more important than the sale of compact discs. Your mileage may well vary on the new icon, but I’m not a big fan: it looks like it would feel more at place in a Cydia theme than as an official Apple icon. Change hurts, though, and I expect I’ll get used to it.
iTunes’ appearance has also been streamlined and now the application adheres much more closely to a muted gray aesthetic, with all the sidebar icons dropping their colors in favor of monotone icons. The tabs allowing you to organize different aspects of a plugged in iPhone or iPod have transformed into smaller oval buttons now.
There are doubtlessly many more changes, but that’s what I’ve noticed so far. To give iTunes 10 a spin, download it through Software update or directly from Apple now, then hit the comments and let us know what you think.