When is Apple iTunes 12 coming out and what new features will iTunes 12 have? Here, we round up all of the latest news about iTunes 12 to help answer that question.
Apple has unveiled iTunes 12 as part of the latest beta build of Mac OS X Yosemite. It doesn't match our wishlist of improvements, but Apple could still add further changes in future beta iterations ahead of its public release. Here, we bring you everything there is to know about iTunes 12, including new features and release date rumours.
iTunes 12: New design
As expected, Apple has changed the iTunes icon from blue to red(ish). This fits in with the design changes in OS X Yosemite, bringing a flatter, more minimalist design similar to the one found in iOS 7 and iOS 8. See: Downgrade from iOS 8 to iOS 7.
It's not just the icon that has adopted the new design. Overall, iTunes 12 has taken on the look rolled out across the rest of Yosemite.
You'll now see a line of icons for music, movies, TV, audiobooks and apps along the top left of the navigation bar within the iTunes 12 window, rather than the dropdown menu or left-hand column you'll find in the current iTunes, depending on the view you use.
There's a '…' more menu, which lets you see the other options such as iTunes U, Podcasts and more. You can change which icons appear outside of the drop down menu for easy access, depending on your preferences.
In the middle of the navigation bar, you'll now see 'My Music,' 'Playlist,' 'Match,' 'Radio,' and 'iTunes Store.' That's in the place of the current 'Songs,' 'Albums,' 'Artists,' 'Genres,' 'Videos,' 'Playlists,' 'Radio.'
Those options are now found at the right of the navigation bar in a drop down menu, where 'iTunes Store' is currently.
The Apps screen and iTunes Store are largely unchanged, though Apple has already confirmed that it is working on ways to help with app discoverability within its stores.
iTunes 12: New features
Apple has added its new Family Sharing feature to iTunes 12.
In iTunes 12, Apple has made some improvements to Playlists, too. You'll be able to see your library and playlists side-by-side, so adding songs to playlists is much easier.
Aside from that, though, there are no new features in iTunes 12 just yet. It's a bit disappointing, particularly after the rumours of a big overhaul for the application, but we're still keeping our fingers crossed that a proper update that meets our needs is in the pipeline.
We'll bring you more information about iTunes 12 as it arrives. Apple is bound to introduce further changes as we approach the public release of OS X Yosemite, which should be some point this autumn.
iTunes 12: The rumours
Apple released a completely redesigned version of iTunes in November 2012 - iTunes 11. Unfortunately, it wasn't met by an positive reception. In fact, many users still use iTunes 10.7 because they dislike iTunes 11 so much.
Apple has released various updates since iTunes 11.0, providing tweaks, improvements and minor changes to bring the software to version 11.1.5, but there are still many irritations that we were hoping Apple would fix with iTunes 12. Following the release of the iTunes 12 beta, it looks like we'll need to wait until a later update for Apple to grant our wishes, though.
It's been close to two years since Apple released iTunes 11, and since then, the company has unveiled both OS X Mavericks and OS X Yosemite, and iOS 7 and iOS 8. The new operating systems for both Mac and mobile bring huge changes for users, and we suspect that iTunes will get the same treatment eventually.
We had previously thought that Apple might talk about a new iTunes during WWDC 2014, but it was notably (and disappointingly) absent. Apple did talk about the App Store during WWDC 2014, though. It has revealed that it's been working to make the App Store better for discoverability, something that it's really, really bad at right now.
There will be a new 'Explore' tab, a new 'Top Trending' search feature, and new 'Related Searches' and Editors' Choice logos to help find great apps.
We're not getting these new features just yet, but we can expect them to arrive later this year with OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, maybe as part of the iTunes 12 update. Apple promises that there's more up its sleeve for the App Store, but we'll have to wait to find out what those secret new features will be.
Previous rumours suggested that Apple was planning a complete overhaul of its iTunes Music Store following significant declines in digital music sales.
Apple hasn't released a new version of iTunes since 2012, but 2013 did see the introduction of iTunes Radio, an Apple service (so far restricted to the US) that lets you set up and customise your own 'radio stations' that stream music tailored to your likes and dislikes.
iTunes Radio is part of iTunes 11, but the rumours about the iTunes Music Store overhaul also suggested that Apple could be planning to release it as a standalone application.
What's more, the same rumours even claim that Apple is considering launching iTunes for Android. That might seem crazy, but back in 2003, Apple decided against the odds to introduce iTunes for Windows, so it's not completely outside the realms of possibility.
Of course, Apple's huge acquisition of Beats Electronics, which includes Beats Audio and Beats Music, is another big clue to the future of iTunes and iTunes Radio.
It's believed that the reason for the acquisition of the company is not about the popular Beats headphones, but in fact for the reasonably new Beats Music streaming service, which could mean we're going to get a vastly improved version of iTunes Radio that could be the future of iTunes.
There have also been rumours to suggest that, as part of the overhaul of iTunes, Apple is planning to introduce high-definition music to the iTunes Store, with 24-bit tracks. Currently, iTunes offers 16-bit AAC tracks, which means lots of audio data is lost.
It will allegedly cost a little bit extra for those high-res audio tracks, though.
These HD audio tracks could work well with future headphones that use the Lightning port rather than the 3.5mm jack. Apple used WWDC 2014 to announce that it is introducing a Lightning headphone module that will mean richer controls and app enabled headphones. It could mean better noise cancellation and improved audio quality from headphones that use the Lightning port.
iTunes 12: Wishlist
While there is no evidence to support any of the following features, we know that many iTunes users are hoping that Apple will add them to a future version of the software.
First up, we want iTunes Radio in the UK! It's been available in the US since the release of iOS 7 in September 2013, and also arrived in Australia earlier this year, but there's still no sign of the service elsewhere.
We'd also like to see iTunes Match improvements as some of our readers have found it unreliable at times. Many would also like to see the return of the Cover Flow feature, as well as the ability to open multiple windows for the various elements of iTunes 11 (there are so many!)
With iTunes 11, Apple also removed the sound bars, cover preview and iTunes DJ, all of which have been widely missed. The return of these features would please many users.
We'd also love to see iTunes split into two apps (or maybe even more!), one for your music library and one for the store. We feel that there's a bit too much going on in iTunes 11, so separating the apps would be a welcome move by Apple. It began simply, as a music player and manager, but it's become overcrowded with new features squeezed in where there really isn't enough space.
If you take a closer, look, there could actually be six different apps, one for music, one for videos, one for podcasts, one for the App Store, one for the iTunes Store and one for iTunes U. Apple has already created iBooks, so why not create new apps for the different features we've listed here.
It would be great if we could also allow common music folders to be shared by all of the users of a computer to prevent the need for multiple folders of the same music taking up precious space.
More Words for You
As we know, no matter how iTunes changes or upgrades, one thing that can't be ignored that movies and TV shows in iTunes Store are always locked by Apple's DRM protection to restrict us playing the movies on non-Apple devices and players. If you are getting tired of this and want to make a change, you may try TunesKit iTunes DRM Media Converter to crack the DRM and convert the iTunes videos to plain MP4 format for playing on common mobile devices for free.