With just a day to spare before its second deadline, Apple debuted the newest version of iTunes today, one that gives users the ability to stream their entertainment from the Internet via iCloud.
The release came after the Cupertino, Calif., technology giant in October announced it would delay its iTunes 11 launch by a month in order to "get it right." The company did not state a more specific reason for the delay. Historically, Apple has followed its own timeline when it comes to launches, telling the world that it will release products "when they are ready."
Still, it is unusual for the company to miss a publicly stated date, as it did with iTunes 11, which it had initially promised for October. But with billions of dollars in annual revenue flowing through iTunes each year, Apple needed to be careful with changes that could affect the flow of transactions. iTunes' most recent quarterly revenue -- including the sale of apps, digital books as well as songs -- was $2.3 billion. That figure is up from $1.7 billion a year earlier.
Here's a recap of what's new in iTunes 11, which was also covered at Apple's news conference in September.
Redesign - Apple came up with a new "edge-to-edge" design for iTunes that is meant to take better advantage of the space on the screen. The goal was to facilitate exploration of the store's content and give users personal recommendations based on what they already have. The emphasis was on making both the iTunes Store and the player a cleaner, simpler look.
iCloud Play - iTunes music, movie, and TV purchases will appear automatically in both iCloud now and in the local library. Users have the option of playing them directly from iCloud or downloading a copy to sync to a device or play while offline.
Up Next - Apple tried to make it simpler for users to see which songs are playing next by adding an "Up Next" button in the center display. Listeners can reorder, add, or skip songs from the Up Next display.
MiniPlayer - iTunes 11 adds a mini-player, a shrunken down player that takes up less screen space and shows what's playing, album art, Up Next, and lets listeners search for something new to play.
Improved search - The new version is expected to offer more robust search results than prior versions.
Playback syncing -- iCloud is now able to "remember" your place in a movie or TV show. If users switch devices or return several days later, iCloud will continue where you left off.