iTunes 12.5 (or more precisely 12.5.1) was released yesterday. There are some major changes to the interface, and to Apple Music, as well as some minor changes to the app. Here’s a brief list of what’s new. Note that I’ll be linking to a couple of Macworld articles I’m writing about the main new features in the coming days.
- Apple Music refresh: Not specific to iTunes, but also affecting the Music app in iOS 10, Apple Music has been refreshed, with a new, more legible, and more easily navigable interface.
- Works and movements: New tagging options for classical music let you define tracks as part of works, naming the work and the individual movements. I’ll have a full explanation of this on Macworld soon.
- Love and Dislike: Apple introduced Love ratings a while ago; they now add Dislike ratings. These are essentially for Apple Music, so the recommendation algorithm can fine-tune the music it displays. But you could use them for your own music as well. More here.
- Star ratings gone in the iOS Music app: This doesn’t affect iTunes, but it suggests that iTunes may deprecate star ratings in the future. See some discussion of star ratings here.
- Lyrics: You can now easily display lyrics during playback, and iTunes can search for lyrics on the fly. I wrote about this last month, and it hasn’t changed much. Note that there’s a new Custom Lyrics checkbox on the Lyrics tag of a track’s Info window; this tells iTunes to use the lyrics you’ve added to a track, rather than to search for them.
- Custom Colors for albums and playlists are gone: I think this is a good thing, but I agree that offering the option would probably have been better. This was an option in iTunes, but never in the iOS Music app.
- No more random album artwork to illustrate artists: Previously, iTunes would choose an album to illustrate an artist in Artists view. Now, it just uses a boring picture of a microphone in a circle. I wish this was something that users could configure; it looks ugly, seeing all these microphone in Artists view.
- Playlist icons in the sidebar: Playlist icons now contain little overlays showing the library in which they were created. If you make a new playlist in the Music library, it shows a small musical note; create one in the Movies library, and it shows a couple of film frames.
- Blue: The dominant color of iTunes is black, white, and gray, but there are a number of blue accents: buttons, stars, tab highlights, and more. The blue they’ve used seems to be at odds with the spartan nature of the rest of the interface, but given the way iTunes design has been approached in recent years, any color is good. There’s also the red Love icon to add another splash of color.
- New AirPlay button and menu: The AirPlay button and menu have been revamped. The button isn’t a big deal, but the menu makes it easier to stream to multiple speakers:
- Simplified tag editing in Albums view: You can now edit tags, such as the name of an album or artist, by clicking a text in Albums view. Click the name of an album or artist, and it highlights, so you can change its text. This tag editing is not available in Artists or Genres view. You have long been able to do this in list views, but only for item names.
- Quickly go to an artist’s recordings from Albums view: In Albums view, when you click an album to expand its contents, the artist’s name displays in blue. Click the artist name to see their other music in Artists view.
- Quickly view an item in either the iTunes Store or Apple Music: If you right-click a track, you can choose Go To, and then choose to view it in either the iTunes Store or in Apple Music. Previously, you could only view their content in the iTunes Store, and you would have to search manually for it in Apple Music.
- New Library menu: If you hide the sidebar (View > Hide Sidebar), the Library button in the navigation bar becomes a menu, giving you access to your different media libraries, and to your playlists. As has long been the case, when the sidebar is hidden, it pops out if you drag something from anywhere in your library to the left edge of the iTunes window. So with the sidebar hidden, you can still access your playlists, and add items to them. (Screenshot below.)
- And the rest: There are a number of minor interface tweaks throughout the app.
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments.