By Carolyn Heneghan
On Wednesday, Apple launched their latest operating system, the iOS 6, now available for free download and compatible with most Apple devices. We got a taste of it during last week’s press conference while they demonstrated the new iPhone 5, but now the new OS is here and ready for all the playing, tinkering, raving, and ranting that inevitably follows any Apple product release.
In terms of iTunes and the music world, not a whole lot has drastically changed, but there are a few updates that iTunes music addicts should know about.
First, if you haven’t already been prompted to update, Apple released their latest iTunes 10.7 last Wednesday, alongside the big iPhone-5-plus-new-iPods press conference. This new version introduced support for the iOS 6 as well as the new, recently announced models of the iPod nano and iPod shuffle.
To download iOS 6 from iTunes, you must have updated to 10.7 on your device, and you must have enough juice to sustain a minimum amount of power throughout the download process. Download times vary depending on the speed of your internet connection, but it seems to range on average between 30 and 90 minutes.
Once you’ve got iOS 6 installed, you can check out the redesigned App store with its faster and easier to browse shelves of music. Another great upgrade is the ability to multitask or, in other words, to make download selections without being kicked entirely out of the app.
When you want to see the “Now Playing” screen, the controls are now bright orange when in use and light grey when inactive, for a much easier, clearer experience of the controls overall. Also, now you can preview a song in iTunes even after you’ve moved to another song or album’s page.
In terms of the Music app, the changes are modest and mostly aesthetic, such as the interface’s new skin and more monochromatic—Read: Grey—navigation screens. Also, instead of glowing blue, active tabs on the app now depress, and some of the buttons have been rearranged. These don’t much affect the functionality of the app, but they do perhaps make navigation a bit more user-friendly.
One last major change to the Music app though is the removal of podcasts and iTunes U apps from the application’s library, which are now in their own appropriate downloadable apps. In actuality, this can be a problem for some users who have not downloaded these other apps, as neither of these types of media are available from the iTunes store app on iOS 6. Instead you must either sync them directly from iTunes or install the necessary apps.
Next on the menu sometime in October will be the iTunes 11 upgrade, which promises a redesigned user interface that resembles that of the iPhone and iPad versions. This will enable full edge-to-edge viewing with no more sidebars, plus an expanded library view that allows you to see an album’s entire track list without having to click back or leave the page you’re looking at.
The new iTunes will also sync your current place in songs, videos, podcasts, and audio books between all of your devices, plus a host of other potential upgrades. There is even rumor of a new mini player that allows you to search directly from within. Stay tuned.