Blog Post

iTunes UI: Deconstructing 8 to 9

iTunes Icon

The one thing many people did not expect with a new version of iTunes was that Apple (s aapl) would use the opportunity to cause dissent among its fanbase by introducing another new user interface. Some classify the new styling as “needed” and “elegant and refined” while others have resorted to a variety of hacks to return to the UI of yesteryear.

We’ve gone through every corner of iTunes we could find and dug up all of the major changes in the interface. Here’s what we found.

Welcome to iTunes 9

The first thing many noticed is that iTunes 9 now launches with a Welcome to iTunes screen, offering quick links to videos showcasing some of iTunes features. Similar to apps like iPhoto and iWeb, users can disable this by ticking a checkbox.

Welcome to iTunes 9

iTunes Preferences

iTunes Preferences also featured a few notable changes, specifically adding support for grouping iTunes U content.

iTunes 9 General Preferences
iTunes 9 General Preferences

iTunes 8 General Preferences
iTunes 8 General Preferences

Parental Control also received a new icon (matching the icon in Snow Leopard) as well as some slight rewording.

iTunes 9 Parental Controls
iTunes 9 Parental Controls

iTunes 8 Parental Controls
iTunes 8 Parental Controls

Removed from iTunes 9 are references in the Store section to “adding to shopping cart” versus buying with Amazon’s (s amzn) licensed 1-Click technology. Added is an option to use the full window when browsing the iTunes Store.

iTunes 9 Store Preferences
iTunes 9 Store Preferences

iTunes 8 Store Preferences
iTunes 8 Store Preferences

Browsing Content

Browsing content within iTunes has also received a refresh. While browsing music in List Mode, the artists have been grouped along the left, making it easier to narrow down your selection rather quickly.

iTunes 9 Music List Mode
iTunes 9 Music List Mode

When browsing in Grid View, the first thing you will notice is that the dark black background is gone and now albums are scattered amongst an off white background. Badged content, such as Podcasts, TV Shows, iTunes U and Movies feature blue badges instead of the original red. Gone from this view are the tabs to sort content within an area (such as Music) by Albums, Artists, Genres and Composers. This can be re-enabled via the View menu.

ITunes 9 Podcasts
ITunes 9 Podcasts

Cover Flow view is pretty much the same, with the refining of the “full screen” icon.

iTunes 9 CoverFlow
iTunes 9 CoverFlow

The iTunes 9 Equalizer also received a refresh, styling the control knobs with blue accents.

iTunes 9 Equalizer
iTunes 9 Equalizer

iTunes 8 Equalizer
iTunes 8 Equalizer

Icons & Buttons

Buttons and displays in iTunes 9 have been overhauled to give them a more glossy, shiny three dimensional look. The toolbar has also been realigned, removing the ‘View’ label and moving the ‘Search’ label instead the Search field. The information area has also been updated, providing more useful information during syncing and downloading of content from the iTunes Store (such as time remaining).

iTunes 9 vs iTunes 8

iTunes 9 also brings about many refreshed icons, including many of the icons in the sidebar. Specifically, playlist icons have gotten the most attention, while TVs, Movies, Audiobooks, and Applications have seen slight refreshes as well.

Sidebar Icons

Syncing

Syncing is by far the area that received the most attention in this revision. Specifically, users now have the ability to sync content more selectively. When choosing a TV show, for instance, they can sync specific seasons or specific episodes. When syncing a podcast, they can choose to sync specific episodes. When syncing photos, users can take advantage of the iPhoto ’09 Faces and Places aspect to sync photos of particular people or a particular place. Many of these areas also provide a search field, making it easier to quickly narrow down and select the specific content you’re looking for.

TV Shows
Syncing TV Shows

Syncing Ringtones
Syncing Ringtones

Sync iTunes U
Syncing iTunes U

Syncing Music
Syncing Music

Syncing Photos
Syncing Photos

The biggest feature in the redesigned sync options is the ability to organize your iPhone and iPod touch apps directly within iTunes. Check the ones you wish to add, highlight to select them and drag them to whichever home screen you desire. Selecting multiple apps is a cinch and moving them between home screens is equally easy.

Syncing Apps
Syncing Apps

Everything Else

Upon a user’s first visit to a section, such as creating a new Playlist, or visiting the Podcast area, they are greeted with a new UI that discusses how that particular concept works.

iTunes 9 New Playlist
iTunes 9 New Playlist

While this overview is fairly exhaustive, there are likely many other features that users will continue to discover. If there’s one we’ve missed, please use the comments to let us know!

55 Responses to “iTunes UI: Deconstructing 8 to 9”

  1. Just did the fatal 9 upgrade or downgrade if you ask me.
    And low and behold no music that I have paid for no videos that I paid for and no music at all that i imported for the “convienence’ says apple. I operate a pc but maybe Feds will step in on this on so we can get our money back!

  2. About Playlists:

    It seems everytime i create a Playlist it gets assigned the Musical Note icon.
    However i’ve beeing creating several Playlist about Movies. Why well…lets say
    you have Star Wars I,II,III,IV,V,VI … now its showing as a Music Playlist in iTunes as well as in my Apple TV when it sychronizes….

    How i can assigned content specific icons to Playlists? They do exist as i can see Music, Movie, TV Show, etc…as part of the iTunes Library….

    Suggestions are appreciated

  3. After reinstalling iTunes 9.0.3 and the podcast “get episode button” still not working, I decided to cut my losses and go back to 8.

    First, I exported my playlist (iTunes/File/Library/Export Playlist), trashed the iTunes application, iTunes library folders (in User and Music) and downloaded iTunes 8.2 ( http://en.kioskea.net/telecharger/telecharger-241-itunes-for-mac ), installed it, then imported the playlist back in.

    Ba-dah-boom.

    8.2 may not be as elegant as iTunes 9, but at least it works like it’s supposed to.

    More info on downgrading iTunes can be found here: http://davesource.com/Solutions/20080306.Easy-Downgrade-iTunes-OSx.html

  4. Jane Herman

    In iTunes 8 I had created a Wish List as a play list (not in the shopping cart). Is here a way to transfer these songs to the wish list in iTunes 9? If so, how?
    Thanks!

  5. Unbeflippinlievable. I thought I was uploading a Christmas album (free) and clieked I agree. All my iTunes playlists and library are wiped out. I HATE ITUNES 9. I have yet to see a solution. Someone, HELP PLEASE!

  6. Hey MB – if you haven’t heard this tip yet.. hold down “option” when you launch iTunes on a Mac – lets you open different libraries, or create a new library.


    MB on September 21st, 2009 at 8:31 pm
    I thought Home Sharing wuold be usesful, but what about an easy way to share music between different users on the SAME computer? I’m new to iTunes so maybe I’m missing something. Please help !

  7. There is a subtle bug (feature?) in iTunes 9:

    Ever since I installed iTunes 9.0x, I’ve noticed that the RELEASEDATE tag is no longer included asa a tag in the podcast file.

    What I used to do:
    I keep all podcasts on a separate drive, which means after downloading them (into “My DocumentsMy MusiciTunesPodcasts”), I then move the folders to my other drive, and drag and drop the new folder back into iTunes. Then after deleting the broken links to the original download location, all would be fine, and the podcasts were sorted by release date.

    What I have to do now:
    Because the RELEASEDATE tag is no longer included in the actual file, when I move he file and re-insert it, iTunes loses this information, as it is now only contained in the iTunes library file.

    The options are either:
    1. After moving the file, double click on every broken link, and relocate the file, attaching it back to the original entry in the library;
    2. Edit the individual podcasts, one by one, with MP3TAG, to insert a RELEASEDATE tag; or
    3. Edit the “iTunes Music Library.xml” to point to the new location, delete the “iTunes Library.itl” file and then restart iTunes – which means play count and other info is lost.

    None of these options is particularly pleasant when dealing with 10+ podcasts per day.

    The easiest thing would be for APPLE to fix the bug, and have the RELEASEDATE tag again included back into the podcast MP3.

    Alternatively, does anyone know where I can download the final iTunes 8 build, just before it went to 9?

  8. krakhead

    iTunes 9 needs to be taken out the back and shot. It’s now slower than ever, has many functions I just do not want and makes transferring music on to my iPod a tedious, drawn out task worthy of torture chambers.

    Utter shite – gimme back 8!!!

  9. jennifer

    itunes 9 suck. i hate the itunes store it would not let me do anything. they should just give us itunes 8 back instead of giving us crap. in itunes 8icould look at latino in the itunes store and now i can’t. do you have a problem with latinos cause i am one.