iTunes 9 full review - Page 6
The iTunes Store gets a facelift…again
Finally, as with each recent upgrade to iTunes, Apple has redesigned the iTunes Store and added some new features and purchasing options. The new design is a bit less cluttered and offers more options for jumping directly to particular content.
For example, mouse over the Music item in the navigation bar and a small arrow appears; click on the arrow to view a menu for jumping directly to a particular music section—videos, iTunes Essentials, pre-orders or any music genre. Each section page provides side-scrolling groups of album thumbnails that I found a bit easier to browse than the previous design.
Album pages also get a new look that does away with a separate track-list pane at the bottom, instead placing the track list in the body of the page. This new appearance is more attractive and wastes less space, but it isn’t without drawbacks: You don’t see the track-preview button until you mouse over a track name, and you can no longer use the arrow keys or back/forward buttons to skip through previews of an album’s tracks. (And you still can’t click on a single button to preview all tracks on an album, something you’ve been able to on many other music services for years.)
For those with smaller screens, there’s a useful new setting, in iTunes preferences, to hide the source list and use the entire window when browsing the store, and those with large screens will appreciate that the store grows to efficiently fit the iTunes window no matter how large it gets.
People who use Twitter and Facebook can post a message about a particular item by clicking on the arrow next to the item’s Buy button and choosing Share On Twitter or Facebook, respectively. And one of my favorite new features is that a track preview no longer stops playing if you navigate away from the page containing the track.
Although the new design may make it easier to find media, in the two days since iTunes 9 debuted, navigating the store was at times an exercise in frustration. Sometimes pages didn’t load at all, and when they did, the transition often took a minute or more. For now I’ll chalk this up to heavy traffic, but I don’t recall the same issues when iTunes 8 debuted.
Apple has also done away with the shopping cart; the only way to buy content in iTunes 9 is One-Click purchasing. If you were one of the many people who used the shopping cart as a sort of “wish list,” not to worry—iTunes 9 now includes a dedicated wish list feature.
Click on the arrow next to a Buy button and choose Add To Wish List, and that item is added to your list for later consideration or purchasing. You can access your wish list from the Quick Links section on the iTunes Store home page (where it conveniently notes how many items are on the list), or at the bottom of any other page in the store. One limitation, however, is that not all items can be added to your wish list; for example, I noticed I couldn’t add some iTunes Passes.