Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

“A Shallow Veneer of Simplicity”

Lukas Mathis isn’t buying the dramatically simplified nature of the iTunes 11 interface:

Sure, iTunes 11 looks as if it was way more friendly than previous versions of iTunes. But while those previous versions were at least honest about their complexity, iTunes 11 isn’t. iTunes’ user interface used to promise a complex application, and then deliver one. iTunes 11 promises a simple app, but delivers the opposite.

He cites a number of examples whereby switching views is inconsistent, such as between the store and library, or within different portions of your local library.

But he forgets that it has always been this way in iTunes, despite acknowledging the following:

Compare this to how iTunes 10 used to work. To jump to a different screen in iTunes, select it from the sidebar. To change how the screen is shown, select one of the options in the toolbar. The basic organization of iTunes 10 can be explained in two sentences.

But this is incorrect. The “jumping to a different screen” aspect of the sidebar included switching between different kinds of local media, switching to an online store, or switching to groupings of local media (playlists). I could easily stretch the same complaints about the inconsistent views in iTunes 11 to questioning why I was able to switch to a musical playlist from the Movies view in iTunes 10.

Of course, I’m not implying that iTunes 11 is perfectly usable. There are a number of legitimate complaints here, chief among which is the library/store switching button which changes sides. But it’s a significant improvement all around. By segregating different kinds of media into unique sections of the app, it has isolated them into more appropriate categories and views, rather than assuming that all are equally relevant all the time.