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7 features Apple killed off in iTunes 11

iTunes 11's crowning feature is its new look, something that's come at a price for some longtime features. Read on to see what Apple left on the cutting room floor.


Apple's latest iTunes brings plenty of new features, but also puts some golden oldies out to pasture.

The software, which went out yesterday as a free update, comes with a redesigned player and a more extensive album view for browsing music. Apple's also more deeply integrated iCloud and its stores within the software.

But some of that march towards simplicity has come at the expense of some old features. Few of the deep-sixed features seem like logical deletions, and others are already bringing ire from longtime users who expected to see them on the other side of the update.

Read on to find out what's gone.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

1. Cover Flow
Cover Flow was the headlining feature of iTunes 7 in 2006. The feature put album covers in a "flow" together, that let you flip between them as if they were floating in front of you.

Short of the built-in visualizer, it was really one of iTunes' biggest eye candy features, but it was also a way to show off the fluidity and smarts of the software when browsing through music with a multitouch trackpad. Apple's even been sued over using it, and initially lost a $625 million patent lawsuit until the judge reversed the jury verdict.

Apple completely nixed Cover Flow in iTunes 11 in favor of its new album view, which will expand out an album to show you the songs within when you click on it. The Cover Flow feature remains on iPhones and iPods.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

2. The de-duper
In the world of collecting and organizing digital music, you might get a duplicate or a thousand in your library. By default, iTunes won't let you re-add another music file if you've already added it, but accidents happen and large libraries can overlap.

In iTunes 10.7 and earlier, Apple offered a built-in tool that would sniff out duplicates and put them on a single page. It wasn't great, but it was something, and free. In iTunes 11, the feature is missing in action.

Third-party tools like $40 TuneUp can bridge the gap with a feature that finds and deletes duplicates, grabs album art, and fixes metadata. Mac users can also use the $15 Dupin.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

3. iTunes DJ
iTunes DJ was a neat feature that would let you put together a never-ending playlist in a pinch. You could even tweak it to make sure it wouldn't play the embarrassing chunks of your music collection by limiting selections to a certain playlist or genre (see above).

What made it really stand out, however, was a feature Apple added in iTunes 8.1 that let other people at your party put in a request for a song from their mobile device, and even vote on upcoming tracks. If a party host agreed, that song would go on, making the whole thing feel a little more social. Google's defunct Nexus Q device (which is currently being reworked) wanted to take that same idea and turn it into a standalone product. In iTunes 11, though, it's MIA.

4. Gapless playback editor
As the name suggests, the gapless playback feature plays songs back to back, without any break -- something that's useful for tracks meant to be in immediate succession. One of the best examples: Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

Curiously enough, gapless playback in iTunes 11 still works just fine. You just can't tweak any of your existing music to make use of the feature from the options editor. That's a bummer for any live-show or big 1970s concept CDs you might have planned on ripping.

What devil magic is this?
What devil magic is this? Josh Lowensohn/CNET

5. Multiple windows
In an effort to simplify iTunes' user interface, Apple also stripped out one of the features power users loved: the option to break out functions into their own windows.

This was particularly useful if you wanted to do a little multitasking, like listening to Internet radio while going through and producing a playlist, all the while keeping those two actions separate. Another example: shopping in Apple's online store while managing an iOS device.

With iTunes 11 you're limited to just that one window and whatever task is in front of you -- just like on the iPhone or iPad.

Maybe it's not such a bad thing this is gone.
Maybe it's not such a bad thing this is gone. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

6. The other sidebar
Apple merely hid the source list sidebar, but you can still get that one back. What we're talking about is the feature that would give you genius recommendations based on any song you were currently on, often polling the iTunes Store for music you might not even have.

On the plus side, this means Apple is not jamming its store down your throat nearly as much, but it's moved some of those recommendations so far out of the way that you really have to hunt to find them.

Apple's effectively replaced this sidebar with a special genius recommendations menu that pops out right next to a song when you click on a context menu. This shows you songs you already have in your library, but doesn't introduce you to new stuff that might be a better match. For that you need to look at the "related" or "listeners also bought" links from within a song's page on iTunes -- assuming it's there.

7. Quick volume control, song progress in mini player
Apple's mini player now does quite a bit more than it used to, such as providing search and displaying album art. Even so, it's missing a few handy things such as the volume knob and progress indicator that would show you how far along in a song you were.

The mini player in iTunes 10.7 (top) and in iTunes 11 (bottom).
The mini player in iTunes 10.7 (top) and in iTunes 11 (bottom). Josh Lowensohn/CNET

You can still access the volume settings without leaving the mini player, though it takes an extra step -- you can either click on the AirPlay icon and adjust the master volume, or click on the album art and adjust it from the pop-up window. But the progress bar? That's long gone.

Anything we missed? Leave it in the comments. Also be sure to read CNET's full review of iTunes 11 right here.

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