30/11/2012 03:18 GMT | Updated 29/01/2013 05:12 GMT

iTunes 11 Released: Apple Upgrades Flagship Media Player And Store (PHOTOS)

Apple has finally launched a long-awaited update of iTunes.

iTunes 11 is available to download from Apple's website or from the Mac App Store.

The software had been expected in October, but was eventually launched only one day before its second deadline of "late November" expired.

The new app adds features including improved browsing, speed boosts and a new miniplayer.

So what's really new - and how does it work?

  • Speed Improvements: iTunes 11 is much faster than the previous version, which was a bloated and clunky piece of software. It launches quicker, search is faster and generally it's a much smoother experience.
  • Miniplayer: the new iTunes miniplayer is a huge improvement. Now you can do pretty much everything from the tiny minimised view, including queuing up albums, searching for songs and controlling Airplay.
  • Library Sidebar: the sidebar is gone from iTunes 11 - at least by default. You can get it back if you want (View>Show Sidebar) but the main view is now based around a simple, horizontal menu. It also removes 'Composers' as a default tab. Now you get Songs, Albums, Artists, Genres, Playlists, and Radio.
  • Browsing Music: iTunes 11 has a new "expanded" album view, which displays the songs in the album, with large artwork, and easy access to the artists' other songs in the iTunes store. It is visually very pretty and easier to navigate.
  • iTunes store: Apple's famed store is now the same as on iPad and iPhone, with larger artwork and smoother animations.
  • Preview History: iTunes 11 collects all the previews you listen to in the store for posterity.
  • Cloud Bookmarks: iTunes 11 now syncs where you're up to in podcasts, audiobooks and TV shows (etc) across devices - so you should never lose your place again when switching from desktop to your iPhone.

Overall it's a solid upgrade, and worth the time it takes to download (a few minutes) and the price (nothing).