iTunes 11 + late October release = rumored Pandora-like radio?
Every year when Apple releases new iPods in September, the company also updates it’s iTunes software. Generally each year iTunes receivers a full version bump (iTunes 9 to iTunes 10 for example). These full version updates generally add user interface changes and features like iTunes LP, Ping, Home Sharing, and so on.
At Apple’s September 12 event, the company announced iTunes 11 in addition to the new iPhone 5, iPods and EarPods. If Apple was sticking to tradition, iTunes 11 would have been released last Wednesday. It wasn’t. Instead, we got a point update to iTunes 10 in the form of iTunes 10.7 that added support for the new iPod models.
I find the late October release intriguing for a few reasons:
1. The software should have been close to being finished for a while.
Apple’s last major update to iTunes was version 10 in September 2010. We never got a major update in 2011 at the annual music event.
2. Apple is rumored to introduce a Pandora-like radio service.
Within the last week heading up to the September 12 event, claims of Apple introducing a Pandora-like radio service in iTunes emerged. And they gained traction rather quickly. This rumored Pandora-like radio service was not unveiled or demoed at the event, even though iTunes 11 did get a live demo.
3. Apple sometimes releases iTunes beta version to developers.
Last Wednesday developers were given access to the iOS 6 GM. Many times in the past, Apple would release iTunes beta builds to developers to make sure all the new advertised features or functionality worked. Apple did not issue a beta build of iTunes 11 and it looks like everyone will get their hands on it at the same time, come late October.
4. The iTunes 11 user interface.
The radio has always been a feature Apple never put much effort into. It was under the library menu and usually consisted of low bit-rate streams from some well known and not so well-known radio stations around the world. Users could also add their own stations using a special URL. This is how the radio feature is going to be treated in iTunes 11:
The radio is front and center in the screen shots provided by Apple.
It seems odd to me why the lackluster radio in iTunes would now be classified under the music menu instead of it’s own library menu. This is the first version of iTunes to have a radically different UI compared to prior version dating back to 2003 with the introduction of the iTunes store. Could the late October launch with no beta build be an indication that this radio could be the Pandora-like radio we are all expecting? Maybe Apple is trying to rush licensing deals before the end of October so this radio service can become a reality. Apple may not have demoed and promised the radio on stage if they thought they couldn’t get the licensing in time for an October launch. If it was not for this rumored service, I don’t see why iTunes 11 couldn’t have been released last Wednesday since we’ve had iTunes 10 since 2010.