We've seen growing evidence that Apple is working on a major update to iTunes, with reports that Apple has begun internally seeding iTunes 11, as well as an iTunes interface patent victory for the company and new rumours of an iTunes integrated television set.
iTunes 11 is thought to have begun seeding internally at Apple, with reports suggesting that Apple was working on the new version before iTunes 10.6 was released in March.
Reports indicate that iTunes 11 does not have a different aesthetic design, but has improved iCloud integration, with a new iCloud settings panel accessible from within iTunes itself. The panel is described as a centralised, always accessible spot for users to control iCloud related features while in iTunes. These features include iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, and iCloud iOS device backups.
Content discovery is likely to be improved across apps, music and media as the company deploys discovery technologies acquired when it purchased search and discovery company Chomp earlier this year.
Apple users have criticised the App Store's simplistic title-based search engine for its inability to help them find the needles in a haystack of more than 555,000 apps. Chomp's technology should address that shortcoming as the search software has a proprietary algorithm that learns the functions and topics of apps, as well as ties to Facebook and Twitter for sharing app reviews.
Apple is also focused on making iTunes more interactive, and will hopefully include Facebook support for its never-used "social network for music", Ping.
The iTunes Store also seems set for redesign, with a focus on user-friendliness. Previous reports have claimed plans to introduce a Spotify-competing music streaming service within iTunes.
Reports also suggest that Apple will update iTunes ready for the rumoured launch of its own television set. The TV could have an iTunes-integrated touch screen remote and Siri-like voice command technology, and could arrive by the end of 2012.
The news of an update has been welcomed by many iTunes users who are hoping for a complete overhaul in the software's next iteration. Users have been complaining about syncing difficulties and overcomplicated ways of getting things done within the software.
Macworld US editor, Jason Snell, wrote in his blog: "iTunes is simultaneously Apple's most important and problematic productApple has packed almost everything involving media (and app) management, purchase, and playback into this single app. It's bursting at the seams. It's a complete mess. And it's time for an overhaul."
"If Apple's going to embrace the cloud wherever possible, it needs to change iTunes too. The program should be simpler. It might be better off being split into separate apps, one devoted to device syncing, one devoted to media playback," said Snell.
In related news, Apple has finally been granted a patent for its iTunes Store interface, almost eight years after the company filed the application in 2004. Apple's patent is for "Graphical user interface for browsing, searching and presenting media items," according to the official document.