The first thing that struck me was how different the user interface was. Apple have yet again disregarded their own UI mechanisms in order to make iTunes look different than everything else. The window control "stoplight" is now arranged vertically, and all of the icons in the app are monochrome and low-contrast. Even for someone with normal vision like me, it makes major parts of the UI a lot harder to see and parse at a glance.
They also hid the AirPlay (nee AirTunes) stuff in a little tiny widget in the corner, which makes it much less clear if AirPlay is available, and they just use a gray vs. blue icon to indicate whether it's active. You have to click on it to learn what your particular configuration is. Considering they're really trying to push AirPlay now, this seems like a curious design decision.
I was also a bit annoyed that when I started it up, it was in "group with album art" view, which I usually turn off, but they've done a bit of tweaking to it to make it actually useful (even though the vast majority of my music doesn't have album art) and so I'm leaving it on for now.
So of course I tried out Ping, and was immediately annoyed by the following aspects:
- It requires your real name, which is tied to your billing account
- It requires your gender, which is of course the binary male/female
- You are only allowed to select up to three genres you like. The list of genres is pretty pathetic and mainstream anyway, though.
- There is no way for independent artists to add a profile (hopefully that will change in the future)
- The "privacy" settings are just "do you want to let people follow you?" and nothing like, for example, "do you want this information to be available?" Apparently, no, they haven't learned from Facebook's bad example.
- The only activity it records is actively purchasing and rating things on the iTunes store. So much for Last.fm-style discovery.
On the plus side, iTunes feels much more responsive and less laggy, and it's obviously they've put a lot of work into handling large libraries better. Hopefully they'll address the "too cool for colors" issue on the user interface, and it's not like you have to use Ping.