iTunes overhaul draws rave reviews… but does lack of ability to stream music mean Apple software is dead on arrival
Venerable music player could be beaten by Spotify and PandoraDramatic improvement in design may not be enough to save iTunes
07:16 GMT, 2 December 2012
The new version of Apple's iTunes has just been released after a series of delays – but some are asking whether the music player may have had its day.
iTunes 11 is said to be one of the biggest steps forward the software has ever made, and its revamped design and new features have largely received rave reviews.
However, critics have pointed out that the programme is unable to access streaming music online, and suggested that this could harm the firm in the battle against newer services such as Spotify and Pandora.
New look: The iTunes re-design has been widely hailed as a massive step forward
Mini-player: The programme offers an unobtrusive way to listen to music while doing other things
The tech giant's flagship media software has come a long way since its launch as a simple music playback system in 2001.
It is now the hub which controls devices such as iPods, iPhones and iPads, and is used to access Apple's huge store of music, video and e-books for sale online.
Previous versions of iTunes have come under fire over the last few years for being increasingly slow and difficult to use – but version 11, released on Thursday, apparently remedies many of those flaws.
Reviewers at top tech websites praised the software's overhaul – Gizmodo described it as 'lightning quick', while TechCrunch said it 'feels new and looks great'.
Mode: It is now easier to browse around the music of any one artist
Multiple devices: But iTunes 11 does not allow users to access music streaming services
In the new era of cloud computing, iTunes 11 is closely integrated with Apple's online services.
The programme encourages users to download music instantly from artists they already listen to, automatically uploads files to Apple's iCloud service and enables you to keep your place in any book, podcast or video even when switching devices.
But it has no capacity to access the nearly infinite libraries of streaming music which millions of web users now depend upon – and some say that could prove a fatal flaw for the future of iTunes.
Services like Spotify, Pandora and Rdio all give users the ability to listen to a collection of music far larger than any single person would ever be able to download, for the price of a monthly subscription.
Their popularity has even led some music fans to dump their own collection altogether – making iTunes completely redundant.
Multimedia: Apple hopes to persuade users not to confine themselves to accessing music with the software
New logo: Apple has stream-lined the icon it uses to represent iTunes
So the fact that Apple provides no capability for users to unite streaming music with a permanent collection could be its fatal flaw, according to some experts.
Gizmodo boss Joe Brown tweeted: 'iTunes 11 installed, and. uh… I don't have any locally stored music anymore. All on @rdio and @spotify.'
While web designer Jason Schuller quipped: 'iTunes 11 installed, opened, closed… back to Spotify.'
There are rumours that iTunes is set to add internet radio stations, which would be personalised to users' individual tastes, but until they launch them the service could have trouble finding a foothold in the fast-changing media landscape.