iTunes 11.0.3 enhances MiniPlayer, tweaks album options

If you were hoping that the next update to iTunes might reverse some of the drastic changes Apple made in last year’s version 11, don’t hold your breath. A minor update released on Thursday, iTunes 11.0.3, makes some tweaks to the program’s interface, as well as applying fixes for some security issues.

iTunes 11.0.3's new MiniPlayer (left) and the older version (right), with no progress bar.

Among the changes in 11.0.3 is a revamped MiniPlayer, which now features a progress bar, complete with draggable playhead. The audio output button, which now uses a speaker icon instead of Apple’s traditional AirPlay icon, is also now visible even when you’re not hovering over the window.

The album art player in iTunes 11.0.3 (left) sports a new look, with access to more of the program's features than the old one (right).

There’s also now an alternate view of the MiniPlayer, which you can toggle by clicking on the album art: You’ll get a larger window, focused on the album art, with controls—including playback, Up Next, audio output, and more—that appear when you hover over the window. This view replaces the somewhat peculiar album art window from earlier versions of iTunes 11, which appeared when you double clicked on album art in the playback window, but provided fewer controls.

You can now opt to see your album art in iTunes 11's Songs view, even in cases when you only have a couple songs.

And Apple’s fascination with album art continues apace: a new view option in 11.0.3 lets you display album artwork in the Songs listing. Go to View -> Show View Options and click the new Show Artwork checkbox. By default, iTunes will not display album art for albums where you only have a couple songs, but you can force it to display those images by selecting the Always Show option.

Apple’s also tweaked the way that albums with multiple discs are displayed (though without really addressing the odd anachronism of selling digital albums on multiple “discs”). Whereas before such albums were sometimes shown as multiple albums—or, in album mode, as one monolithic disc—they are now treated expressly as a single album, albeit delineated by disc (see image at top).

Finally, I don’t know about you, but I like my media-playing/iOS device syncing/digital storefront applications with fewer security vulnerabilities. If iTunes 11.0.3 is any indication, then Apple seems happy to oblige: The update brings a patch for a certificate validation issue across all platforms, as well as fixes for a number of WebKit memory corruption issues on Windows that could allow for a man-in-the-middle attack.

But despite these minor additions, iTunes 11 remains largely the same as it’s ever been, so if you weren’t thrilled with some of the recent alterations, iTunes 11.0.3 probably won’t do much to change your mind.

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