Bugs & Fixes: iTunes 11.0.3 update improves app updating

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Along with the usual bug fixes and performance improvements, the recently updated iTunes 11.0.3 introduces several interface tweaks. For my money, the most welcome addition is one that Apple doesn’t even mention on its “About iTunes 11.0.3” page: a redesigned interface for checking on and downloading updated iOS apps.

On the downside, if you’re among the unlucky minority, the new iTunes version may crash on a regular basis.

Updating apps gets a welcome makeover

Back in 2010, I detailed several problems with how the app update process worked in iTunes — and how it could be improved. The just released iTunes update, at last, addresses almost all of these concerns.

  • The location of the Updates button has moved to a better, more easily accessible, location. Of course, you first have to discover the change. Rather than off by itself at the bottom of the Apps window, Updates is now at the end of the row of buttons at the top of the window.

  • After clicking the Updates button, iTunes 11.0.3 instantly displays a list of whatever updates you have available. In iTunes 10 and earlier, clicking Check for Updates would just tell you if updates were available. If they were, you would be asked if you wanted to view them—requiring that you click a second button. Even after clicking the second button, it still took a few moments before the update list appeared. While prior versions of iTunes 11 somewhat simplified the procedure, iTunes 11.0.3 completes the job.

  • Catching up with the iOS versions of the App Store, the latest Mac version of iTunes now gives you quick access to What’s New in each updated app. Just click on an app’s icon and an expanded view drops down. From here, you get the details of what’s new as well as the app’s version number. You can also select to individually update an app. This is still not as good as how things work on the iPad, where the data and Update buttons are all available without requiring a separate click of each app. But it’s much better overall than how this was handled in older Mac versions of iTunes. The new iTunes app update listings no longer indicate the size of each app, but most people won’t miss this.
With iTunes 11.0.3, Mac users can finally easily check what's new in each app update.
  • The Updates listings are now part of the Apps section of your iTunes Library. In prior versions of iTunes, selecting to view updates transferred you from Apps and whisked you away to the iTunes Store. I’m sure this contributed to the slower response times. It also was a source of irritation if you needed to toggle back and forth between the two locations while dealing with updates.

iTunes crashes for some

After updating to the latest version of iTunes, a subset of users report having repeated crashes, “on an almost daily basis,” as often as “every five minutes.” Downgrading back to 11.0.2 appears to eliminate the crashes, but Apple does not make this easy to accomplish. Unfortunately, if you are a victim of this bug, there does not seem to be a better consensus work-around. Presumably, Apple will quash the bug in the next iTunes update.

Updated at 11:09 a.m. PT to clarify that an iTunes 11.0.3 interface redesign applies to iOS apps.

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