The latest version of Apple's music management software, iTunes 11, was recently released, and is the first in a while to include significant changes to both its interface and the services offered through it.
While some of its refinements such as enhanced ease of use and overall snappier feel have been welcomed, the update did bring some changes including missing features that have been met with a fair bit of criticism.
Recently All Things Digital's Walt Mossberg outlined some of these features in his review of iTunes 11, and in doing so offers some insight on why Apple removed the features and whether or not we are likely to see them return in any form.
The first feature to go was the use of Cover Flow to quickly peruse the iTunes library and locate albums by their cover art. While valuable to some who have voiced disappointment at its removal from iTunes 11, Apple claims that, according to its research, too few people found it useful.
This development perhaps throws some light on the implementations of this feature elsewhere in Apple's products. Cover Flow originated in iTunes but has since been put to use in the AppleTV and the OS X Finder for quickly previewing files in a folder. If its original use in iTunes has not met Apple's expectations, then this may indicate changes to come for its use in OS X and elsewhere.
Ultimately, even though some have been quite vocal about the loss of Cover Flow, it appears Apple will not be bringing it back.
The second missing feature is iTunes DJ, which has been replaced with a more global implementation of the Up Next feature. While not the same as iTunes DJ, Up Next does offer some of the same features such as managing a live playlist from different library sources. Unfortunately, this does not exactly replace iTunes DJ which has left a number of people disappointed. However, while there are differences between iTunes DJ and Apple's new approach, Up Next is freshly out of the door so it is likely that popular features from the old service may make their way into the new one.
A final issue with iTunes 11 is the removal of the Find Duplicates feature, which allows you to locate duplicate songs and manage them so you do not end up with a bloated library. The removal of this feature was apparently an oversight, and Apple claims it will be coming back in an upcoming minor update to the program to fix some outstanding bugs and other issues with the initial release.