There are redesigns and there are redesigns. This one’s the real deal. It’s not a rewrite though. Clearly, in its heart, under the hood, this is still the same iTunes. It’s what you see (at least in the main window; see below) that’s all new. That’s not a complaint, and it shouldn’t be surprising. iTunes 11 still does — at least as far as I can tell — everything that iTunes 10 did. Apple has addressed the biggest problem with iTunes 10: its presentation was severely cluttered.
My first impression of the new design: impressed. I thought the same thing when I saw the demo at the music event in September, and playing with it here for a few hours reinforces it — iTunes 11 is in many ways a redefinition of what it means to be a modern Mac app. There’s an iOS-inspired emphasis on putting less stuff in your face at the same time. Moving away from the sidebar design pattern really works here. Fewer simple textual table views, more and bigger graphics. (The old-style sidebar interface is still there if you want it: View → Show Sidebar. But I say give the new one a chance.) With the old sidebar interface, everything was treated, semantically, as a peer. Everything from your media libraries (music, movies, podcasts) to playlists to devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads) to the entire iTunes Store — all these widely disparate things were presented together in a single (albeit segmented) list.