Windows/Mac: If you were hoping for a totally redesigned, less twiddly iTunes 10, you're out of luck. But Apple added a social tool, Ping, for following artists and friends' tastes and tracking concerts. And your music list looks a bit tidier, too.
Better Use of Your Album Art
If you just want to use iTunes to manage your music, it can still do that. And now your album list, instead of showing the same album name listed over and over next to songs from that album, will show the album art from that disc in that column instead (at a minimum of five or more album tracks). And the iTunes icon itself has dropped its note-on-a-CD scheme for a more modern, Apple-app-like look.
Ping Is a Music-Focused Social Network in iTunes
Ping is the big new thing in iTunes 10, though. Ping is, as Apple CEO Steve Jobs described it, "like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes". Right off, it's helpful to know that it's entirely optional, like iTunes' Genius recommendation feature. You can either make yourself entirely open to the public, accessible only to approved friends or off the Ping grid entirely.
You can follow artists on iTunes to see, at a minimum, where they're playing concerts and when they've got new music or videos out, but if they're sharing other things — photos, other tracks they like, free content — you'll get that, too. You can also bring in friends to follow your own music choices and follow them back, but it appears that Ping mainly tracks music purchases, not the tracks you're playing or previewing. For example, Ping features a top 10 list of music the people you're following are buying from iTunes, but — at least from Jobs' presentation — it doesn't sound like it offers any help when it comes to what your friends are actually listening to. So it's a lot less open than, say, Last.fm, and contained entirely inside iTunes or your iPhone or iPod Touch. It doesn't appear to be accessible at all via a web browser.
iTunes 10 was actually a small part of today's Apple music event. You can read up on all the new iPods, the much-improved iPod touch, and the total Apple TV revision at Gizmodo's complete Apple event coverage.
iTunes 10 is available now (or very soon today) on Windows and Mac systems, but expect slow or unreliable downloads, at least for the next few hours.
iTunes 10 [Apple]