Apple ships iTunes 12.1: What you need to know

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Apple has introduced iTunes 12.1, bringing a handy Notifications Center widget and some slight additional improvements to the software.

The Notifications widget

The widget lives in the Today view inside Notifications. To activate it just click on the “Edit” button at the bottom of Notifications view and tap the “+” button beside the widget name in the list on the right.

It is basically a stripped down version of the already stripped down functionality you find in the MiniPlayer, without album art, volume control or track listings. But it's pretty useful all the same.

Once active, it'll show you the music (or other media) that’s currently playing on iTunes or iTunes radio in Notifications view. You now have three ways to check this: through iTunes, via the iTunes Miniplayer and via the new “Now Playing” Notifications widget.

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You also get controls, Play, Pause and Forward/Reverse through the current playlist. Hold down the option key and click on any of these controls and the Reverse button changes shape, now it’s a shuffle button that lets you shuffle through your selected playlist.

iTunes Radio users also gain the ability to purchase tracks they hear just by tapping them in this view. Tidbits warns: “Clicking the displayed price button in the Notification Center widget automatically buys the song and downloads it to your library — you aren’t brought to an iTunes Store page to ponder your purchase.” So be sure you want the track before you click. iTunes Radio users also get controls allowing them to set the following for any particular song: Play More Like This; Never Play This Song; Add to iTunes Wish List. So, for example, when listening to iTunes Radio, some users may feel that they never want to hear Cliff Richard sing again, while others may want to hear more tunes from a good musician. These controls let you say so.

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