Apple delayed the release of iTunes 11, due to 'wanting to get it right' before they released it. Origianlly shown at the iPhone 5 launch this fall, they had a scheduled release date of October, but ended up pushing it until November. Late November -- 11/29/12, in fact.
Now that I've finally had some time to play around with it, I can say it's certainly a welcome change. My initial thoughts are that it appears more modern, performs quicker, and has fine visual nuances that are pleasing to the senses. Specifically the Album view -- it's similar to making an Album cover look like a CD booklet w/ matching colors. It's the small things like this that set Apple apart from the competition.
Beyond these new visual features, iTunes 11 also features some enhancements such as 'Up Next', where you can quickly queue songs to the 'Up next list' and also make them immediately 'play next'. I've long wished for a way to quickly make a playlist on the fly w/o having to make a formal Playlist.
The Mini Player is new, too. It's smaller, but adds more controls. You can access it next to the iTunes playback bar, next to the full-screen button. This is handy to get access to your tunes when you don't need or want the full iTunes player up and running.
Redeeming gift cards is easier too -- it can use your Mac's camera to read the barcode, so the days of entering those little codes are gone, at least for some of us.
So far, I've only had time to play around with the new iTunes 11, but so far I like it. As with any new revision, I'm sure there will be bugs -- it's par for the course, especially when you get several million people w/ different scenarios testing. I'd keep an eye out for a new quick release in the coming weeks -- even though Apple said they waited until they got it right, it's probably not right yet.
Sadly, I may not end up using the new iTunes very often.
- Spotify. I use Spotify for streaming my music. My personal library has gigabytes of music, but guess what -- Spotify has Millions and Millions of songs. 8 times out of 10, I can think of a song and it's on Spotify. If Apple had this ability (I'm not talking about iTunes Match -- I have that too, but that's just for streaming your own personal library), then it would once again be the de facto standard for me.
- iCloud. Now that Apple has iCloud, I rarely have a need to connect any of my iOS devices to my Mac. I just don't. I keep it all on iCloud backup -- and hope for the best.
- Podcasts. I used to sync podcasts to my iTunes daily, but with the app store, I no longer have to do that extra step. I prefer Stitcher, but find myself using Downcast more often, because it features a 'skip ahead' ability so i can setup an interval to skip ahead -- required for commercial skipping.
All in all, the new iTunes 11 looks great, but I have a feeling this is just a beginning of changes to come for iTunes.
CNet had a nice overview of what is GONE in the new iTunes 11, so if you seem confused about your favorite option -- check this out.