Have you grabbed Apple’s latest take on iTunes yet? Version 11 is the much-anticipated iTunes revamp that sports a new look and feel, and that new car scent we all love so much… er, maybe not. But today’s release does come with some pretty cool new bits, so let’s take a look at the top 5 improvements of the new music management application.

Who doesn’t love a makeover? 

It’s like the nerdy kid with the big glasses and overalls finally got contacts and some sexy new clothes. Less utilitarian and leaner, iTunes 11 boasts an attractive, airier design that puts content front and center. The static left-hand sidebar has been ditched in favor of hot button with a button drop-down menu. Sadly, this doesn’t bring back Cover Flow, which has been canned with this version, but it does yield a new grid of album art which opens at a click to show song lists. If you’re not hot on this layout, however, you can revert back to a column view by tapping “Songs.” The iTunes Store likewise got made over as well, so it should offer a consistent feel across all of your devices, mobile or not.

I stream, you stream, we all stream with iCloud

This one is what much of the buzz has been about. Version 11 is big with the iCloud integration, which plays out thusly: Say you’re in one of your albums and listening to the two or three songs you own. In the old days, you’d have to go into the iTunes Store to see the rest of the songs on that album or buy them, but with 11, these title names just populate right there in your library. So if you’ve already bought the other songs, you can just stream or download them in the same window, and if you haven’t, you can preview or buy the other tunes with a click.

In other words, you don’t have to kill the music experience for the shopping experience. That’s a major pro, but there’s a con as well. When you only want and bought a single track, you still have to see the other clutter, at least in the default view. You can go back to the column layout, but you’re ditching the album art look.

Even so, it’s still a major win, particularly for video hounds who’d rather stream than keep gigabytes of content locally.

Build fast and easy temporary set lists, with Up Next 

Playlists are about to feel like a spurned ex. Meet “Up Next,” a new way to organize a set of music you want to listen to on the fly. You can make a temporary Up Next list of songs for automatic play without creating a whole new playlist, and you don’t have to wait for the current song to wind down before setting the next song or building the queue. Of course, you still have playlists for song groupings you want to keep long-term, but now you’ve got an easy way to make sets for those mercurial moods.

Mini Player — Kinda cute and super handy

iTunes’ compact player also got in on the design streamlining, with a simplified look that reveals more controls for Play/Pause, Fast Forward, Rewind upon mouseover. Even better, you can search from directly within the Mini Player, as well as manage your Up Next list without pulling up the full iTunes screen.

Search like a beast

Just being able to search from the Mini Player is great enough, but enhanced search results is even better. A list pops up as you type, with results featuring artwork and broken down by Artists, Albums, Songs, Podcasts, Apps and more.

If you haven’t downloaded the latest iTunes, you can do so by hitting up the Mac App Store or your Mac’s Software Update tool, or for PCs, updating from within your current iTunes application.

Have you grabbed the new iTunes? What do you think of it so far? Give us your impressions in the comments.

[Via TechCrunch]