AppleCare reps given pre-release iTunes 11 builds ahead of today’s release

According to a new report, Apple Care representatives are installing pre-release builds of iTunes 11 as we speak, most likely part of an effort to give them a couple hour lead time ahead of the official worldwide release later today. As you know, the Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that iTunes 11, after being delayed for a month due to unspecified “engineering issues” requiring parts to be rebuilt, will be ready for public consumption on Thursday, November 29…

“We’re getting word that Apple has begun seeding select AppleCare representatives with “PRERELEASE” builds of the upcoming iTunes 11 app”, Mark Gurman writes on the 9to5Mac blog. “It is unclear if these builds point to a release today, as the WSJ predicted, and if they are the final versions”, he adds.

We’re expecting tighter iCloud integration, redesigned artist pages with pictures and nice photo galleries, a new mini player, overhauled library view, other expanded views, In the Store recommendations, the Up Next feature for queuing up songs, the Preview History button for a quick rundown of all the iTunes Store media sampled and more.

In a follow-up post over at the WSJ Blogs, author Jessica E. Lessin re-iterates some of the features expected in iTunes makeover, noting the software “is more visual”.

It looks less like a spreadsheet and has much larger graphics (in that respect it is more like iTunes on iPhones and iPads).

It is also more closely integrated with iCloud, Apple’s year-old data syncing services. Purchases show up in users’ main libraries and can be streamed to other devices.

Thanks to iCloud, you will be able to start watching a movie or listening to a song on one device and pick up where you left off on another. As for a rumored streaming music service from Apple, it won’t debut alongside iTunes 11.

The status of Apple’s effort to launch a more direct competition to those, iTunes Radio, remains unclear.

Be that as it may, Eddy Cue & Co. surely won’t miss an opportunity to tap the 400+ million iTunes accounts and more than half the music download market Apple owns to deliver a subscription-based streaming music option.

Though I am a Music Match subscriber ($25 a year), literally all of my music discovery and purchasing happens on Spotify these days so Apple better come up with something if it wants me back as a customer.

What are your expectations of iTunes 11?