My first thought as Steve unveiled the new iTunes 10 icon was probably the same as many: that's gonna stick out like a sore thumb nestled between Mail and iChat. And now I've has the pleasure of downloading and installing it, indeed it does! Next, it fires up, updates my library (quelle surprise) and whilst I wait, I notice how close to the top of the screen everything is. Where have the window controls go... ah! There they are! Okayyy...
iTunes has often been a little glimpse into the future of changes to OS X chrome and UI design: it's ideally situated in that it gets more regular updates than other applications, and has the excuse of being the flagship media player, and so it's allowed to not always play by the rules. iTunes was the first to have it's rounded corners squared (with Safari following), and the first to have the new graphite scroll bars. This time though, I think we might be getting a look at what the fabled OS X 10.7, or at least the post-Aqua UI, may look like. Lets look at them one at a time.
First, those windows controls. Although I don't think it's 100% decided, I suspect this is a test to see how the new style might go down. Remember the Great Safari Beta 4 Tab Test? So maybe this one won't stick either.
Second, that icon. A whole new set of application icons for OS X 10.7, following the iTunes 10 style. I really hope it grows on me.
Third, the lack of coloured icons. Look down the left column, so much easier on the eye. This simplification points towards an overall subtler look-and-feel (the last couple of revisions of OS X have moves towards black-and-white icons in the menu bar). Even the Preferences dialog has monochrome icons. If application icons are going to be as colourful (gaudy?) as this iTunes one, the lack of colour elsewhere will be a welcome contrast.
Forth, a new menu list style. A larger title area, with little notches instead of indented separators. Subtle, but a pleasant change and one that would seem odd if it wasn't the way forward.
Finally, of course, those scroll bars that we've had for a while: flatter, more subtle than the aqua ones we know and love(d).
I may be way off with some of these, but on the whole, I think we're getting a little glimpse into the future, post-Aqua user interface of OS X. Or will that be OS XI?