iTunes 8 initial thoughts


Yesterday Apple released new iPods at their special event in San Francisco, and also unveiled the next version of their jukebox software, iTunes 8.

There have been a few things I’ve noticed about the new application — both good and bad — that make this version highly recommended for all users.

Genius

The biggest new feature of iTunes 8 is most certainly Genius. This is a feature that analyzes the metadata in your iTunes library and sends this data to the iTunes Store, which then recommends music that is both in your library and in the Store. You can make playlists with songs you own based on these suggestions. The initial analysis takes a few minutes, and on my library of 1800 songs, it was about 5 minutes.

You can activate the feature by choosing a song from your library and opening the drawer on the side of the screen. This shows songs in the iTunes Store that are related, which you can then purchase. As soon as you do this, iTunes sends the related songs that you own into a Genius playlist, accessible in the Sources panel of iTunes. The ability to find related songs works best if you listen to well known, established musicians, though I imagine once more people share data on less known acts, the choices will improve.

Album view

Apple also introduced another new way to view music, through an album cover group. This of course only really works if your music has album covers. While it is cool to see all your music as albums, it is not something I find practical.

Assorted bug fixes

As usual with application updates, iTunes 8 also kills some bugs that were annoying people earlier on. One of the biggest things was the time it takes iTunes to back up and sync iPod touch and iPhones. My initial sync seemed to take less time than normally, but that could just be excitement.

The image above is a slightly annoying interface bug that seems to have come up in this version. When browsing the iTunes store, the program doesn’t shrink the data into the window — meaning you need to scroll across to view the entire screen. While not critically important, it is a simple thing that could make viewing the store much easier.

iTunes 8 is another evolutionary improvement to an already good jukebox application. The Genius feature shows promise and other refinements make it one of the best music organization programs out there.

[tags]iTunes, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, iPhone[/tags]


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