The first thing you'll notice after installing and launching iTunes 2008 is a progress bar churning through your iTunes library. This process creates album art for the new default view of iTunes: Grid view. The Grid view displays your iTunes library as a grid composed of album art. (This view is available for music, podcasts, and videos.) Think of it as a flattened Cover Flow, like on your iPod, the same eye candy with about the same amount of practical use (that is, very little). You start playing an album or video by clicking on the album art. Double clicking on an album takes you to a more traditional list view with the addition of artwork in the first column. To change what view iTunes defaults to when you launch the program, simply change to your desired view before you quit iTunes.
If you're the type who makes sure that all your albums have cover art, and all the genres are applied correctly in the metadata of your media, then Grid view is going to be your new best friend. If you're like me, Grid view is going to serve as a reminder that yet another aspect of your life is totally chaotic and out of control. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Grid view sorted by genres. Apple has provided a number of tastefully designed stock art images for genres found in the iTunes Store. When in this view, you can scrub through the albums in each group by dragging your mouse across the artwork, much like Events in iPhoto and footage in iMovie. The problem arises when you have music that wasn't purchased from iTunes. A surprising number of genre name variants crop up, leaving you to either edit the metadata for a cleaner, more organized experience or live with a sloppy iTunes library.
The Grid view is flashy, but the real game-changer in iTunes 8 is Genius. Genius comes in two guises, Genius Playlist and Genius Sidebar, and is similar to music recommendation offerings by Last.fm and Pandora. If you choose to use Genius, which is optional, a few things happen. First, it analyzes your iTunes library and transmits that data, anonymously, to the Apple's servers. That data is compared to data from countless other iTunes 8 users, and fed into Apple's Genius algorithms. The algorithm then reports the results back to iTunes, which uses it to create Genius playlists of 25, 50, or 100 songs, based on whatever track you select. You can listen to that playlist, save it for later, or hit Refresh and have Genius create another playlist that is more to your liking. Much like Party Shuffle, you can delete songs that you don't want to be included in the playlist, and re-order the songs.
Genius Playlist: The new Genius feature does a great job of helping you rediscover music in your library. After creating countless Genius Playlists, I am a convert. This is a great way to rediscover music that has been hidden away in the depths of your iTunes library, and it groups songs that I would never think of grouping myself. Genius did an admirable job of creating playlist after playlist with almost everything I threw at it. When Genius can't create a playlist it pops up a warning, and suggests that you update the Genius data on your Mac. Classical music, in particular, seems to stump Genius. And since this initial version of Genius appears to derive a lot of its data off iTunes Store purchases, songs by artists not in Apple's online store—like, say, the Beatles—can also flummox it. Click on a tune by the Fab Four, and Genius will be unable to generate a playlist. Presumably, as the feature gets more data from more users, issues like these should, theoretically, become moot.
Genius Sidebar: The Genius Sidebar analyzes a song and displays music recommendations for you to purchase. The Genius Sidebar marries the iTunes Store's recommendations to the mini-store interface that was introduced in iTunes 6. The Genius Sidebar takes the currently playing song and, using that fabled Genius algorithm, returns recommendations from the iTunes Store. The recommendations include songs and albums you might be interested in, as well as songs that iTunes believes are missing from your library (for example, perhaps you only purchased one or two songs off of an album).
The Genius Sidebar does have some limitations. It has a propensity to recommend songs and albums I already own (purchased from Amazon MP3 or ripped from CD). It has trouble basing recommendations on more obscure titles (though when recommendations can't be found, the sidebar displays a list of top sellers in iTunes, so you can still spend some money if you are so inclined). Genius does take some time to analyze your library when you launch iTunes 8. It took 28 minutes to analyze my library which contains 35.50 GB of data (7,774 items), though you can still use iTunes to listen to music or watch videos as Genius is analyzing your library and then talking to the cloud.
Recently, I downloaded a high-def TV show through iTunes to watch on my Mac Mini Home Theater. Was this the seamless 'on-demand' experience I had hoped for... not exactly. So, I'm a little late to the game and I decided to check out AMC's Mad Men television show. Thanks to Netflix, I worked through the three disks of Season 1 just in time to set up my DirecTV DVR to record the Season 2 marathon. The next day, I sat down to start Season 2 and it began with a recap of Season … more
I love the selection on iTunes and the fact that I can download virtually anything to my computer and keep it. I love to upload my music so I can have it at my call to listen to easily with the click of a button, whenever I want.
I'm a total nerd. I like comic books, science fiction books and movies, and I like LOST. I also used to be a huge World of Warcraft junkie but I don't have a whole lot of time for that. The X-Men are … more
About this topic
iTunes is a proprietary digital media player application, used for playing and organizing digital music and video files. The program is also an interface to manage the contents on Apple's popular iPod digital media players as well as the iPhone. Additionally, iTunes can connect to the iTunes Store via the Internet to purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, applications, iPod games, audiobooks, podcasts, feature length films and movie rentals (not available in all countries), and ringtones (available only in the USA). It is also used to download applications for the iPhone and iPod touch as long as they are running iPhone OS 2.0 or later.
iTunes was introduced by Apple Inc. on January 9, 2001, at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. The latest version, iTunes 8, was announced at Apple's September 2008 keynote "Let's Rock".
iTunes is available as a free download for Mac OS X, Windows Vista, and Windows XP from Apple's website. It is also bundled with all Macs, and some HP and Dell computers. Older versions are available for Mac OS 9, OS X 10.0-10.3, and Windows 2000.