On September 12th, 2006 Apple released the next version of iTunes: Version 7. With this new package come lots of updates. First thing you’ll notice before even opening the program is the newdock icon in Mac OS X for iTunes. It looks better than the previous logo with the addition of a blue music note. Start the program up and you’ll immediately notice a few new improvementsto the application interface. You can now choose to view your CD collection like an old jukebox via an interface nearly identical to Cover Flow, a 3rd-party program that does the same thing, only alittle smoother and it doesn’t need to render the artwork every time.
Glancing to the left, you’ll see your menu is now split-up into several categories which helps finding things easier. You’ll find groups labeled “Library”,“Store”, “Devices”, and “Playlists”. Each group contains a nice icon and text showing you where it’ll take you upon clicking on it. Some other designfeatures include facelifts for buttons, improved Party Shuffle, and a completely new iPod menu.
Speaking of the iPod, iTunes 7 now includes total integration with your iPod and more. You can view a graph that shows your space remaining, update the firmware inside of iTunes, and can easilycontrol what content you want on your iPod. The layout is very sleek and easy to use. Most users will cry out in praise of Apple’s new layout for managing the iPod.
One annoying feature in this new version of iTunes though has to be the “Gapless Track Analyzation” that takes place once you plug your iPod into your computer running iTunes 7. Applewants your iPod scanned immediately, so you’ll have to get this resource-hogging feature out of the way sooner or later. Do it at night and just let it be over and done with. It is handy if youlisten to a lot of DJ mixes or albums where songs are supposed to flow into one another seamlessly without a gap of silence between the tracks. The feature is welcome, but the manner in whichit’s done is not.
Apple also has added many updates to their popular iTunes Music Store (iTMS) today. If you want to get more out of your iPod, you can download various games (in color!) that are $4.99 a piece. A bitexpensive, but the games are similar to what most people can play on newer cell phones. Titles like Bejeweled and Tetris are always fun to play, but not necessarily on an iPod and for $4.99. Idownloaded a game called Cubis 2 that actually was pretty fun. It’ll take time, but the iPod games are bound to catch on now that Apple has them for sale on iTMS.
A much anticipated addition to the iTMS was the availability of full-length movies for download. They are viewable on video iPods or on your computer via iTunes. Apple released 75 moviesfrom studios like Pixar, Disney, and Touchstone Pictures, and many more should be available over the coming weeks and months. Movies will be available in iTMS the same day they are released toDVD and will have a resolution of 640×480, perfect for watching on standard, non-widescreen TV. Newly released flicks will be priced at $12.99 and later $14.99 and films already available will beonly $9.99. Popular films such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Incredibles” are already available for download.
Overall, iTunes 7 is a huge upgrade for both people using it to manage their music library and for iPod owners. The new design is welcome and helps with navigating your library. Performance is a bitslow but shouldn’t be noticeable after extended use. Apple really did a great job of updating the iTunes Music Store as well to include games, movies, and better categorization of items. A musthave download for any music or movie lover with a computer.
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