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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool Apps
The macosxhints Rating:

[Score: 9 out of 10]
After catching up last week, I intentionally held off on this week's Pick of the Week until after Tuesday's Apple announcements -- just in case something really neat was released. And obviously, there was a lot of cool stuff yesterday, including my personal favorite, the iTV home theater box. But since that's hardware, and not shipping, it's not a valid Pick of the Week selection.

iTunes, however, is eligible. And in looking back through four plus years of winners, I noticed that I'd never selected iTunes. The release of version seven is a very good reason to end that omission. Yes, I know that iTunes is the 900 pound gorilla of music players, and that it faces no real competition on the Mac side of the world. But it's still a very good program, and version seven makes it even better, in my opinion, and well deserving of PotW status.

Here are just a few of the reasons I find the new version compelling:
  • The new interface. I love the dark scroll bars, the reorganized sidebar, the dark highlight banner, and the new 3D album cover browser interface (which was purchased from these guys, in case you didn't know). I hope that this new look (excluding the album cover browser) is indicative of how most apps will appear in 10.5 ... and I know many will disagree with that statement, since every version of the OS X application UI seems to split folks nearly equally into "love it" and "hate it" camps.
  • The organization of the sidebar. I like the groupings by Library, Store, Devices, and Playlists. I just wish I could collapse the Playlist section, as you can albums in iPhoto.
  • Multiple library support. While I hope for the day when we can have true multiple libraries within iTunes itself, the basic support for multiple libraries is a good start.
  • The new iPod management screens. Wow. What a change. In previous versions of iTunes, iPod management almost seemed like an afterthought. Not any more. The new management screen and tabs take all the guesswork out of managing my iPods.
  • The new Store menu. It's nice to see all the store functions gathered in one location.
  • The re-do of the music (and TV and movie and video) store. The new layout is much easier to work with, with clearly defined stores for each type of product sold.
  • Easy backups. The File: Back up to Disc option makes it really easy to back up your music to DVDs or CDs. It will even do the necessary splitting automatically; from iTunes' help: "iTunes burns the number of items that fit on one disc, and then asks you to insert subsequent discs to continue burning the remaining files."
  • Computer-to-computer syncing via iPod. Excellent! Now it'll be easy to keep my two main machines in sync without relying on third-party tools.
  • Gapless playback. I don't have a ton of gapless stuff, but it's nice to know that I can now listen to it without sound breaks.
  • Automatic album art. iTunes has always had great album covers, and now they're giving them to us for all our ripped music. Thanks!
There are obviously still areas for improvement, but overall, I'm quite satisfied with iTunes, especially in its latest incarnation (though I could do without the return of the blue application icon).
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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: dogboy on Sep 13, '06 07:53:42AM

You can tidy up the playlist section by putting them all in a folder and closing that.
I have one for Smart and one for regular playlists.

Also, you missed out the new Podcast feature: the source column now has a number to indicate the amount of unplayed podcasts (like Democracy). Nice



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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: robg on Sep 13, '06 08:57:58AM

#1: Ah, thanks ... forgot about folders.

#2: Well, that's not a feature for me, since I don't really listen to or watch podcasts via iTunes :).

-rob.



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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: bjmorgan on Sep 13, '06 09:23:36AM

Also, this version makes available the ability to edit video ID3 tags and convert videos to compatible iPod format (though with no control of the compression). It's not quite polished, but on the way.

You needed two third party programs to do this previously: iSquint & Lostify. They still offer more control over the process than iTunes, but it works.



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AAC+?
Authored by: gerti on Sep 13, '06 09:41:21AM
Does it support AAC+ yet? My favorite Internet radio station (http://www.deliciousagony.com/) switched to AAC+, forcing me to use VLC instead of iTunes. But VLC doesn't display the currently playing song.


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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: paskalicky on Sep 13, '06 11:20:38AM

Computer-to-computer syncing via iPod. Excellent! Now it'll be easy to keep my two main machines in sync without relying on third-party tools ...........how do I do this???? - Thanks



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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: paskalicky on Sep 13, '06 11:37:51AM

is this what your talking about?........ http://www.apple.com/itunes/sync/transfer.html If so I find this to be a problem.
Music and media not purchased from the iTunes store only syncs one way, from your computer to your iPod. To transfer non-purchased music from computer-to-computer, read this tutorial.



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Burn movies to DVD?
Authored by: rjbailey on Sep 13, '06 01:49:46PM

I love iTunes, and just downloaded The Incredibles. (I'm a little disappointed in the video quality, but I'm used to higher quality encodings from my DVD's created by Handbrake.) Anyway, anyone know of a way to reverse the encoding--go from .m4v back to .DV or .MPEG for burning onto DVD?



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Burn movies to DVD?
Authored by: ob1cannoli on Sep 13, '06 02:53:51PM

i'd say ffmpegx, but then again, these files are probably encrypted with DRM



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Burn movies to DVD?
Authored by: rjbailey on Sep 13, '06 03:16:52PM

What I'd tolerate at this point is a video analog to AudioHijack, whereby I would capture the video stream into a file in some form I could mess with later.



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Burn movies to DVD?
Authored by: pglock on Sep 14, '06 02:01:20AM
I've had success using VLC to capture streams (you'll need to read through the documentation to set this up) when other ripping/conversion programs have failed. Try it and let us know...

---
Too lazy to think of an original signoff...

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Burn movies to DVD?
Authored by: rjbailey on Sep 14, '06 11:05:34AM

Dude, this is macosxHINTS.com, not macosxTEASER.com!! Tell us all how you did it!



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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: gidds on Sep 13, '06 03:37:29PM

Gapless playback is the answer to a request that a lot of people like me have been making for a looooooong time, so it's great to see it finally arrive!

Note that gapless playback is automatic, and applies immediately. (There is a new track option called 'Part of a gapless album', but all that does is turn off crossfading for that track.) When you first start iTunes 7, it has to analyse each track, presumably to work out how much silence there is at the end that needs to be skipped, which can take a long while. But after that, it's completely automatic and Just Works. Well done Apple!

The other thing I noticed is another new tag, called 'Album Artist'. As far as I can tell, it uses this tag to determine whether two tracks are part of the same compilation album, or from two different albums of the same name. At first, the new 'cover browser' view was showing a good number of duplicate covers; but it was easy enough to remove those by setting the 'Album Artist' to the same across each track in an album.

Not sure I like the new look, to be honest; it seems to be different just for difference's sake. What was wrong with the old blue scrollbars that everything else in OS X uses? Ditto the new buttons are different from every other app. It's this sort of meaningless difference which makes other platforms awkward to use; I'd much prefer OS X kept to simplicity and consistency.

But even I won't be using the more major new features (movies etc.), I still think the good outweighs the bad in this version.

---
Andy/



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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: Curlywee on Sep 17, '06 05:08:24PM

I'm not just 'not sure' about the new look. I dislike it with a vengeance. I cannot understand how Apple, the one-time leader in HI design, could ever come up with something like this. For instance, what on earth is the point of introducing such fundamentally different scroll bars into iTunes as compared with the rest of the Apple apps and the rest of OS X?

All in all, and quite apart from the new look, while there are some good ideas included in version 7, I really don't think it was anywhere near ready for release.

Finally, thanks a million for pointing out that Album Artist option. It does a beautiful job of tidying up the two new view types which display album art. It's sad, though, that Apple didn't see fit to tell us why it was added or what purpose it serves.



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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: jedik on Sep 14, '06 12:20:38AM

Yes, syncing is only for content purchased on the iTS (no more "M" =P ). Too bad...

And where is the very much useful Search Bar?? I can't separate audio-only music from music videos now! =/

---
:: Jedi Knight ::
-- Mac Rules! --



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iTunes - Powerful media purchase and playback tool
Authored by: hagbard on Sep 21, '06 03:43:07AM

enough with the Itunes 7 hints, please, this is not iTunesHints.com, is it ??

thanks



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