iTunes 8 Review

Today Apple announced iTunes 8.0, which includes a feature called Genius. Genius is supposed to be able to suggest songs like the current one that you’re listening to and create a playlist based upon a single artist, much like Pandora does. As of right now, there isn’t much that it can display from the iTunes store considering that it has been out less than 8 hours. Genius can suggest items from within your own iTunes library.

I did, however, decide to try it with the Cold Play song ‘Viva La Vida’ and it did find songs from Artists like James Blunt, the Killers, U2, Oasis, The Fray, and shockingly, Cold Play.

I tried it with a lesser known song to most, Go by Erika Jo. It found music by SheDaisy, Terri Clark, Rockie Lynne, Faith Hill, Julie Roberts and others…

Onto Classical, I tried the infamous Pachabel Canon in D. With this selection Genius has failed. It prompted me with the image seen below.

No software is absolute perfect, so I’m not surprised that it’s not working. I do wonder if this might prompt Apple to start distributing more classical music.

There are a couple of things that Genius can’t do, but I wish it could. The first being suggesting similar items for Audiobooks. This type of recommendation would be great, as much as I like Audible’s suggestions they don’t always tend to be what I want to read.

The other section that I would absolutely love to see suggestions is Podcasts. This would be extremely beneficial since there are some that are no longer being produced that I’d like to hear something comparable.

Another feature that Apple has brought into iTunes 8 is from their own web galleries: The quick-scrolling view. This view allows a user to slide their mouse from left to right and see a quick view of all of the pictures within that gallery. Similarly, instead of pictures, this applies to Album art within iTunes. If an artist has more than one album, you can slide your mouse cursor from left to right and the album art from each Album will display. Just a little feature that can make a huge difference when you want to quickly scroll to see if you have a particular album and you know what the cover looks like.

iTunes 8.0 is not perfect, nor would I expect it to not have bugs. But there is a rather strange bug, unless they fixed a bug and this is now the behavior. Previously under iTunes 7.7 if I had just opened up iTunes and selected the Music Library icon in the left sidebar I would be able to hit the Play button and it would begin shuffling as long as I had the Shuffle Icon in the lower left selected. However this is not the case in iTunes 8.0, nothing plays at all. It does matter if I’m in the ‘Grid View’ or the ‘List view’, the same behavior o occurs.

There is another bug in regards to Genius and playlists. Our very own Josh Schnell wrote that one up. Click here to read all about that bug or feature.

One thing that does not really fall into any category is the size of the updates. Today I had two updates QuickTime 7.5.5 and iTunes 8.0. Together these were over 140MB. Now granted I do have “high-speed,” (read 1.5Mbps down and 384Kbps upload) according to the US Congress it’s high-speed. These took almost 10 minutes for me to download, another 3 minutes to install, and another 2 minutes to reboot, all to install a set of updates. I mean I understand that they each have bug fixes and new features but can’t we drop support for the 1st Gen iPod through the 4th Gen iPod? is that too much to ask? I realize that there are people who still have them and they are working, but I think Apple should bite the bullet and say “sorry, no more support for these, only use iTunes 7.X and below”. They’ve left technology in the dust before, this wouldn’t be the first time.

Overall though iTunes 8.0 is a worthwhile upgrade to pursue, if you want the Genius function or you purchase a new iPod, since the new iPods will require iTunes 8.0. If you’ve found or know of any other bugs within iTunes 8, leave them in the comments.

I'm into everything technology related, particularly anything Apple related. I enjoy programming and tend to lean towards server-based technologies over client-based. You can contact me on twitter, via e-mail, or follow me on friendfeed.