iTunes 8 Feature Overview

iTunes 8 is here and 95% of y'all are definitely going to want to get your upgrade on. A few of you might not until the pwnage situation clears up. A few more might want to avoid that Blue Screen of Death thing on Vista, although the good news there is we now have a decent fix (check that link).

Ok, so now what are we getting with iTunes 8? Follow us after the break!

iPhone Features

First up and dearest to our hearts -- iTunes 8 combined with the 2.1 update to the iPhone will give us backups that don't last for hours and hours (and hours).

Another nice bit: your iPhone info screen now shows more information about what's taking up space on your iPhone. Namely -- it has a new color for 'apps' instead of burying that information within '0ther.'

Better podcast settings

iTunes is still our favorite way to grab podcasts on the desktop, but the options for how and what to download and keep were always a little too broad. That issue has been resolved with a little shuffling of the Preferences dialog. Podcast settings are now editable on a podcast-by-podcast basisi instead of globally in the Pref's screen.

New Browsing View: Grid

Grid View ROCKS. Basically it takes your albums, artists, TV-shows, movies, whatever and puts them in a grid. You'll love this because:

  1. It manages to cram more information (your media) on to one screen while simultaneously making that information easier to quickly browse.
  2. With stuff like TV shows and podcasts, it shows you number badges indicating un-seen or un-listened to media.
  3. Much like iPhoto, Artist view lets you 'scrub' your mouse across a thumbnail to get a quick glimpse of the albums to be found within.

Though we at TiPb are hopeful that Genius (see below) will become more and more useful as time goes on, for now Grid View is our favorite iTunes 8 feature.

Genius

The biggest new feature in iTunes 8 has to be Genius Playlists. Apple has taken a page from the Pandora and Last.fm playbook by helping users create playlists based on a certain song. The basic idea is this: you select a song, tell iTunes to create a playlist based on that song, and iTunes makes a list of up to 100 songs that it believes 'go with' that song from your library. For example, choose a Bob Dylan song and you might find Joan Baez in a playlist.

In theory, it's nearly the perfect way to shuffle your music. Instead of a jarring switch from your secret stash of Kenny G songs to your hardcore rap, you immediately get a playlist of songs that fit the sort of mood you're actually looking for.

iTunes also (anonymously) uploads your entire library into the cloud and collates your listening habits with millions of other iTunes users. The net effect is supposed to help Genius refine its playlist-creating abilities. That's good news, because in these early days Genius isn't quite Mensa-esque in either its ability to recognize songs or in choosing apt playlists to go along with them:

Nevertheless, Genius looks to be a great way to not only shuffle your music but also to (re)discover music in your vast iTunes library that you may have forgotten about. The fact that it's also available on the iPhone is also great news.

Also notable, of course, is that there's now a Genius sidebar that appears in your music listings. It offers opportunities to purchase related music that's not in your library as well as the ability to fill out incomplete albums. If Genius doesn't have information on a selected song, it defaults to showing top selling songs and albums in iTunes.

New Visualizer

There's a new visualizer in iTunes, created by the barbarian group, and it's sweet. Photos do better than words at conveying the new feel, but actually trying it does better than photos, so be sure you check it out.

New Terms and Conditions.

We're not lawyers so we're not going to delve into these just now -- but we heartily invite you to give it a shot.

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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There are 5 comments. Add yours.

Cody says:

Did anyone else loose all of their album artwork when they upgraded? Cause all mine is gone. I went into the advanced menu and clicked on get album artwork, but all of my movies tv shows or audio books still do not have any covers. And I'm pretty pissed about this cause now I have like over a hundred dollars worth of movies purchased on iTunes with no cover art.

Rene Ritchie says:

Nope, but I try to embed all the artwork in the file, rather than let iTunes hold it in a separate directory. Wastes more space, but I feel better having it stored right inside...

Cody says:

How do embed the artwork into the music files?

Dalekkiller says:

I see there's another iTunes upgrade that's just come out which fixes the BSOD Vista issue.

aaron says:

i lost everything i cant even open itunes up anymore i have to start all over again after trying to down load 8.0 ...dont think itll be worth the trouble back to the music shop or file sharing if were going to loose out on every upgrade