iTunes 8 – First Impressions

Posted on Sep 10, 2008 in Opinions

So the Jobsnote is over and apart from the leaked iPod nano and rumored iPod touch updates, the biggest news was iTunes 8.

The Genius feature is the only one that is really new, whilst the Grid view is mostly a new take on the old “Albums with cover thumbnail” list. To be honest, whilst it’s visually quite appealing, I don’t find it very practical for actually finding music. iTunes very rarely finds the covers for all the songs in larger libraries (CoverScout anyone?) which will leave most users with a lot of black missing covers.

The same goes for the Genres Grid-view: Whilst Apple includes attractive artwork for the most common genres, others such as Funk, Grunge and Porn Groove (don’t ask) are instead assigned the cover of one of the artists within that Genre, leaving you with an odd mix of album art and genre-designs.

The Genius feature works fairly well and seems like a great way to find new music or just rediscover your own library. Whilst some have suggested Apple could have gone with one of the existing similar services Pandora or, it’s easy to come up with half a dozen reasons for not doing so (e.g. tracks not available on iTunes, require customers to sign up to another service, both not available in all the countries iTunes is etc.).

The service first needs about an hour to analyze all of your tracks (your mileage may vary) and then uploads that information to Apple. I almost expected the upload not to work yesterday, given the amount of users probably trying the new service out, but everything went without a hitch – kudos to the iTunes team!

The visualizer was also updated, as rumored, but isn’t much to write home about in my opinion (who even uses visualizers?). 

Overall iTunes 8 seems like a pretty solid update, even if it’s a bit light on new features. The Genius is pretty cool though and even the iTunes store integration is fairly discreet and doesn’t feel intrusive.



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