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day permlink Thursday, 29 April 2004

permlink New iTunes

New iTunes: iTunes 4.5 and the accompanying changes in the iTunes Store add pretty much everything I ever thought was missing from the experience - you can print nice CD inserts easily now, the Store's giving away a free song every week, you can random-play a playlist but also change the order live as it shuffles, you can watch songs' videos, you can save Store song previews in wish/playlists rather than your shopping cart, you can get rid of the tiny little pauses between songs in suites... woohoo.

For those wary of the iTunes Store's Terms of Service, Apple has improved them a bit; purchased songs can now be 'authorized' to play on 5 devices, not 3. That's a rather better deal (and the price held steady at $0.99).

I've only bought six songs there so far (and got one more off a Pepsi cap), and I'll probably use it mostly for one-off song purchases rather than albums, but I'm mighty glad it's there and succeeding. If nothing else, it's a nice place to get very good 30-second samples of all the tracks off an album before buying it somewhere else. (Amazon usually doesn't provide samples of every track, and they don't sound as good.)

I'm intrigued by the new Apple Lossless Encoder, which produces files about half the size of the original (whereas lossy MP3s can shrink the file 10x or more). Personally, I'm happy with my habit of ripping stuff to MP3 at 192kbps; it sounds mighty fine to me and doesn't fill up the hard drive too quickly. I don't know who the Lossless Encoder is intended to be used by -- I don't think it's really for the personal-jukebox crowd. I think it's more likely to enable other cool things in the future, like even smaller high-quality movie files or higher-quality streaming audio. (Update: or maybe, sell full-quality songs from the Store instead of lossy versions! ...duh...)

Oh, and all this stuff runs on Windows too.

All in all, Apple's doing some fine fine work. permlink     2 comment(s)  
Yeah, it looks great. Watched the Alanis video this am before work. It's a great addition. Now that I'm using the iPod, I almost never burn, so I don't know if I'll need to print CD covers, but it's nice to know it's there.

One word of caution- it doesn't work with previous versions of iTunes (wireless sharing). I use my desktop upstairs as a mp3 jukebox with a big hard drive, streaming to my laptop so I don't bog the laptop down with mp3s. Upgrading to 4.5 on the laptop, it still saw the desktop but couldn't stream, so I'll have to upgrade on the desktop too. Luckily I have a newer 400Mhz G3 chip in the desktop now, which is the minimum requirement listed (originally it had a 233 G3). Hopefully it will work, but beware if your CPU is slower.
      ...posted by Chris on April 29, 2004 5:21 PM
I've used FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) for making backups of a few precious CDs. The compression ranges from 2:1 to 4:1, and since the libraries are free and unencumbered, support has proliferated. I'm sure Apple will ignore it in favor of something with fair-use-removal technology.
      ...posted by Seth on April 30, 2004 6:16 PM
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