Thursday, September 02, 2010

iTunes 10 is out! Go get it!

Yesterday Steve Jobs announced the latest updates to the Apple music-related products (iTunes and iPods). Nano is now square, shuffle has buttons again (remember when I complained about it losing buttons? Yeah, I was right.), Touch is... touchier? I'll admit, I wasn't watching. And even when I read the recaps, I wasn't paying much attention. The big news seems to be iTV and iTunes.

First, iTV: Yay for Netflix access, boo for no iOS. This was the one thing I would have liked to have iOS on, because of the speculation I've heard recently about being able to circumvent cable companies by subscribing to channels as apps. That would be great! It would probably still be expensive, and they still charge an arm and a leg for excruciatingly slow broadband, but it's a step in the right direction. But give up on that pipe dream: Apple still wants you to buy (or rent) TV episodes. Buy the iTV, then pay more to use it. Right.

iTunes is the same way, except the app is free. It's a bloated corpse of a program, but it's free. Correct me if I'm wrong, but since iTunes 5, each update has introduced nothing but more ways for Apple to take my money. Music is good, DRM-free music is even better, but enhanced purchasing opportunities aren't going to make me any happier. iTunes 10's big thing is Ping, a social network within the iTunes store, as if I needed another place to connect with friends, and as if my friends share my tastes in music.

So what do I really want from iTunes? Better music organization!

  • I want it to make sure my tracks have all the right information (title, artist, album, date, etc.). They should buy or create a track database with this information, as well as album art and lyrics, against which it could compare my library. It should do this automatically when I push a button. (3rd party apps do this, but they aren't very good at it. If Apple really tried, it would probably do a good job.)

  • I would love to see a beat per minute calculator or finder. (Again, I can find a 3rd party app, but it's not reliable and it's a little ghetto.)

  • I want a tag field, so I could tag songs as "swing" or "waltz" or "beach" or "violin" or whatever I want. TAGS! How revolutionary is THAT? How is this not already a feature?!

  • How about some more advanced DJ tools, like the ability to slow down or speed up tracks as they're playing? Or mix two tracks together? That would be hot.

  • And finally, the ability to create a common repository of music files (storage) that serves several music libraries. In other words, a family could share files, and each user would be able to include a subset of those files in her library, and rate and tag the files independently, without needing separate copies of the track file. This is probably possible now, but it's not easy. It should just work.

  • Migrating iTunes libraries should also be easier.

These aren't going to make Apple any money, but these are the kinds of things that put iTunes on top. If there were any real competition for music management on the Mac, I'd switch. Any other iTunes feature ideas?

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