An Introduction to iTunes 7’s New Features | iLounge Article

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An Introduction to iTunes 7’s New Features

Today, Apple announced a significant, exciting new update to their iTunes software, version 7. In this article, we take a quick look at each of iTunes 7’s many new features:

A Refined Look

iTunes 7 further refines the look originally streamlined by iTunes 5, universally removing the bright “aqua” accent color scheme in favor of a more subdued blue-grey color.

 

Buttons have been restyled as well:

 

As you might expect, however, iTunes 7’s beauty is far from being only skin deep. The best real new features are described below individually:

Source Column Organization

The first thing one might notice upon installing iTunes 7 is the cleaner, more organized “Source” column on the left side of iTunes’ main window. Now, the library is separated into distinct collections based on the media type - Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Audiobooks, iPod Games, and Radio are all displayed separately, and no longer mix with one another in one comprehensive view, as was the case with iTunes 6. For those who preferred iTunes 6’s method of displaying the library contents, one can not simply highlight “Library” to view all media types at once.

 

New Library View Options

Another major, overt feature in iTunes 7 is its new media-viewing options. In previous version of iTunes, the only way to view one’s library was in a list view, organizing media and their tags with a spreadsheet-like listing. Recent versions of iTunes added a thumbnail view for Videos, but the new viewing options in iTunes 7 go far beyond this.

At the top of the iTunes window next to the search bar, three new buttons are available for the new varying viewing modes. Note also that the “Browse” button and “Burn Disc” buttons are no longer present in the top right corner—they’ve moved to the bottom right, appearing when available.

 

The first of the three buttons activates “Details” view, which is identical to the text-based listing from previous versions of iTunes.

The second button activates a view which combines items from an Album or TV Show together, displaying a thumbnail view of the album’s artwork (or a TV Show preview graphic) next to the listing. The result is vaguely similar to iTunes 6’s “Print Album Listing” function, except that the listings that this view generates are fully functional, interactive iTunes windows.

 

 

The third, and undeniably ‘neatest’ view that iTunes 7 offers is the “Cover Flow” view. This view allows you to browse your iTunes Music, Movies, TV Shows, or Audiobooks by visually flipping through the album artwork, poster frames, or cover material that is associated with them. All images scroll smoothly and quickly over a black background, with a video iChat-style reflection beneath them. Simply scroll using the bar or arrows, and the item of interest is scrolled to and highlighted in the text listing below Cover Flow. We’d have preferred that the songs from the highlighted album would be the only items shown in the listing, but such is not the case. Still, the feature is handy for visually browsing through your library.

 

As a side note, it has been revealed that the feature was acquired from third-party company Steel Sky’s technology demonstrator program for the Mac of the same name.

“It’s Showtime!”: Movies on iTunes

As widely expected, Apple launched the first full-length movies available for sale via the iTunes Store. (Note, the word “Music” has appropriately been removed to reflect the increasingly multimedia catalog).

 

Movies are sold for $12.99 until they’ve been available for a week, after which the price goes to $14.99. Older titles are priced at $9.99. Movies are sold as 640x480 “Near-DVD” quality files.

 

Download Progress Display

With the large, time-consuming downloads brought upon by 640x480 full-length movies in iTunes, Apple has introduced a better display and capability for iTunes Store downloads. Multiple items can now be downloaded at once, and their status in doing so is nicely displayed in the new “Downloading” list that appears in the “Store” section of iTunes 7’s “Source” column when necessary.

 

iPod Games

Also available for iTunes 7 and fifth-generation iPods (including those launched today and those sold previously, with an update to version 1.2) are extra downloadable games. Games are sold at the iTunes Store for $4.99 each, or $44.91 for all 9 games currently available. These include:

  • Vortex
  • Tetris
  • Pac-Man
  • Cubis 2
  • Zuma
  • Texas Hold’em
  • MiniGolf
  • Mah Jong
  • Bejeweled

 

The description of each game in one’s Library is attractively formatted, and includes a pictorial description of the controls required to play the game:

 

iPod Summary and Preferences Changes

iPod Summary, new to iTunes 7, provides a central control station for your iPod. This feature provides a one-stop replacement for the features formerly found in iTunes’ Preferences (see the tabs below), and also for the “iPod Software Updater” utilities that have historically been separate programs (see “Version” area below).

 

In addition, iTunes Summary also provides a more detailed view of your iPod’s disk space utilization, attractively colorizing it according to the amount of each type of media on your iPod.

 

An important note to users of manual synchronization: this is now a global option on the “Summary” page of the iPod settings feature, entitled “Manually manage music and videos.” Don’t look for it in its classic locations, under the “Music” and “Videos” tabs.

iTunes Backup Wizard

Discreetly added to iTunes’ “File” menu is a new option called “Back Up to Disc…”, which starts a new wizard that looks like the following:

 

There’s an option to back up your entire library and playlists, iTunes Store purchases only, and even to create only an incremental backup, writing to disc only those items that have changed or been added since the last use of the wizard. This simplifies the process of backing up your library significantly.

Gapless Playback

iTunes now has options that enable the long-requested feature called “gapless playback.” This enables the continuous, uninterrupted playback of certain albums which were meant to be played without the short gaps that iTunes and previous iPods had to place between tracks. Good examples are live concert albums and electronic mixes.

To enable gapless playback for these albums, select the tracks in the album, choose “Get Info” from iTunes’ “File” menu, toggle “Gapless Album” to “Yes,” and click “OK.”

 

With this tag set properly, the iPod and iTunes will automatically play the tracks without gaps.

Sync Both Ways

One of things we hear most often from iPod users is that they’d like (or, often, desparately need) the ability to copy songs from an iPod to a computer, whether to restore a lost library, transfer songs to a new computer, or simply to share a few with a friend.

Apple, in the past, has been almost entirely opposed to this feature, intentionally making it rather difficult for most users to extract content from an iPod and upload it to another computer, at least without third party software.

Now, with iTunes 7, they’ve at least partially made this possible, except the feature is not without its limitations: only content purchased from the iTunes Store is uploaded to a computer, and that computer must be one of the 5 authorized to play songs from that iTunes Store account.

To use the feature, simply plug the iPod into the computer you’d like to receive the music, open iTunes 7, and select “Transfer Purchases from [iPod name]”:

 

This is certainly not the comprehensive iPod-to-PC transfer solution users have wanted built into iTunes for so long, but given Apple’s obligation to content owners to not facilitate mass piracy using iPods, we expect that this is as good as it gets. Still, the purchased content only still has its uses: in addition to making it easy to propagate iTunes content to the 5 computers authorized to play it, it turns the iPod into an automatic redundant backup system should your main library fail - an excellent feature.

Automatic Album Art Retrieval

iTunes now has the capability to retrieve album artwork from the iTunes Store for all of the music in your library, regardless of whether it was originally purchased from iTunes, imported from a purchased CD, or otherwise downloaded from another source.

When iTunes 7 is first installed, you’ll be asked if you would like to automatically retrieve artwork for all songs added to the iTunes library:

 

To have iTunes operate on your entire existing library, and assign artwork to those songs that don’t yet have it, simply select “Get Album Artwork” from iTunes’ “Advanced” menu, and wait for the process to complete:

 

On-Screen Video Controls

iTunes 7 also now features on-screen video controls much like those used in QuickTime 7, fading in and out according to mouse movement. Unlike Quicktime, these controls appear both when viewing video in full-screen and windowed modes:

 

Skip Tracking

Similar to the Play Count tracking found in earlier versions of iTunes, which records the date you’ve last played a song and the total number of times you’ve done so, iTunes 7’s new “Skip Count” tracking works almost the same way, but it monitors when and how many times you’ve skipped a song. The data it collects is sortable in iTunes’ Details view, and can also be used as smart playlist conditions. This capability will likely prove very useful for weeding out music you don’t like much.

CD Text in Burned Audio CDs

iTunes 7 also gains the feature to burn CD-Text to the audio CDs it burns. This is a useful feature for owners of certain CD players (often in cars) capable of displaying the artist and track name while playing a supported audio CD. To enable this simple feature, simply select the “Include CD Text” option in iTunes’ “Advanced → Burning” preferences options:

 

Expanded Parental Controls

New to iTunes 7 and the iTunes Store is an expanded set of parental controls which allow parents to set restrictions on not only “explicit” content, but also restrict iTunes TV Show and Movie downloads to certain maximum ratings. As before, the parental controls are password protected.

 

That’s a Wrap!

iTunes 7 arguably includes the most significant set of updates in the recent history of the program. Especially welcome is that many of these updates, especially gapless playback and album artwork retrieval, have been widely requested and highly anticipated by many iTunes users.

Check back at iLounge in the coming days for in-depth tutorials on how to fully take advantage of many of these exciting new features.

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Comments

1

The Browse button is located in the bottom left of the window, near the Eject button.

Posted by papayaninja on September 12, 2006 at 5:23 PM (CDT)

2

The “Browse” button is still there.  It’s just been moved.  Now it’s down next to the “Eject” button in the lower right.

Posted by hardvice on September 12, 2006 at 5:24 PM (CDT)

3

love the new features, but so far the Album Art Download feature is a bit buggy.

have had many instances where it took me 5-6 tries to get it to download the art, even though i know iTunes had the album.

Posted by solace in Minneapolis, MN on September 12, 2006 at 5:51 PM (CDT)

4

Yeah, I guess that is the right, huh?  [/embarrassment]

Posted by papayaninja on September 12, 2006 at 5:52 PM (CDT)

5

A few more features:
“Album Artist” field
You can now sort the Album field by “Album by Artist” and “Album by Year”.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on September 12, 2006 at 7:06 PM (CDT)

6

You can also include CD text when burning an audio CD.

Posted by eiscir in cork, ireland on September 12, 2006 at 7:13 PM (CDT)

7

Is anyone else having the problem where on some of your videos it plays the audio, but the visual is a weird green and purple static? I’m pretty sure I have the latest version of Quicktime too.

Posted by itunesgeek on September 12, 2006 at 7:49 PM (CDT)

8

A feature I think has been taken out is, at least for the shuffle, a ‘Keep in Source List’ option that allows me to change the songs to be changed next time I connect the shuffle, rather than having in my computer all the time.  I miss that…

Also, are there plans to update shuffles firmware to support gapless playback?

Posted by brazilian812 on September 12, 2006 at 9:44 PM (CDT)

9

GAPLESS OUTPUT ROCKS!!!

Posted by xman2k6 on September 12, 2006 at 10:02 PM (CDT)

10

CRAP!!  Why did Apple have to make this upgrade so, so, desirable!!

41 days of uptime on my Powerbook gone <sigh>.

Posted by pkrug on September 12, 2006 at 10:08 PM (CDT)

11

Any details on how the gapless playback is actually working?  I’m assuming that the software examines adjacent tracks and tries to fit them together as best it can.  I don’t understand why itunes needs to edit all my mp3s by adding a new tag to them.  Also, if you set an album to gapless, will normal pauses of silence between tracks be removed??

Posted by Boxbot on September 12, 2006 at 10:47 PM (CDT)

12

hey did the visualizer button go?

Posted by WarmPabst on September 12, 2006 at 11:14 PM (CDT)

13

The Album Art thing is very buggy.  It seems random when it works.  Sometimes it seems you need to have all the details matching the iTunes store or it won’t grab the art and then even that isn’t true.

I’ve tried several different combos and I’m not finding any consistency.

All in all this version rocks though and I ordered a black 80GB!!

Posted by Dominar on September 12, 2006 at 11:31 PM (CDT)

14

Nicely done upgrades. Really like the media view cover browser tool; makes accessing albums in iTunes a bit more like the old days…thumbing through a record/CD collection via album art vs. merely reading ID3 tag text in a database.

Posted by flatline response on September 13, 2006 at 2:15 AM (CDT)

15

Does anyone know how big the movie files are?  What kbps are they at?

Posted by alexackack on September 13, 2006 at 4:17 AM (CDT)

16

I have error in the visualization of coverflow, it’s all ruined in the cover and on the bar under them.
Any ideas?
my videocard is a matrox g400

Posted by MOMAtteo79 on September 13, 2006 at 5:41 AM (CDT)

17

iTunes didn’t find any of my missing album art… also the cover flow feature is really jerky and messes up quite often with distorted pictures. My PC isn’t the best but I feel that it should be able to handle this… anyone else have these problems?

Posted by JeremytheIndian on September 13, 2006 at 8:54 AM (CDT)

18

I had to reboot my PC three times before iTunes found my 60GB 5G.  When it finally did, it updated my iPod, restarted it, and deleted 45GB of movies I already had on on it.  Not amusing.  On the upside you can access the tags on TV shows that used to be locked.

Posted by Chrystopher on September 13, 2006 at 9:11 AM (CDT)

19

gapless playback only works on 5G and 5G+ ipod’s.  this should not be the case as it would only take a firmward updgrade to make gapless work for all ipod’s.

This is a very greedy tactic on apple’s part…

Posted by ambipod on September 13, 2006 at 9:15 AM (CDT)

20

Gapless playback gets disabled whenever you connect a pre-5G iPod.  I know the 4g iPods don’t support it but turning it off on the host computer too is stupid. I let it run on first run for like half an hour while it set up gapless playback, and lost it all the instant I hooked my iPod up.  It doesn’t re-enable once you disconnect again either.

Posted by phennphawcks on September 13, 2006 at 9:19 AM (CDT)

21

What about “Multiple libraries”? The Apple website says that iTunes now offers support for multiple libraries across different drives. Any idea how this works?

Posted by dynino on September 13, 2006 at 9:51 AM (CDT)

22

Does anyone know whether the Get Album Art feature works on a single album or does it have to go through the entire library when you press go?  I have over 100 albums in my library and am hesitant to say yes.

Posted by Plissken on September 13, 2006 at 10:07 AM (CDT)

23

Does anyone know if the New library view options are supposed to work only one the iTunes Library (the one on my HD) or as well for the iPod Library?
The view option buttons are disabled when I select Music on the iPod and I don’t know if it’s a bug on my PC or that’s the way it is….

Thanks,
Simone

Posted by smiduri on September 13, 2006 at 10:10 AM (CDT)

24

Wow. I wanted to check out my man Jackie Earle Haley in the All the King’s Men preview and it looks like they’ve totally eliminated the movie preview section.

I wonder what’s up with that?

H. Michael Karshis

Posted by H. Michael Karshis in San Antonio on September 13, 2006 at 10:15 AM (CDT)

25

i thought it was mentioned that you’d be able to re-download your video content purchased at iTunes to get the better quality for free. How is this done? I haven’t found anything so far.

Posted by DCBass on September 13, 2006 at 10:57 AM (CDT)

26

what about the just for you feature? i’ve only had it open once.

Posted by iemor on September 13, 2006 at 11:21 AM (CDT)

27

What about the visualization, equalizer and mini store buttons? Those are gone!

Posted by soldado333 on September 13, 2006 at 12:22 PM (CDT)

28

Has the ability to show how many songs are on your iPod gone awa?  I see the nice colored bar graph but all it seems to give is the memory used and not the actual number of tracks.

Posted by Friscosooner on September 13, 2006 at 3:10 PM (CDT)

29

More album art weirdness: The new feature found art for about 200 of my albums, but most of the images did not transfer to my 5G iPod. Anyone know how to force those images to transfer? Also, there seems to be some evidence that the album art feature is causing a memory leak in iTunes. See http://www.hicks-wright.net/blog.php?id=5162

Posted by uhClem on September 13, 2006 at 7:52 PM (CDT)

30

An awesome update to iTunes! But—no keyboard shortcuts for the 3 views?? I’m really shocked by this omission.

Posted by Syncopator on September 13, 2006 at 8:55 PM (CDT)

31

iTunes 7—songs won’t load directly onto iPod

have you guys noticed this??

I’ve always used iTunes to load songs onto my iPod (first revision 30gb 5th Gen). I don’t really use the Library feature—I don’t put songs in the iTunes library because I don’t listen to songs on my computer with iTunes.

To load a song onto my iPod, I just drag the song from the directory in Windows and drop it directly onto the iPod. This does not seem to be working with iTunes 7. I’ve tried dragging whole albums (all in one folder) and single mp3’s. The iPod and iTunes act like they’re working (the song appears to transfer), but the artist/song never shows up on the iPod.

The only way I can get songs onto my iPod is to first drag them into the iTunes library and then onto the iPod. This is a hassle. Has anyone else had this problem or know of a fix? Thanks.

Posted by kreg37 on September 13, 2006 at 10:00 PM (CDT)

32

soldado333, yes the visualization, equalizer and mini store buttons are gone. you can still activate those features though via the “View” menu or via shortcut keys.

friscosooner, you can click on the colored bar to toggle between disk usage, number of items, & total play time.

Posted by RLC915 on September 14, 2006 at 1:13 AM (CDT)

33

It generally looks good to me, but I’m wondering if anyone else is having the problem I’ve encountered so far - specifically my podcast playlists don’t go from track to track any more. To explain: I had smart playlists for my podcasts which would allow the iPod to give me a random selection of podcasts which would play one after the other. Now I’ve updated my iPod to 1.2 and iTunes to 7, these smart playlists will play one podcast and then return me to the main iPod menu. Is this something I’m doing wrong or have Apple broken this feature?

Posted by AndyMogendorff on September 14, 2006 at 11:43 AM (CDT)

34

The audiobooks that were already on my computer are not showing up in the Audiobook section of the new iTunes Library.  They are in with all the music files.  Any suggestions for getting them in to the Audiobooks folder?

Posted by Rebekah246 on September 14, 2006 at 3:23 PM (CDT)

35

do they charge you at all to download album art to an existing music library? if so, how much?

Posted by -ducky- on September 14, 2006 at 11:09 PM (CDT)

36

iTunes7 looks great, and I think it eventually will be, but right now it is acting like a beta release…a late beta, but a beta. The album art retrieval is cool, but very quirky. Many of the covers are not found on the first pass and need to be done manually. Many other covers are just wrong. And for some reason, not all the covers updated on the PC get sent over to the iPod even after multiple syncs. Also, while the new 640*480 video looks and sounds great (tried the free Lost episode)the old videos have suddenly become corrupt audio-wise to the point of being unwatchable. As I have heard this from many other people, I am guessing Apple is working on these issues and we should see a version 7.01 soon. If you use iTunes and your iPod for mainly music, go ahead and upgrade. If you use video extensively, though, I would hold off for a while.

Posted by vic6string on September 15, 2006 at 8:37 AM (CDT)

37

Album art costs nothing.

Music purchased from iTunes automatically shows up upon installing v.7

If installation of v.7 doesn’t install album art, right click on the individual song and select Get Album Art. It works about 85-90% of the time

Posted by Mike Lowary in Freeport, IL on September 15, 2006 at 10:22 PM (CDT)

38

I like most of the upgrades, but I don’t like some of the “features” of parental control. The one that bugs me the most is that every song ITS labels EXPLICIT transfers this label to my library. I don’t want that label; I don’t use parental controls and I find it offensive. Grrr.

Posted by sarah1979 on September 16, 2006 at 8:10 PM (CDT)

39

I like the new iTunes version, but I wish it would be transferred over to the ipod. For instance, when I play ‘Songs’ I would like to just hear songs…not podcasts, audiobooks, etc. Is this a feature that Apple may upgrade in iTunes? I really wish the libraries would be separate on the ipod.

Posted by Andipod on September 17, 2006 at 8:45 AM (CDT)

40

Itunes looks better with new color and added games which can only play on 5 and 5.5G ipods(sad). I know many peoples reply tha earlier posts like next gen ipod will come with fullscreen and some features will add in itunes. But now many peoples disapionted with 5.5g ipod. Because we gets nothing but brighter screen and lower price which wasn’t many peoples req. It was only and only to comp with Microsoft. Anyhow iam not buying any ipod because it has same lower battery life and itunes offer no monthely subscription service.

Posted by Eskay on September 17, 2006 at 5:59 PM (CDT)

41

I’m loving iTunes 7 but I have a minor issue: seperate Music and Movie libraries is a cool idea, but I’d like to know at a glance what the TOTAL capacity of BOTH libraries is. Is there a way to do this that I haven’t spotted yet?

Posted by Tenchi211 in California on September 17, 2006 at 7:03 PM (CDT)

42

Upgraded to v.7 today and now a whole bunch of duplicate song listings appear in my iTunes. I don’t want to Ctrl-select my way through thousands of songs to get rid of ‘em. And when I select ‘Show Duplicates’ iTunes displays songs that are *not* duplicated along with those that *are* duplicated. Extremely irritated and confused…any ideas?

Posted by Thompson on September 17, 2006 at 7:18 PM (CDT)

43

Upgraded to iTunes 7 because I’m planning to get a new iPod (for storage reasons). I play a lot of music on my HP Windows XP operating notebook, and now a lot of tracks “skip” a little at the beginning, for half a second or so - something that never occurred before. It is VERY annoying. Am I the only one who’s experiencing this?

Posted by aftershade on September 20, 2006 at 2:35 PM (CDT)

44

With iTunes 7, is there now a way to have songs on a given album stay connected with one another (even when shuffling)?  For example, when playing Abbey Road, the “Gapless Album” feature allows Side 2 to play through without gaps between the songs.  But is there also a way to tie Tracks 8-17 together (as if it were one song) when in Shuffle mode? 

I’m wondering if either “Remember Position” or “Skip When Shuffling” might do this?

Posted by tobias on September 26, 2006 at 8:09 PM (CDT)

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