Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 10.2
Following Apple’s iPad 2 media event yesterday, the company quietly released iTunes 10.2, a relatively minor update intended primarily to support the upcoming iOS 4.3 update planned for a March 11th release.
The major new features in iTunes 10.2, as listed in the release notes, are support for syncing iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices running iOS 4.3 and support for Home Sharing on iOS 4.3 devices, which will presumably allow iOS device users to stream content from their iTunes libraries to the iPhones, iPads or iPod touches on the same Wi-Fi network.
Although Apple announced this feature during yesterday’s iOS 4.3 preview, reports indicate that the feature has not yet appeared in the iOS 4.3 betas that have been released to developers. We’ll have more on the Home Sharing feature once iOS 4.3 is released.
As always, we’ve gone through the new iTunes version and noticed a few other subtle changes that are worth pointing out.
iTunes 10.2 returns the color to the icons in the preferences panels, although the left sidebar icons remain the same monochrome grey first introduced in iTunes 10. Note that the “Apple TV” page will only appear for users who still have first-generation Apple TV devices associated with their libraries—it is not used for the second-generation Apple TV. If you’re no longer using a first-generation Apple TV, you can remove your device from this tab, after which it will vanish from your preferences.
iTunes 10.2 makes several other small subtle changes to its preferences, moving some, removing others, and adding a new Home Sharing option. On the General page, you can now choose whether or not to include Shared Libraries in the sidebar.
This replaces the “Look for shared libraries” option previously found on the Sharing page. Like the previous option, turning off “Shared Libraries” from here will only hide publicly shared libraries and does not affect the libraries that appear as part of your Home Sharing configuration.
On a related note, the Sharing page now includes a new option: Home Sharing computers and devices update play counts. When this option is enabled, iTunes will update play counts, last played times, skip counts and last skipped times for tracks played from other computers and devices via Home Sharing.
The remote Home Sharing client must also be running iTunes 10.2 for this to work. This will presumably also work with the new Home Sharing feature on iOS 4.3 devices, however the second-generation Apple TV will continue to update play counts as before regardless of whether this setting is enabled or not.
The option to display the iTunes window in full screen has been removed from the Store preferences, appearing instead as an option on the View menu.
On the Devices preference page, the option to Look for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad remotes has been replaced with a note on how many remotes iTunes is paired with, and the option to Look for remove speakers connected with AirPlay has been removed; it is now simply enabled by default.
The Advanced page sees the elimination of the Streaming Buffer Size option and the button to Use iTunes for Internet playback.
iTunes 10.2 represents a relatively minor update with a few small tweaks and support for the upcoming iOS 4.3 update. In our preliminary testing we have not observed any significant changes in performance or any other features related to iPod or iOS device management and syncing or Apple TV integration, which continue to work much as they did in prior versions.
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users updating to iOS 4.3 will likely be required to upgrade to iTunes 10.2, but there’s little reason for any other iTunes user to rush out and download this one other than simply staying current with the most recent version.
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