iPod, iTunes updates hide major new features
Coinciding with the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple has released iPod Updater 2006-01-10 and iTunes 6.0.2, both classified as “point releases” of its key software packages for iPods, Macs, and PCs. Though the company originally had not published details on many of the new features of these programs, iLounge’s editors found several hidden treasures in each of them, most of which have now been confirmed on Apple’s web site.
iPod Updater 2006-01-10 upgrades the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano to software versions 1.1, adding support for on-screen FM radio tuning, the display of accessory-specific color on-screen logo graphics on the Do Not Disconnect screen, and bug fixes. Bug fixes have also been implemented for both versions of the fourth-generation iPod (black-and-white/color), and iPod mini.
Originally described by Apple only as including “stability and performance improvements over iTunes 6.0.1,” iTunes 6.0.2 adds several major new features to the music management software. Most notably, iTunes now handles automatic H.264-format video conversion for the iPod without requiring the purchase of Apple’s QuickTime Pro software. Right-clicking on any video track now brings up a “Convert Selection for iPod” option. iTunes also allows users to stream audio wirelessly to multiple AirPort Express receivers at once, a feature previously found in standalone audio distribution systems such as Sonos’ ZonePlayers.
In less positive additions, Apple has created a mini iTunes Music Store (the “MiniStore”) which displays by default whenever you look at your Library or Playlists. The MiniStore analyzes the music you are listening to and suggests similar options for purchase, a feature that is already being described as unwelcome “spyware and adware” by several writers. You can turn off the MiniStore by selecting Edit > Hide MiniStore.
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