An Introduction to iTunes 6’s New Features

An Introduction to iTunes 6’s New Features 1

As expected, Apple today introduced the second new member of its Holiday 2005 iPod lineup, the 5th Generation iPod. This iPod, although still music-centric, has the capability to view videos, and a larger screen to do so with.

How, then, is this new type of content delivered to the iPod? A new version of iTunes, of course, and an updated iTunes Music Store featuring video content, as well! iTunes 6, released earlier today and available for free download for both Mac and Windows here. Today’s integer increase in iTunes’ version number is bold, as today’s release could have easily been named iTunes 5.1 – the program itself sports few improvements beyond the many features introduced only a month ago in iTunes 5.

Instead, most of the major improvements introduced today are actually improvements to the Music Store itself. What are they?  Download iTunes 6 and follow along in our brief overview of what’s new in iTunes and the Music Store.

iTunes Improvements:

Video Source List

The first thing one will notice upon launching iTunes 6 is the presence of a new “Videos” icon in the “Source” column in the left hand side of iTunes:


Click on this icon, and you’ll be presented with a classy black tray displaying all videos in your iTunes Library at the moment. Our library had four videos displayed, which we had acquired in a “special” deal with a new Gorillaz single. Notice the reflection of the video preview:



Toggle the view icons in the top right hand corner of the video window to switch between the default “preview” mode and the basic text list. Note that in “List” view, one can add new text fields to the display, such as “Season” and “Episode,” used for television shows purchased from the iTunes Music Store. To enable the display of these fields, choose “View Options” from iTunes’ “Edit” menu.

How are videos played? This has not changed since video playback was made available in iTunes 4.9. That is, you can choose whether iTunes plays videos in the Album Art Box (in the bottom left corner of iTunes), in a separate Quicktime-like window, or full-screen. To change this setting, access the final option of the “Playback” tab of iTunes’ “Preferences” window:



Then, simply double-click on a video in either Preview or List mode, and it will begin to play in the selected manner.

iTunes Music Store Improvements:

Music Videos, Shorts, and TV Shows

Sure, a video iPod sounds like a neat idea, but how will it be useful?  DVD’s are still today too large for the average user to catalog, and too long and taxing is the process that it takes to import them into a portable format. Apple’s answer lies in smaller, shorter, pre-encoded video content in the form of TV Shows, Music Videos, and Pixar shorts – and they’re delivering them through their popular iTunes Music Store.

To access this content, click on “Music Store” from iTunes 6’s “Source” column. Along the left hand side of the main window, you’ll see the main Music Store navigation column, with three new links at the bottom:



Music Videos, previously presented in a rudimentary interface (for free), are now presented in the standard iTunes three-column interface, and now cost $1.99 each. However, the music videos (and all video content on the iTunes Music Store), is now presented in H.264 format, keeping file sizes down without reducing video quality.

The Pixar category offers several of Pixar Animation Studios’ wonderfully funny short videos, also at $1.99 each.

Currently, only five TV Shows are available:  “Lost”, “Desparate Housewives”, “Night Stalker”, “The Suite Life”, and “That’s So Raven.” In each case, single episodes sell for $1.99 each, and entire seasons are available in single-button-click packages, at a significant per-episode discount (25 episodes from Season 1 of “Lost” are available for $34.99). TV shows are presented commercial-free.

All video content weighs in at approximately 5MB (approximately the file size taken by one song) per minute – a hefty download for anyone but broadband users. All video is subject to digital rights management similar to that of music purchased from the Music Store – 5 computers may play the videos. However, they cannot be burned to CD or DVD as video.

Any video content downloaded from the iTunes Music Store will reside alongside any of your existing videos obtained from other sources in the previously-discussed “Video” panel. Here’s a photo of our video panel with our test short, music video, and TV episode:



Just for You

Video was not the only new feature added to the music store, however. “Just for You” is a new feature first presented in the middle of the main iTunes Music Store interface that gives the user a customized set of music recommendations:



Click on the text “Just for You” or “See All”, and this feature is expanded into a larger Netflix-style computerized recommendation interface. Click “Already Own It” or “Don’t Like It” to ‘train’ the recommendation algorithm to your tastes.




Apple has also expanded their “Gift Certificate” feature to enable one to purchase specific music for someone else. This feature, dubbed “Gifting,” is available when viewing any Album on the Music Store. Simply click “Gift This Music” to begin the gifting process, where you can select any album (click “Gift Album”), track (click “Gift Song”), or playlist.




To gift a playlist, create a playlist of either your own music or iTunes Music Store links, and click the arrow next to the playlist title in the Source column. iTunes will ask whether you’d like to publish an iMix, or gift the playlist.

Customer Reviews

Finally, iTunes 6 features “Customer Reviews,” added alongside the professionally-authored “iTunes Reviews” introduced recently. This feature enables anyone with an iTunes account to rate and review iTunes’ music for others to view.

To begin rating and reviewing music, navigate to any album you’d like to review in the Music Store, and click “Write a Review.”



Here, you’re able to select a nickname to write under, or opt to post anonymously. This is a permanent setting that you’ll do only once per iTunes account.



Next, you’re presented with the familiar 5-star rating options, and a short text field into which you may write your review.



Write and submit carefully – you can’t submit corrections or edits once you’ve clicked the final “Submit” button. Also, be careful to follow Apple’s guidelines, or your review may not be posted.


iTunes 6 truly has opened Pandora’s box to a whole new world of digital media, ushering in not only the new 5th Generation iPod, but an entirely new generation of computerized media in easy-to-access video content. Enjoy iTunes 6 and its exciting new content!


  1. Wonderful! Great lyrics, great melodies. My favorite? Banana Pancakes, of course!

    Actually, the customer review bit is one of the most useful parts of Amazon and the like. I’m sure it will be just as useful in the iTMS.

  2. When I updated to iTunes 6.0 it loaded up some old video clips that I didn’t know I had. iTunes won’t let me clear/delete them from my video library. I deleted a few of the video clips from my hard drive through windows/xp. iTunes informs me that it can’t find the videos clips, but still does not allow me to delete them from my iTunes video library. Any ideas?

  3. Sugarbug,

    I had the same problem. It appears you can’t delete from the video section. If you call up your library section you can see your videos listed, from here you can delete!

    hope this helps

  4. I just upgraded from iTunes 4.9 to iTunes 6, and the first thing i noticed when i started playing my music was hissing in the audio. This hissing made all my songs sound like they were being played by an old record player, less the popping and scratching.

    After using version 6, i only have 2 questions in my head: Does anyone else have the same problem, or is it just me? Or is this suuposed to be a new ‘feature’? (okay, i’m being sarcastic there)

    I played the same songs in WMP 10 just to see if it was something from my hardware, and found only iTunes had this problem.

    The new interface is refreshing and clean, but iTunes is supposed to be a MUSIC player first and foremost. If Apple screwed up the ‘music’ part of iTunes by adding in the new video feature, then i really have no more use for this version at all, since the Music Store isn’t available in Singapore, and i’d rather watch videos in either Quicktime or Windows Media Player.

    I really wouldn’t recommend iTunes 6 at this moment, unless mine is an isolated problem.

  5. Don’t get me wrong, I love Itunes. I think that it is very user friendly. On the release of the new Ipod Video, Itunes started to release music videos, short films, and tv shows. This is all great. Just one thing, what are Canadian clients supposed to do with the new Ipod Video when the tv shows aren’t available on the Canadian Itunes? In fact, that is not the only thing that’s not available. A lot of items available on the U.S. Itunes is not available on the Canadian counterpart. What’s with that?

  6. Ok, after some tries i figured what to do to make it work!

    iTunes must know that you have artwork in your iPod so he will know what to enble and disable.

    Therfore, when you sync iPod with iTunes, you must move on (show) -every- track in the iPod library (in iTunes) so it will recognize it. After you showed every track in the iPod library you can re-enable the Display artwork and that should do the trick.

  7. Ok, so i orderd the new ipod and updated my itunes from 5 to 6. Everything music wise is working perfectly but my only problem is the video. Apple has said nothing about getting video onto itunes/ipod that hasnt been purchased through itunes. So i found a program that lets me back up my dvds into AVI/DivX/Mpeg-4 which is one of the two ipod compatiable formats and i ripped 4 of my favorite batman animated series episodes and they were easilly added to my itunes library. I then ripped one of my family guy episodes and that two was added to my library. But now it seems when ever itry to add anything but those 5 episodes i tunes will not add it to my library, even after going to “add file to library”. please please help me im getting very frusterated. thank you.

  8. Since i’ve upgraded to iTunes 6, my iPod Photo (60G) can’t display Album Artwork right. I had to restore my iPod and re-sync about 6000 songs! Then it worked for a day or two…. But after that, the album artwork did not display again. I tried to enable – disable the iPod artwork but still, no resault.

  9. . Some people will stand so long over the ball trying to remember everything the coaches taught them, you’ll wonder how they’ll ever get through the entire golf course. It’s impossible to make a shot if your mind is trying to think of everything you’ve been taught such as, your grip, where are your feet, where is the ball and so on

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