Apple announces new features in iTunes 8.1

Noted in conjunction with the announcement of the third-generation iPod shuffle, Apple has updated its iTunes “What’s New” page with information about the impending release of iTunes 8.1. According to the page, the new version will offer performance boosts when loading large libraries, browsing the iTunes Store, and syncing devices. It will also offer expanded Genius functionality, showing the Genius recommendations sidebar for both movies and TV shows. Finally, the page explains that the software will now automatically import CDs as 256-Kbps iTunes Plus files, although it is unclear how this differs from the current version of iTunes’ 256 AAC encoding option; it may become the default setting so as to create files that are playable on the iPod and iPhone, but not certain other devices.

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