Because I got the software upgrade along with my new computer (with bonus new iPod), I can’t tell whether all the changes that I’ve noticed are iTunes 7 related or not. Nevertheless, I’m really loving the new version of iTunes for all kinds of big and small reasons.
This feature creates a virtual collection of album art for all your music (which doesn’t have to be purchased via iTunes music store) that you scroll through like flipping through vinyl LPs in the record store. Nostalgia aside, it’s incredibly sleek (though its practical value is questionable). Even though I think it’s much easier to find songs using the normal text-based listing, ever since I got iTunes 7, I’ve been hard at work getting all the album art for every single song I have (which numbers close to 4,000). The feature is great, but not flawless. If the name of the album or artist don’t match up with the online database, you can’t pick up the album art automatically (I found that out the hard way when I asked iTunes to grab all my art automatically but it got stalled at some problematic tracks and wouldn’t go on). Now I do it all one album at a time. I even have a dashboard widget that queries Amazon to pull up album art for ones that iTunes cannot get. My latest time-waster is that I’m trying to match all the individual tracks from my compilation CDs to their original art. Obsession, thy name is “Cover Flow”!
Skip when shuffling
One of the things I used to hate was the Shuffle Songs feature, because it always seemed super-lame to go from a song to the next track (which might be an audiobook chapter, or a podcast). Now there’s a track option that allows you to check off Skip when shuffling. So now that I’ve checked off all my audiobook chapters (and I think this might be checked off by default for podcasts), they never show up when I shuffle songs—it’s pure grooves all the way.
Remember playback position
Another track option that’s cool is that you can tell iTunes/your iPod that it needs to save the position you last listened up to on a track. This is especially useful for long audio files like podcasts. Too often I used to want to switch to a song or something at some point in a podcast, or maybe I’d arrived at work and need to turn my iPod off. Now when I go back to that podcast track, I don’t have to listen from the beginning and scan through to the part where I stopped listening. My iPod knows exactly where that spot is and starts from there—sweet.
This one’s not as important to me. There was a lot of mention of this in all the hype surrounding the release of iTunes 7, but I just don’t have that many albums of continuous, gapless music. Nevertheless, when I set that option on the tracks from Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, it was cool not to have that split second gap as one song flowed into the next.
More than just for their practical value, these changes help me keep the faith that Apple’s the kind of company that really tries to understand how its customers are using their stuff and wants us to have a good experience.