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iTunes 7

iTunes 7

If you use an iPod, you must be familiar with iTunes, right? Well, for those of you who have been asleep since 2001, iTunes is your sleek, posh glossy music player that makes other media players seem so much older. In fact, the first thing you will probably notice about iTunes is that it looks so good. Well, iTunes has come out with a new version and I’m here to tell you all about it. So, here comes the latest on iTunes, version 7.

Let’s start with the interface. There are three ways for you to display your songs. The classic way, the album wise display and the cover flow. The classic display is like most of the other media players. It’s just a list of your songs. There’s not really anything cool about that. This mode is strictly meant for people who are using older computers. See, iTunes is keeping everyone in mind!

The album display is where iTunes starts to show off its beauty. iTunes separates songs based on the albums they belong to. It’s still a long list, but with your songs being segregated on the basis of an album makes a big difference when you have to scroll through them all. It also displays the album cover next to the list of the songs, so it’s very pleasing to the eye.

The third option is the cover flow display. The idea behind this is to completely eliminate scrolling through long lists of albums/tracks to find a song. You literally scroll through album covers to find your song. The screenshot below should explain it better.

As you can see, it displays all the album covers that you would normally see on the shelves at stores. With this, you can simply scroll through them to find the song you want to listen to. As you scroll through the covers, the song list at the bottom panel keeps changing in accordance with the album cover on display. Is this cool or what? Now, you might be wondering where you can find the album covers, right? Let’s check into that!

iTunes downloads the album art for you automatically and free of cost. All you need to do is sign up at the iTunes music store. The registration doesn’t cost anything, but they do need you to give your credit card number for validation. You don’t need to purchase anything though, so don’t do that! If you choose to do this, iTunes will automatically download the cover art when you play a certain song. If you don’t want to sign up, you can also find the album art covers through amazon.com.

Another cool feature is called “My Rating.” You can rate songs based on your likes and dislikes. This feature is extremely handy, especially for people with huge music collections. You can keep track of what you like, what you don’t and more importantly, you can use this to create smart playlists.

iTunes lets you create two kinds of playlists. The first is the regular playlist. You create a new playlist and just drag and drop songs onto it. Nothing special about that, but on the other hand, you can create a smart playlist.

For example, I religiously give ratings to my music in iTunes based on my dislikes, so let’s say that one night I would like to listen to my favorite songs while working on some other projects. To do this, I just create a new smart playlist and set a criteria for what should be included.

So, in this example, I have created a new smart playlist and included all the songs that have a rating of five or more. iTunes will then create a new list, which will only have songs that have been rated as five stars by me. As I keep adding more songs to iTunes, the smart playlist will automatically keep updating. I’ll never have to add anything manually. As a last option, I chose to limit this playlist to two hours, so the smart playlist takes care of that for me as well!

Adding music to iTunes 7 is a breezy affair. iTunes organizes all your music in the music library. Say you add a folder of new music to your library. iTunes takes that music and organizes all the songs into different directories, based on the artists and the albums. It’s all done automatically. You don’t have to do anything manually. Also, if you have CDs, you can simply insert them into your CD ROM drive and click on “Import CD” in iTunes. iTunes will import the CD in the format you choose (wav, AAC, mp3, etc.) and it will then add it to your iTunes library.

Traffic the other way works as easily too. If you want to burn MP3s to a CD or if you want to make an audio CD with some of your songs, simply select the songs, add them to a new playlist and select “Burn to CD.” Once again, it’s all done automatically with no extra programs needed. If you make a playlist that is longer than the capacity of one disk, iTunes will initiate a multiple disc burn. It’s doesn’t get any better than that!

If you love for your music to come to you easily, the iTunes music store will be a blessing for you. It essentially means that you don’t have to go out to the store to buy an audio CD anymore. You can simply buy songs from the iTunes store on your computer and import them into your library. Before you buy the song, you can also listen to a thirty second sample of it. If you are already an iTunes store shopper, you are going to love the integrity between iTunes and the store. Also, with Apple selling movies from the iTunes store now, you will be able to buy movies from the store, download them to your computer and watch them using iTunes 7. If you don’t want to throw money into the stores, you can at least watch the movie trailers at the store. At least you won’t waste money at the movie theater!

Now, just a few more points to make. As a music jukebox, iTunes packs the usual features any self-respecting player should have. The equalizer is effective and the visualizations are appealing. I personally found the visualization to be much more attractive than the ones on most other players.

Like most other players, iTunes also brings online radio to you and this is one thing I have come to absolutely love. What I like the most about this is the choice it brings to you. By choice, I don’t just mean many different radio stations catering to different genres, etc. The radio stations aren’t just meant for the broadband user either. Even if you are on a dial-up connection, you can select any of the low bit rate radio stations and it will play like butter. The stations are organized nicely and you can add the ones you like to your iTunes library or even to a playlist so that you can access the stations easily later on.

Similarly, synching your favorite podcasts with iTunes is plain and simply easy. Since most people use iTunes to synch to their iPods, getting your podcasts to the iPod will be even easier, even though iTunes is by no means the best software to use solely for podcasts.

The bottom line is that if you love your music, this is the last stop for you. Apple has it all planned. You buy the music from the iTunes store or import it from a CD. iTunes then organizes it for you in the prettiest way possible and you simply “teach” iTunes about what you like and what you don’t via the ratings and smart playlists systems. It doesn’t get any better, does it?!

To download iTunes 7, click here and enjoy!

~ Yogesh Bakshi