So I got bored, and was checking out some of the live udpates about today’s Apple ‘Showtime’ event 😀 This isn’t an overview of the presentation – the iTV (okay, an early name, but seriously Apple can come up with a better name!) looks good, I’ll leave that to others to go over, I was more interested in iTunes 7 since iTunes is something I have open pretty much constantly! Can’t wait for John Legend’s new album either – ‘Get Lifted’ is wicked!
Some cool new features for me include grabbing covert art from the iTunes store, something severly lacking in the past. It’s been easy to get around with something like Clutter, though that’s often a little slow, and pulls the data from Amazon rather than iTunes itself. You can choose localisations with Clutter, and I’m guessing with iTunes 7 it’s going to be accessing whichever local iTunes store you run through by default. Amarok, which I used heavily on Ubuntu, has provided a feature to grab cover art directly (again, from Amazon) for a while, so is nice to see it now built into iTunes 7.
One very cool thing is browsing through your collection by album art, much the same way as with CoverFlow (which ironically I recall has just released a new version). I run QuickSilver so usually use type away at whatever album I want to play and it just does it, but when you’re not quite sure what mood you’re in, CoverFlow has been nice to flip through until you find something that, literally, catches you eye! With it being built into iTunes, it’s much smoother and feels complete, and I found CoverFlow sometimes wouldn’t actually load the album in iTunes, or the cover art didn’t scale up right if it was low-res image to start with. With all cover art available from the iTunes store itself, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The new layout is nice, but again, without a huge amount of videos in there it doesn’t make much difference to me. Not sure whether in the same way you have different genres for your music you’ll have different genres of your movies, etc. – I suppose it depends on how Apple deliver them. Grouping the devices section looks nice, and the whole sidebar just looks more polished – it was quite rigid + formal almost in previous versions.
Cool to see a decent selection of movies though. Reported to be 75 films in the store now, with more coming each week. $14.99 for a new release, though most older releases looked to be priced at $9.99, seems a bit too much for me – seeing what the UK prices would be might allow me draw a comparison between buying a physical DVD from the store or clicking a button to buy via iTunes. Would like to see what kind of quality these are too – mentions of the encoded video going up to 640×480 resolution was mentioned, though I don’t know if this means existing music videos and TV shows or what. Near-DVD quality isn’t 640×480 in my experience, and the idea of downloading a movie in 30 minutes on a 5Mb connection is fine, but I don’t know many folks with a 5Mb internet line! I’ll have to wait and see what happens when this goes international or I get my visa to the US!
I like it overall, and may well play around with the new movies available through the iTunes store. I don’t think it’s gimicky, it’s moving in the right direction. The movie industry obviously realises there’s big potential here, though the size of movies might be a stumbling block. Many broadband connections in the UK are becoming bandwidth-limited – 30 minutes on a 5Mb connection means a big file, and those on a 2/3Gb monthly will struggle. Some will argue they’re not going to use iTunes movies, but if Joe Public buys his broadband connection for “browsing the net, e-mailing people and checking out music and wants to gives this movie thing a whirl”, they’re not going to be impressed. Games should fun though!
But, not having to rely on 3rd party apps or plugins to provide some pretty cool content and functionality within iTunes from a cosmetic point of view is very nice. The whole movie thing hasn’t impressed me that much as it was expected, and I can’t tap into that from the UK yet! But, although iTunes 7 was mentioned on various sites before the presentation, I was expecting some of the it’s new features. I haven’t experienced any problems, and wouldn’t expect any, with upgrading, and think it’s worth the upgrade!