Apple Cranks Up iTunes 4
Along with the high-profile changes necessary for the iTunes Music Store, described previously in this issue, iTunes 4 sports a number of other welcome enhancements. Most notable is support for Rendezvous, as Steve Jobs showed in his Macworld Expo New York keynote in 2002 (a feature that an impatient developer replicated in the open source application iCommune). Now a Mac using iTunes can share its music with other Macs using iTunes on the same local network. In the iTunes Preferences dialog, you can share your entire library or just select playlists, and if you don’t want everyone on your local network to see your shared music, you can restrict access with a password. Needless to say, shared music is play-only; you can’t copy shared songs to your computer, make playlists with them, change their information, or anything else.
Also new in iTunes 4 is support for burning data CDs or DVDs. It’s not entirely clear how a data CD differs from an MP3 CD, but iTunes 4 now offers both options in the Burning pane in its Preferences dialog. This capability is particularly useful for people who have Macs with SuperDrives, since they can easily burn backup DVDs of their entire music collection.
Not surprisingly, given the file format used for the iTunes Music Store, iTunes 4 can now import music from your CDs in AAC format along with MP3, AIFF, and WAV. To import music using AAC, you must have QuickTime 6.2, which is available as a manual download from Apple’s QuickTime Web page; it isn’t yet available in Software Update.
Apple enhanced the ever-present Search field in iTunes 4, adding a drop-down menu that lets you restrict searches to artists, albums, composers, or songs. When you’re in the Music Store, a Power Search option also appears; choosing it takes you to the Music Store Power Search screen in the main iTunes window.
Finally, for those who miss CD cover artwork, iTunes 4 provides a new area that you can hide or show at the bottom of the playlist pane. When showing, you can drag a graphic file to that area to add it to the selected songs; you can also add artwork by dragging it to the Get Info window’s Artwork tab or to the Artwork box in the Multiple Song Information dialog. If you double-click artwork underneath the playlist pane, it opens in a new window at full size.
Where would you get this artwork if you don’t have a scanner? Music you purchase from the iTunes Music Store comes with its associated artwork, although it doesn’t appear that you can download art from the iTunes Music Store for albums you already own. However, there are numerous collections of cover artwork on the Internet, and you can also just find the album on Amazon.com and drag the image from Safari (or possibly other Web browsers) into iTunes. Unfortunately, iTunes 4 still seems to lack options for storing and displaying other metadata such as lyrics or liner notes.
iTunes 4 requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later, with at least a Mac with a 400 MHz PowerPC G3 processor and 256 MB of RAM recommended. It’s available in numerous languages and is an 8.3 MB download. Although you must download manually at the moment, it will likely appear in Software Update soon.
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