iTunes 8 Observations

September 19, 2008

I am not calling this a review mainly because there are a bazillion of those out there. Instead I wanted to share my observations from iTunes 8 and it’s new features.


I do like the new Grid View.  Cover Flow never made too much sense to me other than looking flashy.  I never used it to navigate my music, so the addition of the Grid View helps me out.  I like how you can group by Artist, Album, etc for the Grid View and each of those settings remain for different playlists.  If you like organizing one playlist by Artist and the next by Album, the Grid View will keep each of those settings. The only qualm I have with the changes is that the standard list view feels cramped.  They took some spacing out between albums and added gridlines between everything.  I would have left the standard view alone personally.


The biggest new feature is Genius.  This basically comes in two varieties, the Genius Sidebar and the Genius Playlists.  Because they are unique things, I will tackle them independent of each other.

Genius Sidebar

The Sidebar takes the song you have selected, then goes to the iTunes Store to find other albums and songs by that artist you don’t have.  It also suggests other songs you might like by other artists that you don’t have.  This seems like a nice feature, however in practice it is kind of annoying.  First, you can’t hide any grouping of information, so if you don’t want to see other albums by that artist you are out of luck.  The Sidebar needs to have a way of customizing what information comes up.  Second, if a song isn’t in the iTunes Store, it returns generic results.  It would be nice if it could at least look at the genre you have listed to narrow it down a little.  Even better, instead of relying on the iTunes Store for information, go check sources like CDDB or something to get info.  Most of the time I have the Sidebar hidden.  It takes up a bunch of real estate and just isn’t useful for me.

Genius Playlists

This is a really cool feature. You choose a song in your library, click the Genius Playlist button and it searches your library for songs that would go with it. If you have added the correct meta information into your music, you seem to get pretty good results.  I have been pleased with my experience so far and am pretty close to moving my Shuffle to a Genius Playlist instead of 5 Star Songs.  My one real concern with it is that it uses the default iTunes genres.  If you have organized your music with unique genres, such as Ska, Punk, Emo and Indie, those will need to be re-genred as Alternative to take full advantage of Genius.  Not a huge deal for me, but for some of you, it might be.  This isn’t to say that Genius won’t work without this, just that it works better if you make the change.

New Visualizer

Last, we have the new visualizer.  I don’t really use the visualizers much, but this one is pretty cool.  It runs smoothly on my Macbook and has some interesting effects.  A nice added touch, but not one that will likely rock your world.

Overall iTunes 8 is a polished product.  I look forward to Genius making some strides in the future. If anything, this version of iTunes gives people something to look forward to in new versions if iTunes, better and more complex Genius functions, and that is worth it in itself.