iTunes 7, and the new iTunes Store

2006-09-13 04:23:55 UTC

The good.

  • Power Search is finally linked from the front page of every iTMS section. This isn’t a complete fix to iTunes 6’s ruined search field that doesn’t let you select a criterion before searching (I haven’t tried 7 yet), but it’s nice to have anyway. I will definitely make a webloc with the itms: URL for it.

  • The borders and backgrounds on the TV Shows section are nice.

  • Hooray for movies! Pretty small selection, but the TV Shows section started out small too. Hopefully some other studios will get on board with the idea of selling their movies through iTunes.

  • I like the new top-level pane for an iPod.

  • They finally added a downloads viewer! Woo-hoo!

    iTunes 7 downloads viewer.

  • Speaking of which, iTunes now downloads up to three of your pending downloads (e.g. season pass episodes) at once. This also applies to shopping-cart downloads. There’s no obvious pref to change the maximum number of concurrent downloads.

    Cropped screenshot of iTunes 7's downloads viewer, showing two downloads at the same time.

  • You can pause a download and resume it later. IMO, this is a necessary feature, especially with the huge new 640×480 downloads. As an example, this Lost episode is only 920.4 MB, according to iTunes’ downloads viewer.

  • You can now get album art from iTMS for songs that don’t have any (because you ripped them from CDs, downloaded them from eMusic, recorded them from TV or radio, etc.).

  • I’m going to say this in font-size: 120% because it’s just so huge. THEY FIXED VIDEO FRAME-RATES IN iTUNES! I can now play MacBreak (which is HD) at half-size with an acceptable frame-rate and The Daily Show (in the old 320×240 size) at double-size with a smooth frame-rate!

The bad.

  • SHOUTING IS BAD!

  • Helvetica is ugly. What was wrong with Lucida Grande? Can we now expect a return to Helvetica in Leopard? (Strangely, this only applies to iTMS. iTunes itself still uses Lucida Grande.)

  • They got rid of the “Free Downloads” sections on the Music and TV Shows pages. Why? I liked knowing at a glance what I could get for free. There isn’t even any indication on the iTMS front page that there’s still a Discovery Download (and there is, as you’ll find if you search for it).

    UPDATE 2006-09-19: Simone found that if you turn off “Just for You”, a “Free Downloads” section appears on the front page of iTMS. If you then click “See All” in that section, it takes you to this page. Unfortunately, the list there is incomplete; it, too, is missing the Discovery Download.

  • Some of the heading borders look like a rather plain web page — just a basic border around some text (consider this example). The old headings looked much better.

  • Another new version of QuickTime? What exactly is wrong with the one I have?

  • Some pages have hyperlinks, but they aren’t underlined. When I see a hyperlink like this one, my first thought is “how?”.

    Screenshot of iTunes Store page for Solitary, season 1. Includes a run of text (“Visit the official Solitary site.”) that is linked, but not underlined unless moused over, thereby giving no indication that it is a link unless you are lucky.

  • $5 a game? Do cell-phone people pay these prices?

  • Could they have made the new UI any uglier and more non-standard?

    • It does not respect Appearance preferences. I already chose a selection color and turned on double-arrows-at-both-ends. iTunes uses neither of these. (UPDATE 2006-09-20: Simone has filed both of these as bugs.) And its scroll thumbs (which look almost, but not quite, like Dashboard’s) are some funky cross between Aqua and Graphite. Pick one!

    • The outline view, scroll bars, column video headers, buttons, checkboxes, radio buttons, and iPod tabs look nothing like any other app. (Only in the main window, though; not the preferences.)

  • iTunes is paranoid about showing dialog boxes for perfectly harmless and easily reversible actions.

    Screenshot of iTunes dialog box to confirm hiding the “Movies” item in the source list.

    Yes! Of course I do! That’s why I unchecked the checkbox! And if I didn’t, I could simply check it again!

  • STILL with the UI preemption! Please, Apple, let us do two things at once! (I’m referring now to the “Updating library…” dialog, as well as to the old “Buffering stream…” dialog that appears when you listen to a preview or when a stream lags. These operations cannot be canceled or postponed or backgrounded, except that you can switch out of iTunes and use some other app while it churns.) UPDATE 2006-09-20: Also filed as a bug by Simone.

  • The new “Cover Browser” (which I think is what used to be called CoverFlow) is nice. But it only works in the Library, not on iPods. Why?

  • No more Browse view. I miss this because it was a much faster way to navigate the TV shows.

    UPDATE 2006-09-14 23:47 PDT: Not so! m2e points out in a comment that the Browse view is still around; simply press ⌘B. You can also choose “Show Browser” from the View menu. Thanks!

    UPDATE 2006-09-20 00:31 PDT: Also, klarno points out in a comment that you can invoke it by clicking the eye button at the bottom-right of the window. That’s how I used to invoke it: by clicking the eye button. But in 6, that button was in the top-right, and was colored, and had the word “Browse” under it. I thought that the new one invoked the Visualizer (which would have been welcome; an eye makes much more sense to me as a symbol for “Visualize” than for “Browse”).

  • iTunes takes 20% CPU (40% if the downloads viewer is visible) to download something. This is worse even than Safari or OmniWeb.

The indifferent.

  • The icon’s beamed eighth note (♫) is blue again.

    iTunes 2.0's icon: A CD with a blue musical note in front of it.
    iTunes 7.0's icon: A CD with a shiny blue musical note in front of it.
  • The new rewind/playpause/fast-forward buttons are nice.

  • The chasing arrows are back!

    Screenshot of chasing arrows on an iPod having its gapless-playback information updated.

  • The iTunes Music Store is now the iTunes Store.

  • You now only get the jump-to-iTunes-Store buttons for the selected item in a list of songs, not all of them. Slightly distracting to see buttons appear and disappear as the selection changes. But I don’t think they were clickable for non-selected items anyway, so it doesn’t matter much.

I don’t like the new interface, but I can tolerate it in exchange for the greatly improved video performance, the higher resolution, and the concurrent and resumable downloads. On the whole, I like the new iTunes.

Oh, and the new iPods look awesome. The new shuffle redefines the nano’s old slogan, “impossibly small”, and the new nano brings back the great (and non-scratch-prone) aesthetics of the iPod mini. Good work, Apple iPod division!

5 Responses to “iTunes 7, and the new iTunes Store”

  1. m2e Says:

    “No more Browse view. I miss this because it was a much faster way to navigate the TV shows.”
    Apple-B brings up Browse. The improved video was greatly needed!

  2. Peter Hosey Says:

    Awesome. It’s in the View menu, too: “Show Browser”. Thanks!

  3. klarno Says:

    Browser is also accessible from the button with the eye-icon in the lower right of the application.

    I utterly despise, however, how hard they’ve made the EQ to get to – they removed the button, and they removed the cmd combo. It’s only accessible from the view menu. >.

  4. Simone Manganelli Says:

    You might want to update this entry with the fact that if you turn Just For You off, there actually IS a free stuff page and scrolly-section. Direct link to the free stuff page: itms://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?fcId=188575544

  5. Peter Hosey Says:

    klarno says:
    [quote comment=”132″]Browser is also accessible from the button with the eye-icon in the lower right of the application.[/quote]

    Erp. I thought that was the Visualizer.

    Simone says:
    [quote comment=”133″]You might want to update this entry with the fact that if you turn Just For You off, there actually IS a free stuff page and scrolly-section.[/quote]

    Done.

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