Apple announces that the next major version of iTunes will be available for download some time today. iTunes 8 is not jam-packed with new functionality, but the new Genius feature—which boasts smart, automatic playlist creation—has us madly refreshing the iTunes download page. Let's take a closer look at what you can expect from the new iTunes and how it can improve your digital music experience.
The most significant new feature are the new Genius Playlists, a feature that promises to create great playlists for you based on the music in your library. You choose a song, tell iTunes you want it to create a Genius Playlist from that song, and it takes care of the rest. The Genius feature works by analysing the music in your library and suggesting songs that it thinks will go well with that song. We've seen similar tools before as third-party iTunes add-ons (like previously mentioned Soundflavor DJ and The Filter), so this isn't all that new, but this one is built right into iTunes. As Jason from Gizmodo points out, it's essentially Pandora for your own music library.
In addition to the Genius Playlist creation, this feature also introduces a new Genius Sidebar, which actually looks much more like a rebranding of the mini store in the sidebar. If you're concerned about Apple snagging all your listening habits with the Genius sidebar—well, you're partially right. Apple is collecting stats to improve the smarts of their Genius, but it's all anonymous.
Genius playlist building has also been built directly into your iPod, so you create those "genius" playlists on the go.
The second new feature is Grid View, an iPhoto-like way to browse your music library by albums. The Grid view looks a lot like an iPhoto layout, and it provides a way to browse your music library by album without the need to switch to the full-on, graphics-intense Cover Flow.
It's not a lot, but the new Genius feature will hopefully bring a new dimension to your listening habits, helping you re-discover music you already have and possibly discover new music that you don't. Let's hear what you think of the new iTunes in the comments.
Thanks to Gizmodo for the pictures.