After living with the new iTunes for a couple of weeks now we thought we’d shar our initial impressions.
We’ve been using iTunes since before it was iTunes. It used to be called SoundJam MP before Apple snapped it up and renamed it. MacLife have just published a great little history of iTunes here, if you’re interested. So, like good little fanboys, we naturally get all over excited whenever a shiny new version is rolled out.
There’s plenty of good new stuff to get excited about. I think in a couple of years we’ll all look back and realize how important the iTunes LP format is. I’m sure Apple have much bigger plans for it than just adding lyrics and pictures to a handful of old hippy (alright, classic) albums. I see it more as a new format that they can use to distribute digital content on new devices – imagine full screen interactive books and comics and a new Kindle beating tablet – as well adding value to music and video content via Apple TV. The recent digital comic by Tyree hints at this direction – worth a look even if you’re not a fan of the man’s music (we’re not – sorry, Tyree).
The Genius Mixes are an interesting diversion but need a lot more work before they will be anything other than a novelty. Power users can lap up the new smarter smart playlists to create ever more complex playlists.
Of course, for iPhone/iPod touch users the biggest news is the fact that you can now rearrange your apps from within iTunes itself. It’s very intuitive and works well although I think it’s a stopgap approach to the real problem – we need ways of labeling sets of apps and jumping easily from screen to screen.
Unfortunately, nothing’s perfect and we think the changes made to the app store are definitely a step in the wrong direction. Although cosmetically it’s a vast improvement, actually navigating around is quite tricky until you learn where everything is. One of the Chilli X team couldn’t even find out how to get to the different app categories until we showed him the drop down menu. A lot of new and casual users will probably never see more that just the home page of the App Store and this will only exaggerate the already hit driven nature of the store as people see the same few featured apps again and again.
The new App Genius recommendations (found in the App Store on the phone) are a step in the right direction but so far seem pretty random. I’m not sure how it should work or how it’s actually working. Do they recommend an app to you that is similar (but hopefully better) to something you already have? Or is it that people who bought A also bought bought B? I can only assume it’s the less useful latter based on the sort of recommendations I’m getting – why would 6500+ Cool Facts be relevant to me because I bought a TV listing app? Or Air Sharing Pro because I bought a grocery list app?
Let’s just say it’s a good start but there’s plenty of room for improvement…
There’s no denying the app runs faster and generally looks prettier than it did – I seem to be the only person on the web that actually likes the new wish list. Although, interestingly, when I tried to move albums from my old wish list (created by just naming a playlist ‘wish list’ and dragging songs into it) I found half of the stuff was no longer available in the iTunes Store – very strange.
I think some of the cosmetic changes must have caused some underlying problems though – at least half the time I go to the home screen my personalized info isn’t available on the right hand side (Wish List, Alerts, Genius Recommendations etc.) even though I’m logged in. Another annoying little ‘feature’ is that the iTunes store is convinced I have 14 purchases waiting to be downloaded, all of which I have already downloaded successfully and no matter how many more times I download them it just doesn’t seem to stick… I don’t know how many more times I can download Doom Resurrection.
Anybody else got any thoughts, problems or comments?