New Version of iTunes Released

Well, this one caught us on the hop – normally I just select “Check for iTunes Updates” out of habit and expect nothing, but today brought the 4.5 update.

What’s new? The most obvious addition is Party Shuffle – a little application for keeping your soirées rocking. By selecting tracks from your playlists and presenting them in a slightly simpler (presumably so even drunk people can operate it), slightly prettier interface (it’s for parties after all), you’ll never make a musical gaff at a party again. It even shows the last five tunes played and what’s coming up, so people can still bicker over the music choice – and you can even set it so that it plays high-rated songs more often.

Artists featured in the iTunes music store now have handy arrows next them – clicking on the arrows will take you to a handy area in the store with the option of buying more music.

Another new feature allows users to share playlists – you can share your favourite list with friends and people you’ve never met, accompanied with some spiffy artwork made up of a mosaic of sleeves from the tracks in your mix. This is done simply by choosing “Publish playlist to music store” from the file menu. iTunes users can rate each other’s mixes (be prepared to be insulted by people you’ve never met in ways you’d never dreamed of) and top lists are displayed in the iTunes store.

Cheekily, iTunes will now convert your Windows Media files to AAC, if you require – so now you can have music bought from other websites on your iPod.

The Windows version of 4.5 seems to make it a better behaved Windows application, which is welcomed after the first release ignored all the user interface guidelines.

So, not major update but adds a few interesting features for the youngsters – it’s still the best jukebox software out there, and that’s even without a music store in Europe to back it up.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?