I like iTunes. I really do. Whilst I'm known to listen to some songs on Spotify nowadays, I still believe in iTunes as the deservedly God-like figure in the music software market. It's slick, it's quick, it's easy to use, and it's made by Apple. So what's not to like?
At their conference yesterday, Apple released a new version of iTunes. Not just a petty update, but a totally new version. iTunes 10, they called it. Not sure why, perhaps because it is the tenth version of iTunes. Could be. Anywho, it's got a bunch of new features and I thought I'd take a quick look over them tonight.
First up, iTunes 10 has an updated interface. It's cleaner, it's sleeker, and for some reason the close, minimise and expand buttons are down the side of the window. Strange. Perhaps this is a feature we'll start to see more in OS X applications. I hope not. It's alright, but it's not really appropriate. It's only in this new iTunes because they don't need a bar at the top which says 'iTunes' any more. They probably still do, but I don't mind it being gone. People should know it's iTunes, anyway.
The other new feature that iTunes 10 is bringing us is a new logo. This has had a lot of criticism; or at least from people at my school. It's a change from the old musical note-on-CD logo. I'm glad the CD's gone, firstly. It's a bit old-hat now, and iTunes rarely ever interacts with CDs because it's all about wirelessness and MP3s. To be honest, I thought the old iTunes logo was looking a bit worn out. Quite flat and bland, and thin.
This is more simplistic and bold, much brighter. A logo for the app generation, whereas for the Internet Explorer generation. Still shiny, though. Apple never lose their shine. My only nitpick is that the musical note seems to cartoonish, bold and bouncy. Something more mature would have worked better.
Before we continue, a quick word about an old feature of iTunes. Home Sharing was started in the version before iTunes 10, and I had never really got to grips with it until now. I have now set up two computers in my house with iTunes Home Sharing so they can now drag and drop music from each other's library and have it in their own. I could buy a song on one computer and, using Home Sharing, move it to a playlist on another computer, where I could mix it up with songs the other computer has bought. This is such a brilliant feature. One-up to Apple.
Finally, we have iTunes Ping. This is something new from Apple. A social network of sorts, operating within iTunes, aimed specifically for sharing music. You buy a song; Ping lets your friends know. You write a review of an album; Ping lets your friends know. Your favourite artist says something about a new tour on her Ping 'wall'; Ping lets you know. Nice and interconnected.
However, I feel like this is a bad move for Apple. It really scares me to see Apple venturing into the social networking market; I know they'd be too good at it. I want them to keep out of that, to stay away. Leave that to Facebook, Twitter and the up-and-coming Dysporia. Apple would blow every other network out of the water because it can link it up to Macs, iPods, iPads, iTunes, etc. So stay away, Steve.
I know that the façade of a social network 'based solely on sharing music' will fall off soon enough. Watch out, Ping could be slowly taking over.