New iPod and iTunes Software

We all knew that the iTMS for Windows was coming. We did not know what great new features were coming for it though. We also did not know about the new version of the iPod software (2.1).

This new iPod software fixes the one thing that annoys me the most. The backlight can now have a custom timer, set to 2, 5, 10, 20 seconds, and always on. Not only that but now when you touch any of the buttons or scroll wheel, the backlight turns on. My number one gripe about my iPod has been addressed.

Being able to sync On-The-Go playlists back to my computer is also a nice addition. The new Music Quiz game is really a joke though, I have 22 GB of MP3 and AAC files on my iPod. So it is a little hard to guess what the song is when I have that much of a selection. The iPod software update looks like this:

* Better default contrast setting
* Added Voice Memos application (Belkin Voice Recorder)
* Added digital photo storage functionality (Belkin Media Reader)
* Enhanced On-The-Go playlist functionality
* Improved playback performance
* Added Music Quiz game
* Improved backlight functionality
* Improved battery meter

What a great amount of updates to the iPod software, very unexpected.

The two new Belkin accessories sure look nice. The $99 Media Reader seems a little pricey, but it does include even the memory stick in its list of supported media. The Voice Recorder is a great idea, but I won't be getting one as my Tungsten T2 does that. Still, a great addition to what is starting to look like a "slash" gadget from Apple.

The partnerships announced today come at a great time, right before Napster 2.0 launches. AOL will promote the iTMS, Apple will promote AOL Music, Pepsi to give away 100 million free iTMS songs, and Audible.com is now part of the iTMS. I questioned if iTMS for Windows was too late, and the announcements today may have been a little late in my mind, but Apple brought out a lot of new features in what could really be called iTMS 2.0.

Here is a list of the announcements in reverse chronological order.

Apple calls it the "second generation" store while most competing online music stores do not have the features of the "first generation" iTMS. The new store doubles the music library to 400,000 tracks by the end of the month, added 200 independent labels, added audio book support thanks to a multi-year exclusive deal with Audible.com, 5,000 books available with free previews, gift certificates, an allowance feature (very nice). That is a lot of new features, and this is 6 months after the iTMS launched!

If you have an Audible.com account (like I do) you might think the iTMS prices are a little high at first glance. After checking the prices through the iTMS and just going to Audible.com, the iTMS prices are most always $1 to $2 less then at Audible.com. I however have a subscription where I get one book and one periodical per month for $15. You can get two books for $20 if you wish. If you like audio books, you would be wiser to use a subscription to Audible.com then using iTMS. But this is only if you are an avid audio book listener. The free previews of the books are a nice bonus.

I am so glad I no longer have to use WinAmp as my Windows jukebox. iTunes for Windows is wonderful. In no time I was listening to songs from my Mac's iTunes playlists thanks to the new cross platform sharing. The only problem I had with this is my PC did not recognize the audio book (.m4b) I bought from the iTMS, it did recognize the music (.m4p) I have bought from the iTMS, this I do not understand :(

I know a lot of Windows users who have been waiting for this day - not because of the iTMS, but because they know how nice iTunes is to use as a jukebox.

Also posted at BlogCritics.

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Comments (4)

Mike:

I don't think the iTunes for Windows is too late to compete with other online music services. The way I see, Apple has a large share of the mp3 player market. A segment of the market is comprised on WinPod owners like me who has struggled to make WinPod work using a Frankenstein-style setup of Xplay for synching, Winamp/Windows Media Player for play lists (could never get Xplay to do this properly), and Dr. Tag to edit ID3 files. Last night I installed the updater 1.3 (for the Original Winpod) and used iTunes for Windows to do all three tasks and bought music from the Apple Music store. I can't image why any WinPod users would use any other music service when the integration with Winpod and iTunes is so tight.

I am really glad to hear this from a user of a "WinPod."

Dave:

I agree with Mike! As a long time WinPod owner, I couldn't stand MusicMatch for sync'ing my iPod, so I went to EphPod, which did a really good job and was really fast. I have been waiting for iTunes on Windows since before buying the iPod. The UI for iTunes was the reason I chose the iPod over any of the other MP3 players out there.

I am truely in love with iTunes for Windows and the iTMS! I do have one little gripe thought. If iTunes is the "Best Windows program ever", why doesn't it have a maximize button and why can't I resize the window like I can other windows in Windows. I know it's petty, but it something that other Windows people are going to knock it for.

Well, back to happily importing my song library to AAC, while buying tracks from the iTMS and listening to other songs!

Daz:

Ive got a mini ipod - been trying out the music quiz today, and even though i have 900+ songs on my ipod, it chooses the songs out of just a small selection - bout 30 songs. doing my head in, its not random at all. just going round in circles.

anyone help at all? does theres do that?

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