Following Apple's live even this morning on iTunes and their iPhone/iPod devices, they have released iTunes 9 along with the iPhone OS 3.1 update. The iTunes update brings a few new features to the program which might be useful to iTunes users, but as always, be sure to take some precaution when installing new software.
iTunes 9 brings the following new features to Apple's media player (As stated in Apple's documentation):
- An improved look and feel, including a new Column Browser for easily browsing your artists or albums, movies, TV shows, and more.
- iTunes Store has a brand new look, with improved navigation for quick and easy exploration.
- iTunes LP and iTunes Extras create unique experiences that feature exclusive interviews, videos, photos, and more -- available with select album and movie purchases on the iTunes Store.
- Home Sharing helps you manage your family's iTunes collection between computers in your home. iTunes can automatically transfer new purchases, or you can choose just the items you want.
- Genius Mixes are created for you by iTunes and play songs from your library that go great together.
- iPod and iPhone syncing now allows you to organize your iPhone and iPod touch home screens directly in iTunes. Syncing is now also more flexible, allowing you to sync individual artists, genres, or TV show and Podcast episodes.
- iTunes U items are now organized into their own section in your iTunes library.
- Sync with iPod nano (5th generation), iPod classic (Fall 2009), and iPod touch (Fall 2009).
- iTunes 9 also includes many other improvements, such as HE-AAC encoding and playback, more flexibility with Smart Playlists rules, simpler organization of your media files inside an iTunes Media folder, and more.
When the program is installed and launched for the first time, it will initially run a few routines on your library to update it and also analyze it for gapless playback information. The new welcome screen contains information and resources for using iTunes, with video tutorials and sections for obtaining podcasts, songs, and other media iTunes can play.
The main window brings some slight changes, with the option to put the genre/artist/album browser to the left as well as on top, and there is a small triangle in the upper-left of the song list to show album artwork in the list. The interface has a shinier appearance overall, but there is no major change to the overall look and feel of the program.
Before updating, be sure you have a backup of your iTunes library files, which include the following:
iTunes Library Extras.itdb
iTunes Library Genius.itdb
iTunes Music Library.xml
In addition, be sure to back up your music, since past iTunes updates have deleted some files or the whole library for people. While my update went smoothly, it's always best to be safe about your data. A full Time Machine backup should be sufficient, so if you have Time Machine running then you should be good to go.
iTunes 9 is available at the iTunes Website and so far has not appeared on Software Update. Currently the iTunes download link is having problems, but Apple should address it soon.
While Apple is striving to promote 64-bit computing and has ported most of their applicaitons and system components to 64-bit, iTunes is still distributed as a 32-bit application. This is most likely because it is one of Apple's few cross-platform application, but should sooner or later find its way to being 64-bit along with the rest of the iLife suite. Oddly, the iTunesHelper utility is 64-bit.