Automatic album art retrieval
With Apple's emphasis on album artwork in both iTunes and the devices served by iTunes (iPhone, iPod, Apple TV), it can be jolting to come across an album with missing cover art. Apple makes it easy to automatically add artwork to you music collection by matching your music with album art from its iTunes Store catalog. The Get Album Artwork feature (found under the Advanced menu), can take several minutes to process your music library. We've noticed that iTunes has improved its ability to automatically retrieve album art compared with the spotty results we experienced in an earlier version of iTunes 7, but you'll still have some gaps in cover art that you'll have to hunt down manually.
Many music fanatics, especially those who like dance music, can use iTunes to enjoy their music without annoying gaps. When you first install and run iTunes 7, the app automatically analyzes your tracks for gapless playback. It's not actually seamlessly bridging gaps as I'd thought; rather, it is figuring it out based on format and bit rate, the best method for ungapping songs. If you turn Cross Fade off, all tracks will be played gaplessly. If not, you'll have to multiselect all tracks in a gapless album, Get Info, then indicate that you want the selection to be part of a gapless album. So far, gapless playback works very well on both iTunes and the iPod. Nothing is more annoying than encountering gaps in "seamless" mixes.
Apple TV and iPhone integration
To further bolster its position as a touchstone in your digital life, iTunes 7.7 integrates both Apple TV and iPhone. If you own an Apple TV, you can stream iTunes library content from computers around your home. The iPhone is not only integrated into iTunes, it's partially dependent on it. Key iPhone features such as syncing contacts and calendars, data backup, and music and video transfers all happen within iTunes, unless users pay for extended services such as Microsoft Exchange or MobileMe. iPhone users also have the option of creating personal ringtones for their phone using songs purchased from the iTunes Store.
What began as the iTunes' Music store has blossomed into a multimedia juggernaut in iTunes 7.7. Beyond its extensive selection of music and podcasts, Apple's iTunes store offers movies, TV shows, university lectures, iPod games, and third-party applications developed for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Compared with the iTunes store's humbler music-only beginnings, the current store is more difficult to navigate than in the past. Those who make it past iTunes' dizzying storefront are rewarded with attractive product-specific pages offering previews, summaries, customer reviews, and recommendations.
As of iTunes version 7.6, you have the ability to rent some video content offered on the iTunes store, which can be viewed directly on your computer or transferred to some supported devices, such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV, iPod Classic, or iPod Nano (third-generation). Once a rented movie has been downloaded from the iTunes store, you have 30 days to begin watching the movie and 24 hours to complete it once playback has begun. Videos downloaded from the iTunes store have a general resolution of 640x480 (H.264), although some movies are letterboxed to appear as wide screen.
New features in iTunes 7.7
The new features in iTunes 7.7 are almost entirely made for iPhone and iPod Touch users. In fact, iPhone 3G owners must update to version 7.7 of iTunes as a minimum requirement.
The most notable feature introduced in iTunes 7.7 is the addition of an iTunes App store, which offers a selection of more than 500 applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch, made by third-party software developers. iTunes applications run the gamut from instant-messaging clients and voice recorders, to video games and virtual pianos.
The sole Apple-developed application included in the launch of the iTunes App store is arguably one of the strongest of the bunch (and it's free). Apple's Remote application turns your iPod Touch or iPhone into a remote control for your iTunes music library or Apple TV, allowing you to browse, play, pause, and skip content from anywhere in your home.
Version 7.7 of iTunes also introduces a new Parental Ratings Preference for games purchased through the iTunes Store. Game purchases can be restricted to age ranges of 4+, 9+, 12+ and 17+.