The Good Free; rips CDs to AAC or MP3; smart playlists; includes downloadable music store; automatic volume-limiting and sound enhancements; purchased songs can play on up to five computers, as well as the iPod.
The Bad Windows XP or 2000 or Mac OS X required; not compatible with older versions of iTunes (thus, preventing network-based sharing).
The Bottom Line Apple iTunes remains the easiest way to rip, organize, play, and buy digital music.
Apple iTunes 4.9
There's no rest at Apple lately. A short seven months after the company released iTunes 2.0, iTunes 3.0 shows up with a bevy of new, useful tools. (Download iTunes 3.0 here.) You can use the Smart Playlist feature, for example, to generate on-the-fly lists of songs customized to your tastes or hook up (for a fee) to Audible.com to download the latest audio books. iTunes still lacks sophisticated tagging and nested playlists, but it's hard to quibble since this valuable app remains free. Upgrade now, especially for the Audible support. There's no rest at Apple lately. A short seven months after the company released iTunes 2.0, iTunes 3.0 shows up with a bevy of new, useful tools. (Download iTunes 3.0 here.) You can use the Smart Playlist feature, for example, to generate on-the-fly lists of songs customized to your tastes or hook up (for a fee) to Audible.com to download the latest audio books. iTunes still lacks sophisticated tagging and nested playlists, but it's hard to quibble since this valuable app remains free. Upgrade now, especially for the Audible support.
Get smart--Smart Playlists, that is
iTunes 3.0 includes a clever, new organization feature, appropriately dubbed Smart Playlists. This tool lets you create a set of rules for generating random song groupings on the fly; for example, you can specify only rock songs that you've never heard before. To create playlist rules, go to the File menu and select New Smart Playlist or hold down the Option key and click the New Smart Playlist button. You'll see a pop-up window that lets you create rules for what should go into the list. Choose songs from a certain year, genre, or artist. You can even select music that you've played a specific number of times or never at all, for maximum exploration of your collection.
Smart Playlists, however, aren't all they should be, since they rely on tagging information (the song's title, artist, and related information contained in the same music file), and iTunes still won't let you add a complete range of tags. For example, there's no tag for tempo, as there is in Media Jukebox, the top Windows jukebox. However, iTunes features a new Composer tag that lets you enter the name of a song's composer, which is especially useful for classical music where the person playing the music is probably not the person who wrote it, as well as a tag that lets you rate songs, giving them from one to five stars. You can then tell your Smart Playlist generator to, for instance, play only five-star songs. But we wish that iTunes also offered nested playlists, which would let you, say, put all your jazz music under one umbrella category.
VLC 3.0 launches for all platforms, gets Chromecast support
The massive update for the "plays everything" media player also adds 360 video, HDR and took three years of volunteer work to complete.
Google Docs just ate your homework
Google says a Wednesday outage has been resolved. Guess you'll have to stop binge-watching and get back to that essay instead.
Hey Siri, you've got a new boss
Craig Federighi, who oversees Mac and iPhone software, is now also in charge of the voice assistant, replacing internet and software services chief Eddy Cue.
Apple adds special Mac Birthday section to App Store
In celebration of 30 years of the Mac, Apple has put together a collection of applications which "capture the spirit of what makes the platform extraordinary."
Apple Maps, coming to a mall and airport near you
You won't need to walk to the mall kiosk anymore to find where that food court is.
iTunes is coming to the Windows 10 Store
Hell froze over, again.
Apple hopes Logic Pro X support will make the MacBook Pro Touch Bar sing
New features, including Touch Bar support, are coming to Apple's music apps.
Apple to raise App Store prices in UK to counter falling pound
The company has reportedly sent developers an email outlining the increases. Prices are also going up in Turkey and India.
Google Calendar update makes it easier to track fitness goals
By connecting the Google Fit or Apple Health app, Calendar will know when you've worked out and automatically mark your goal as "done."
Google Photos update makes themed slideshow movies for you
The search giant's latest trick for its Photos app automatically gathers pics with similar content and creates movies based on those memories.
Craving pizza? Now you can order straight from your Apple TV
Restaurant chain Papa John's launches the first app for ordering pizza from your Apple TV.
Apple calls for developers to star in reality show 'Planet of the Apps'
Co-produced by tech-obsessed pop star Will.i.am, the show will follow app builders looking to make it big.