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CNET First Look
New features in Apple iTunes 9Get an overview of the updated features and design changes in Apple's iTunes 9 multimedia organization software.
[ Music ] ^m00:00:03 >> Apple's iTunes software has become an indispensible part of any personal computer, often one of the most thorough and familiar ways to organize your digital music and video collections. It's also a required piece of software for any iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV owner. Version 9 of iTunes isn't a radical departure from iTunes 8. Visually the icon's got a little polish, and the window color is a slightly brighter shade of gray, but the way out is essentially the same. The column on the left offers headers for your media library, the iTunes store, shared libraries, genius selections, and playlists. Clicking on any of the selections under these headers will populate the main window with the relevant media. One little change here is that genius content used to be grouped under playlist, but now has it's own section. Genius was introduced in iTunes 8 as a way to create instant playlists with music based around traits of a single song. But if even that seems like too much work for you, iTunes now includes another genius feature called genius mixes. These mixes basically comb through your music collection to find all of the songs within a given genre, that Apple's enlightened music algorithms believe will sound good together. Best of all you don't have to do anything to make a genius mix. All you have to do is hit play. The design of Apple's iTunes store has undergone a fairly significant makeover. For example, the store categories now run across the top of the page, each with their own drop down menu. Albums and videos can now be expanded and previewed right from the front page, and the purchase buttons now have their own menu where you can copy the URL, add to your wish list, GIF the purchase, or share the link on Facebook or Twitter. The iTunes store is also home to 2 new Apple formats called iTunes LP and iTunes Extras. iTunes LP's are essentially albums that include specially designed interactive menus full of photos, videos, lyrics, and extras that will appeal to fans. You can transfer the songs from an iTunes LP to any iPod, iPhone, or AAC compatible device; but the interactive features are only available on your computer through iTunes. The iTunes Extras format does basically the same thing for video, providing interactive menus for movies and TV shows, along with a sort of extras that fans are used to seeing on DVD's. Another important change in iTunes 9 is the device syncing page. If you're setting up your iPod or your iPhone to automatically pull content over from iTunes, the syncing options in iTunes 9 have become more flexible. For example, in the music tab you now have the option for syncing the specific artists, play lists, or genres you care about, and a check box for filling up any leftover space with random selections. Fans of iTunes UEducational content will notice that Apple has now broken iTunes U into it's own separate section in the synching menu, and also in your library, instead of lumping it in with Podcasts. iPhone and iPod Touch owners will be happy to see an improved apps tab where you can arrange and customize the selection of apps that get synced to your device. Finally, iTunes 9 has an improved ability to share music content across multiple computers, using a feature called Home Sharing. By authorizing all the computers in your home with iTunes log in and password, you can now transfer any music, videos, podcasts, or applications between computers through iTunes. You can even set things up so that iTunes will automatically transfer any new purchases from a shared library directly to your computer, and vice versa. It's a great feature for people or families with multiple computers, who want to share their media with a minimum of hassle. That about covers all the major updates in iTunes 9. It's a free download for both MAC and PC, so there's no harm in going out and giving it a spin. For CNET.com I'm Donald Bell. ^m00:03:44 [ Music ]