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Apple iTunes 8: Just add Genius

iTunes 8 is coming out today, featuring HDTV shows, graphical browsing and an intriguing Genius function that tells you what music you'll like

At Apple's 'Let's Rock event' in the Yerba Buean Center for the Arts, San Francisco, we expect to see some 'rock hands' for Steve Jobs -- he lives! -- and his first announcement: iTunes 8.

According to Jobs, iTunes is the number one music distributor in any format in the US. 65m account-holders have 8.5m songs, 125,000 podcasts, 30,000 TV episodes and 2,600 movies to choose from, not forgetting 3,000 apps for the iPod touch. And now they'll be able to download high-definition TV shows.

Browsing also gets a tune-up: albums, artists and so on can be browsed graphically, for example by album cover. There's a new voice-over feature to improve accessibility.

The feature that stands out for us is Genius, which takes information from your listening habits and makes you a playlist at the press of a button. When you turn it on, information about your listening is sent anonymously to Apple, while a bar links to the relevant part of the iTunes store.

iTunes 8 will be available from today. Rock on. -Rich Trenholm