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iTunes 9: Seven features we'd kill for

We've come up with seven insanely useful features we'd love to see in the next major version of iTunes. Would you kill for these too?

Snow Leopard is around the corner, and although iTunes 9 almost certainly won't ship alongside it, it's only a matter of time before the next milestone release of Apple's music software hits the wires. Here are seven features we'd quite literally kill whales with nothing but our fists to get.

Update: You can now read our full iTunes 9 hands-on report and download it from Apple's Web site

1. Text messaging via iTunes

With the iPhone docked, we'd love to see a function that allowed us to send text messages via iTunes using the computer's keyboard. This is something you've been able to do with Nokia's PC Suite for years. But it would be even more useful on the iPhone, what with touchscreens not being geared towards the typing of novels.

2. HDD backup and import

In its recent life, iTunes has introduced a feature to backup your entire library to CD of DVD, but far more useful would be a one-click backup to a networked hard drive, which not only backed up your music and video, but also your playlists, ratings and play counts. And it would be in a format that could be imported back to PC or Mac with a single click.

If nothing else, people moving from PC to Mac would benefit enormously by not losing years of play data and ratings when making the switch. Do we sound bitter?

3. Sync to other MP3 players

Now the iTunes Store has dropped its DRM, the AAC files it sells are compatible with loads of other devices. The store may exist primarily to fuel the sale of iPods, but selling music to owners of non-Apple MP3 players would net Apple a small income and potentially lead to a conversion to the iPod world further down the line.

For this reason, we would like to see iTunes natively detect AAC-compatible music devices, and offer to transfer your DRM-free iTunes Store purchases to them. Yeah, plugins and hacks exist to do this already, but imagine a native function that worked like iPod syncing. Handy.

4. Complete restore from iPod

Simple one this: your Mac or PC blows up, but all your music is on your iPod or iPhone. Plug it into your new computer, fire up iTunes, and instead of installing fresh, choose to install from the iPod.

This would work a little like installing OS X from a Time Machine backup. iTunes would be installed first, then your MP3s, videos, play counts, ratings and playlists would be pulled from the iPod and loaded up into your library, and the iPod would automatically be synced.

Again, hacks and programs exist, but we want a native solution that handles playlists and whatnot as well.

5. Stream content from iTunes

This is a long shot, but extending Apple's Remote app to let you stream music over Wi-Fi (or even the Internet) would bring new meaning to the words 'flipping awesome'.

If that wasn't possible, backing up your library to Apple's MobileMe service would put your music into the cloud, accessible for streaming on the iPhone over 3G or Wi-Fi.

6. One-click DVD ripping

Ian Rendall from our forums suggests the ability to rip DVDs within iTunes, for instant transfer to the iPod or iPhone. Legally questionable, and highly unlikely, but no doubt useful.

7. Active folder monitoring

Twitter follower Richard Gunther suggests active folder monitoring. iTunes can create and modify folders within its directory, but what about the other way around? This feature would add anything to iTunes you drop in any folder within the iTunes music folder.

What would you like to see in the next major iTunes release? Let us know below.