Saturday, September 13, 2008

iTunes 8 - Genius

iTunes 8 has been released, with a tranch of new features, including 'Grid View' (displaying your library using cover art, using a variety of parameters) and a brand new 'visualizer' (if you ever downloaded the Magnetosphere iTunes plugin, you've seen it already).

The Genius playlists and sidebar are the most innovative features. First of all you give Apple permission to access your iTunes library, after which the information is anonymously sent to a database on Apple's servers, where it is combined, processed and alogrithmizerated™ with data from a gazillion other iTunes users.

The Genius results are then sent back to your iTunes library allowing you to create Genius playlists on your iTunes and iPod by selecting a track from your iTunes collection, and clicking on the Genius button. There is also an optional sidebar that lists recommended songs available from the iTunes store that you don't own already.

First thing to remember is that if you have a large song collection, the data processing can take a while. It took 12 hours to process my 34,000 songs. Second thing is that it doesn't recognise songs that don't exist in the iTunes store database.

Apart from that, the feature works fast and intelligently. I spent a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon clicking on some of my 'most played' tracks, and smiling at how well the 'Genius' algorithms chose apposite songs.

An email from my good friend Conrad illustrates its usefulness...

"Took the time to install Genius today. As you will have guessed, 98% of the time it's useless to me because of my pathological preference for the obscure. Worse, the Genius Shopping Assistant keeps recommending to me songs that will "complete my collection," sometimes refusing to notice that I already have some of the things either as downloads from the artists' sites or as a download from eMusic."

"BUT... when it can construct a playlist, it makes a very pleasant collocation of songs indeed, and somehow manages to notice and include some of my lunatic choices."

"AND... better yet, occasionally it will point me toward a previous incarnation of the band or a band in which a person played before I knew of their work. Here is the most amazing of the lot. An obscure Christian jazz guitarist who I love, James Vincent, must have been in this rock band [The Exceptions, Ed.] in the 60s. Apparently the band also features Peter Cetera who later became the lead vocalist for Chicago Transit Authority."

Yeah, I don't understand 80% of what Conrad writes either...


Mr Bill said...

Yes, I thought the Genius bar was a waste of time at first, but it is fascinating to see how it pulls certain tracks in from your playlist.

It's a really quick way of making a playlist just before you are about to go out or go and do something in the kitchen and just can't work out which songs you want to play.

I like it now :-)

ps - Conrad made sense to me

brett jordan said...

yes, the 'instant playlist' is brilliant, but the 'genius' playlist doesn't register on my old ipod photo (does it work on newer ipods?)... so i have a playlist called '*genius' that i copy and paste the results into, so that i don't have to keep 're-ticking' the sync section.

oh, and thanks for saying that conrad made sense to you... i owe you one :-)