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iTunes Icon
iTunes 8.1 running on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard displaying the Genres Grid View and the Genius Sidebar.
iTunes 8.1 running on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard displaying the Genres Grid View and the Genius Sidebar..
Developed by Apple Inc.
Latest release 8.1 / 2009-03-11; 26 days ago
Operating system Mac OS X v10.4.9 or later, Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, and Microsoft Windows Vista Service Pack 1[1]
Type Media player
License Proprietary

iTunes is a proprietary digital media player application, used for playing and organizing digital music and video files. The program is also an interface to manage the contents on Apple's popular iPod digital media players as well as the iPhone. Additionally, iTunes can connect to the iTunes Store via the Internet to purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, applications, iPod games, audiobooks, various podcasts, feature length films and movie rentals (not available in all countries), and ringtones (available only in the USA). It is also used to download applications for the iPhone and iPod touch as long as they are running the 2.X firmware.[2]

iTunes was introduced by Apple Inc. on January 9, 2001,[3] at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.[4] The latest version, iTunes 8, was announced at Apple's September 2008 keynote Let's Rock.

iTunes is available as a free download for Mac OS X, Windows Vista, and Windows XP from Apple's website. It is also bundled with all Macs, and some HP and Dell computers. Older versions are available for Mac OS 9, OS X 10.0-10.3, and Windows 2000. Although Apple does not produce iTunes for other operating systems, it can be run on Linux-based operating systems through Wine, a Windows compatibility layer.[5]


[edit] History

iTunes 7.7, the previous version of iTunes

SoundJam MP, developed by Jeff Robbin and Bill Kincaid and released by Casady & Greene in 1999,[6] became the basis for iTunes when Apple purchased it in 2000. Apple added a new user interface and the ability to burn CDs, and removed its recording feature and skin support, and released it as iTunes in January 2001.[7] Originally a Mac OS 9-only application, iTunes began to support Mac OS X when version 2.0 was released nine months later, which also added support for the original iPod.[8] Version 3 dropped Mac OS 9 support but added smart playlists and a ratings system.[9] In April 2003, version 4.0 introduced the iTunes Store; in October, version 4.1 added support for Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP.[10] Version 7.0 introduced gapless playback and Cover Flow in September 2006.[11] In March 2007, iTunes 7.1 added support for Windows Vista,[12] and 7.4 marked the end of Windows 2000 support. iTunes lacked support for 64-bit versions of Windows until the 7.6 update on January 16, 2008. iTunes is currently supported under any 64-bit version of Windows Vista, although the iTunes executable is still 32-bit. The 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are not supported by Apple, but a workaround has been discovered for both operating systems.[13] The last major update, version 8.0, added Genius playlists, grid view, and a new default visualizer.[14]

A version of iTunes was shipped with cell phones from Motorola, which included the ability to sync music from an iTunes library to the cellphone, as well as a similar interface between both platforms. Since the release of the iPhone, Apple has stopped distributing iTunes with other manufacturers' phones in order to concentrate sales to Apple's device.

[edit] Features

iTunes includes visualizers. Shown here is the default visualizer in iTunes 8, including black orbs and moving specks of light.

iTunes is an application that allows the user to manage audio and video on a personal computer, acting as a front end for Apple's QuickTime media player. Officially, using iTunes is required in order to manage the audio of an Apple iPod portable audio player, although alternative software does exist. Users can organize their music into playlists within one or more libraries, edit file information, record Compact Discs, copy files to a digital audio player, purchase music and videos through its built-in music store, download free podcasts, back up songs onto a CD or DVD, run a visualizer to display graphical effects in time to the music, and encode music into a number of different audio formats. There is also a large selection of free internet radio stations to listen to.

Additionally, users can add PDF files to their library (to add digital liner notes to their albums, for example), but the PDFs cannot be transferred to or read on an iPhone or iPod.[15] However, iPhone/iPod Touch apps exist to sync any type of file to and from the device to an "iDisk" using Apple's MobileMe service.

In the most recent version, iTunes 8.0, the preferences menu was given a complete makeover. The result added very few new options, but instead removed several options that may seem trivial to most users. For example, iTunes once gave users the option to display arrows beside the selected song's title, artist, album, and genre that link directly to the iTunes Music Store. Now these arrows are not removable, except through the direct editing of a preferences file.[16]

[edit] Media management

iTunes keeps track of songs by creating a virtual library, allowing users to access and edit a song's attributes. These attributes, known as metadata, are stored in two separate library files.

The first is a binary file called iTunes Library and it uses a proprietary file format ("ITL"). It caches information like artist and genre from the audio format's tag capabilities (the ID3 tag, for example) and stores iTunes-specific information like play count and rating. iTunes typically reads library data only from this file.

The second file, iTunes Music Library.xml, is refreshed whenever information in iTunes is changed. It uses an XML format, allowing developers to easily write applications that can access the library information (including play count, last played date, and rating, which are not standard fields in the ID3v2.3 format). Apple's own iDVD, iMovie, and iPhoto applications all access the library.

If the first file is corrupted, iTunes will attempt to reconstruct it from the XML file. Detailed third-party instructions regarding this are documented elsewhere.[17] There have been some concerns, voiced by Mark Pilgrim, that this feature will create an "undocumented binary blackhole" because the recovery from the XML file may not work.[18]

It has also been noted that iTunes does not automatically track changes to actual files in the library. If a file is moved or deleted, iTunes will display an exclamation mark beside the library entry and the user will need to manually amend the library record. There have been a number of third party tools created to address this problem.[19]

iTunes supports ripping from CDs, but not from DVDs. However, in 2008, Apple and select movie studios introduced "iTunes Digital Copy," a bonus feature on some DVDs that provides a copy-protected, iTunes-compatible file for select films.[20] As with any digital music management, users must use an analog-to-digital converter to import analog recordings (such as audio cassettes or vinyl records) to their iTunes libraries.

[edit] Library views

Cover Flow allows users to browse their libraries visually by cover art.

iTunes users may choose to view their music and video libraries in one of four ways: as a list, as a list with accompanying album artwork, in Cover Flow (a side-scrolling catalog of album artwork), or in Grid View.

The standard list view displays library files with many optional detail fields, including name, artist, album, genre, user rating, play count, and so forth. Item backgrounds alternate between white and a light blue-gray for readability.

The list with accompanying album artwork is much the same, only the list is broken up by albums, with the artwork as a header to the list. Although this allows users to browse content more visually, sorting the list view by name will accordingly break up the library into redundant instances of each album. Accordingly, as with Cover Flow view, the second view mode is most appropriate for users who sort their libraries by album.

Cover Flow displays all of the user's album art as CD covers in a slideshow format. It sorts the albums into artist, genre, etc. Compilation albums are only shown as a single album cover if the compilation tag for each of the album's tracks is turned on. If the song(s) from the album were imported from a 'mix' CD, the album artwork will be displayed as a default music note pictures.

Grid View is similar to Cover Flow, displaying the user's cover art in a grid rather than a side-scrolling format. Albums can also be sorted into groups by artist, genre, or composer.

iTunes also sorts with secondary parameters, album by artist and album by year, to make its artwork-centered interfaces more intuitive.

[edit] Library sharing

A user's iTunes Library can be shared over a local network using the closed, proprietary Digital Audio Access Protocol (DAAP), created by Apple for this purpose. DAAP relies on the Bonjour network service discovery framework, Apple's implementation of the Zeroconf open network standard. Apple has not made the DAAP specification available to the general public, only to third-party licensees such as Roku. However, the protocol has been reverse-engineered and is now used to stream playlists from non-Apple software (mainly on the Linux platform).[21]

DAAP allows shared lists of songs within the same subnet to be automatically detected. When a song is shared, iTunes can stream the song but won't save it on the local hard drive, in order to prevent unauthorized copying. Songs in Protected AAC format can also be accessed, but authentication is required. A maximum of five users may connect to a single user every 24 hours. The multiple, alternate "View" options normally available to iTunes users including "Cover Flow" are disabled when viewing a shared library over a network.

Library sharing was first introduced with iTunes 4.0, where users could freely access shared music anywhere over the Internet, in addition to one's own subnet, by specifying IP addresses of remote shared song libraries. Apple quickly removed this feature with version 4.0.1, claiming that users were violating the End User License Agreement.

With the release of iTunes 7.0, Apple changed their implementation of DAAP. This change prevents any third-party client, such as a computer running Linux, a modified Xbox, or any computer without iTunes installed, from connecting to a remote iTunes repository. iTunes will still connect as a client to other iTunes servers and to third-party servers.[22]

[edit] File format support

iTunes 8 can currently read, write and convert between MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4, AAC and Apple Lossless.

iTunes can also play any audio files that QuickTime can play (as well as some video formats), including Protected AAC files from the iTunes Store and audio books. There is limited support for Vorbis and FLAC enclosed in an Ogg container (files using the FLAC container format are not naturally supported) or Speex codecs with the Xiph QuickTime Components. Because tag editing and album art is done within iTunes and not Quicktime, these features will not work with these QuickTime components. iTunes currently will not play back HE-AAC/aacPlus audio streams correctly. HE-AAC/aacPlus format files will play back as 22 kHz AAC files (effectively having no high end over 11 kHz), and HE-AAC streaming audio (which a number of Internet radio stations use) will not play back at all. The latest version of iTunes (Win/Mac) supports importing audio CDs with the default iTunes standard file format of AAC at 256 kbit/s, but users can choose from 16 kbit/s to 320 kbit/s constant bit rates (CBR) in either AAC or MP3.

Importing of audio CDs into MP3 or AAC formats can also be accomplished using variable bitrate (VBR) encoding. However, a double-blind experiment conducted in January 2004 of six MP3 encoders noted that the iTunes encoder came last, in that the quality of the files produced by iTunes was below par. It was stated in the final results that these tests only covered VBR encodings, thus iTunes may have performed better with a Constant bitrate (CBR).[23]

The Windows version of iTunes can automatically transcode DRM-free WMA (including version 9) files to other audio formats, but does not support playback of WMA files and will not transcode DRM protected WMA files. Telestream, Inc. provides free codecs for Mac users of QuickTime to enable playback of unprotected Windows Media files. These codecs are recommended by Microsoft.[24]

[edit] File metadata

For MP3 files, iTunes writes tags in ID3v2.2 using UCS-2 encoding by default, but converting them to ID3v2.3 (UCS-2 encoding) and ID3v2.4 (which uses UTF-8 encoding) is possible via its "Advanced" > "Convert ID3 Tags" toolbar menu. If both ID3v2.x and ID3v1.x tags are in a file, iTunes ignores the ID3v1.x tags.[25]

AAC and Apple Lossless files support Unicode metadata, stored in the MP4 container as so-called "Atoms". The QuickTime plugin that supports the OGG container format has no support for tag editing or album art.[25]

iTunes uses the Gracenote interactive audio CD database to provide track name listings for audio CDs. The service can be set to activate when a CD is inserted into the computer and an Internet connection is available. Track names for albums imported to iTunes while not connected to the Internet can be obtained during a later connection, by a manual procedure. For any album loaded into iTunes for which there is not an existing Gracenote track listing, the user can choose to submit track name data to Gracenote.[26]

[edit] Sound processing

iTunes includes sound processing features, such as equalization, "sound enhancement" ("sound improvement" in some languages) and crossfade. There is also a feature called "Sound Check" which automatically adjusts the playback volume of all songs to the same level. Like "sound enhancement", this can be turned on in the 'Playback' section of iTunes' preferences.

[edit] Video support

On May 9, 2005, video support was introduced to iTunes with the release of iTunes 4.8. Users can drag and drop movie clips from the computer into the iTunes Library for cataloguing and organization. They can be viewed in a small frame in the main iTunes display, in a separate window, or fullscreen. Before version 7 provided separate libraries for media types, videos were only distinguished from audio in the Library by a small icon resembling a TV screen and grouped with music in the library, organized by the same musical categories (such as "album" and "composer").

On October 12, 2005, Apple introduced iTunes 6.0, which added support for purchasing and viewing of video content from the iTunes Music Store. The iTunes Music Store initially offered a selection of several thousand Music Videos and five TV shows, including most notably the ABC network's Lost and Desperate Housewives. Disney Channel shows (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and That's So Raven) were also offered 24 hours after airing, as well as episode packs from past seasons; since that time, the collection has expanded to include content from numerous television networks. The iTunes Music Store also gives the ability to view Apple's large collection of movie trailers.

As of September 5, 2006, the iTunes Store offers over 550 television shows for download. Additionally, a catalog of 75 feature-length movies from Disney-owned studios was introduced. As of April 11, 2007, over 500 feature-length movies are available through iTunes.[27]

Originally, movies and TV shows were only available to U.S. customers, with the only video content available to non-U.S. customers being music videos and Pixar's short films. This is in process of being extended to other countries as licensing issues are resolved.

Video content available from the store used to be encoded as 540 kbit/s Protected MPEG-4 video (H.264) with an approximately 128 kbit/s AAC audio track. Many videos and video podcasts currently require the latest version of QuickTime, QuickTime 7, which is incompatible with older versions of Mac OS (only v10.3.9 and later are supported). On September 12, 2006, the resolution of video content sold on the iTunes Store was increased from 320x240 (QVGA) to 640x480 (VGA). The higher resolution video content is encoded as 1.5 Mbit/s (minimum) Protected MPEG-4 video (H.264) with a minimum 128 kbit/s AAC audio track.

[edit] Playlists

In addition to static playlist support, version 3 of iTunes introduced support for smart playlists.[28] Smart playlists are playlists that can be set to automatically filter the library based on a customized list of selection criteria, much like a database query. Multiple criteria can be entered to manage the smart playlist.[29]

Any user of iTunes can publish a playlist to the iTunes Store with his or her own preferences, which is called an iMix.

Introduced in iTunes 4.5[30], the "iTunes DJ" playlist (called the "Party Shuffle" playlist prior to iTunes 8.1) is intended as a simple DJing aid.[31] By default, it selects tracks randomly from other playlists or the library, but users can override the automatic selections by deleting tracks (iTunes will choose new ones to replace them) or by adding their own via drag-and-drop or contextual menu. This allows a mixture of both preselected and random tracks in the same meta-playlist. The playlist from which iTunes DJ draws can be changed on the fly by the computer user, but doing so will cause all randomly chosen tracks to disappear and be replaced.

iPhones or iPod Touches that have the Remote application installed and are connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the host computer can alter the order of the iTunes DJ playlist, when allowed by the host computer. When enabled, guests can request songs from the host's iTunes Library, which adds the song to the end of the iTunes DJ playlist. Guests are given more control over the host's iTunes DJ playlist if the host enables voting by his guests, though this option can only be enabled if guests are allowed to request songs. The more votes a song receives, the sooner it will play. Upon enabling guests to request songs, the host may also create a customized message that guests see when they begin to browse the iTunes Library of the host, as well as set a password that guests must enter before either requesting or voting for songs.

Playlists can be played randomly or sequentially. The randomness of the shuffle algorithm can be biased for or against playing multiple tracks from the same album or artists in sequence (a feature introduced in iTunes 5.0, and later discontinued in iTunes 8.0). iTunes DJ can also be biased towards selecting tracks with a higher star rating. With this bias enabled, each star rating increases the preference for that particular song about 4% over that of a one-star-less rated song.[citation needed] Unrated songs are the least likely to be played.[citation needed] Inter-star ratings (Songs assigned an additional "half star," which is visible in iTunes as a ½ symbol in the place of a star but can only be assigned by a third-party program) are stored by iTunes, but only affect this feature in the range of zero to one star.

[edit] Genius

The Genius feature, introduced in iTunes 8, automatically generates a playlist of 25, 50, 75, or 100 songs from the user's library that are similar to the selected song. The resulting Genius playlist can be refreshed for new results or saved. The Genius Sidebar will similarly recommend selections from the iTunes Store based on the selected library track. For the Genius playlist to be integrated, an iTunes Store account is needed, and necessary information about the user's library must first be sent to the Apple database. Genius becomes "smarter" by compiling the anonymously submitted library information from its users, and thus over time becoming more accurate in its playlist generation.

[edit] iTunes Store

iTunes Store logo
Mac OS X icon for a restricted AAC file from the iTunes Store.

Version 4 of iTunes introduced the iTunes Music Store (later renamed to the iTunes Store) from which iTunes users can buy and download songs for use on a limited number of computers and an unlimited number of iPods. Many songs purchased from the iTunes Store are copy protected with Apple's FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) system which allows protected songs to be played on up to five computers at one time, as well as unlimited devices (iPod, AppleTV, etc). DRM protected songs can not be played on computers not authorized to the purchaser's iTunes account (Although third party applications such as Tunebite have been written to get around DRM). Apple is in the process of converting to completely DRM free music (previously called iTunes Plus).[32] At the 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo, it was announced that the iTunes Music Store would be DRM-free, with conversion complete by April 2009.[33]

Apple also announced that there would be changes in their price tier: songs will cost $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29. Although Apple did not elaborate on how songs will be priced, observers expect new hits to be $1.29 while older songs will be cheaper.[34] These changes have been subject to controversy. First, there may be less paid downloads for newer hits because of the pricing. Also, artists whose songs are less popular, such as artists that compose obscure genres, get less money for their songs despite putting the same amount of work into their songs.[35][citation needed]

In the years since, movies, television shows, music videos, podcasts, applications, and video games have been added to the extensive iTunes Store's catalog.

On January 6, 2009, Phil Schiller announced in his Macworld 2009 keynote speech that over 6 billion songs had been downloaded since the service first launched on April 28, 2003.[36]

At the previous Macworld Expo 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated that the service had set a new single day record of 20 million songs on December 25, 2007. He also announced that the iTunes Store will offer over 1,000 movies for rental by the end of February.[37] The iTunes movie catalog includes content from 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. These movies will also be transferable to all 6th generation iPods.[38] On June 19 Apple stated that they had sold 5 billion songs using the iTunes store.[39]

[edit] Podcasting

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting.

Version 4.9 of iTunes, released on June 28, 2005, added built-in support for podcasting. It allows users to subscribe to podcasts for free in the iTunes Music Store or by entering the RSS feed URL. Once subscribed, the podcast can be set to download automatically. Users can choose to update podcasts weekly, daily, hourly, or manually.

Users can select podcasts to listen to from the Podcast Directory, to which anyone can submit their podcast for placement. The front page of the directory displays high-profile podcasts from commercial broadcasters and independent podcasters. It also allows users to browse the podcasts by category or popularity, and to submit new podcasts to the directory.

The addition of podcasting functionality to a mainstream audio application like iTunes greatly helped bring podcasting to a much wider audience.[40] Within days after iTunes 4.9 was released, podcasters were reporting that the number of downloads of their audio files had tripled, sometimes even quadrupled.[41]

[edit] Receiving and using podcasts

Software, often referred to as a "podcatching client," is required to make full use of podcasts' syndication features. Apple's iTunes player is considered the dominant podcatching client, but alternatives exist.

Podcast listeners can listen in one of two ways: through a hardware device like an MP3 player, or simply on their computer using media player software.

[edit] Managing podcasts on an iPod

iTunes offers the ability to create "Smart Playlists" that can be used to control which podcasts are in the playlist, using multiple criteria such as date, number of times listened to, type, etc.[42] It is also possible to set up iTunes so that only certain playlists will be synced with the iPod. By using a combination of the two techniques, it is possible to control exactly which music and/or podcasts will be transferred to the iPod. A user may configure a smart playlist to display only podcasts less than two weeks old or removing any podcast that the iPod user has already listened to. This smart playlist is synced with the iPod every time the iPod is plugged into the PC, ensuring that the user does not have to listen to the same show more than once. Once a podcast has been listened to, it will be removed from this list as soon as the iPod is synced with the PC. There are many criteria which can control what goes in a smart playlist, such as "name," "artist," "category," "grouping," "kind," "last played," "play count," "rating," "last skipped," and "playlist" and these can be combined with functions such as "equals," "is greater than," "is less than," "contains," "is true," "is false," "is," "is not," "does not contain," "starts with," "ends with," "is in the range," "is before," and "is after." As a result, it is possible to control exactly which podcasts are transferred to the iPod.

[edit] Video podcasting

Version 6 of iTunes introduced official support for video podcasting (also known as a vodcast), although video and RSS support was already unofficially there in version 4.9.[43] Users can subscribe to RSS feeds through the iTunes Store or by entering the feed URL. Video podcasts can contain downloadable video files (in MOV, MP4, M4V, or MPG format), but also streaming sources and even IPTV.[44] Downloadable files can be synchronized to a video-capable iPod and both downloadable files and streams can be shown in Front Row.[45]

[edit] Synchronizing iPod and other players

iTunes 2 was the first version of the software to be able to sync with an iPod. iTunes can automatically synchronize its music and video library with an iPod or iPhone every time it is connected. New songs and playlists are automatically copied to the iPod, and songs and playlists that have been deleted from the library on the computer are also deleted from the iPod. Ratings awarded to songs on the iPod will sync back to the iTunes library and audiobooks will remember the current playback position.

Automatic synchronization can be turned off in favor of manually copying individual songs or complete playlists. iTunes supports copying music to the iPod; however, only music and videos purchased from the iTunes store can be transferred from the iPod back to iTunes. This functionality was added after third-party software was written which allowed users to copy all content back to their computer. It is also possible to copy from the iPod using ordinary Unix command line tools, or by enabling hidden file viewing in Windows Explorer, then copying music from the iPod drive to a local disk for backup. Doing this can be confusing because the files are arranged in such a way that their folders and (depending on iPod and iTunes versions) file names are seemingly picked at random as they are put on the iPod. It is worth noting, however, that the files (along with their embedded title and artist information) remain unchanged. It is therefore less confusing to let iTunes reimport, reorganize, and rename all of the files after they are backed up. When music or video purchased through the iTunes Store is copied from an iPod, it will only play on computers that are authorized with the account that was used to purchase them. Several third party utilities can remove this limitation by stripping iTunes DRM from protected files. The legality of using such software in the United States is currently the subject of active debate.[46]

When an iPod is connected that does not contain enough free space to sync the entire iTunes music library, a playlist will be created and given a name matching that of the connected iPod. This playlist can then be modified to the user's preference in song selection to fill the available space.

The Mac OS X version of iTunes can also synchronize with a small number of discontinued digital music players,[47] while the Windows version will support only the iPod.[48] The synchronization is limited, however, in that the iPod is the only digital music player compatible with Apple's proprietary FairPlay digital rights management technology, and thus most music purchased through the iTunes Store can only be played on an iPod. The remaining ability to synchronize with a limited number of legacy digital music players is likely a remnant of Apple's timeline the music industry: iTunes was released in January 2001, nine months prior to the iPod's unveiling and slightly more than two years before the introduction of the iTunes Music Store. When iTunes was released, compatibility with other music players was critical; as iPod has become the dominant digital music player, that compatibility may no longer be a necessity.

A number of unsupported third-party programs have been created to help a user of iTunes to synchronize songs with any music player that can be mounted as an external drive. Though iTunes is the only official method for synchronizing with the iPod, there are other programs available that allow the iPod to sync with other software players.

As of iTunes 7, purchased music can be copied from the iPod onto the computer. The computer must be authorized by that iTunes account. iTunes currently allows up to 5 computers to be authorized on one account. It does not allow you to transfer imported music files between computers. This may be necessary to back songs up, transfer songs to a new computer, or restore music after a disk failure using an iPod as the backup source. A number of shareware or freeware applications exist that complement iTunes.

iTunes-managed content can also be accessed via the Apple TV set-top box. Files in the iTunes library can either be synchronized with the Apple TV unit, which results in their being copied to the Apple TV's hard drive, or streamed to the Apple TV directly from a Macintosh or PC. Apple TV does not require the use of iTunes (as of the 'Take Two' software update); it can now import files from the iTunes Store directly over the internet.[49]

[edit] Integration with other applications

In Mac OS X, iTunes is tightly integrated with Apple's iWork and iLife suites. These applications can access the iTunes Library directly, allowing access to the playlists and songs stored within (including encrypted music purchased from the iTunes Store). Music files from iTunes can be embedded directly into Pages documents and can supply the score for iDVD, iMovie, and Keynote productions. iTunes is also integrated with Front Row (Front Row compiles its information from the user's iTunes and iPhoto libraries). In addition, any song exported from GarageBand, Apple's basic music-making program, is automatically added to the user's iTunes music library. iTunes's Artwork.saver is a screen saver included in Mac OS X v10.4 that displays album artwork as a screen saver. iTunes widget is a Dashboard Widget that controls iTunes. Moreover, iTunes can be scripted, using AppleScript for Mac OS X or using the Apple-provided SDK for iTunes on Windows allowing many other applications to integrate themselves into iTunes. A common use is to relay the title and artist of what the user is currently listening to into their instant messenger (such as iChat or Windows Live Messenger), or social networking service (such as Facebook or MySpace).

Apple Inc. also offers a free iPhone / iPod Touch application called Remote that allows the user to remotely control their iTunes library or Apple TV[50]. This can be downloaded from iTunes itself or directly from one's iPhone / iPod Touch. It is only compatible with iPhone OS v2.0 and above (current version is 2.2). In terms of usage it is very similar (to the extent of almost being identical) to the iPod application that is included with all iPhones, the only difference is the lack of CoverFlow support.

[edit] iPhone activation

Beginning with the introduction of the original iPhone, users can use iTunes to activate their phone through their mobile carrier. The original plan for the iPhone 3G was to have the carrier authenticate it at the point of sale, either through iTunes or through the carrier's own activation interface.[51] However, a worldwide crash of iTunes' authentication servers on July 11, 2008, the day that the iPhone 3G was released, caused major issues. In some cases, AT&T and Apple Store employees told iPhone buyers to attempt to activate it at home.[52] Also affected were original iPhone users attempting to upgrade to the 2.0 firmware.[53][54] UK Apple Stores were further impacted, as carrier O2 used a proprietary online interface built on the Microsoft Windows-only Internet Explorer for activation. At stores where computers were not running Windows, the installation of VMware Fusion was required to get the interface working.[55] In some cases, activation issues left iPhones useless.[56]

[edit] Printing

To compensate for the lack of a physical CD, iTunes can print custom-made jewel case inserts as well as song lists and album lists. After burning a CD from a playlist, one can select that playlist and bring up a dialog box with several print options. The user can choose to print either a single album cover (for purchased iTunes albums) or a compilation cover (for user-created playlists). iTunes then automatically sets up a template with art on one side and track titles on the other.

[edit] iMix

An iMix is a user-created playlist published in the iTunes Store. iMixes were first introduced in iTunes version 4.5[57]. Anyone can create an iMix free of charge. iMixes are limited to 100 songs and must feature content available on the iTunes Store. iMixes are public and searchable by any iTunes user. Users may also rate any iMix using a five-star system. iMixes are active for one year from their original published date. Users can publish their iTunes iMix to their blog, profile page or website such as Yahoo! 360°, Facebook, or MySpace.[58]

[edit] Internet radio

iTunes 1.0 came with support for the Kerbango Internet radio tuner service, giving iTunes users a selection of some of the more popular online radio streams available.[59] When Kerbango went out of business in 2001, Apple created its own Web radio service for use with iTunes 2.0 and later.[60] As of February 2008, the iTunes radio service features 1795 "radio stations," mostly in MP3 streaming format. Programming covers many genres of music and talk, including streams from both internet-only sources as well as streamed traditional stations. iTunes also supports the .pls and .m3u stream file formats used by Winamp, enabling iTunes to access almost any stream using that format.

Since the release of iTunes 7, Apple no longer promotes the Internet radio feature. However, it remains in the QuickTime 7.0.4, and iTunes EULA used by iTunes With iTunes 7, the "Radio" item has reappeared as an optional source in the preferences, along with its stations. However, as of iTunes 8, radio is checked by default and the stations can be accessed by selecting "Radio" under "Library."[61] Some third-parties offer iTunes plugins that add additional radio stations.

In addition, a user is able to enter their own stream feeds to listen to in their own music library. This is done by "Advanced" > "Open Audio Stream..." or by the hotkey Ctrl-U (PC) or Command-U (Mac).

[edit] Plugins

iTunes supports visualizer plugins and device plugins. Visualizer plugins allow developers to create music-driven visual displays. The visualizer plug-in software development kits for Mac and Windows can be downloaded for free from Apple.[62] Device plugins allow support for additional music player devices, but Apple will only license the APIs to authentic OEMs who sign a non-disclosure agreement.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "iTunes Home Page". Apple Inc.. 
  2. ^ Retrieved July 25, 2008
  3. ^ Apple Inc. (2001-01-09). Apple Introduces iTunes — World’s Best and Easiest To Use Jukebox Software. Press release. Retrieved on 2008-04-20. 
  4. ^ "Macworld Expo San Francisco 2001". Ars Technica. Retrieved on 2006-06-16. 
  5. ^ iTunes 7.3 on Linux with Wine
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