My Take on iTunes 5

I’ve only played around with iTunes 5 a little bit, but in that time haven’t seen all that much to get excited about.

The best new feature is the improved search functionality, which is based on Spotlight and lets you specify if you’re searching for an album title, artist name, song name, etc. This is great when you have chaotic libraries like mine and would like to play an album without having to browse through genre, artist (which many times could be compilations so artist is pretty much useless in that case) then album title.

The playlist folders is a natural progression for an Apple application, but I don’t particularly see the usefulness. Yeah, I can now separate out my baby music playlists from my grown up people’s playlists, but this subcategorization doesn’t carry though to the iPod leading to something of a disconnect.

And then there’s the interface. I like the gradiant gray, it’s a nice change from the brushed aluminum (which was getting rather tired-looking). But as others have noticed, this constant change in interface gets confusing after awhile. Pick a style, and stick with it. At least, for awhile. Change is good, but can’t we keep our apps looking somewhat consistent at any given point in time?

My biggest gripe about iTunes 5 (and all previous versions of iTunes, frankly): I keep longing for the ability to create playlists on a local machine using songs that are sitting on a server. I’m not asking to COPY the files, but just to use pointers to the server versions in playlists that I create on the computer I’m sitting at. In fact, I don’t WANT to copy music files from one machine to another! I don’t want to have five copies of the same song, or multiple libraries to have to manage and keep track of all around my house. That’s why I have a music server in the first place!

As it is, you can play songs that are resting in one library on another computer, and if that song is from the iTunes music store, the client computer must be authorized to play it. And you can also play music from playlists on the remote machine. But you can’t create a local playlist using remote music files. Why not? This makes no sense to me. Instead, one must create playlists by physically going to the remote machine (which, since it’s a server, could possibly be headless) or by using ssssllllloooooowwwww and not very reliable VNC. The last alternative is, as I mentioned above, actually copying files from the remote server to the client computer. But I don’t want to do that; it just creates library management headaches.

Apple, if you’re out there, please implement creating local playlists using remote files. I beg you!

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