iTunes 4.9 ahead of schedule, major launch planned

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple is trying to leverage the growing Podcasting phenomenon with the next version of its iTunes digital jukebox software and will ship the free software ahead of schedule as part of what sources are describing as a "high-profile" technology launch, AppleInsider has learned.



The cross-platform application, currently available for Windows and Macs, allows users to organize music playlists, burn CDs, and purchase songs (as well as other audio content) from the iTunes Music Store. Although Apple has branched out into offering video content through iTunes, sources say that iTunes 4.9 will focus on the growing Podcasting phenomenon by offering advanced features for locating, listening to, tracking, archiving, and eventually purchasing subscriptions to Podcasts.



iTunes 4.9 ahead of schedule



On May 22, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said that iTunes would debut within 60 days of May 22; however, sources tell AppleInsider that iTunes 4.9 is reportedly nearing the final stages of development--about three weeks ahead of schedule. The company now plans to unveil the software at the end of June or by the first week of July.



Apple is reportedly trying to commercialize the sub-cultural phenomena by offering easy access and an improved interface to what it calls "clunky technology with great potential." Apple's past successes, such as the iPod and iTunes Music Store, have been based on its ability to bring somewhat cumbersome and complex technologies to the masses via an uncluttered, clean interface.



Three key areas to revolutionizing Podcasting



With iTunes 4.9, Apple has a single unified goal: commercializing Podcasts by making them mainstream. To accomplish this, sources say that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is taking a three-tier approach to simplifying the technology.



As a first order of business, sources say that Apple is developing a user-friendly "Podcasts" area in its iTunes Music Store that will closely resemble the existing "Audiobooks" store. A centralized grouping of the latest and most high-profile content will be flanked by listings of Podcast categories and top downloads.



Apple is also trying to simplify the process of locating relevant Podcasts; an iTunes Podcasting team has attempted to streamline the organization and accessibility of individual Podcasts. After analyzing iPodder.org, the Internet's most popular Podcast directory, Apple has reportedly developed a new directory structure and categorical listing for Podcasts.



While iPodder.org lists several dozen Podcast categories from which users can choose, sources say that Apple felt the directory structure was too complex and drawn-out for the average user. Instead, the company plans to consolidate and re-organize those categories into no more than eight primary directories that will be listed on its Podcast storefront.



Content delivery and iPod integration is the final and most critical piece to the puzzle. In order to kill two birds with one stone, Apple will reportedly leverage RSS technology to power its Podcast subscription model. Users who wish to subscribe to a particular Podcast will need only to select a single "Subscribe" option associated with that Podcast from within the iTunes application.



In effect, when a user subscribes to a Podcast, iTunes 4.9 will continually check a live RSS listing of all audio files pertinent to that Podcast. Each time a new audio file emerges on the RSS feed, iTunes will automatically download that file to the user's hard disk drive and then sync it to his or her iPod.



Initially, all of the Podcasts listed on the iTunes Music Store will be made available free-of-charge. Although Apple has plans to introduce premium content in the future, it reportedly feels that associating a fee with Podcasts too early in the game will deter some users from the technology.



Premium Podcast content in Apple's future



For the past few weeks it's believed that a small group from Apple's iTunes team, overseen by vice-president of applications Eddie Cue, has set out on a mission to build a compelling selection of Podcasts that will be immediately available from within iTunes 4.9.



According to sources, the team has contacted dozens of potential content providers and enticed them to create their own Podcasts or syndicate existing audio content through the creation of an RSS feed. These potential content providers include television stations, major motion picture firms, newspapers, magazines, and both public and commercial radio outlets.



As an added incentive to persuade some organizations to adopt Podcasting through iTunes, Apple has reportedly told some prospective partners that they may include small ads or promotional-related messages to the Podcasts that will be syndicated via iTunes. Rumor has it that the company may also loosen its audio file-encoding standard to support MP3-based Podcasts in addition to its AAC standard.



In building iTunes 4.9, Apple seems well prepared to leverage the new Podcasting phenomenon. Twelve months ago it would have been difficult to round-up 100 distinct Podcasts, but today there are well over 7,000 available on the Internet. According to data released this week by TDG Research, Podcasting may be adopted by as many as 60 million users by 2010.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Things that Apple can not do lest they kill podcasting all together:

    Insert or superimpose ads on now ad-free casts

    encrypt the content

    charge for what is now free (like Daily source code, D&D, and TWiT)

    If apple does any of these ITMS 4.9 will be DOA IMHO



    But this sounds realy great and I do look forward to integration of premeium content so I dont need a seperate stupid app for pay-based stuff (mostly live radio that is podcast' immediatly after the live show)
  • Reply 2 of 60
    why would they do that? that makes no sense.
  • Reply 3 of 60
    myrdmyrd Posts: 6member
    Hopefully iTunes 4.9 will have other, long-overdue features, and not just Podcasting.



    Nested playlists, support for textual lyrics attached to song files, a more powerful smart playlist engine where you can do more complex queries (give me boolean operators please!), the Mac OS version of smart playlist editor window not scrolling off the screen when you add too many rules (the Windows version actually does this right by adding a scrollbar, on the Mac, it just grows the Window), a "don't ask again" checkbox on the message box that asks if you want to sync your iPod that's synced to another iTunes to the new one on connect, etc. etc. etc.



    There's hundreds of such relatively small, but important things that can be improved with iTunes, yet Apple has been sitting around doing nothing, and just adding Big Things that are not necessarily what people want (Video Playback, Podcasting, etc). And yes, I (and many other people) have submitted these things with their feedback page, and yet they do nothing. Will these things ever get addressed?
  • Reply 4 of 60
    kainjowkainjow Posts: 3member
    Apple can't make iTunes everything for everybody. Remember, iTunes is free, you should never expect anything from a freebie product, even if it's made by a big corporation like Apple. \



    If you really want those features badly, learn to program
  • Reply 5 of 60
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    A podcast library SEPRATE from the main library, and a video library too, also seprate would be great but if they dont show up, it is fine, my smart playlists work
  • Reply 6 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Myrd

    There's hundreds of such relatively small, but important things that can be improved with iTunes, yet Apple has been sitting around doing nothing, and just adding Big Things that are not necessarily what people want (Video Playback, Podcasting, etc).



    One man's trash is another man's treasure...I'm sure you'd like to see all those "improvements," but if there's not enough demand, why bother? If you want EVERYTHING that can possibly be put into an application, then go use a clunky Microsoft product.



    Quote:

    And yes, I (and many other people) have submitted these things with their feedback page, and yet they do nothing. Will these things ever get addressed?



    i'm sorry, I didn't realize you were the guy that got all those feedbacks... or at least I assume you do since you seem to know just how many people have actually requested those same features.



    Here's an idea... Apple distributes free development tools with it's operating system, why don't you go write your ideal music jukebox and let the rest of us continue to enjoy the relative simplicity and elegance that make up iTunes as it is currently designed!?



    schizzylogic
  • Reply 7 of 60
    andersanders Posts: 6,523member
    Oh Please please PLEASE let this subscription RSS thing be open so anyone can code for it. I would just HATE it if APple excluded anyone besides the ones they themselves have approved.
  • Reply 8 of 60
    myrdmyrd Posts: 6member
    Way to go with the accusations, folks.



    First off, none of the things I suggested would make the software more clunky. They're small things will not add much bloat (some are just blatant fixes to existing problems). Obviously, stuff like song lyrics support would need its own tab in Song Info, but even that won't be too clunky, since its elegantly stashed away. In fact, I'd say stuff like Video playback adds a lot more bloat and clunkyness than what I've suggested.



    And guess what? I am a programmer, and if Apple would Open Source iTunes (heh, yeah right), then I will gladly code these things. Until then, I have better things to do than write an iTunes clone from scratch, sorry I don't believe in reinventing the wheel.
  • Reply 9 of 60
    g_warreng_warren Posts: 713member
    Moving on from the handbag throwing above.... big iTunes technology announcement eh? My money is on an iPod/iTunes launch day, akin to the U2/iPod photo launch event. Makes perfect sense - the 4th gen is a year old in July, so I'm hoping for a nice shiny new silver one this July, fingers and toes crossed.
  • Reply 10 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by G_Warren

    Moving on from the handbag throwing above.... big iTunes technology announcement eh? My money is on an iPod/iTunes launch day, akin to the U2/iPod photo launch event. Makes perfect sense - the 4th gen is a year old in July, so I'm hoping for a nice shiny new silver one this July, fingers and toes crossed.



    Seems to be a pretty big update from what AI is saying, could this actually be iTunes 5? I think an iPod update is coming soon at any rate.



    I'd like to think this new version of iTunes has more than Podcasting up its sleeve, some features already mentioned (including nested folders and more complex smart folder rules - which lets face it isn't going to be too tough or even bloated) I hope to be included.
  • Reply 11 of 60
    commoduscommodus Posts: 270member
    I hope I'm not the only one who noticed that AI forgot to put the "i" in iTunes 4.9 for the title.
  • Reply 12 of 60
    g_warreng_warren Posts: 713member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Commodus

    I hope I'm not the only one who noticed that AI forgot to put the "i" in iTunes 4.9 for the title.



    That's Apple's job - putting the 'i' in 'Tunes' for the last 5 years. 8)
  • Reply 13 of 60
    bwhalerbwhaler Posts: 260member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Anders

    Oh Please please PLEASE let this subscription RSS thing be open so anyone can code for it. I would just HATE it if APple excluded anyone besides the ones they themselves have approved.



    It reportedly is.
  • Reply 14 of 60
    jms698jms698 Posts: 102member
    I find it amazing that this update is ahead of schedule. When what the last time you heard of any software development project being ahead of schedule?



    Me: never.



    What is going on here? Is Apple really becoming the complete opposite of Microsoft.
  • Reply 15 of 60
    I think podcasting audio blogs, news programs, and other free content is just a non-threatening way of getting into this space.



    I think the real goal is podcasting TV programs. It's the way TV should be done and TiVo tried to do (within the current broadcasting paradigm).



    You like "Desperate Housewives" (or whatever takes your fancy), sign up for it and you'll get it downloaded the moment its available. Then you'll be charged.



    You like fantasy science fiction (or a particular director or actor), sign up for it, and we'll notify you of anything that comes out you might be interested in.



    Of course, you can already download any of our archive material (all those episodes of "Get Smart" you missed) whenever you wish (for a price).



    You'll own what you download (most likely) with fair DRM.



    It's the next generation TV.



    Cheers,

    Ashley.
  • Reply 16 of 60
    Why is this not iTunes 5?



    Apple must have something pretty big planned for that...
  • Reply 17 of 60
    I'm still wondering when Apple enters the "pro" market for music playback. DJs love their products, but neither iPod nor iTunes have any functionality adressing this market. How hard can it be to add pitch control and mixing? Where's the proPod? Where's proTunes?
  • Reply 18 of 60
    chris cuillachris cuilla Posts: 4,825member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by PrettyBoyClone

    I'm still wondering when Apple enters the "pro" market for music playback. DJs love their products, but neither iPod nor iTunes have any functionality adressing this market. How hard can it be to add pitch control and mixing? Where's the proPod? Where's proTunes?



    Hmmm...well it could be that they are too busy selling millions to consumers to be overly concerned about selling thousands to the DJ market. Just a guess though.



    They probably think their resources are better directed to setting up something like this podcasting stuff which will add yet more value to the current iPod, not to mention provide another hook for ptentially millions of consumers.
  • Reply 19 of 60
    chris cuillachris cuilla Posts: 4,825member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mrhatken

    I think podcasting audio blogs, news programs, and other free content is just a non-threatening way of getting into this space.



    I think the real goal is podcasting TV programs. It's the way TV should be done and TiVo tried to do (within the current broadcasting paradigm).



    You like "Desperate Housewives" (or whatever takes your fancy), sign up for it and you'll get it downloaded the moment its available. Then you'll be charged.



    You like fantasy science fiction (or a particular director or actor), sign up for it, and we'll notify you of anything that comes out you might be interested in.



    Of course, you can already download any of our archive material (all those episodes of "Get Smart" you missed) whenever you wish (for a price).



    You'll own what you download (most likely) with fair DRM.



    It's the next generation TV.



    Cheers,

    Ashley.




    Yes! Yes! Yes!



    Thank you.
  • Reply 20 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Chris Cuilla

    Hmmm...well it could be that they are too busy selling millions to consumers to be overly concerned about selling thousands to the DJ market. Just a guess though.



    They probably think their resources are better directed to setting up something like this podcasting stuff which will add yet more value to the current iPod, not to mention provide another hook for ptentially millions of consumers.




    They should be able to persue both markets without loosing focus. It seems to work well for them with their audio and video tools (logic, fcp, garageband, iMovie)
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