Faster iTunes 8.1 with new import and Genius features due soon

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple sometime later today or this week will make available for download a speedier version of its iTunes media software that will extend the company's Genius feature to more media types and support direct CD imports to iTunes Plus format.



The iTunes 8.1 update was listed among the requirements for a new pair of aluminum iPod shuffles introduced earlier in the day and is now prominently listed as "coming soon" on Apple's iTunes page under the heading "Faster. Smarter. More entertaining."



iTunes Plus import



More specifically, Apple says a new importing feature will let users import songs from music CDs as higher quality, 256-Kbps iTunes Plus files (see how).



"If your songs already exist in digital form on your computer, just drag them into your iTunes library," Apple says. "iTunes also converts unprotected WMA files on your Windows computer to AAC files."



Genius Sidebar additions



Meanwhile, Apple's Genius recommendation engine for music tracks is being expanded to movies and TV shows. When a user selects a song, movie, or show in an iTunes 8.1 library, the Genius sidebar on the right-hand side of the screen will offer recommendations for similar content from the iTunes Store, which can then be purchased directly from within iTunes.







Speed Improvements



Another major push behind iTunes 8.1 is to improve the overall speed of the application when performing various tasks. Apple says the new version will respond faster than previous versions when loading large libraries, browsing the iTunes Store, and syncing your devices.







Other changes



Apple also lists a couple other features as "new" on its iTunes features page, such as more refined parental controls and autofill options. However, there isn't enough information at present to tell what those specific new features are since Parental Controls and Autofill both have existed in previous versions of iTunes.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    Quote:

    iTunes Plus import



    More specifically, Apple says a new importing feature will let users import songs from music CDs as higher quality, 256-Kbps iTunes Plus files (see how).



    I don't understand this. I already import my CD's using the Apple Lossless Audio Codec. How is this new/better than that?
  • Reply 2 of 64
    daniel84daniel84 Posts: 113member
    Looking forward to speed increases for large libraries. For the moment iTunes is by far the slowest of all the iApps.
  • Reply 3 of 64
    shogunshogun Posts: 360member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post


    I don't understand this. I already import my CD's using the Apple Lossless Audio Codec. How is this new/better than that?



    Totally agree. Makes no sense to me.
  • Reply 4 of 64
    daniel84daniel84 Posts: 113member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post


    I don't understand this. I already import my CD's using the Apple Lossless Audio Codec. How is this new/better than that?



    From what I read on MacRumors 256k will be the new default setting, rather than 128k.
  • Reply 5 of 64
    I am guessing 256kbps will just be the defualt now. Most people don't know that you can import at pretty much whatever bitrate you want and a whole slew of options.



    I wonder why they don't use VBR as the standard though. I guess people feel more assured if they see a single number next to all their files instead of a varying number.
  • Reply 6 of 64
    I have to see this to believe it: is it possible that after I don't know how many iTunes versions they finally noticed that scrolling is slow and jerky on the iTunes Store?!
  • Reply 7 of 64
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    So, does this mean it will no longer take four freaking hours to sync my iPhone?
  • Reply 8 of 64
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    iTunes as it is, is slow quite a lot of the time. Not massively so, but clicking on almost anything will make it takes a second or so to respond... So, it'll be good to have some more snappyness.
  • Reply 9 of 64
    nli10nli10 Posts: 32member
    Could this be related to the 24th march info?
  • Reply 10 of 64
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple also lists a couple other features as "new" on its iTunes features page, such as more refined parental controls and autofill options. However, there isn't enough information at present to tell what those specific new features are since Parental Controls and Autofill both have existed in previous versions of iTunes.



    I'm hoping that the improved Autofill options will allow for you to down-convert the iTunes Plus songs to 128Kbps for all iPods like you can when adding to the shuffle. This would allow a bit more room on my iPod Touch for more music.



    I'm thinking this might be unlikely, however, as Apple seems to be sneakily increasing the bitrate, first with iTunes Plus downloads and now with a change to the default encoding bitrate, in order to require people to buy bigger iPods. The average user wouldn't be aware that by encoding their songs at 256Kbps, they can only fit half as many on an iPod as they can at 128Kbps.



    Seems to me to be a risky PR move changing all of the standards and defaults to 256Kbps, as it throws off all of their song capacity claims for their iPods (which currently are based on 128Kbps songs).
  • Reply 11 of 64
    bslaghtbslaght Posts: 40member
    ....will that be sped up...??? importing any music takes forever, and the larger the library xml file gets the slower it is to import music or update ID3 info.



    I don't understand why this info is kept in an xml file anyways...why not use the CoreData or SQLite? I think the would increase speeds huge, instead re-writing a massive XML file each time a slight change is made, just update the record in the DB.
  • Reply 12 of 64
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nli10 View Post


    Could this be related to the 24th march info?



    No.



    The new shuffle needs iTunes 8,1



    They ship in 3 to 5 days meaning within 3 to 5 days iTunes 8,1 will be out
  • Reply 13 of 64
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post


    I don't understand this. I already import my CD's using the Apple Lossless Audio Codec. How is this new/better than that?



    This has to be a mistake in the article in that I have been doing it at 256 kbs for ages.



    256 would actually be "better than (Lossless)" however in that your ears cannot tell the difference and you would save oodles of space. Unless you are purposely creating a digital archive of your CD collection as a backup, Lossless makes little sense as a format.
  • Reply 14 of 64
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    256 would actually be "better than (Lossless)" however in that your ears cannot tell the difference and you would save oodles of space.



    That depends on the ears and, more importantly, the speakers or headphones. Some listeners can hear the difference.
  • Reply 15 of 64
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    This has to be a mistake in the article in that I have been doing it at 256 kbs for ages.



    256 would actually be "better than (Lossless)" however in that your ears cannot tell the difference and you would save oodles of space. Unless you are purposely creating a digital archive of your CD collection as a backup, Lossless makes little sense as a format.



    Thanks for the heads up. I'll be sure to adjust my life to fit your needs.
  • Reply 16 of 64
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galley View Post


    So, does this mean it will no longer take four freaking hours to sync my iPhone?



    Either there's something wrong with the software on your phone, or this is a problem you have created yourself. If it is a software problem you can solve it with a restore. If it is the backup that's taking forever, look to the apps on your iPhone--especially the apps which store large quantities of local data. File storage, picture storage, and other similar apps cause the backup to slow considerably when there are changes while they are backed up on your computer. If you don't have apps like this filled with data your backup should be quite tolerable.
  • Reply 17 of 64
    pt123pt123 Posts: 696member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by daniel84 View Post


    Looking forward to speed increases for large libraries. For the moment iTunes is by far the slowest of all the iApps.



    I find it hard to believe it is slower than the iPhoto (09). Well, I have over 10,000 photos and 300 songs so the comparison is not fair.
  • Reply 18 of 64
    fjrabonfjrabon Posts: 59member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by xanthohappy View Post


    That depends on the ears and, more importantly, the speakers or headphones. Some listeners can hear the difference.



    I've seen a ton of blind tests and I've never seen anybody, including studio engineers (who are paid big money to hear tiny tiny tiny blips in sound) who can tell the difference between 256kbps or greater AAC (or LAME encoded mp3) and wav.



    I've got about $700 worth of headphones, thousands of dollars worth of speakers, an audiophile external digital to audio converter, etc and I know I can't.



    Honestly, I can really only hear a big difference with 128kbps if there are a lot of hard transients.



    the psychoacoustic models that are used today are actually very very good. They can come a lot closer to transparency with 128 kbps than they could even 5 years ago.
  • Reply 19 of 64
    l255jl255j Posts: 57member
    I don't care if they change the default?Apple better continue to allow us to change the default, as I personally do make archive-quality backups of all my CDs.
  • Reply 20 of 64
    kim kap solkim kap sol Posts: 2,987member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FJRabon View Post


    I've seen a ton of blind tests and I've never seen anybody, including studio engineers (who are paid big money to hear tiny tiny tiny blips in sound) who can tell the difference between 256kbps or greater AAC (or LAME encoded mp3) and wav.



    I've got about $700 worth of headphones, thousands of dollars worth of speakers, an audiophile external digital to audio converter, etc and I know I can't.



    Honestly, I can really only hear a big difference with 128kbps if there are a lot of hard transients.



    the psychoacoustic models that are used today are actually very very good. They can come a lot closer to transparency with 128 kbps than they could even 5 years ago.



    Even people that can't tell the difference should encode to a lossless format for the simple fact that if you lose your CDs or the original wav file, you're stuck with a lossy version. If you ever have to convert to another lossy format for whatever reason, you'll be losing even more data.



    For example, those poor folks converting from the lossy WMA to the lossy AAC are getting screwed. Convert from a lossy format enough times and you'll be left with a very crappy quality music file.



    Of course, not everyone has the storage space for lossless versions of their gazillion music CDs that they never listen to.
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