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Summary:

Along with the release of their new iPod shuffle, Apple has updated iTunes to version 8.1. New features include improved speed with large libraries, Autofill, a switch to 256-Kbps AAC as the new import default, and more notably iTunes DJ and Genius sidebar for Movies and […]

iTunes 7Along with the release of their new iPod shuffle, Apple has updated iTunes to version 8.1. New features include improved speed with large libraries, Autofill, a switch to 256-Kbps AAC as the new import default, and more notably iTunes DJ and Genius sidebar for Movies and TV Shows.

For a lot of users, the first two will be more than welcome additions — seriously, who can argue with speed improvements, especially if they apply to networked libraries as well. Also, as I’m sure a lot of other non-shuffle owners will agree, the Autofill feature is one that has been much lamented over. The shift to a higher encoding rate, however, is an interesting move and may cause confusion with some users when they suddenly can’t fit as many songs on their iPods and/or iPhones as they were used to, notable because Apple’s capacity calculations are still based on the 128-Kbps bitrate.

Party Shuffle has been transformed into iTunes DJ which, beyond a more suiting name change, adds an extra layer of interactivity for touch device owners with the Remote app (iTunes link), that was updated last night to version 1.2 to add iTunes 8.1 compatibility. When enabled, you can “allow guests to request songs with Remote for iPhone or iPod touch” as well as “vote to control when songs play.” Access to the DJ playlist is password protectable to limit access, and if you’re so inclined, you can also greet participants with a welcome message.

The update is available now via Software Update and the Apple-released notes for this update are below for your perusing.

  • Supports syncing with iPod shuffle (3rd generation).

  • Allows friends to request songs for iTunes DJ.
  • Adds Genius sidebar for your Movies and TV Shows.

  • Improves performance when downloading iTunes Plus songs.

  • Provides AutoFill for manually managed iPods.
  • Allows CDs to be imported at the same sound quality as iTunes Plus.
  • Includes many accessibility improvements.

  • Allows iTunes U and the iTunes Store to be disabled separately using Parental Controls.
  1. There is also some big changes that I see in the App Store when it comes to reviews. They have separated out the reviews from the current version as opposed to just grouping them in with all versions. Plus you can rate apps right on the main app page.

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  2. Import as iTunes Plus really didn’t do anything but add “iTunes Plus” to the drop down for import options. This sets it at 256K AAC VBR, which could always be done manually before. I think they did it because they’re promoting the iTunes Plus thing and wanted an option in iTunes to match.

    The feature I like is the new control over “iTunes DJ” (formerly Party Shuffle). Upgrade the Remote app on your iPhone or iPod touch and you can request a song for the DJ playlist. It queues up right after the currently playing song. You can let guests do this as well, and even vote on the songs.

    Another nice feature is you can completely disable the iTunes Store in the revised Parental Controls.

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  3. They fixed the iCal thing in iPhone and iPod Touch too! (i think!)

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  4. http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c356/chetiboy/iCalfixed.jpg

    calendar color used to be randomly generated. but not anymore

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  5. Certainly faster.

    I listen to Internet Radio while working online. Of a dozen or so regular stations, my two favorites almost always seem to require rebuffering when logging in. Now, not only do they log in faster – JazzFM in Canada and Radio Deliro in France – so far, they’re hooking up without immediately dropping out and needing to rebuffer, as well.

    Rock on.

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  6. Can anyone explain about the auto-fill for manually managed ipods? I’ve done a bit of searching and have come up empty…

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  7. chris – when your iPod is hooked up to your computer, select “Music” from the list that appears in the left sidebar underneath your iPod. You should see the autofill options at the bottom of the window. They should be pretty self-explanatory once you find them.

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  8. You can readjust the bit-rate down to what they call “custom” levels. 128 kbps is still an option, even if the default is iTunes Plus. Apple should have warned us about the changes in the affected default settings. But fortunately it is an easy fix.

    Unfortunately, I’m way in the minority re: Autofill. That should be an opt-in thing—I’ve spent the last couple of hours looking to shut the thing off.

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  9. Huh? Autofill is an opt-in thing – you don’t have to use it if you don’t want. Just don’t click the autofill button.

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  10. [...] Apple released the latest version of iTunes, integrating several updates including a smart new DJ mix feature, and also squeezed out a brand [...]

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