iTunes 9: the stuff that dreams are made of?

Last month I put together a wish list of new features I wanted to see in iTunes 9, and this week Apple released iTunes 9, much to the shock and amazement of the Mac press (or, at least, those who were sleeping or unconscious). How many of my wishes came true?

First a quick recap of the four features I longed for:

  • Watch folders: Put media in a certain folder and have it added to iTunes automatically.
  • Disable SD downloads: When I’m downloading a TV show or movie in HD, I don’t always want the SD version as well.
  • Libraries on the network: One central place for all your media? Bliss.
  • Albums: Getting from one song to another on the same album should be as easy on iTunes as it is on the iPhone and iPod touch.

Which of my wishes did Apple grant? Here’s a scorecard:

Watch folder: When you install iTunes 9 a new folder appears in your iTunes Music (or iTunes Media) folder: Automatically Add to iTunes, which my colleague Aayush Arya goes into much detail about. As you might guess, when you place an iTunes-compatible media into this folder, that media is automatically added to your iTunes Library and deleted from the folder (if you put something that iTunes can’t play into that folder it isn’t deleted, rather it is moved to a folder called “Not Added”). While I was hoping for the ability to decide which folder would be the watch folder I think this is a pretty good solution. Verdict: Partially fulfilled.

Disable SD downloads: Sadly, iTunes still foists SD downloads on me. I’m all HD, baby, and I don’t want to look back! Verdict: Keep on waitin’, HD Lovers.

Libraries on the network: Okay, iTunes 9 doesn’t make hosting your iTunes library on a network share any easier, but Home Sharing (which Peter Cohen delves into here) addresses the same problem in a different way. Instead of connecting all your Macs running iTunes to a central iTunes Library, it helps to make sure that all the local copies of your iTunes libraries across Macs stay in sync (it's not without limitations, however). Not what I was thinking, but it accomplishes the same goal. Verdict: Fulfilled, in a way.

Albums: Album navigation hasn’t been touched at all. Still too many clicks for my liking, though I will admit this might just bother me. Verdict: Maybe next time?

Looks like I’ll have to wait and hope that iTunes 10 (to be released in September of 2010, if past performance is an indicator of future releases) will improve album navigation and finally let me eschew SD downloads. Overall, though, not too shabby.

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