iTunes Innovation, Please

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I love iTunes. Use it every day. But although I'm now using iTunes 4, Apple's music player really hasn't developed much beyond version 2. Most of the upgrades to iTunes since then have been minor, or have involved the iTunes Music Store.

I'm not thrilled about the lack of core development to iTunes itself. For example, there's still no good way to categorize tracks by multiple artists, despite the presence in the ID3 specification of a standardized way to handle those tracks. (The simple answer: separate every artist by a slash. So rather than having a single track appear in your library by the new and peculiar artist "Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush," for example, iTunes should just display it both under Peter Gabriel and under Kate Bush.) There's no way to download album cover art automatically from within iTunes. There's no way to use iTunes Sharing -- a great new feature added in iTunes 4 (and lamely backtracked in 4.0.1) -- with an attached iPod. This is particularly bad for me, because my source music collection is at home, so I use my iPod as my music library at work. The list goes on.

But while I bellyache about how Apple is too busy developing the iTunes Music Store to add features to iTunes, I also want to point out that some of the innovations that were added to iTunes as a part of the Music Store could really improve iTunes as a whole.

I'm referring to those little arrows at the end of every artist and album on the Music Store. Click on the arrow next to an artist, and the Music Store takes you to the music from that artist. Click on an album name, and iTunes shows you every track from that album on the Music Store.

That's a cool feature, and I've discovered that I want it when I'm in my own iTunes library as well. For example, let's say i'm in a custom playlist. Sometimes I want to click on an album and automatically be taken to just the tracks from that album. It would certainly take less time than scrolling through all 430 albums in my Browse menu!

So what do you say, Apple? (And what do you say, readers? What innovations would you like to see in iTunes 5?)

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