While iOS 4 brings significant changes to many areas of the iPhone and iPod touch, the changes found in the iPod (iPhone) and Music and Videos (iPod touch) apps are mostly refinements of existing features.
Create playlists: You’ve always had the option to create a playlist on the iPhone or iPod touch using the On-The-Go command found on the Playlists screen. This command–that allowed you to create and edit only a single playlist–is now gone. In its place is an Add Playlist command. It works similarly to On-The-Go.
Edit playlists: Similar to the On-The-Go playlist, when you select a playlist you’ve created, you have the option to edit it as well as clear its contents. New is the option to delete the playlist. In another feature similar to On-The-Go playlists, when you sync your iPhone or iPod touch, the playlists you’ve created on the device are synced back to your computer, where they appear in iTunes’ Source list. Unlike with the On-the-Go playlist, you can create multiple playlists using the Add Playlist command.
New views: The iPod, Music, and Videos apps have been spruced up to include more artwork and information. For example, when you select an album, you see a more iTunes Store-like view. At the top of the display is the album artwork (if you have the artwork in iTunes), artist name, album title, number of tracks, and total play time. To the right is a Shuffle button that lets you shuffle the contents of the album. Below is a list of tracks, with the time of each track next to its name. You see this view even if you have just one track from an album (though, obviously, the Shuffle button is absent, as you can’t shuffle a single track).
Additionally, when you choose a TV series, a Get More Episodes link appears at the bottom of the episodes list. Tap that link and the iTunes app opens and transports you to the screen associated with that TV series. This behavior was available for podcasts in earlier versions of the iPhone and iPod touch OS. It’s been extended to TV shows with iOS 4.
All iTunes Plus, all the time: When visiting the iTunes Store from your iPhone or iPod touch you may have noticed the small Plus (+) sign next to the price of tracks and albums. This indicated that the item was in iTunes Plus format–unprotected 256kbps AAC. The Pluses are gone with iOS 4, hinting that the Store now carries only iTunes Plus-formatted tracks.
Background play: One of the biggest improvements brought to the iPhone and iPod touch with iOS 4 is the ability to play audio in the background with third-party apps, just as you always could with music from the iPod and Music apps. But apps need to be updated to take advantage of this feature. Regrettably, as I test iOS 4, no applications I’ve found support background play. Many surely will soon, however.
[Senior editor Christopher Breen covers all things iPod for Macworld.]