Amidst the hubbub surrounding Apple’s release of the iPod (mmmmh; Reviews, January 2002), Apple released version 2.0.3 of its iTunes audio program, adding the support necessary for transferring files to the portable player. But that doesn’t make this version a one-hit wonder–it has several new features that users have requested.
New and Improved
Foremost among iTunes 2.0’s improvements is a 10-band graphic equalizer with 22 presets (or EQ settings) for rock, hip-hop, classical, and everything in between (see “EQ IQ”). You can move each slider individually and save the results as your own presets.
There’s also a Sound Enhancer that helps add some of the warmth stripped from songs when they’re compressed into the tiny MP3 format. The result is better-sounding music from iTunes.
Another new feature is the ability to cross-fade tracks, overlapping the end of one with the beginning of the next–you can set a cross-fade to last as long as 12 seconds. It’s a great feature for parties, but it would be nice if these cross-fades carried over when you burned your songs to audio CDs.
iTunes can now burn MP3 CDs–that is, data CDs in the ISO 9660 format–filled with 650MB to 700MB of MP3 files. This allows you to get more than 10 hours of music on a single
CD-R playable in some CD players and many newer DVD players. Of course, you could do this before by popping in a blank CD and formatting it as an MP3 CD, but being able to do so from within iTunes is an added convenience.
Apple has also added AppleScripting capabilities to iTunes, meaning that you can create scripts to control most iTunes actions. Still missing, however, are ways to easily change skins (the GUI’s look), record directly into iTunes, and broadcast over the Internet–all features that iTunes’ predecessor, Casady & Greene’s now-defunct SoundJam MP, offered more than a year ago.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
With its new features, iTunes 2.0.3 has become a fully capable MP3 player, encoder, and jukebox. Its few missing features are overshadowed by an easy-to-use interface–and the fact that it’s free.