- The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. The correct title is iTunes.
iTunes 4.8 under Mac OS X
|Latest release||4.8 / May 9 2005|
|OS||Mac OS X, Windows 2000 and XP|
iTunes is a media player, written by Apple Computer, for playing and organizing digital music, video files, and purchasing digital music files in the FairPlay digital rights management format. The iTunes Music Store (also sometimes referred to simply as "iTunes" or "iTMS") is the component of iTunes through which users can purchase digital music files from within iTunes.
The player has gained and maintained a reputation as being easy to use, while still allowing users precisely to organize their music (for example, features such as the smart playlist). iTunes is used to fill Apple's popular digital audio player iPod with songs. The program is freely downloadable and is also supplied with Mac OS X as well as Apple's iLife home-application suite.
iTunes is compatible with computers running Mac OS X, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems. Previously iTunes supported Mac OS 9, however OS 9 support was dropped with version 3.
Table of contents
Users are able to organize their music into playlists, edit file information, record compact discs, copy files to a digital audio player, purchase music on the Internet through its built-in music store, run a visualizer to display graphical effects in time to the music as well as encode music into a number of different audio formats.
'Smart playlists' are playlists that are automatically updated (like a database query) based on a customized list of selection criteria.
iTunes stores metadata about the audio files in two files. The first is a binary file called iTunes 4 Music Library that uses its own music library format, independent of the audio format's tag capabilities (for example the ID3 tag). The second file, called iTunes Music Library.xml, uses XML format, allowing developers to easily write applications that can access the information (such as Apple's own iDVD, iMovie, and iPhoto or Freshly Squeezed Software's Rock Star).
File format support
iTunes can currently encode to MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4 AAC, and Apple Lossless, and can play anything QuickTime can play (even video formats, as long as they have audio), including Protected AAC files from the iTunes Music Store, plus Audible.com audio books. It can be extended to play other formats such as the free Ogg Vorbis audio format through the addition of QuickTime components.
There has been some criticism of the quality of Apple's MP3 encoder, at least with regards to variable bit rate encoding. In a January 2004 double-blind public listening test of six MP3 encoders encoding at 128 kbit/s, conducted by Roberto Amorim, the iTunes MP3 VBR encoder came last. 
The Windows version of iTunes can automatically convert unprotected WMA files to other audio formats, but it does not support direct playback or encoding of WMA format.
iTunes Library songs can be shared over a local network using Bonjour (formerly Rendezvous)—Apple's implementation of the Zeroconf (zero configuration required) open network standard—which allows shared lists of songs within the same subnet to be automatically detected. When a song is shared, iTunes can stream the song but won't save a copy on the local hard drive, in order to prevent piracy. Songs in Protected AAC format can also be accessed but authentication is required.
Originally with iTunes 4.0, users could access shared music anywhere over the internet, in addition to one's own subnet, by specifying IP addresses of remote shared song libraries. This feature was soon removed by Apple with version 4.0.1, claiming that users were violating the EULA.
Music sharing uses the Digital Audio Access Protocol (DAAP), created by Apple for this purpose. 
Just days after the Windows version of iTunes was released, William Zeller, a 20-year-old Trinity College student, wrote myTunes, a program which allows Windows users to circumvent the iTunes restriction and download music from an iTunes shared playlist over a network. The program quickly became popular and is now widely used. There also exists a similar open source Java client, called ourTunes.
With the release of version 4.8 in May 2005, video support was added to iTunes. With this, users can drag and drop movie clips from the computer into the iTunes Library for cataloguing and organization. Clips appear with a movie camera icon in the library; however, categories such as album and composer continue to be used for these files, and no new videos or movies genre has yet been added to accommodate them.
iTunes supports visualizer plugins and device plugins. Visualizer plugins allow developers to create music-driven visual displays (iTunes includes a default visualizer). The visualizer plugin software development kits for Mac and Windows can be downloaded for free from Apple. Device plugins allow support for additional music player devices, but Apple will only license the APIs to bona fide OEMs who sign an NDA.
Synchronizing iPod and other players
iTunes can automatically synchronize its music library with an iPod or other supported digital music player every time it is connected. New songs and playlists are automatically copied to the iPod and songs which have been deleted from the library on the computer are also deleted from the iPod. Ratings awarded to songs on the iPod will sync back to the iTunes library and audiobooks will remember the current playback position.
Automatic synchronization can be turned off in favor of manually copying individual songs or complete playlists; however, iTunes supports only copying music to the iPod and not from it, which has inspired third party tools for that purpose. It is also possible to copy from the iPod using ordinary Unix command line tools.
When an iPod is connected that does not contain enough free space to sync the entire iTunes music library, a playlist will be created and given a name matching that of the connected iPod. This playlist can then be modified to the user's preference in song selection to fill the available space.
iPod owners in US markets are taken to a one-time page within the iTunes Music store when first connecting it to their computer. This page currently offers a free album sampler from Lava and Atlantic Records where either the whole album or individual tracks can be downloaded. An album sampler from Universal Records was previously available and may still be accessed via a special link on the web.
iTunes supports a number of other popular portable music players with some limitations, most notably the inability to play music purchased from the iTunes Music Store. Supported players include a number of Nomad players from Creative Labs, some players from Rio Audio, and the Nakamichi SoundSpace 2 device. Other manufacturers may also offer integration by way of a device plugin.
iTunes Music Store
Version 4 of iTunes introduced the iTunes Music Store from which iTunes users can legally buy and download songs for use on a limited number of computers and iPods. Songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store are copy protected with Apple's FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) scheme. To date, over 350 million songs have been downloaded since the service first launched in April 2003.
Some people complain that the tight integration of the iTunes Music Store with iTunes makes the sold music inaccessible to users who use operating systems that don't have a version of iTunes, most notably Linux. These complaints have resulted in a number of published hacks or workarounds that allow customers of the iTunes Music Store to use the audio software or operating system software of their choice. The most notable of these hacks was PyMusique, which Apple has made several attempts at blocking.
Apple recently announced it will be opening iTunes stores in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. This bring will bring the total number of countries with iTunes stores presence to 19.
Integration with other applications
On the Macintosh, iTunes is tightly integrated with Apple's iWork suite of applications and the rest of the applications in iLife. These applications can access the iTunes Library directly, allowing access to the playlists and songs stored within. Music files from iTunes can be embedded directly into Pages documents and can supply the score for iDVD, iMovie and Keynote productions. In addition, any song exported from GarageBand, Apple's music-making program, is automatically added to the user's iTunes music library.
iTunes version history
iTunes was developed from SoundJam MP, a popular commercial MP3 application distributed by the Macintosh software company Casady & Greene. Apple purchased the rights to the SoundJam MP software and hired the three programmers who created SoundJam. The first release of iTunes was very similar to SoundJam MP with the addition of CD burning, and a makeover of the user interface. Apple has added a number of significant features in subsequent versions.
Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X
- 1.0 — January 9 2001
- Original release.
- 1.1 — February 21 2001
- Support for external burners.
- Improved visual effects generator.
- More supported burners.
- 2.0 — November 2 2001
- iPod support.
- MP3 CD burning.
- Sound enhancer.
- Burns CDs two times faster than before.
- Unicode metadata and ID3 tag support.
- 2.0.2 — November 16 2001
- Language support for French and German.
- 2.0.3 — December 13 2001
- Only checked songs are synchronized with iPod.
- Rio One MP3 player support.
- 2.0.4 — March 20 2002
- Expanded AppleScript support.
- Improved stability and performance.
Mac OS X
- 3.0 — July 17 2002
- Smart playlists.
- Audible.com audio book support.
- Sound check.
- Play counts.
- Join tracks.
- Playlist importing and exporting.
- 3.0.1 — September 18 2002
- Performance improvements.
- Better support for Mac OS X v10.2.
- 4.0 — April 28 2003
- Music Store support.
- Music sharing.
- AAC audio codec.
- Album artwork.
- DVD burning support.
- Improved searching.
- Beats per minute field.
- 4.0.1 — May 27 2003
- Music sharing only in subnet.
- Performance improvements.
Mac OS X and Windows
- 4.1 — October 16 2003
- Voice notes and On-The-Go playlists synchronization with iPod.
- Support for large library to be burned on multiple CDs.
- Music Store link dragging and dropping.
- Music Store now features Audiobooks.
- Music Store has more advanced Power Search.
- Music Store supports allowance.
- Music Store supports gift certificates.
- 4.2 — December 18 2003
- AOL account support in Music Store.
- Performance improvements.
- 4.5 — April 28 2004
- Party Shuffle.
- CD insert printing.
- Music Store Quick Links.
- Automatic WMA to AAC conversion (Windows only).
- Apple Lossless audio codec.
- 4.6 — June 9 2004
- AirTunes support.
- Minor improvements.
- 4.7 — October 27 2004
- Support for copying photos to an iPod photo.
- Ability to show duplicate songs in your library.
- Performance improvements.
- iPod preferences now part of the Preferences window.
- Ability to search iMixes by name on the iTunes Music Store.
- Taskbar iTunes toolbar, minimize to tray. (Windows only.)
- 4.7.1 — January 11 2005
- 4.8 — May 9 2005
- Apple — iTunes
- InfoAnarchy Wiki Entry
- iTunes Prices Too High — February 24, 2005 MP3 Newswire commentary on record industry's desire to force a raise in iTunes pricing.
- Music Recommendation System for iTunes
- Mobster Recommendation Tool
- iTunes/iTMS Feedback Form
- iTunes compatible MP3 players
- iPodLounge — a very comprehensive site about iPods and iTunes
- Features lost in iTunes upgrades — Notes some of the feature downgrades in iTunes updates, including tighter restrictions on streaming/sharing and the number of times playlists can be burned to CD. Also discusses some workarounds.
|iTunes | iPhoto | iMovie | iDVD | GarageBand|