As everyone probably knows by now, Apple released a completely refurbished version of iTunes about a month ago.
So since I’ve always been an early adopter, I decided to download and try it. Here are my first impressions after having used it for a month:
First, as I write this blog on my IBM Thinkpad T43, iTunes is updating my daily dose of podcasts to my iPod. And consequently, I am getting huge lags between my typing and the text showing up on screen. My CPU is running at 100% – and to update the 13 podcasts that I listen to – its been almost a minute and running. My point is, the biggest disadvantage of iTunes 7.0 – its a huge resource hog. When I first downloaded it, it was so bad, it wouldnt play any music from the hard drive. My music ( all legitimate stuff from the iTunes store) would just go into this endless routine of skipping – again with my CPU utilization being 100% – I guess Apple figured something was wrong and they came up with an update very soon (126.96.36.199) – which made it a little better – yes, my music does actually play from the hard drive but its still a huge resource hog. Start up times on my 1.7Ghz Centrino laptop with 512 Megs of RAM is close to 45 seconds (when everything pretty much shuts down), updating music on the iPod is a lot slower and generally isnt very responsive at all when you want to click through the various parts of the jukebox.
On the positive side, the UI changes are very nice indeed. There is a special category called Movies under your library now. The podcast section tells you how many new podcasts are currently there. But in my opinion, the best improvement is actually in the iPod screen. Unlike earlier, when the iPod (when connected) essentially showed up as a folder, now there is an actual screen with all the details of your ipod (including disk stats, firmware update status etc.) – very nice indeed.
Another change is now, you can download album artwork from the store. Other visual changes include a “View by Album Art” view of your library. And a rotating CD shelf type view. Compelling views – but in my opinion – a little fluffy for folks with large music libraries – I use the traditional view much more often.
iTunes now does a gapless playback analysis when I connect my ipod – initially I thought that it would enable gapless playback on the iPod but I was wrong. The purpose that it serves still isnt clear to me – no additional functionality as far as I can see.
Overall, therefore, if it wasnt for the limitations of sharing music and downloading from the store, I’d be better off with the older versions. I can understand Apple’s compulsions in doing this – to make the player even more appealing than it was. But in my opinion, the advantage of all the feature richness is the type of a resource hog it has become – and I would rather have my digital jukebox as a background application – that can most often be used along with other tasks without any performance hit.
I wouldnt upgrade – if you dont share music over the intranet or if you dont buy from iTunes.