itunes 8

***Rampant speculation alert — EDIT: yup only 7.4 – look for 8 to deliver HD movies …soon ***

So as the disclaimer says, this is just “informed” speculation. However, with a release of iPods this big looming (They booked Moscone West?!), it would make sense that iTunes would get an upgrade. How big an upgrade? At least a point upgrade to cover the new hardware…so at the low end, we are looking at a bug-fix upgrade: 7.3.3. However this is a huge event right? So at least 7.4!

Why should we stop there? It has been a full year since the release of iTunes 7…  And there have to be some big new features on the horizon, right?  I mean iTunes is central to Apple.  It is the one thing that connects all of its business units.  Mac, iPod, iPhone and AppleTV are all connected through iTunes.    It has to be time for a full upgrade!  

iTunes 8 !     iTunes ’08 ?

iTunes ’08 MediaCenter for Mac and PC.  That’s right, instead of having to deal with Vista MediaCenter, you can just buy a barebones XP PC (cheap), install iTunes (easy) and plug it into your TV.   Also, we know that the AppleTV is a cheap PC.  Why not make the AppleTV a full iTunes 8 client.  It can be done, so why not?  The positives outweigh the negatives.

As a matter of fact, this is wild speculation so let’s get even more crazy here.  “iTunes” as a name is wearing out.  It is an incredibly solid brand but it no longer really identifies the software product.  Originally when it was first built, it explained its primary purpose as a music player, then as a means to transfer music to the iPod. It even made sense as the iTunes store when the only items sold were music.  However its role has grown wildly.  Just look at Apple’s Website:

AppleTV?  Shows?   Movies?  Games?  Audiobooks?  What does that have to do with “Tunes”?  How about iPod/iPhone syncing?  Yeah, you do still have some music on there but it also does your calendar, address book, pictures, and a whole slew of other syncing activities.  My vote is for something like…

iHub ’08 – the center of your digital universe…

…wait…iMedia!…no iEntertainment!

..or something. Perhaps Apple will just move this functionality over to iSync. Or maybe Quicktime will play a part?  From an identity standpoint it is confusing and doesn’t mesh with the long term strategy…

The “iTunes” name could still exist as the music player, or the music store name on the Mac or even also shift over to the iPods/iPhones/AppleTVs.  However this change in role could confuse the consumer.  If Apple does change the name on September 5th, will “iTunes.app” be dead?  :'(

No, probably not… iTunes 8 :D

Edit: We found a nice “wishlist” from hmurchison at Applenova forums that we are shamelessly going to post below (click link for more discussion) Nice work!

1. Server version- Frequently there are now multiple libraries and caches of music stored in silos in the typical home. It’s time for Apple to have a robust solution for managing the media needs of a family or small group. The ability to centrally store data yet locally manage/manipulate the metadata is crucial to moving iTunes like apps into a more multi-user environment. Storage space is rapidly increasing in size and decreasing in cost but the management “costs” of storage will always rise unless one move to a more sophisticated method of storing and retrieving data.

2.New organizational structure – iTunes 7 does some weird things. I’ve downloaded video files that pop up in my music library. Some podcasts don’t show up where the podcasts should go. iTunes 8 should not have these problems. The metadata encoded in the file should place each item in its proper place. Video/Movie files should not be in my music library. Stopping messing up my feng shui Apple.

3. Better editing tools (metadata editing) -I’ve often wondered why I cannot modify certain chunks of data in iTunes. I’ve imported songs before that have certain sort attributes that I’d love to edit such as “date added”. Give me a Power Users option to fix what iTunes sometimes screwsup regardless of fault.

4. Realtime Apple Lossless to AAC encoding/syncing – I want to rip my CDs into Apple Lossless Encoding yet when I sync my iPod/iPhone I want to be able to choose on the fly compression. At home I want the most pristine quality I can get but on the road 256k AAC is more than enough. Computers are now fast enough to do this. Please make it happen so that I can rip to one codec and still keep flexibility for mobile product.

5. HD movie support– A no brainer. I expect iT8 to be the version that brings forth HD 720p movies from iTunes from multiple studios.

6. Fix the damn radio feature- Why Apple hasn’t created iTunes radio is beyond me or perhaps technology. Internet Radio(IR) needs to be looked at as a new medium. We need to generate a way to marry the quality of radio (diverse playlist, DJ etc) with the power of computing. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t have IR with embedded metadata that links me to iTunes tracks, podcasts or films. This is a revenue potential for Apple or anyone who can Enterprise. If I hear a song on IR in iTunes I should be able to click a button and go to that song on iTunes for purchase or subscribe to the podcast. The computer is NOT a Typewriter folks!!

7. Beef up the community of iTunes- come’on the rating system sucks. I don’t want to read people blathering about music unless we share some commonality in music taste. A rating system based on a Reputation Management system will track other users who tend to like the same music and give priority to their views. This is more important to me. Cap the iMix limit. I don’t want to wade through 90 track iMixes. Pick your favorite tunes up to 25 tracks please.

8. Parental Controls- Going along with central storage and metadata editing would be a security system that would allow the family admin (aka parent) to flag files that should not be accessible via some family members. Once a piece of media is flagged nc17 or whatever it immediately is hidden from the computers of those who are barred from nc17 media.

9. Lyric support- iT8 should be able to retrieve lyrics from an Apple iTunes server and import them into the proper song. This way if I forget the title of a song I can do a lyrics search and find the song.

10. Revolutionary Personal Media sharing- Apple should allow iT8 to become the conduit to enable personal sharing via broadcasting services through Wide Area Bonjour. iTunes would handle the connection This would allow you to literally publish or subscribe to end user content set up as a service on a personal computer. Think of Apple’s answer to You Tube but better since audio would equally be supported. No money involved and Apple’s bandwidth isn’t used ..iT8 just manages the connection from end to end.

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