Kitchens Sync

Pure Genius: Hands on with iTunes 8's Genius Playlist

- 2008.09.16 - Tip Jar

On September 9, Apple held a media event where it released three new products: the 4th generation iPod nano, the 2nd generation iPod touch, and iTunes 8.

One of the most prominent new features of iTunes 8 is the Genius playlist creator, which "create[s] a playlist from songs in your library that go great together." (iTunes 8 Help)

Easy to Use

The requirements for using the Genius feature are pretty straightforward: iTunes 8, an Internet connection, and an iTunes Store account.

The process is simple as well. Once you have met your three requirements, all you need to do is go into iTunes, select Turn On Genius, and then select Update Genius from the Store menu. Once iTunes has been provided with your iTunes Store account information, it will process your library to find songs that are available in and recognized by the iTunes Store.

I write this specifically, because I have had problems getting some of my iTunes purchased songs to be recognized so I could download album art for them. For me, about 15% of my song library is composed of unrecognized or unavailable songs. Any unrecognized songs in your library will be ignored by this process.

iTunes takes the songs it finds and sends that information to Apple, where proprietary algorithms (or maybe elfin magic) will take your anonymized info and combine it with the info Apple has stored on everyone else's music libraries. Then the system will send an information database back to you based on the songs you have in your iTunes library.

Now all you have to do is select a song and press the button emblazoned with the Genius symbol (a Bohrian model of the atom) to generate a playlist of songs that sound good with it. The base song becomes the first item on the new playlist.

Mind-Reading Chips

I tried this on a number of the different songs in my library. On the aforementioned unrecognized tracks, I got an error message. However, on other songs I was given a playlist of shockingly high quality. If I was in the mood to listen to a certain song, I found that the Genius playlist it created listed many other songs that I would have also enjoyed, including many I hadn't heard before.

I almost wanted to put on my tinfoil hat and go digging for the Apple BlueMind (a close cousin of Bluetooth) psychic chipset!

Even better, the database is synched to any compatible iPod or iPhone, so one can make Genius playlists even when away from the computer. This coupled with the great new visualizer should bring more people over to the iPod/iTunes side. (Zunes do come in that wonderfully dull shade of brown and have that great brick shape.)

Bravo, Apple!

I was quite impressed with this new feature; I can tell Apple put a lot of thought and work into making it more than just a gimmick, which I originally assumed it was. I love it Apple when breaks the old mold of stupid new features that just turn software into bloatware.

Maybe Apple could make a bundle licensing some of their ingenuity and Genius (pun completely intended) to certain other companies. LEM

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