Hey Mama.
April 29, 2004 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Apple iTunes 4.5 was released yesterday, bringing with it several nice new features, such as a live-updating "Party Shuffle" playlist — as well as not-so-nice features like attaching Music Store links to every artist and album in your library (I turned this off immediately). As for the iTunes Music Store itself, Apple has integrated its QuickTime features of music videos and movie trailers (this is related to music how?), shopper-created "iMixes" and for this month, a new "Free Track of the Day," a questionable asset being that today's artist is Avril Lavigne. ...Perhaps you'd rather have an album sung entirely with "meows".
posted by Down10 (39 comments total)

 
Cracked already.
posted by Gyan at 2:51 PM on April 29, 2004


Hmmm... Pepsi Blue, I love it!
posted by patrickje at 3:07 PM on April 29, 2004


Apple has integrated its QuickTime features of music videos and movie trailers (this is related to music how?),

I think it's just to make it 'sticky'. One more reason for even acquisition/kazaa folk to use the iTMS, and when they DO want a song and are having trouble getting it, the iTMS may just come to mind.

As for the links added to the library listing, as always there is an option to disable it, option-click jumps the listing to all in your library from that album (or artist, or whatever, which is awesome), and even in it's iTMS-linking form, I'll likely use it sometimes to quick-check missing ID4 info.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 3:09 PM on April 29, 2004


I'll likely use it sometimes to quick-check missing ID4 info.

Um... ID3, not ID4, sorry.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 3:12 PM on April 29, 2004


Via MacOSXHints, if you enter this line in the Terminal the links to the iTunes Store become handy links into your own iTunes Library:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes invertStoreLinks -bool YES
posted by nicwolff at 3:33 PM on April 29, 2004


free ads for apple on metafilter?
posted by specialk420 at 3:41 PM on April 29, 2004


Specialk420, free as in the other companies mentioned on MetaFilter have to pay?

Seriously, WTF? you're complaining about a post about Apple just because its about Apple?

Its news to me and I'm going to be downloading the new iTunes when I get home tonight. Thanks for the post, Down10.
posted by fenriq at 3:50 PM on April 29, 2004


I don't think typical ads would besmirch their own product, specialk420.
posted by Down10 at 3:55 PM on April 29, 2004


Apple also closed a "security hole" that allowed people to swap music via iTunes. As a results, different versions of iTunes can no longer stream music to each other.
posted by falconred at 3:56 PM on April 29, 2004


I like the thought of iMixes... maybe Apple will get a sense of the artists they need to add to their offering.

I just wish that the wish list allowed for non-iTMS artists.
posted by silusGROK at 4:01 PM on April 29, 2004


you're complaining about a post about Apple just because its about Apple?

i like apple as much as the next guy ... never the less - seems like a dangerous road to go down if the front page is going to be a place to rah rah each of our favorite new software or product releases ... i have to guess every itunes member recieved a hype filled missive from apple in their inbox today.
posted by specialk420 at 4:08 PM on April 29, 2004


The one thing that sets iTMS apart from other music services is the way it is built into the application. With iMix, they are now starting to build a community, which is an important step if they are going to remain competitive in the online music market. While the free downloads do not appeal to me, it is probably a good lure for teens who like popular music. It might get a few more to bite.
On preview. specialk420, just relax and have a low-carb Coke.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:11 PM on April 29, 2004


Has anyone else downloaded that Avril song? Even worse than I'd expected.
posted by GriffX at 4:17 PM on April 29, 2004


Ha! I knew there was an upside to being shunned by Apple's music store just because I don't live in the US.
posted by dg at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2004


this version of iTunes breaks PlayFair, the software that could be used to strip the DRM from iTMS songs that you downloaded. I'm not sure what it does yet, but at the very least it seems to issue you a new AUthentication key and either iTunes 4.5 or the newest iPod updater hides the DRM key so that PlayFair can't find it.

Just FYI.
posted by n9 at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2004


specialk, "Apple hype" has been part of the DNA of MetaFilter virtually since day one. If you don't like it, treat it like a re-appearing rash. Don't scratch at it.
posted by wendell at 4:52 PM on April 29, 2004


Seriously, does Apple pay you people to keep everyone updated on these new technological "advancements"?
posted by The God Complex at 4:59 PM on April 29, 2004


Winamp is a much better all-around player for Windows, with a powerful and tweakable Media Library. Since the fine iPod plugin does exactly what it's supposed to, I uninstalled iTunes immediately.
posted by muckster at 5:09 PM on April 29, 2004


n9, see first post.
posted by Gyan at 5:10 PM on April 29, 2004


Winamp is a much better all-around player for Windows

Yes, it's pretty good, but it's no Media Center.
posted by meehawl at 6:04 PM on April 29, 2004


muckster, winamp made it cool to have an ipod again.
posted by lotsofno at 6:43 PM on April 29, 2004


I treat my rashes with a good dose of penicillin, TYVM.
posted by shepd at 7:51 PM on April 29, 2004


Anyone know what "Improved Playback" means in the iPod firmware upgrade? I haven't figured out what's improved yet.
posted by afx114 at 8:43 PM on April 29, 2004


Wendell - Please refer to SpecialK420 by his proper name. I don't want the two of us mistaken for each other...


... ;)
posted by SpecialK at 1:07 AM on April 30, 2004


the first post refers to the protocal that allows you to shar e your library over a network. had *you* read it you would realize that this is not the same thing as removing the DRM from ITMS tracks.
posted by n9 at 3:06 AM on April 30, 2004


also... and I just noticed this, so it's probably been broken for a while... would someone please tell Apple that "Disney" is not a genre?
posted by Vetinari at 7:14 AM on April 30, 2004


I'm surprised no one has complained about the fact that you can only burn a playlist of protected AAC tracks 7 times, down from 10 :)

Seriously, I've been using the iTMS more and more lately, and I think it just keeps getting better. The first day 4.5 came out, the free song was a Foo Fighters track, iMixes are a great idea, the Party List is really cool (and will get better in the next release,) people like Disney music (God knows why :)) and the new DRM has already been hacked, not that it's ever been the least bit obtrusive to me. I really think iTMS is a great solution for both sides of the online music debate (consumers and producers) and I also think it's a wonderful opportunity for smaller labels and unsigned artists to bypass the old, corrupted distribution channels.

I hate the RIAA passionately, and I think they are a dinosaur that needs to go the way of the... er, dinosaurs, and I think iTMS is actually another nail in their coffin.

Just my $0.02.
posted by fizgig at 7:36 AM on April 30, 2004


What a crappy upgrade. Virtually all the "features" of this new version have to do with integration with iTMS or DRM (now I can't stream music with my coworkers who haven't upgraded, thanks Apple!) The only thing coming close to a useful new feature is the ability to print CD labels.
posted by gwint at 7:51 AM on April 30, 2004


would someone please tell Apple that "Disney" is not a genre?

If you have kids, it certainly is.

What a crappy upgrade. Virtually all the "features" of this new version have to do with integration with iTMS or DRM

How about the improved smart playlists, which now can produce filtered or merged versions of your other playlists? The easy browsing of your library by artist or album by option-clicking those little right-pointing arrows? The Party Shuffle feature? The Apple Lossless codec? The ability to share libraries with other users on the same machine who are using Fast User Switching? Those are all cool and useful features and not a one is related to iTMS or DRM.

Printing CD labels is the least useful new iTunes feature. I might use it a couple times a year at most. The majority of my CD mixes end up in my car MP3 CD player and are discarded when I get tired of listening to those 100 or so songs. Don't feel any real need to label those.

On the flip side, now you can't generate DRM keys for playfair using the Windows version, and 4.5 won't share music over a network with older versions. Which is a fair bummer, but I think overall Apple has produced a reasonably compelling set of new features to balance it out. Things are no worse now than they were before playfair existed; the value proposition is exactly the same as it's always been, even a little better.
posted by kindall at 8:31 AM on April 30, 2004


kindall: I would probably use the features you mentioned as often as you would use the printing function, so to each their own I guess.

Those arrows just create clutter in my opinion-- I turned them off as soon as I realized it was a preference. Lossless codec? I guess when I have a few spare terabytes of storage.
posted by gwint at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2004


The one thing that sets iTMS apart from other music services is the way it is built into the application.

This is bad when Microsoft does it (attaching MSExplorer to Windows), but good when Apple does it?
posted by Miles Long at 10:12 AM on April 30, 2004


this version of iTunes breaks PlayFair, the software that could be used to strip the DRM from iTMS songs that you downloaded.

Here's the lowdown on Playfair cracking with the new iTunes:

1) There are some songs (such as the freebies) you can't obtain from the iTunes Music Store at all with iTunes 4.2, the previous version. Not sure if this has anything to do with DRM or whether it's just that the old version of iTunes didn't support the notion of "buying" songs with a cost of $0.00. However, the free songs will be for many a strong incentive to upgrade to iTunes 4.5. Which is important because...

2) You do seem to get a new key with songs you buy from the iTunes Music Store with 4.5, or at least with songs downloaded recently. And this is relevant because...

3) Under iTunes 4.5, the keystore is no longer in a place where the Windows version of VLC can easily find it, or else it is encrypted, so you can't generate the "DRMS" keystore directory used to play songs with VLC and to crack the DRM with Playfair. Which is really no problem, because you can just use your iPod, except...

4) The old iPod firmware doesn't seem to have the new key in a place where Playfair can find it, although the old iPod will reportedly play the songs with the new key just fine. Which is kind of interesting. And furthermore...

5) The new iPod firmware does not seem to have any keys where Playfair can find them, which shouldn't be a surprise. However, there is a loophole...

6) Songs you buy with iTunes 4.5 will authorize and play on Windows iTunes 4.2, and VLC can apparently be used to generate the "DRMS" keystore directory. These keys can reportedly be used with Playfair to crack the DRM even on a machine with iTunes 4.5 installed, but they must be generated on a Windows machine runinng iTunes 4.2.

So you can still use Playfair to crack the iTunes Music Store DRM, but it's no longer as easy as plugging in an iPod to your Mac, like it used to be. You have to have access to a Windows box and that machine must have iTunes 4.2 on it, which will be rarer and rarer as more people upgrade. You then have to play the songs in both iTunes 4.2 and VLC to generate the "DRMS" keystore directory, then copy the keys to your Mac. Apple has made the hoops significantly harder to jump through, but it seems to still be possible to remove the DRM if you are willing to try hard enough to get the keys.

The authors of VLC will probably figure out a way to read the new keys. In fact, I bet they're working on it right now. (Playfair uses the VLC libraries to do its work.) The question is, will they be able to find a place willing to host the new version?
posted by kindall at 10:25 AM on April 30, 2004


You then have to play the songs in both iTunes 4.2 and VLC to generate the "DRMS" keystore directory

But you still just have to do this once, right? OK, so where can I get a copy of iTunes 4.2 for Windows to run under Virtual PC?
posted by nicwolff at 11:04 AM on April 30, 2004


But you still just have to do this once, right?

Well, until they decide to send out files with new keys again, which they could probably do at any time.
posted by kindall at 12:34 PM on April 30, 2004


Anyone know what "Improved Playback" means in the iPod firmware upgrade?

Crashes less often?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:48 PM on April 30, 2004


i just wish they could figure out how to crossfade your playlists while burning to disc...mixtapes would never be easier.
posted by NationalKato at 5:35 PM on April 30, 2004


There are some songs (such as the freebies) you can't obtain from the iTunes Music Store at all with iTunes 4.2, the previous version.

Not true. I just downloaded today's freebie (Courtney Love... well, it was free at least) and it worked just fine. I didn't get charged for it, either. I haven't upgraded yet. I will probably download the upgrade today.
posted by litlnemo at 6:37 PM on April 30, 2004


There are some songs (such as the freebies) you can't obtain from the iTunes Music Store at all with iTunes 4.2, the previous version.

Was basing that on a friend's report; didn't try it myself, as I do all my iTunes music shopping on the Mac and upgraded that early. Sorry for the bum report.
posted by kindall at 7:23 PM on April 30, 2004


n9: the first post refers to the protocal that allows you to shar e your library over a network. had *you* read it you would realize that this is not the same thing as removing the DRM from ITMS tracks.

My bad.
posted by Gyan at 10:35 PM on April 30, 2004


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