Friday, January 8, 2010

iTunes - Genius? Almost, but not quite...


Basically, I'm stuck using iTunes because it's where all my music is. I'm too cautious to attempt a transfer into Media Monkey, I detest Windows Media Player, Nokia music is a joke, and so iTunes lingers on, long after my erstwhile ipod.

In some ways, iTunes is perfect. Media Monkey is too intense and technical for someone who loves listening to music for music's sake and needs their quick fix. iTunes is simple. It has five buttons and a hypnotic visualiser. What more could one want?

Well, I've thought of something.

Frequency vs. Play Count
iTunes keeps track of how many times you play each song, and that's all very well, until you realise that this number soon becomes a function of how long a song has been in your library. Passing crazes now sit neglected at the very top of the 'most played' smart list with 400 plays, while my new favourites must content themselves with hovering out of sight until they've mustered enough plays to take on the hogs.
Indeed, when I first started using iTunes, I was delighted to find this feature, the 'most played' playlist. I soon found that relying on this for my listening meant that 90% of my music was ignored. I've since remedied that by compiling a playlist called 'Whimsical' into which I've put all my top music (1900 songs at the last count!) and shuffling this gives me a  fairly even spread of good music.
But still, there's something missing: Frequency. I wish there was another column for each song where the play frequency was recorded. This would be truly valuable, because it would shift easily to accommodate the aforementioned passing crazes, and when I'd listened each to death and couldn't bear their being played again, they would fade quietly into obscurity.
I'm working on a small program that (with a little bit of luck) will do something like this, but it will still be clumsy, slow and graceless. Accessing the library and handling its sheer size are tasks best left to iTunes, which is why I hope that Apple stop changing how iTunes looks and start working on it!


Now Playing popup
The one thing I missed when I changed from Windows Media Player to iTunes was the now playing popup window. I have found a plug in that does something similar, and it works quite well, actually.

Intelligent playlists
As far as I can tell, the old 'Smart Shuffle' seems to have vanished. Maybe it's now standard rather than options, but it still falls short. I'm planning my own playlist maker which will ensure that artists/albums/genres/etc. are evenly spaced throughout a playlist. Now that would be a smart playlist.

Syncing with something other than an ipod
Pretty self-explanatory; I'm using my Nokia for music now, and getting music onto it is clumsy. I use iTunes Agent, and I intend to program something similar for my own use, but once again - it would be best if it were built into iTunes.


I've never found the iTunes Genius particularly helpful, but maybe I'm just stuck under a rock. I can say for certain, however, that iTunes would be truly scintillating if it did the frequency thing, at least. Please?

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