PowerPage Wishlist: iTunes (Mega Update)

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Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2005, 08:07
Category: iTunes, Software

iPod Feature RequestLet’s face it. iTunes 4 is getting a little long in the tooth and is in desperate need of an update. The industry-standard application for syncing the iPod and for buying music online is beginning to show signs of old age. If Apple is going to continue its domination it needs to revise iTunes pretty soon. Don’t rest on your laurels Cupertino!
Updated with over 40 of your tips. Read on…


Let’s face it. iTunes 4 is getting a little long in the tooth and is in desperate need of an update. The industry-standard application for syncing the iPod and for buying music online is beginning to show signs of old age. If Apple is going to continue its domination it needs to revise iTunes pretty soon. Don’t rest on your laurels Cupertino!
AppleInsider is already reporting on some of the new features expected in iTunes 4.8 (security patch, more international ITMS support, contact and calendar controls) that is due in May.
Here’s my list of suggested new features:

Grouped playlists – I am tired of scrolling through all my playlists. Adding a simple group feature that would allow me to move several playlists into a folder would be a boon. C’mon Apple, this has been available in Safari’s bookmarks and iPhoto’s Albums column for a while now.
Pitch control – Allow aspiring DJs to use iTunes while performing live. If you can’t change the pitch of a song, you can’t easily blend or mix to tracks with different BPMs. Which brings me to…
Auto BPM – iTunes should be able to detect the BPM of a playing song and display it (kinda like DJ Traktor studio) – again mostly for performing live.

Following are some of your suggestions:

GROUPED/HIERARCHICAL PLAYLISTS
I have 500 playlists and growing, and I know I’m not listening to many of my albums simply due to the drudgery involved with endlessly scrolling and searching for albums. This is a huge problem for iTunes, it’s really starting to bug me big time.
How about disclosure triangles for artists and albums. Then I don’t have to scroll through 200 Da Vinci Code audio book tracks, or even all the tracks of a given album or artist.
ARTWORK
Assisted or automatic album art search/adding.
There should be a view where you can see your album covers instead of a list … I miss being able to browse by the LOOK of an album, rather than ‘informationally’. Make it similar to photos in iPhoto … where you can adjust the size of the covers with a slider. I guess this is very similar to delicious library …
LYRICS
Lyric support directly from playing song, both in iTunes and on iPod.
Apple could implement lyrics via the comments field and make them easily accessible from the ‘now playing’ window. Its our business what we put in that field and should absolve apple from any intention to use lyrics. 3rd party software should be able to (and does) take care of helping us populating that data.
I would love to see lyrics included with the songs available on iTunes. Better yet a feature that displays the lyrics as the song plays. It doesn’t have to be timed perfectly but that would be pretty cool if Apple could do that too. Also, sometimes I don’t know the name of the song or an artist but i do know the chorus or a few lines. it would be nice to search for music by a string of lyrics.
I’d like to see them add the lyrics for the songs in Music Store searches. I’d also like the lyrics to be added to the AAC file in the meta data so Spotlight gets a chance to index it. Of course just like my Album Art idea before I really would like a facility for iTunes to provide lyrics for the music I already bought and catalog (even non-iTMS songs).
I’ve been whining and crying about iTunes supporting lyrics for a long time. Check out this link for my full spiel.
Liner Notes. I’d like to have full liner notes with iTunes downloads.
VISUALS
I want the ability to put the visuals on a second monitor or projector, perfect for parties. Similarly I’d like a “fade now” button to move to the next song without a straight cut.
PODCASTING
Built-in Podcasting support. I listen to spoken content a lot. I don’t really want to have to purchase, use and keep another application updated. I want all my multimedia needs to be served by one or two applications. Adding a podcatching channel alongside the existing radio channel would be my preferred upgrade to a new iTunes. Users could enter the RSS addresses of podcasts into slots (or browse a directory) – and then receive the podcasts directly into iTunes without the need for additional software.
It would be great if the next version of iTunes had a feature to link to PodCasts. Maybe in the way the iTMS handles iMix. It’s just kind of a pain to use another program to gather podcasts.
BOOKMARKS
One thing I’d like to be able to do with my iPod is easily bookmark a spot in an audio file, mostly for audio books or spoken tracks. It could be integrated as a “fourth click” right after the rating stars appear. It could simply have an option for “Save place in track” or similar and begin playing at that point whenever it’s selected in the future. I’d think it would be easy to program and a boon for audio book or podcast fans…
Opera is a big part of my my musical diet, and I’ve ripped my CD collection to iTunes. Many — almost all? — of the performances feature continuous singing for a whole act, while the CDs mark each aria within the act. Listening to the CD, you hear it as it was performed. In iTunes, there’s a break between “songs,” at least a stutter if you call for no time between tracks. It’s disruptive to the experience and annoying. The standard workaround calls for merging all an act’s tracks into a giant track. Not only is this cumbersome, it removes the choice of just listening to “Visi d’arte” when I want to compare Te Kanawa’s and Callas’s versions.
ID3 TAGS / METADATA
Option for automatic metadata adding (possible lyrics, artist history, known affiliated artists)
A marker that tells me whether a song is imported or backed-up.
Build a better utility to manage metadata on groups of songs. In other word, lets suppose I want to tag a bunch of songs as “Driving music”, so I can create playlists. Time passes, and I feel the need to tag another bunch of songs for the road. Because I’m old and forgetful, I can’t remember if it’s “Driving music” or “road music”: I want to be able to select a user-defined tag from a pulldown list and apply it to a group of songs without having to Get Info on them.
Make the Genre information finer grained. I want to be able to browse for Jazz Fusion, Drum & Bass, or Zydeco without having to do it the brute force way (searching all of Jazz, Electronica, or World).
What I’d really like to see is album art linked to items that are in my CD info database and not artwork limited to only the items in my library.
I’d like to see a Soloist or Performer field added to the Columns view. This would be great for classical and jazz recordings and could be used for soloists and conductors.
It’d also be nice to have a bit more flexibility on the “artist” field to call out the particular performers on a track, or to ID the orchestra/band separately. But the continuous tracks issue is the #1 way that iTunes is inferior to other media.
SMART PLAYLISTS
I’d like the ability to employ both “any” and “all” qualifiers in Smart Playlists. I find it so irritating to have to create multiple playlists to satisfy the end goal of having a playlist that grabs, say, songs from any of five genres and also must not have been played in the last three days, for example.
RADIO
More relevant radio station playlists (may not be solely an itunes limit) Currently only a tiny fraction of current playlist shows up.
I’ve always thought the streaming radio portion of iTunes is primitive and cumbersome. Why can’t I click on the “radio” playlist in iTunes and have a beautiful interface show up that looks like … a radio! This interface could still have searching functionality to identify and add new streaming stations, but it should function more like a radio … with a tuner, optional graphics for each station, perhaps the ability to record radio streams (for transfer to your iPod), and also a section of “featured stations” so that I could discover new / highlighted radio stations, much like iTunes music store allows me to discover new artists. I know Apple doesn’t make money of streaming internet radio stations, but it COULD in theory provide links to the iTunes music store based upon the streams themselves. Or even something so basic as if you’re listening to a classical streaming station, offer up the latest classical CD’s being offered in the iTunes music store.
AIRPORT EXPRESS / AIRTUNES
While preparing to add a Mac mini and Airport Express router with AirTunes to a Home Theater system (Pioneer AV/Receiver, Plasma HDTV, 7:1 audio) the need for improvements to iTunes radio streaming became apparent.
fix incompatible Airport Express radio streams
Inexplicably, some radio station streams cannot be broadcast through AirTunes, such as KQED San Francisco. Apple provides KQED with the hardware and software for the stream. Why doesn’t it support AirTunes?
the ability to stream audio to 2 airtunes devices simultaneously. At 54 Mbps, surely 802.11g is fast enough to get the streams timed to within a delay inaudible to the human ear – 5 ms or so, I believe. The airtunes units appear to have quite a few seconds worth of buffering, so buffer em up, then start em up & they should be in sync.
(not really iTunes, but Airport Express) the ability to route other system audio out to airtunes. from the OS or from any other app. I use a free 3rd party app to do this now but it is cumbersome.
IPOD
An auto-update feature. For instance, if you have added new content to your library, iTunes should have an option that updates an already connected iPod with out the need to choose update iPod from the menu. At the very least, add an update button. There could also be a dialog that comes up if you are ejecting the iPod and have added items to your library that have not yet been transferred. I hate it when I import a new disc, forget to update and then realize I am missing the new music when i get to work.
SHARING
I’d also like to know who is logged onto my music library and have the ability to boot them if I wish, or chat with them.
I want to be able to hear, not see what everyone on my network is listening to. I know I can access their playlist, but what good is that? I have thousands of songs on my mac and I listen to less than 10% of those. If you accessed my song list, the chance of you finding a descent song are slim. I want to tap into the-guy-next-door’s songs like he’s a radio station. Then when he is listening to some super old school song (I’ve been digging, “Some Kind of Wonderful” by Grand Funk Railroad lately), I want to turn it up on my computer too. And when people walk past our offices they can’t help but sing, “She’s some kind of wonderful, yes she is.” Then maybe the guy behind me will catch on and add a little bass and before you know it you’ve got the most expensive surround sound, 27 speaker system ever!
This would also be great to assign office DJ’s. Keith McTeeth, you own the station today, play your best stuff. And instead of sorting through thousands of songs, Keith could just play the best and maybe I’d find some new tunes. Now that would be worth the update! “Can I get a witness?”
BACKING UP
I’d like there to be an easy way to backup my purchased tracks as Apple suggests. iTunes will not simply let me select all the titles in Purchased Music and drag them to a folder. I can only grab a few tracks at a time, and with each successive group drag iTunes lets me grab less and less tracks. What a buggy pain! I have over 300 tracks and they are mixed all over my music folder so individually grabbing them in the finder is out. Instead, let’s see iTunes offer to make a disc image backup or copy to folder, etc, right from within iTunes.
IMPORTING
why is importing an album and creating a playlist from it SO difficult, especially for first time users? In other words, why can’t I insert a CD, hit import, and have iTunes automatically create a properly named playlist, with the songs in the correct order? Right now I must import, then know how to go into the main library, know how to select the recently imported songs, then choose “create new playlist from selection”. This process is confusing and needlessly complicated. Make importing a one-button process — or are you trying to make it hard so people won’t want to deal with CD’s and only shop in the iTunes music store? I hope not.
DRM
I’d like to have an authorization preference panel so I can see what computers are authorized and have the option of de-authorizing them.
Multiple Mac Support. Why does Apple insist on locking down iPods to one particular computer? My one gigabyte Shuffle can only be loaded up from my main Macintosh — if I load it onto my other machine, I have to entirely replace the contents of the Shuffle. I suppose this makes the RIAA goons happy as they think there will be less file sharing this way. Doesn’t the RIAA realize that the more people listen to music, the more they will buy?
The ability to download owned songs onto five machines directly from the server. An acknowledgment that we do own the songs, and should be able to download directly to authorized machines
Multiple iPod Support. More intuitive control of multiple iPods on one machine (do you want to erase everything…. NO, vs. manual playlists)
Ability to re-download if songs lost, like AUDIBLE. They just keep a database and pointers to your downloaded books. Not physically taking up space. I have re-downloaded the purchased books numerous times in different sizes for different purposes (shuffle, ipod 1 or ipod 2, vs. desktop),with nary a problem. I can only play on 2 machines per their Terms of Service.
SORT/SEARCH
I hope they can support a Sort function that ignores “The”, “A” and “An” at the beginning of Song Names, Artist names and Album names.
As iPods will no doubt get larger and larger and presumably cheaper and cheaper, people will store more and more music on them.
An easier way needs to be found to access any song faster. Indexing would help and accessing a song by the first few letters of the name, the singer, the album or whatever would probably help.
I would like to be able to sort by whether a song is “checked” or not. This parameter should be available as a choice in creating smart playlists too. Lets say I have a certain number of songs which have no logical grouping. I want to be able to enable them as a group. If I were able to sort by that parameter, or better yet to be able to pick them out in a Smart playlist, I can enable them or disable them in one click. I suppose I could invent a genre for them, but I’d rather not. Besides, that would entail grouping them all together to do so!
ITMS
Give me a super-smart ITMS recommendation tool. In the current version of ITMS, there is a recommendation tool that only looks at what’s in my shopping cart at the moment. So if I happen to be rounding out my Nine Inch Nails collection at the moment, it will miss the fact that I have quite a bit of Hayden and Mozart, and might be interested in new classical releases of their music. The tool should only run when I tell it to, and I should be able to specify if I want it to scan my ITMS purchases, my iTunes library, or both.
ITMS Wishlists. I run across so much to purchase at the iTunes Music Store, I must make decisions to fit my wallet. If there was a way to incorporate a WishList ala Amazon, my list would be available to me…or people buying for me. It shouldn’t be that difficult to engineer, as they have my info already from purchases. This enables me to prioritize my purchases, make note of things found in random searches and on whim; I know I’d actually buy a lot more.
Build a mechanism _within ITMS_ to request additions of artists and albums. If Apple eventually adds it to ITMS, they should send me notification of that.
I want to be able to convert AAC files to a MP3 CD to play in various CD/dvd home players and auto players. If we can make basic audio CD’s we should also be able to make MP3 CD’s. I BUY ALL my music legally.
BITRATE / QUALITY
MY OTHER big gripe with iTunes, specifically the music store, is bitrate — specifically the 128k AAC bitrate which iTunes defaults to for purchased music. If Apple only knew how many millions of classical songs are NOT being purchased because of the lackluster sound quality of 128K AAC, they would be shocked. Come on Apple, stop rolling over and playing dead to the RIAA — when we purchase music from you, it should be every bit (pun intended) as good as music purchased on CD. Stop letting the music industry marginalize digital downloads, and offer consumers what we really want — convenience AND high quality. 128k AAC sucks, no matter how you try and gloss over it — it’s becoming the elephant in Apple’s digital kitchen, and it’s driving me back to the pirate/file sharing networks and to CD’s.
PRINTING
more control over exactly what gets printed when I print a CD cover from within iTunes. For example if burning a disc with tunes from various artists, provide a choice of which album artwork (or selected multiple album covers) to use.
I would like to see them add the ability to print a CD tray card, some of use users do like to look on the spine and see what CD it is.
Support for printing of cover art, or powerful Catalogs (i.e. itunes catalog).
Local radio streams
While preparing to add a Mac mini and Airport Express router with AirTunes to a Home Theater system (Pioneer AV/Receiver, Plasma HDTV, 7:1 audio) the need for improvements to iTunes radio streaming became apparent.
In the age of HDTV, cable and satellite TV, and satellite radio, it seems silly that local radio reception can be as poor as it sometimes is. So, why isn’t it easier to add local radio streams to iTunes? For many suburbanites, local radio signals can be surprisingly difficult to receive inside homes and offices (even those that may be easily received in an automobile).
Internet radio streams through iTunes would seem to be a possible solution to poor local radio reception. Currently, many people replace the cheap FM wire and AM loop antennas that come with AV/Receivers with a $50 amplified tabletop antenna to marginally improve reception from scratchy local stations. Sometimes, this is adequate, but some locations could require a $100- to $200 (with installation) rooftop or attic UHF antenna to improve FM. Unfortunately, a UHF antenna does nothing to address poor AM reception.
Unfortunately, many radio stations do not offer iTunes or even QuickTime streams. If Apple worked with the radio industry to provide tools to more easily create streams and then provided Mac owners with a better way to easily add local streams to iTunes, it could help improve the reach of local AM/FM radio, extend the computer’s reach into home entertainment systems and provide even more incentive to buy a Mac.
While radio competes with the very idea of downloaded music and customized iTunes playlists, Apple is in a position to move into the den with the Mac mini. Improving local radio reception in homes is a problem in search of a solution, especially since cable TV companies appear to have dropped FM radio receiving from their bandwidth lineup. Besides, every once in a while, you just want to feel more connected to the world and listen to local news and broadcast music, or take in Al Franken, Garrison Keillor or even Rush Limbaugh.
I for one would prefer to do all this through iTunes, and not the Real or Windows Media Player streams currently used by most radio stations (QuickTime Player streams are only offered sometimes). Also, this would greatly expand the usefulness of an Airport Express/AirTunes router connected to the updated sound system in the den. Heck, with such a solution, I believe many Apple customers also would add a couple more AE’s with stereo speakers to other rooms, but we need iTunes streams as content ? we can’t listen to speakers through Airport Express using Real or Windows Media radio streams, which are more widely used for the Internet Radio.
MISC
I would like the ability to burn CDs with cross-fades between songs.
Have a draggable icon that shows what’s playing next and make it easy to select any song in your library as ‘next’ so that you can guarantee what song you’ll listen to next without making a playlist and all that, and get up to grab a snack or whatever. This way, you don’t have to stop the song you’re listening to and you know what’s next. This is just like a quick feature, maybe one or two songs deep.
Original song release dates and re-release dates
iTunes only offers database field for a song’s release date. Often, old songs are purchased as a part of compilation albums, and listed in iTunes by their re-release date. This breaks Smart Playlists, and means that you cannot easily track collections of 50s, 60s, and 70s music. Although some workarounds are available, this oversight should be corrected in the iTunes database, and if necessary, at the gracenotes.com Web site.
I’d like better handling of songs on removable media. I’d like to be able to use MP3′s I’ve burned to CD and not have to keep them all on my hard drive. Right now there doesn’t seem to be a good way of handling removable storage. You can do it, but if you want to remove “missing” songs you’ve removed from your hard drive the data from the removable media goes too. I burn a lot of CD-R’s to bring to work and I don’t like to store the songs on my work computer.
Get rid of the Brushed Metal! If there must be brushed metal, at least support skins or themes so that the user can decide. I am SO thankful for White-Out. It makes the Finder and Safari bearable to look at. Unfortunately, there is no way to significantly affect iTunes.
Fix buffering problems. Please fix the iTunes buffering and audio dropout problems once and for all and for gosh sakes, add an audio dropouts troubleshooting topic to the help file.
AACPlus support. With this technology, CD-quality audio with higher compression is achieved using Dolby Digital’s 5:1 Surround Sound Advanced Audio Coding and Spectral Band Replication to reduce data in high frequencies. In addition, track sizes are reduced using parametric stereo in which one channel is the sum of the left and right signals, while the other is their difference. XM satellite radio uses AACPlus, as do some FM broadcasts such as Minnesota Public Radio’s weekly Prairie Home Companion show, which sadly is now incompatible with iTunes.
A soft key to cycle through the various equalizer presets even while visualizer is running or the main window is minimized.
Work with car and home stereo manufacturers to build an open standard for integrating with the iPod and ITMS. The “open” part of the arrangement is that it would work with other music players and online music stores, if they conform to the standard. An open standard is needed to entice the manufacturers to jump into this with both feet. The idea would be so that if I hear music on XM that I want to buy, I can simply hit a button to place it in my ITMS shopping cart (eventually). The way that would work is that I would use my iPod to capture the purchase request off of the XM unit (through a wired or wireless interface), and the next time I synched my iPod, iTunes would search ITMS for the songs and place them in my shopping cart. If the song wasn’t in ITMS, it would automatically fill out an album request (as requested above). This also means that satellite and digital radio providers would have to encapsulate the song information.
Meta playlists – a playlist that will mix songs from other playlists, i.e. Play 1 song from playlist1, then 2 songs from playlist2, then 1 song from playlist3, rinse & repeat. Or: Shuffle playlist1 until 7pm, then play playlist2 until 11pm then play playlist3.
Make Visualizer work on multiple PC monitors. (Does it work on multiple Mac monitors?) I want the ability to put the visuals on a second monitor or projector, perfect for parties.
I’d like a “fade now” button to move to the next song without a straight cut. Or even a “forced cross fade” that fades you out of one song and into the next.
The only addition I am looking for is CD-TEXT for burning my custom CDs. A lot of CDs, especially ones manufactured by a Sony studio have CD-Text information burned into the disk. CD-Text compatible CD players, almost all Sony and many others, will display the CD name, title and track information when playing the CD. Since not all of us can wire in an iPod, this is the next best thing.
Another function that would be nice, is the automatic conversion of AAC(not protected naturally) to MP3 for MP3 disk burning.

My question to you: what do you want to see in iTunes 5.0?
Please also remember to submit your suggestions to Apple via their iTunes feedback form.

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