Lots of exciting audio related things from Apple were announced yesterday. I had an orgy of installing and downloading, and what follows are my first impressions of the software:
- iTunes 4: the music sharing feature is long awaited, and very welcome. I tested it quickly last night, and it seems to work rather well (once I'd figured out which port to open on the firewall: 3689 in case you're trying to figure it out too). 'Course, I have a SliMP3 player to do that, but it tickles me that I could play my home iTunes library at work (and be Dr. Popular with Computing Services for all the bandwidth I'd be using). The AAC encoding option is a good step forward. I need to do a full-on audio-geek blind listening test comparing an AAC and an MP3 file of the same material on the same equipment, but my initial impressions are that the sound quality is indeed a bit better. The problem is that unless the guys at Slimdevices come up with an AAC decoder for the server, I won't be able to encode all my files as AAC.
- iPods: Mmmm...new iPods. The new hardware looks very swish, though I'm not convinced about the look of the new buttons. I think they might have to grow on me. The firmware changes are a great improvement, as many people have requested creation of playlists from the iPod itself. Imagine my disappointment when I find that they haven't included this feature in the updater for the old style iPods. Like many others, I'm hoping that this will eventually work it's way down to those of us who don't want to (OK, can't afford to) upgrade to the new hardware. I can't imagine that that there's any hardware constraint preventing them from adding it to the old white bricks.
- Apple Music service: Sigh. Like an idiot, I hadn't read any of the news about the new service before firing up iTunes 4 and clicking 'Music Store'. Imagine my dismay when I get a message that since I am not one of The Chosen (i.e. I don't happen to live in the U.S.), I can look all I like, but I can't actually buy anything. I'm not the only one who thought it was a bit of a bummer.
I'm sure that Apple probably had to fight tooth and nail with the shambling dinosaur that is the recording industry to even get that far, but I still feel a bit like Oliver Twist:
[Me, shyly approaching Apple with my credit card cradled in my outstretched hands]: Please sir, can I buy some music?
[Apple, roaring incredulously]: Whaat? Buy some music? From Britain? Absolutely not! Now go away you cheeky urchin!
[I start to walk away and then screw my courage up and turn back — still holding out credit card beseechingly]: Please sir, could I perhaps also buy some prints online and order a Book from iPhoto?
[Apple, enraged now, throws an empty CD case at me]: Grraaaarrr!!
[I exit, stage left, to go and press my nose up against the window of the sweet shop.]