Apple iTunes 8, HD TV shows, iPhone Os 2.1

Apple CEO, Steve Jobs announced new products in time for the holiday rush. Here’s a roundup of the actual announcements and new products: iTunes 8 with Genius: iTunes 8, a major new version of Apple's media management software that governs its iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV ecosystem. Jobs announced a new “Genius” feature that can “create a playlist from songs in your library that go […]

Apple CEO, Steve Jobs announced new products in time for the holiday rush. Here’s a roundup of the actual announcements and new products:

iTunes 8 with Genius: iTunes 8, a major new version of Apple's media management software that governs its iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV ecosystem. Jobs announced a new “Genius” feature that can “create a playlist from songs in your library that go great together.” A new Genius Sidebar can also anonymously and voluntarily send your library info up to the iTunes Store cloud to make smarter recommendations of new music a customer may like. The “Genius Algorithms” that power all of this will also harness everyone's library information to fuel this new community powered music recommendation system.

A new button in the iTunes 8 interface offers easy access to these new Genius features. When you're listening to a song, for example, pressing this button will generate a new playlist based on similar music you already have in your library, as well as recommendations of music in the iTunes Store you might like. iTunes 8 should appear in Software Update for both Mac OS X and Windows users, but you can also easily grab it from iTunes.com.

A user must go through several hoops to activate the feature -- apparently a pretty solid attempt by Apple to ensure the user realizes that some data from their machines will indeed be shared with the company.

Once the user accepts, iTunes gathers data from the songs in the user's library, and then sends it to Apple. It is apparently processed there and sent back, after which, iTunes activates the Genius feature.

To begin using Genius, the user clicks on a song he wishes to create a playlist for, then clicks on the Genius icon on the lower right of the application window -- which should be familiar to anyone who has used the Genius Bar Service at an Apple Store.

HD TV shows: Leading off by touting over 65 million accounts worldwide in the iTunes Store, Steve Jobs first announced the arrival of HD TV shows. Shows will cost $2.99 apiece (instead of the typical $1.99 for SD episodes), but unlike the handful of HD movies the store already has, HD TV show episodes can be watched on a computer, not just on an Apple TV. In addition, after a much-publicized breakup, NBC is also returning to the store with its most popular shows, and in HD to boot.

New iPhone OS 2.1: The iPhone also got some time in the spotlight today with the much-anticipated announcement of iPhone OS 2.1, the software and firmware that runs both the iPhone and iPod touch. The major update should "significantly" improve battery life, problems with droppped calls, fix a lot of bugs, and backing up to iTunes should be "dramatically" faster. New iPod touches ship with the 2.1 OS update, and it should be available to download for free for all other iPhone and iPod touch owners running iPhone OS 2.0 this Friday. iPod touch owners still using 1.x will need to pay the 2.x upgrade fee of $9.99.

More infoApple unveils new iPod Touch, iPod nano

5Arstechnica