Apple Unveils iTunes 8, Touts Genius Feature

While iTunes is synonymous with music, the Apple media service will also happily provide movies and television shows. Jobs was happy to report that the TV selection is now better with NBC back on board supply shows such as “The Office,” “Monk,” “Battlestar Galactica,” among others.

Image quality addicts will enjoy iTunes 8’s new addition of high-definition television shows from ABC, NBC and Showtime for $2.99 per episode. While the added resolution of high-def video won’t add anything to those viewing on iPods or iPhones, those watching on Mac, PC, or on their widescreen TV with Apple TV will appreciate the upgrade.

iTunes 8 also includes iPhoto’s browsing interface with the ability to display and navigate movies, TV shows, iPhone apps, podcasts and audiobooks using album and video covers.

The real star of iTunes 8 is the new Genius feature, something Steve Jobs pushed as a revolutionary way to rediscover your music collection. A feature that seems perfect for those who like to be served what they listen to, Genius will use special algorithms to put music into groups that users should agree with.

Apple details the new feature’s operation, “click the Genius button, and iTunes instantly creates a playlist of songs that go great together from your own library.” Conveniently, Genius will also recommend music from the iTunes Store that aren’t already owned, making it a selling point for the music industry.

Privacy nuts may take issue with Genius, however, as iTunes collects anonymous music collection data (and perhaps listening habits) to send to Apple to help develop the playlists.

With the iPod Shuffle, Apple wanted to convince users that “life is random.” With Genius, Apple is taking the next step by adding some method to the madness.

Marcus Yam is a technology evangelist for Intel Corporation, the latest in a long line of tech-focused roles spanning a more than 20-year career in the industry. As Executive Editor, News on Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, Marcus was responsible for shaping the sites' news output, and he also spent a period as Editor of Outdoors & Sports at Digital Trends.