Pressure from open programs has once again won a small but considerable victory over a large corporation. This article points out the new development in the world of the iPod and iTunes: iTunes Plus!
And, I have to admit, it’s a good idea, although I personally am not ready to bother with it. A short summation of the program’s benefit is that it gets rid of the security portion of AAC files, which, in and of itself is a good sign for the industry, as well as being a good thing for people like me, who don’t run an iPod. The iTunes AAC has a built-in encryption that makes it difficult to play it on any player aside from an iPod, as well as limiting the number of computers that have the rights to access the file. iTunes Plus removes these features, making it possible for people like me to simply slip the file on to my memory card and play away!
The other feature that many audiophiles may be interested to see is that the quality limitations are virtually nonexistent in iTunes Plus, with the ability to download songs in AAC format at 256 kbps. Haven’t tried it out yet, personally, but the thought is automatically that that must be pretty darn potent music! When you consider that a 128 kbps AAC is about the same as a 160 Mp3, then it is suggestible that those lovers of truly overwhelming detail in their files will love this change.
Slight changes in the interface make it slightly less appealing visually, as well as the new interface being substantially more difficult to work your way through initially, in my mind (see my screenshot below)… but when these little glitches in the interface are weighed against the advantaged of Plus, it’s hard to think that little things like a slightly less feature-filled interface make much of a difference.
How does one go about activating this feature? While I don’t think it’s important, one of the first things an iTunes user may do is to download the newest version of iTunes. This is done easily by clicking the help menu at the top of the screen and moving to the “check for updates” option, as shown below.
After the successful update, you can head on in to the iTunes store, where you hit the new “iTunes Plus” button.
And there you have it! The iTunes plus screen should pop up with the option to set it as your default location upon entering the store. The rest of the interface is fairly self-explanatory, although the fewer sections and the lesser emphasis on moving around the new songs and such makes it slightly less suitable for finding those tunes you want and testing new ones, as far as I’m concerned. Have a blast looking through. Oh wait. One last thing you should note:
The price increase!
I mentioned I wasn’t ready to jump on the bandwagon yet. Well, the plain and simple reason is that the songs in the new format are 30 cents more expensive. Piddly amount considering the new features, I admit, but nonetheless when you are going to be buying a dozen songs, that’s a hefty price jump. Rather, I think for now I’ll stick to the use of the regular AACs and the CD burning/ripping capabilities built into iTunes. Burn it on, rip it off in Mp3, and voila! All protection removed.
More important than the new price tag attached to open files, however, is the fact that iTunes is clearly feeling the pressure of other sites that are willing to provide sharable music, as well as file-sharing programs such as Limewire. Because there’s still a higher cost, it would seem the war is not yet won… but the battle has pushed a closed enterprise to the defensive! Let’s hear it for iTunes Plus… and the victory that it represents for the Web 2.0!