iTunes 8

I know a lot of you bemoan the fact it grabs huge chunks of memory, and that it has the audacity to organise your music into folders for you. I know this but, as I run on a nice chunky PC with plenty of memory and I don’t really care WHERE my music is stored as long as I can get to it all, then suffice to say I’m a happy bunny when it comes to iTunes. Even more so with the latest version.

And, in particular, that little Genius button.

I have a stupid amount of music in my library, a lot of which I rarely listen to as well as several Christmas albums which I don’t WANT to listen to other than for the entire month of December (I don’t actually get a choice in that matter). Because I have a large library of music I find that, quite frequently, I “lose” an album or two.

Most usually it’ll be a newer album which will sit in my “Recently Added” Smart Playlist for 4 weeks before then disappearing into the depths of my library, wherein it will remain until a random encounter reminds me that it was actually pretty good and why aren’t I listening to it more often??

And this is where the Genius button comes into play.

The premise is simple, select a track, click the button and iTunes will present you with a playlist based on that track culled from your entire library.

What I’m guessing it’s doing is quite complex. Firstly it collates the details of your library (artist, track title, maybe genre?) and uploads that to the iTunes Store library. It then runs an algorithm that comparies the track with similar tracks that other users have bought, matches them based on some magical criteria and then sends that information back to your iTunes library, where it sits and waits until you click the Genius button.

After that, weekly updates are sent to and from your library and the iTunes Store library to make sure the Genius button has up-to-date information from which to make it’s best guess when compiling your Genius playlist for you.

The information sent to the iTunes Store is anonymous, and I’ll admit that I have a few albums that were… ahem.. appropriated through non-legal routes, but there has been no knock on the door and I can use those tracks to generate a Genius playlist.

The idea isn’t without some glitches. The information stored against the MP3 needs to match what the iTunes Store has and it would be nice if it was a little smarter, possibly using a best match kinda thing rather than (it seems) an exact match only.

But after using it for a week or so, I am already a fan. No more faffing about creating playlists by hand or by crafting some weird and wonderful Smart Playlist, instead find a track you like, click the Genius button and away you go!!

Genius.