8 improvements that should be in iTunes 8

What should be included in iTunes 8?It looks like Apple will launch iTunes 8 on September 9, if we’re to believe Digg founder Kevin Rose’s comments in the latest episode of The Week in Tech. Rose claims that the latest version of Apple’s media player-cum-advertising hoarding will be a major update to iTunes 7. So we can expect to see lots of new features and functionality plus some refinements to the interface (or possibly even a complete overhaul). But what can the new iTunes deliver that the current, already pretty bloated, version can’t? Here’s my wishlist of eight improvements I would like from iTunes 8, in no particular order of preference. I’d also be interested to hear what other people think about where Apple should be taking its flagship software product.

1. Advanced statistic tracking

At the moment, you can access statistics about stuff you listen to on iTunes, but I’d like this functionality ramped up a bit to include more detailed information. For instance, it could show you the most popular tracks or artists you’ve been listening during a particular month, or the genre with the highest average track rating.

2. Community features

One of the things I love about social music sites like Last.fm is the way they help you broaden your musical horizons. Not only do you get recommendations of similar artists and the ‘people who listened to this also listen to…’ feature but you can view a huge amount of data about what your friends and other users are listening to. A move away from Apple’s more crude ‘Buy this one too’ approach would be welcomed.

3. Skinning

Personally I’m tired of the iTunes interface. Granted it’s still a classic look but I’ve just got sick of the sight of it. Please can we have a slightly more modern design Apple? More importantly can we have a way to add our own skins and customisations á la Winamp.

4. Web application

One feature that I really, really want (but probably won’t get) is a web-based version of iTunes. It doesn’t need to be particularly advanced, just a clean and easy-to-use app that lets me access my library from any web browser.

5. AVI support

Come on Apple, let’s finally have some support for playing AVI files. Oh, and MP4 while you’re at it. If the other major media player developers can do it, I’m sure it’s not too difficult a job.

6. Podcast improvements

I’ve become pretty much permanently attached to the podcast section of the iTunes store of late. However, I still find the process of navigating this content a little cumbersome. The podcast management features in iTunes 7 are also pretty lame, so these will need addressing as well.

7. Tagging

Something which Apple should of introduced ages ago is an intuitive system for tagging your music. Granted, it is possible to add keywords to tracks at the moment, but it’s such a convoluted process that it’s not worth bothering with. Tags should be included in iTunes 8 to give you more control over your library.

8. iTunes Lite

Of course, adding all of these features to an already grossly overweight app is likely to drain even more processor power than the current version of iTunes. Apple is at risk of losing long-time users to more slimline players such as Winamp or KMPlayer. So why doesn’t it release a completely stripped-down, ‘Lite’ version of the application to satisfy those of us who are fedup with all the bloat?

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