Apple has released version 11 of iTunes, its media-management software. Few liked the old version. Will this iTunes truly go...to 11?
Apple just introduced a major update to iTunes, the media-management software that comes pre-loaded in all Macs and that functions, effectively, as Apple's central desktop and online resource for accessing content on PCs, iPhones, and iPads. Version 11 addresses a critical problem for Apple.
Which is: Everyone who uses Apple devices pretty much has to use iTunes. And before version 11, a lot of people hated using iTunes.
Why is that? Well, while Apple is still pretty good at developing operating systems, its history with other types of software is checkered. iTunes was really the company's first non-OS software package that really moved the needle. It wasn't so much the iPod that revolutionized the music business, it was iTunes — an software jukebox with online integration to the iTunes store and all those 99-cent songs.
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This morning, American Public Media — Southern California Public Radio and KPCC's parent organization — announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it will partner with Slacker Radio to stream APM content through Slacker's services.
Of course, Slacker isn't the only Internet music streaming service out there. So why did APM choose it over, say, Pandora or Spotify?
Simple: Slacker enables programming. So do some other streaming services, but not in a way that would allow the APM and its programs, like the popular "Marketplace," to stand out. APM will be in good company: ABC News and ESPN are also Slacker partners.
At PCMag.com, Jeffrey L. Wilson provides a quick summary of what the various streaming radio and music services are all about. He says that Slacker is for "Tweakers" — that is allows users to customize their listening experience. Pandora, by contrast, permits much less involved modification; the whole idea is that you sit back and let the Pandora algorithm choose your music for you.
It's the little Pandora app that makes a very big difference in how you use the music streaming service.
I've been a big Pandora fan for about a year now. Lately, my love has been getting steamrolled by various Spotify evangelists, but for me, I don't feel like I've really gotten everything I can out of the Pandora experience. As you probably know, Pandora is internet "radio" — its killer technology is a predictive algorithm that can take a song, artist, even an album title and turn it into a stream of music, by using the song's DNA. This is the "Music Genone Project"). You provide an input based on what you like — say, Ozzy Osbourne or Gustav Mahler — and...Pandora's box of music is opened!
Pandora has effectively replaced iTunes as my go-to music resource. iTunes is fine, but I've always liked radio better than the self-programming that more self-contained music formats entail — everything from mix-tapes in the 1980s and '90s to iTunes playlists now. Like the radio, Pandora does the work for me. (See, this is how I wound up working at a radio station!)