New in iTunes: The nitty-gritty

Right on schedule, Apple holds its annual iPod and iTunes refresh in San Francisco on the first day of September. Here, you can find all the nitty-gritty information on the new iTunes.

iTunes 10

Ping? Microsoft did it first with Zune Social.

(Credit: Apple)

Along with a refresh to most of its iPod line, Apple's annual digital media event included a refresh to iTunes. The music and video management software revved to version 10 and is supposed to be available today for both Windows and Mac users. I followed CNET's live coverage of the event as the announcement unfolded, including participating in a chat room loaded with Buzz Out Loud viewers, and the response to the refresh was a pretty much universal "meh."

I can't help but say that I agree with that general consensus. Version 10 of iTunes does not include a much-anticipated cloud music service, nor does it offer a subscription video service to go with the new Apple TV. Instead, Apple added the ability to rent TV shows a la carte--for 99 cents apiece. Call me a cheapskate, but this seems hideously expensive, especially considering the fact that iTunes has often offered specials in the past when you could purchase shows for 99 cents rather than $1.99. And I would be surprised if there's much interest in renting a 30-minute program (which are really more like 22 minutes in most cases) at that price. Even the studios aren't thrilled with the idea: only Fox and ABC have signed on for the initial launch.

The other big announcement for iTunes 10 is the introduction of Ping, a social feature that seems awfully familiar. Ping lets you select your favorite artists to follow, and then provides updated information on new music and concerts in your area (as well as a Twitter-like feed of comments from the artists). In addition, you can connect with your friends through iTunes by sending e-mail invites or by linking to your Facebook account. Ping is also built into the iTunes app, allowing users to access it on-the-go.

iTunes 10 logo

However, by far the most exciting new development from version 10 of the software is a brand-new iTunes logo. Gone is the old-school CD with a music note overlaid on top of it; now, you get the much more applike icon pictured at right. Now there's an improvement I can get on board with.

What about the rest of you? Are you utterly underwhelmed by the newest version of iTunes? Or is the social integration a long-awaited feature that's grossly underrated? And TV show rentals? Feel free to add your feedback to the comment section below.

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