Apple iTunes : Media Player

iTunes, introduced by Apple Inc., is a media player computer program, used for playing, downloading, saving, and organizing digital music and video files on desktop or laptop personal computers. It can also manage contents on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.

The latest version, 10.6.1, is available as a free download for Mac OS X v10.5 or later, as well as Windows XP or later.

Features
iTunes is an application that allows the user to purchase and manage audio and video on a personal computer, acting as a front end for Apple’s QuickTime media player. Officially, using iTunes is required in order to manage the audio of an Apple iPod portable audio player, although alternative software does exist.

Users can organize their music into playlists within one or more libraries, edit file information, record Compact Discs, copy files to a digital audio player, purchase music and videos through its built-in music store (iTunes Store), download free podcasts, back up songs onto a CD or DVD, run a visualizer to display graphical effects in time to the music, and encode music into a number of different audio formats. There is also a large selection of free internet radio stations to listen to.

Media management
iTunes keeps track of songs by creating a virtual library, allowing users to access and edit a song’s attributes. These attributes, known as metadata, are stored in two separate library files. The first is a binary file called iTunes Library and the second file, iTunes Music Library.xml.

File format support
iTunes 10 can currently read, write and convert between MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4, AAC and Apple Lossless (.m4a).
iTunes can also play any audio files that QuickTime can play including Protected AAC files from the iTunes Store andAudible.com audio books. There is limited support for Vorbis and FLAC enclosed in an Ogg container or Speex codecs with the Xiph QuickTime Components.

As of Snow Leopard, iTunes 9 (Mac) will play HE-AAC / AAC+ internet streams. The latest version of iTunes (Win/Mac) supports importing audio CDs with the default iTunes standard file format of AAC at 256 kbit/s, but users can choose from 16 kbit/s to 320 kbit/s constant bit rates (CBR) in either AAC or MP3.
The Windows version of iTunes can automatically transcode DRM-free WMA (including version 9) files to other audio formats, but does not support playback of WMA files and will not transcode DRM protected WMA files.

File metadata
For MP3 files, iTunes writes tags in ID3v2.2 using UCS-2 encoding by default, but converting them to ID3v2.3 (UCS-2 encoding) and ID3v2.4 (which uses UTF-8 encoding) is possible via its “Advanced” > “Convert ID3 Tags” toolbar menu. If both ID3v2.x and ID3v1.x tags are in a file, iTunes ignores the ID3v1.x tags.

Advanced Audio Coding and Apple Lossless files support Unicode metadata, stored in the MPEG-4 Part 14 container as so-called “atoms”.

Genius
The Genius feature, introduced in iTunes 8, automatically generates a playlist of songs from the user’s library which are similar to the selected song. Genius playlists are created by the ratings system and collaborative filtering. An iTunes Store account is required because information about the user’s library must first be sent anonymously to Apple’s database.

Once Genius becomes active in iTunes, it can be used on current generations of the iPod Classic, iPod Nano, iPod Touch or the iPhone.iTunes 9 added Genius Mixes, where the Genius software finds similar music and automatically puts them into mixes. iTunes Genius creates playlists from the user’s existing iTunes library based on a single selected song. Genius Mixes create playlists based on the musical genre.

Library sharing
A user’s iTunes Library can be shared over a local network using the closed, proprietary Digital Audio Access Protocol (DAAP), created by Apple for this purpose.

iTunes libraries can also be shared using the “Home Share” option. This option enables users to share both video and audio files through the application. This allows users to also look for items that they don’t already have.

Library viewing modes
iTunes has four different views for music and video libraries – a song list, an album list, Grid View or Cover Flow.

The standard song list view displays library files with several detail fields.
Album lists are much the same as the standard list view, only the list is broken up by albums, with the artwork as the header of the list.
Cover Flow was introduced in iTunes 7.0 and it displays the album art as CD covers in a sliding format at the top of the screen. Under the album art is a small list of all the songs in that album. Grid View is similar to Cover Flow, displaying the user’s cover art in a grid rather than a side-scrolling format. Grid View was introduced in iTunes 8.0.

Playlists
In addition to static playlist support, version 3 of iTunes introduced support for smart playlists.

Some automatic smart playlists that are added to the user’s library include Top 25 Most Played, Recently Played, Recently Added, My Top Rated, Music Videos, Classical Music, Purchased, and 90’s Music.

Apps
The App section on iTunes keeps track of all of the apps the user has downloaded or purchased. It also organizes their apps by genre and there is another tab that lets the user see all of their apps. It also informs the user when they have updates available for their apps.

Sound processing
iTunes includes sound processing features, such as equalization, “sound enhancement” and crossfade. There is also a feature called “Sound Check” which automatically adjusts the playback volume of all songs in the library to the same level.

iTunes in the Cloud
iTunes in the Cloud was debuted as part of iTunes 10.3.1. The free feature allows for the wireless synchronization of iTunes Store purchases across multiple devices. This was announced alongside the forthcoming iCloud service, which would synchronize non-iTunes-purchased media across multiple devices.

System requirements
Macintosh hardware

  • Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5 or G4 processor
  • Intel, PowerPC G5 or 1.0 GHz PowerPC G4 or faster processor is required to play Standard Definition video from the iTunes Store
  • 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or faster processor is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras from the iTunes Store
  • 512 MB of RAM; 1 GB is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras
  • Screen resolution of 1024×768 or greater; 1280×800 or greater is required to play an iTunes LP or iTunes Extras
  • Playing videos also requires at least 16 MB of video RAM
  • Broadband Internet connection to use the iTunes Store
  • Apple combo drive or SuperDrive to create audio, MP3, or back-up CDs; some non-Apple CD-RW recorders may also work.
  • Apple SuperDrive to back up library to DVDs; some non-Apple DVD-RW drives may also work.


Macintosh software

  • Mac OS X version 10.5 or later
  • QuickTime 7.6 or later
  • Support for HE-AAC requires QuickTime 7.6.4 and Mac OS X version 10.5 or later
  • Safari 4.0.3 or later
  • 200 MB of available disk space


Windows hardware

  • A PC with a 1 GHz Intel or AMD processor
  • Intel Pentium D or faster processor is required to play Standard Definition video from the iTunes Store
  • 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or faster processor is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras from the iTunes Store
  • 512 MB of RAM; 1 GB is required to play HD video, an iTunes LP, or iTunes Extras
  • Screen resolution of 1024×768 or greater; 1280×800 or greater is required to play an iTunes LP or iTunes Extras
  • DirectX 9.0-compatible video card with 32 MB of video RAM; 64 MB recommended
  • QuickTime-compatible audio card
  • Broadband Internet connection to use the iTunes Store
  • iTunes-compatible CD or DVD recorder to create audio CDs, MP3 CDs, or back-up CDs or DVDs


Windows software

  • 32-bit editions of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (or later), Windows Vista, or Windows 7
  • 64-bit editions of Windows Vista or Windows 7 require the iTunes 64-bit installer
  • QuickTime 7.6.6 or later is required (included)
  • 200 MB of available disk space
  • Screen reader support requires Window-Eyes 7.1.1 or later
Download: Apple iTunes Media Player

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