Cybernaut 

iTunes 8.0 gets intuitive

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You have to activate the Genius feature, essentially giving Apple permission to scan all the songs in your library to create the database needed for Genius to work properly. The scan is apparently anonymous if you’re worried about somebody snooping through your music files, but you have to wonder if and when that information is going to be subpoenaed by the very paranoid music industry.

Reviews of Genuis are so far all over the map — sometimes it has been successful in generating appropriate playlists, and sometimes the recommendations are haphazard. A lot has to do with the size of your music collection, the songs you use to generate playlists, and how Genius interprets your search. For example, you might Genius a Black Sabbath song and come up with The Eagles instead of Metallica, presumably based on the fact that Black Sabbath and the Eagles are both classic rock from the same era and follow the same rock beat patterns.

Some users have also suggested that Genius only really works well with songs purchased from the Apple iTunes store or ripped from CDs, and may not recognize songs that you’ve downloaded or renamed and that it can’t immediately identify. New music that hasn’t been classified yet may also not show up.

I haven’t noticed that problem personally, but I’ve only tested it for a few days. I have noticed that a few songs are out of place, but here’s hoping future updates of Genius can be trained by pointing out these inconsistencies.

Overall, it beats clicking through 10 gigabytes of music files on your own, and it’s not a bad way to set the kind of mood you’re looking for. The main drawback in my mind is that you need to open an iTunes Store Account, credit card info and all, to use Genius, which means it probably won’t be long until Apple starts recommending songs to buy as well as the songs in your library.

Obviously they also want people to use the store more, and opening an account would be the first step for a lot of users. Once you give out that credit card information to a vendor the floodgates are open.

Interestingly, Microsoft introduced a similar service called MixView for its Zune customers that is reportedly superior to Genius. But with Zune capturing about five per cent of marketshare to Apple’s almost 75 per cent it’s a safe bet most of us will never use it.

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