I installed iTunes 8 last night on my home machine, a MacBook Pro with 2 GB of RAM. The update wasn’t in Software Update, so I pulled it off Apple’s website. Then I had to update to get the latest QuickTime, begging the question of why they aren’t packaged together. But that was straightforward enough. Then I rebooted and fired up iTunes.
First it wanted to update all my album art–I suppose to build new thumbnails for the new grid view. When it finished looking at my 26,000 song library in five minutes I was suspicious. Sure enough: it had forgotten that my music lived on a network drive and silently reset the location to my laptop hard drive, causing all the songs in the library to be unplayable. Fortunately I’ve been through this before: Preferences, Advanced, and set the correct location for the folder, then wait fifteen minutes while all the song paths are reset. But man: I was really hoping Apple had fixed this one. I don’t restart iTunes often, but when I do I have to go through this dance more than half the time.
But OK: so far no worse than the old version.
The new grid view seemed nice enough, until I clicked something. Then it locked up tighter than a drum with a spinning beachball. About five minutes later the beachball cleared and I was able to play some music. I found of interesting that the grid view was only present some of the time. If I clicked through on the Jazz genre, it brought up the classic view of tracks next to album art. Maybe this was because of the number of albums (330) in the genre, but I found it a little disorienting.
Then: Genius. I don’t know if I would have called the feature that, since it has to upload the entire library to the cloud before it can work. I let it run for awhile but it wasn’t long before the spinning beach ball returned. I finally killed iTunes but it managed to keep any other application, including QuickTime, from playing any sound until I rebooted.
And when I rebooted, iTunes forgot where the music library was again.
I think Genius has promise–it came up with some interesting recommendations on my work computer. But that only has thirty songs on it. I have a suspicion that it doesn’t scale. At all.
There’s a cute comic up at WPLover that highlights an interesting UI trend: the rise of the speech bubble. If you don’t have a WordPress blog, you may never have seen this UI, but it’s pretty much as the comic strip shows it. In the dashboard UI, there are a series of tabs for common tasks–comment management, etc.–and if something needs your attention on one of those tabs, a “speech bubble” pops up with the number of things you need to address.
What the comic points out is that this makes perfect sense for comments (a speech bubble with the number of comments is a congruent metaphor). But indicating the number of plugins needing updates is a little different–should your WordPress plugins really be talking to you?
I think the first treatment of this concept that I saw was Apple’s new mail count in Mail.app, but they didn’t treat it as a speech bubble (there was no “tail” on the little red badge showing the count). This treatment is probably the more portable UI convention.
I’m writing this post with the released WordPress client for the iPhone. It’s simple to use. Enter the URL for your WP blog (self hosted or on wordpress.org), a valid username and password, and the app connects to your blog and configures itself.
As you can see below, not only does the client support categories and tags, but photos as well. You can either incorporate an existing photo from your library or take a photo from within the app.
- the text editor doesn’t provide any shortcuts for markup, so even creating a simple list is pretty arduous
- the app only prompts for a password once–convenient, but a security risk. If you lose your iPhone, your blog is compromised.
Overall, though, a killer 1.0 and a good way to really mobilize blogging. I look forward to giving the app a proper shakedown next week at Tanglewood.
Update: Okay, there are a few other bugs to shake out:
- The UI for actually posting a post is a little non-intuitive. Rather than a big Publish button, you have to change the status of the post to Published, then save the post. This is probably so that you don’t hit the button with your thumb by mistake, but it’s still a little annoying.
- The publish process seems buggy. My post at first failed to publish–the app crashed–then published, without sending its image. To attach the screen capture, I resorted to emailing the photo to Flickr, then adding the URL to the post. Not trivial, and without copy and paste impossible to tie the photo back to the post without going to the computer.
The photo thing is annoying. The crashes on posting are a big big problem.