iTunes 7.6 Subtleties

Focussed on movie rentals as it may be, 7.6 introduces some subtle bug fixes and welcome behavioural changes, some of which we’ve been asking for for some time.

Bug Fixes

As long as I can remember, iTunes by default used the constant bitrate (CBR) method of encoding, resulting in neat bitrate values such as 128 and 256. The last version of QuickTime was updated to include further bitrate encoding methods. iTunes then dropped the ball and users noticed that their rips now all had varying bitrates, plus or minus the value specified. Apparently iTunes wasn’t told to continue using CBR and started using one of the newer methods. This has now been fixed. Rerip your CDs and your bitrates will be neat again.

Enhancements

Podcasts Option Menu

Something that hasn’t made sense for a long time has now been addressed. Until now you could not sync a number of “least recent new” added podcasts, only “most recent”. This has now been added and it makes things a lot easier. For example, if I download a lot of podcast episodes at once (as is common when I discover a podcast), they would rapidly fill my 4Gb Nano, which is my main podcast iPod. The solution was to uncheck a number of episodes. With “Only sync checked songs” and “Sync unplayed episodes” set, this made it manageable. It adds work, however, as you have remember to check newer episodes as older played episodes come off the iPod. Now I can leave them all checked and by syncing only the 3 episodes least recently added, I avoid filling my iPod prematurely and don’t have to think about it. This is a very welcome change.

You have both the option for “unplayed” and “new”, which seems a little redundant. “Unplayed” means that whether or not a podcast has been started, it does not have a play count higher than 0. “New” means that a podcast has never been started. I guess if you only wanted podcasts that you’ve never played, not including unfinished ones, this would be a usable distinction.

TV Shows Option Menu

Similarly, TV shows now have a new “least recent unwatched” option which finally resolves the stupidity of buying a whole season of a TV show but only being able to sync a certain number of “most recent unwatched” episodes. The focus here is still very much on the basis of only watching an episode once. If you are happy with that, then this solves it right here for you, but if you like to cycle through your episodes, you should resort to my TV Rotation Technique.

Blackadder Series

TV Shows in Album view are now subdivided into seasons, each marked by the album art for the first episode in a season. If you scan the box art for individual DVD sets like myself, this feature vindicates this approach. Looks nicer.

You can now manually manage iPhones and iPod Touches, if you wish. Still not available as drives on the desktop, however.

To Be Addressed

Apple TV does not support these new sync options but it is reasonable to expect that the imminent update will address this.

Unfortunately, you still can’t make a smart playlist select items by Show, as covered in this post. Hopefully this will come. The inclusion of the elusive “least recent new” feature above, at least for podcasts, is very heartening.

I wasn’t expecting anything more than rental support (by the way, this Australian is gnashing his teeth at this being US-only, although it’s not a surprise), so I’m happy that Apple squeezed in some further refinements.

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3 Responses to iTunes 7.6 Subtleties

  1. yashin says:

    Thanks for the reply. I did consider recreating the directory structure, but iTunes seems to have lost any reference it held to the original file location when I formatted the drive. Oops again.

    I’ve more or less resigned myself to re-ripping, but I can’t face the prospect of manually swapping hundreds of CDs while I rip them over the next few weeks.

  2. tunegardener says:

    I’ve updated the post regarding TV shows.

    As for your problem, why don’t you put the files back where they were, on whatever drive letter and subfolder (essentially recreating the original path)? When you load the library, iTunes should find them where it expects them. It doesn’t forget the original location, but if it loses it, it will revert to using the default location. Provide the original again and it will see it.

    If it fails, it’s a perfect excuse to upgrade your library to a higher bitrate!

  3. yashin says:

    The “Least recent new” feature is long overdue, does it apply to TV series? The TV seasons division is also very welcome.

    An unrelated question, something you may have had experience with:

    Due to a combination of Windows mis-labelling drive names and my own stupidity, my attempt to upgrade from Vista to XP resulted in the loss of all of my iTunes music and video files.

    The library file remains in place with all playcounts and tracklists. I also have a stack of DVD-Rs backing up most of the original .aac music files. So I’d like to be able to restore the library from DVD, effectively associating the library entries with these new files.

    Sadly, when I try importing the files from a DVD, they show up as new entries, alongside the existing songs of the same name/album/artist/length etc.

    Is there any way to force iTunes to replace the tracks, or am I stuck? I could import all of the original CDs again as iTunes gives me a ‘replace’ option, but I’d rather not spend the next six months re-importing over 500 albums from CD! The other option is to empty my library and start again without playcounts and playlists, but again, I’d rather not.

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