In addition to the typical jukebox functions, iTunes offers some nice advanced features:
- Ping: The newest major feature in iTunes is Ping, Apple's attempt at inserting a social networking element into iTunes. With Ping, you can follow your favorite artists and see what music they like or get the early word on albums, releases and concerts. Your friends can follow you and learn more about the music you enjoy. Apple includes links to make it easier to purchase music you discover.
- Autosyncing: iTunes will not only detect an iPod, iPhone or iPad, but will also automatically download all content you added to iTunes since the last sync (you can set it to manual mode if you don't want iTunes to transfer everything). Your iPod will also upload to iTunes any new song ratings or playlists you created directly on your iPod (but not any songs you added -- if there's a song on your iPod that isn't in your iTunes library, say goodbye to it when you autosync). The problem with autosync is that it syncs blindly -- if, for instance, you clear out your iTunes library for some reason, and you then connect your iPod to your computer, the autosync will wipe everything off your iPod to make it look just like your iTunes library. To avoid this, just turn off autosync.
- Smart Playlists: You can set parameters for iTunes to create a playlist for you using songs from your library. Parameters can be the song's genre, date of release or rating. When you add a new song to iTunes that matches your Smart Playlist parameters, the software will automatically add it to the playlist.
- Genius: One of the more recent features in iTunes is the Genius function. Genius assembles playlists for you -- just pick a song and Genius will build a playlist around it. Ideally, the songs should all complement each other. It will also recommend songs and apps for you to purchase to build out your library.
- Home Sharing: If you have several computers in your household, you may have several music libraries. The Home Sharing feature lets you share music across multiple computers on your home network. All the computers must be logged into iTunes under the same account for Home Sharing to work.
- Videos: You can download videos, movies or TV shows from the iTunes Store to watch them in iTunes and download them to an iPod video. You can also convert your DVDs to iTunes video format using one of many pieces of external software available for just this purpose. See Engadget: HOW-TO: Convert a DVD for your iPod (with video) in Windows and AfterDawn Forums: Rip Convert DVD to iPod, iPod Video Converter.
- Audiobooks: You can listen to audiobooks (Audible .aa file format) through iTunes.
- Editing ID3 tags: ID3 tags are bits of data attached to a song that can include the artist name, album title, release date, music genre, album art and other related items. You can edit the tags and add tag data to your songs through iTunes.
- iTunes Store: The iTunes Store is an integrated function of the software. Click the store icon in the main iTunes interface to browse and buy content online, or click the icon next to any song, album or artist in your library to go directly to that content in the Music Store.
So that's what the software can do. In the next section, we'll find out how to get started with iTunes on your computer.