iTunes is a media player and media library application, which was developed by Apple Inc. and launched in 2001. Users of iTunes can play, download and organise digital video and audio on person computers which run the OS X operating system and also the iOS based iPhone, iPod and iPad, while editions have also been released for use with Microsoft Windows.
Through the iTunes store, users are able to purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, iPod games, podcasts, audio books and rent films in selected countries, while also having access to ring tones. In terms of presentation, iTunes appears rather similar to a screen at a movie theatre which showcases the films which are available for comers to view at any one time; a very graphic display features photographs prominently (those being covers of the highlighted singles on display), while providing a list of facilities to the right of the screen. The user is able to scroll down through a collection of different material, from where they can select their preferred item and learn more about it or purchase it. Overall iTunes has a modern and simple layout, which provides great ease of access to the new user.
Users are able to access and edit a song’s features through a virtual library which is created by iTunes; these attributes, which are known as meta data, are stored in two separate library files. The first of these is a binary file named iTunes Library and uses a proprietary file format (ITL), caching information such as genre and artist from the audio format’s tag capabilities. It also stores information such as play count and rating, things which are specific to iTunes.
Usually, iTunes will only read library data from the binary file. The second library file is iTunes Music Library; this is refreshed whenever information in iTunes is changed, and uses an XML format, which allows developers to write library information –accessing applications (including last play date, rating and play count). IDVD, iMovie and iPhoto also access the library; if the first file is corrupted, for instance if it has been made zero length, iTunes will try to re construct it from the XML file.
The latest version is able to convert, read and write in different formats including MP3, MPEG-4, Apple Lossless amongst other file types. It also can play most QuickTime files. A user can share his library with other users if he so wishes, through use of the Digital Audio Access Protocol (DAAP) which Apple created for this purpose.
In comparison to its rivals, iTunes comes up fairly mid range in terms of cost; while listening to two albums per month costs $321 with Amazon.com, and $302 with Zune, iTunes lists third at $292. There are four services ranking lower, down to eMusic at $197.
iTunes does not require subscription, where most of its rivals do; in common with the others, however, it does offer an online radio service to listeners who wish to listen to the radio.
Users can purchase individual tracks rather than simply whole albums if they so desire, and this option is on a par, once again, with most of iTunes’ opponents.
iTunes does not include an online locker, however once more, this is in line with the majority of the other prominent services; there is an online storage match, whereby users can download and stream music for $24.99 per year. iTunes is accessible in over thirty countries, which is a significantly higher number than any of its rivals; its nearest is Xbox music with twenty two.
Its catalogue is also impressive, with twenty eight million songs placing it second only to Xbox music’s thirty million; however, it is available on only three platforms, while the majority of its rivals are available on at least four or five.
Overall, in comparison, it is fair to say that iTunes is no real stand out performer; however, it more than holds its own when stood next to its opponents.
In conclusion, this review has found that iTunes is a very user friendly, easy to access and relatively cheap way of listening to and exchanging music or other media. It was innovative – one of the first products of its kind to enter the public domain – and has, indeed, been the forerunner to many of the products which today stand as its rivals. Against those products, the quality of iTunes and Apple in general continues to shine through.
About Apple Inc
Apple have long since been one of the fore runners of information technology, and remain at the forefront of their business. Spurred on by the innovations of their founders – most prominently, arguably, the late Steve Jobs – Apple have evolved from their first moments to rise from being a little known company to one of the world’s great powers. Their partial domination of the technological market – particularly through their products such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad, which have revolutionised the way the general public see and use technology – has led them to become a multi billion dollar enterprise. iTunes was launched in 2001, before any of the three mentioned devices existed, however the aim was set out clearly: Apple’s intention was to gain a monopoly over the world of purchasing and exchanging music, music videos, television shows and other media. The average customer would no longer have to traipse to his local music shop or film store to buy a film or record; instead, he could simply go online, log in and all that he could possibly ever want or need would be there for him to access at a limited price for as long as he so desired. Although this has not quite come into full effect as yet, it is true that iTunes has had a great effect on the world of media and technology, as have Apple themselves. Apple have, like many of the world’s best and most successful companies, strode and striven towards constant improvement and betterment of themselves and their products; the same is true for their approach to iTunes, which has seen many changes in appearance and configuration to become the universally approved and very commonly used product it is at the time of writing.
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