iTunes 9.1 to be Released With iPad
According to a source inside Apple, iTunes is about to be bumped to version 9.1 and will sport a new "Books" section in the Library sidebar along with feature and technology improvements. The report in MacRumors
says that their "source claiming to have knowledge of a forthcoming iTunes 9.1 update" indicate that it will be released around the same time as the iPad launch on Sunday.
Apparently, the existing “Audiobooks” link in the sidebar will be replaced with a “Books” heading. The source says that a "similar change will made to the sources for managing content on connected devices such as iPhones, iPods, and iPads." What this appears to mean is that the Audiobooks subsection on your device will be replaced by a Books subsection, but the source goes on to say that Books "will reportedly display all book content compatible with a given device for easy content management." So that suggests that you won't be able to drag an e-book into that section. While Apple has made much of the iBooks app for iPad
, nothing has been said about a version of that app for the iPhone and iPod touch. It's certainly possible that the app may come in a "universal binary" version for all devices, but it seems unlikely that Apple will let any of their older devices steal the spotlight from the iPad.
The update will reportedly also allow the option of re-encoding AAC tracks at a lower bitrate to allow more music to be loaded on an iPod, iPhone or iPad. The "Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC" feature, which is currently only available for the iPod shuffle, dynamically downconverts tracks on the fly without affecting the original file stored on your iTunes library. However, users generally complain that this takes a long time, even with the small 4GB flash memory on the iPod shuffle. Unless significant changes were made in the algorithm, this might not be a very attractive feature for users with large libraries.
There will also be some feature additions to Genius Mixes, which will doubtless be welcome news to anyone who has tried to do anything with this odd feature of iTunes. Users will now be able to rename the mixes and rearrange them as well as delete them with a right click. For the first time, Genius Mixes will also be usable as sources for the iTunes DJ random playlist.