iTunes 8, complete with fancy Genius Playlists and grid view, just went live via Apple Software Update and on Apple.com. Go grab it if you're interested, and let us know how the fancy playlists work out for you. Hit the jump for our initial impressions and a gallery of screenshots.
First impression: this thing takes FOREVER to install and requires a restart. I want those 20 minutes of my life back, Apple. This is a media player for god's sake. Second impression: it's eating all of my system resources going through my 120GB of music for Genius Playlists. This had better be worth it. It's using over 300MB of my system memory and it appears that it's going to take a good hour to handle this. You've been warned. Grid view is pretty useless as far as I'm concerned. It makes sorting through your music collection next to impossible if it's even sort of large, and when you click an album to play it you can't see the album's tracklist. Couple that with the fact that half my albums don't have art attached and you have a feature I'm guaranteed to never use. The new visualizer is AWESOME. I love it. Is this a bug?
The icon that goes next to whatever song is playing in list view doesn't seem to appear anymore. If I'm looking at a list of songs, the only way to see which is playing is to look at the top window and then find that title in the list. That's no good. Nevermind, it's back now. Not sure what the hell was going on there. Update: about 40% into this Genius business. It's sloooowwwww. Ho-kay! After like 3 hours Genius Playlists are working for me. My first try was selecting an ambient track (Tim Hecker; I listen to nerdy music, OK?). The playlist it came up with was full of indie rock (a lot of The National and Interpol for some reason) and made no sense whatsoever. Strike one. Selecting a more well-known indie pop band (The Bird and the Bee) had better results, putting up a bunch of stuff of the same genre. Andre 3000 brought up a playlist of mostly hip hop, which is good, although it had some random wildcards in there as well (Tortoise? Really?). I think the more mainstream and well known the music you use to source the playlists, the better. Until more people use it and Apple gets more data for more obscure acts, you're going to get random results. This is because it uses metadata from the songs; it doesn't actually analyze what's going on musically. This is why the recommendations made by Pandora are so awesome. In time, Genius playlists should get more useful, but I think I'll still stick to Pandora when I want to mix things up. As for the recommended tracks in the sidebar, more often than not I found that it recommended stuff I already have. Maybe that's because most of my music wasn't purchased through iTunes (ahem), but most of the time the "Top Songs You're Missing" were in the album I was already listening to. [Apple]