Yes, I rushed to download the new iTunes with the Apple Music Store. Here are some first impressions:
- This update to iTunes continues the trend of poor interface tweaks from Apple. They have taken the Aqua interface to new lows with this version. It looks for all the world as if an amateur programmer threw it together. The buttons are even flatter than before, with borders that make them appear cartoony instead of real, three-dimensional objects.
For some reason, the text in iTunes is no longer anti-aliased — expect for a solitary playlist which is floating there still smoothed. [Update: I discovered that the latest OS X update, which inexplicably reset many of my preferences, also reset the font smoothing preference to "above 9pt." The type size in iTunes is obviously falling below that range, but it doesn't explain why any iTunes text using a curl quote or an international symbol is still smoothed...]
Clicking “Sign In” to access the Music Service brings up a log-in screen. If you don’t enter the correct password, nothing happens. It never tells you that it was wrong, leaving you to wonder what’s next.
When you sign in correctly and begin the credit card registration process, be prepared to wait forever for the server to respond. I understand that this is the first day and the servers are being swamped, but it does not bode well when one considers that this service will also be shoveling out huge quantities of bits when people start downloading music. Just registering shouldn’t be that tasking, and it really spoils the initial experience.
Surprise! You’re going to be charged sales tax, according to the jurisdiction you’re in. This is one of those things we’ve all be waiting for that the dot coms insisted was too difficult to implement – Apple seems to have done it, going so far as to ask what county I was located in.
After entering my card number and information, giving up address information, telling them what county I’m in so they can calculate tax… about 10 minutes later I am taken back to the first screen and told that credit card processing is not currently available. Now what do I do? Do they have my credit card number stored somewhere now?
During all this, the “Sign In” button is still there, saying “Sign In.” Well, am I signed in or not? Huh? Am I? Once you finally get through the registration process (it took me 8 tries) the “Sign In” button changes to your account user name.
When in the service, it’s very difficult to decide what to do next. You have a choice of new releases, staff favorites, and just added. When I click any of the arrows which, I assume, indicate forward and backward, it access the network for a very long time, then does nothing. It is disconcerting. I wish a box would pop up to tell me that something went wrong rather than just nothing at all happening.
I’ve searched for two artists so far: Sara Hickman, and in spoken word, David Sedaris. Neither are in their database. Searching for “George Michael” brings up a Bach album for some reason. Looks like I won’t find much that I want on this service. You can choose to “request” a song or artist, but every time I try it I get the message “We could not complete your Music Store request (504). There was an error in the Music Store. Please try again later.”
I also took a look at the new iPod, and I’m not so happy. Frankly, it looks rather cheap. It doesn’t have the same fit and finish as the original. It definitely doesn’t look like a Jonathan Ive masterpiece. In addition, it no longer has any standard connections! The original had a firewire port and a standard phono jack with remote terminal, as seen everywhere. No more! It now has a proprietary “dock” connection on the bottom and a proprietary remote control connection on the top. (I’ll admit, though, that it’s awfully thin compared to the previous version – nice.)
I pre-ordered an iTrip from Griffin a few months ago, which is finally shipping. This device sits on top of the iPod connected to the headphone jack with it’s surrounding remote control connections, and transmits it to FM radio. Sorry, Griffin – it won’t work with the new iPod and it’s odd connectors.
I’m so disappointed – being a long-time Apple fan, it just seems that they’re not paying the same kind of attention to details as they used to.