Apple has a new iPod out and that means a new version of iTunes. Along with support for the new device, there are a couple of interesting new features.
The first is autofill, a feature that I have been waiting for since I a got my first iPod. Up until now there has been no way to tell iTunes to simply fill up an iPod with music; you had to much around creating smart playlists and manually juggle how much space each one took up. Now you can just let iTunes fill the iPod from a playlist. It still isn’t as flexible as I would like (if I want to fill my iPod with 30% Scandinavian Death Metal, 40% Classical and the rest with 80s cartoon theme songs I see no reason why iTunes can’t accommodate me), but we now have the option.
The second feature, iTunes DJ is an overhaul of the old Party Mix feature and is potentially awesome. Like Party Mix, it is basically shuffle on steroids, you select a playlist for your party and iTunes plays the songs. The interesting part is that it integrates in with the Remote iPhone/iPod Touch app. The allows you to mess about with the playlist from your portable device while your laptop is sitting on top of the stereo pumping out your cool tunes.
Even better, your guests can suggest upcoming songs and vote on what they want to hear next from their mobile devices. Luckily your guests can’t change the currently playing song, but everyone gets to have their say.
This will make iPhone/iPod Touch owners even more insufferable at parties, but frankly none of us care what you think. Count yourself lucky that we let you hang out with us in the first place.
Although I like to think of myself of a jack-of-all-programming-trades, I must admit that I am mainly a C++ man. I have dabbled in the seductive dark side of Java and C#, but still prefer the mad poetry that C++ code can generate. A few years ago, C++ was showing signs of its advanced years but this has changed with the Boost libraries – a set of weird and wonderful additions to the C++ standard libraries that really bring C++ into the current century.
The browser wars are starting to hot up again. Apple is making a late play for cross platform browsing by releasing Safari 3.1 onto the world. Safari is MacOS X’s bundled browser – on the Mac it has always been pretty good, but the recent Windows versions have been terrible. Safari 3.1 is actually decently stable, and introduces Windows users to some nice features.
For a start, even on Windows Safari uses the Mac’s font rendering technology. Although opinions differ, I much prefer the Mac’s method of rendering fonts, to my eyes it is easier to read and more attractive. By comparison, standard GDI fonts in other Windows applications look spidery and harsh.
Safari’s other claim to fame is diligent adherence to up to date web standards. Features such as the canvas tag and SVG images are built in. Even better, advanced CSS properties such as animation and transforms allow for some cool effects – and some lame ones.
The Windows version of Safari does have some problems. A long standing issue is Safari’s reluctance to work with HTTP proxies. 3.1 is better than previous versions but still displays a distressing preference for crashing in a heap. Connecting directly to the internet works fine however.
It is hard to see exactly what Apple is trying to achieve with the Windows version of Safari. It seems unlikely that Safari will gain much traction against IE and Firefox (especially with Firefox 3 on the horizon). I suspect that Windows Safari is mainly intended for web developers – the more people who have access to Safari the more likely websites will be developed that work properly with Apple’s browser – including the all important iPhone. In any case, having another option, especially such a capable one, is not a bad thing.