A Review of The iTunes Store

A detailed look at the iTunes Store

Courtesy of Apple.
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Introduction

Apple first launched their iTunes Store on April 28, 2003 with the simple concept of providing digital music for people to buy online and download. It was a risk that was to pay off big time and is now a very successful part of Apple's business. To access the Apple iTunes Store, all you need is the iTunes software. If using a computer you can download this for free from the iTunes web site.

If using an Apple device, you'll find that it's already built into iOS.

So, how does Apple's iTunes Store measure up to the competition?

For a full look, read this review to discover if it's right for you.

iTunes Store Content Features

Pros:

  • Vast choice of music titles and genres.
  • All your purchases are safely stored in iCloud.
  • The iTunes software has matured into a feature rich 'total solution' with a user-friendly interface.
  • Song prices are reasonable.
  • Flexible options for giving credit to others (iTunes gift cards, certificates, and allowances)

Cons:

  • Songs only available in the AAC format.
  • iTunes software doesn't support playback of WMA files.

Music Store content
The Apple iTunes Store probably has the largest music library of them all -- ensuring that every conceivable genre is catered for. You have the option to preview any music track before you buy via a 90-second music clip (for a track over 2:30 (U.S. only)).

The iTunes music store is always being updated with new releases, keeping the selection fresh and up to date.

Music videos
If you are in need of something a bit more visual but staying in the theme of music then the iTunes Store also provides many music-related videos too.

Audiobooks
Audiobooks have gained in popularity since the rapid growth of the portable digital audio player.

They are great to use if you just want to sit back and be read to; Apple's iTunes Store has an impressive collection to choose from.

Podcasts
One of the attractions to the iTunes Music Store is the vast availability of free audio and video podcasts. There are thousands to choose from covering a plethora of subjects.

iTunes U
Another freebie service for all you ‘intellectuals’ out there. Here you will be able to find lectures, speeches and video clips.

App Store

If you want music-related software, then the App Store has a healthy selection apps for creating and playing digital music.

 

iTunes Store Digital Music Formats and Players

 

File formats
Most digital music that is purchased from the Apple iTunes Store is now DRM-free and is encoded using the AAC format. Previous to this, songs were DRM protected using Apple's proprietary 'fairplay' algorithm and had the '.m4p' extension. Incidentally, all songs are now provided in the iTunes Plus format. When you purchase and download a song it will be encoded at 256kbps AAC.

Using 'Non-Apple' Devices
The Windows version of iTunes only supports the iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV and so trying to synchronize music files with other digital music players will fail.

This is a real bone of contention if you already own a digital audio player that isn't an iPod. However, Mac users running OS X will be pleased to know that they aren't hit with the same restrictions as PC users; there is a small selection of iPod alternatives that can be used.

 

iTunes Software Features

 

The iTunes software
Once you have downloaded and installed the free iTunes software for your Mac or PC, you are ready to connect to Apple's iTunes Store. After starting the application, you will be greeted by a neat, user-friendly interface with a wealth of options. Apple has done a sterling job on making their software a 'total solution'.

At its core is an integrated full-featured music player that can play, rip and burn. Organizing your digital music is also a breeze with the generation of playlists.

Connecting your iPhone, iPad, or iPod
Apple's devices integrate seamlessly as you would expect into the company's jukebox software. Plugging your iOS device in automatically synchronizes it with your iTunes music library.

Importing Music CDs
Even if you aren’t going to buy and download digital music from the Internet, using the iTunes software to import your CD collection is reason enough to consider this application as your main digital music player. Importing a CD is done automatically and the files are stored by default as unprotected 256 kbps AAC files. You can change the encoding method via the preferences and choose from AIFF, Apple lossless, MP3 and WAV if so desired.

 

Conclusion

 

Is it right for you?
The Apple iTunes Store is indeed a very good option that will satisfy even the most ravenous of digital music needs. However, due to the lack of support for other digital audio playing devices it will mostly appeal if you own one of Apple's devices, or are thinking about it. The iTunes software integrates seamlessly into the iTunes Store and is also a fully-fledged digital music manager too. It's a great piece of software for organizing and playing your music collection even if you choose not to use Apple's impressive iTunes Store.

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