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Sep 21 2006

Apple iTunes 7 Cover Flow

Apple recently updated its iTunes software to version 7. The update made improvements in a lot of places. One of the coolest additions is the 3D album cover visualization called Cover Flow (originally CoverFlow by Steel Skies). A static picture doesn't do justice to just how cool this feature is. Using the mouse to drag or click the slider, you can "flow" through all your album cover art and select what album you want to listen to.


There's only one problem...while the idea is fantastic...the implementation is horrible. In just the first 30 albums I ripped (192 kbps AAC), 10 had significant problems with the cover art from missing or wrong covers to covers which looked like someone just pulled a heavily worn LP album out of a crate and scanned it in with the lowest possible quality scanner. I had previously ripped the same albums in Windows Media Player (128 kbps MP3) and it downloaded the proper album art, of perfect quality, every time without a hitch.

And, I won't even go into all the bugs that you run into with iTunes while trying to fix the album art problems. Suffice it to say that all the various iPod forums are filled with complaints. The word is that Apple programmers are working feverishly trying to fix the problems. This is one of those things, usually associated with Microsoft, that I just wonder...did they use the product before it launched?

Here's the 10 screw-ups out of my first 30 CDs:

Atlantic Rhythm Section, wrong.
Bad Company, 10 From 6, wrong.
Badfinger, Very Best of Badfinger, missing.
Moving Pictures, Days of Innocence, poor quality.
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, poor quality.
Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water, poor quality.
The Who, It's Hard, poor quality.
The Who, Quadrophenia, poor quality.
The Who, Who's Better Who's Best, wrong.
U2 Best of 1980-1990, B-Sides, wrong.

And when I say "poor quality" I'm not just being picky, I'm talking about an objectively bad image that makes you immediately say, "Ewww, why is that all messed up?"

Argggh...as I type this four others albums have the wrong cover art: Best of the Animals, Best of the Alan Parsons Project, Best of the Allman Brothers Band and Aerosmith's Greatest Hits. I'm beginning to wonder, what's the point? Additionally, Apple chose to strip out the original Steel Skies program's ability to exclude albums without cover art, albums below a certain duration or song/track count and custom filters. Hopefully, these options will be implemented in future versions.

Final note, Cover Flow is just an additional feature in iTunes and in no way affects the fact that I LOVE my new iPod Nano!

[Update] Here is an excellent thread in the iLounge forums entitled: To Clarify: iTunes 7 ALBUM ARTWORK Issues...

Posted by Don |

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