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Apple posts major iTunes upgrade

QuickTime updated too

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Apple has updated its iTunes jukebox software and the QuickTime media code that underpins it.

The new iTunes release, version 4.5, adds a raft of new features. As an alternative to the uncompressed AIFF and WAV formats the software already supports, iTunes now includes the Apple Lossless Encoder, which compresses tracks to around half the size of an uncompressed version with no loss of sound quality. DRM-less WMA tracks can now be re-encoded in AAC format.

iTunes now includes a library list print-out facility but more usefully allows playlists to be printed in a form suitable for making CD case inserts. A variety of templates are provided which are printed out complete with track listing, album art if it has been imported - iTunes now downloads art automatically when you buy songs from the iTunes Music Store - and crop marks for cutting the booklet out. Inserts based on multi-album playlists will show all the album covers in a mosaic.

Apple has added Party Shuffle, a dynamic playback system that creates a random playlist from your song library - or individual playlists. iTunes' preferences now allow the Radio icon to be hidden from the Source window, likewise the Party Shuffle icon.

Playlists can now be published on the iTunes Music Store - a feature dubbed iMix - where they can be rated by other users. iTunes can now cope with an unlimited number of playlists. Up to five computers can now be authorised to share downloaded DRM-protected songs. The iTunes Music Store has itself been updated to provide movie trailers. The store will also retain 'Wish List' selections of songs that can be purchased at a later date.

Apple also updated QuickTime to 6.5.1, and released a minor update to its Mac OS movie editing app, iMovie. QuickTime and iTunes are available for both Mac OS X and Windows XP/2000. ®

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