Apple's Genius is pretty genius

Apple unveiled iTunes 8 yesterday and they were highly touting a feature named Genius. There are really two components to the feature. One is a new sidebar you open in iTunes. Whenever you click on a song, the sidebar shows albums and songs by the artist you don’t already own, and gives you suggestions of music by other artists that are similar.

Each entry in the sidebar has the BUY button next to it, so you can purchase music from Apple immediately. It’s all about selling extra music to the customer. Since I don’t buy music from iTunes (I use Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 store instead) the sidebar won’t prompt me to buy anything from Apple. If I open it, it’s to see what I might be missing that I can buy elsewhere. Most times, I imagine that sidebar will be closed however.

The REAL genius of Genius comes in the automatic playlists. Basically you pick any song, and then click the Genius button and iTunes creates a playlist of similar music. This is great when you are in the mood for a particular type of song and just want to hear stuff that’s similar.

I personally have 123 GB of MP3’s. I turned Genius on and it took nearly two hours to complete its analysis, but once it was done, the playlists it created were really cool. When I want a quick fix of a particular type of music, Genius fits the bill perfectly. It’s absolutely perfect for my wife too. She loves music, but never remembers names of artists or songs. So now, all she has to do is remember one song, and then click the Genius button to get a list of similar tunes.

I’ve read online that many people’s experience seems way off with weird combinations of music coming together, but I have to say that our experience is exactly the opposite. Maybe it’s because our library has more data to work with, I dunno. Anyway, we clicked the Genius button probably a dozen times and each playlist was pretty good. Every once in awhile a song or two didn’t seem to quite fit, but listening to it probably wouldn’t seem too jarring.

So for me, this is a very welcome addition, and for my wife this vastly expands the amount of music she’ll be exposed to. It’s in a word, Genius.