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iTunes 5: What, no new icon?

It’s that time of year again: there are new iPods and iTunes has had a major revision. The new interface is… new — I’ll give it that much. It looks meaner, but I’ll give it time to grow on me before I go dissing it too much. Let’s talk features. Despite the fanfare, there hasn’t really been whole lot added, but what’s new is great and is actually useful without adding bloat. Thank the gods.

At last! Now all those lyric-fetching apps and dashboard widgets just need to be updated to paste lyrics into the track info, and we’re in business Check out pearLyrics for all your automated lyric-fetching needs. Shame a file’s lyrics can’t be searched with iTunes or Spotlight, though.
Skip when shuffling
It’s always the little details that make a difference: here it’s the tiny option to keep a track from turning up in a shuffle (and off of my iPod Shuffle), and it’s neat. It’s something I would hope is auto-enabled for podcasts and audiobooks (I haven’t checked, since I use neither), but I’ve found it useful for the odd stand-up comedy album or interview track. What we really need is a way to batch-apply the option. It’s Applescriptable, which is nice, but a contextual menu item or checkbox in the ‘Multiple Song Information’ editing dialog would be just ducky.
Smart Shuffle
People may be chumps, but they know that when you hit Shuffle you aren’t really looking for random: you’re looking for a mix. This new option to suppress (or encourage) same-artist streaks in shuffle mode is pretty nifty. Still waiting for the Rating bias, though.
Playlist Folders
Long overdue.
Parental Controls
I’m not a parent, but I can appreciate the options here. Finally, a way to supervise your child’s media consumption without having to do any parenting! At least I can suppress the Podcast source item now.
New Interface
I know, I know, not a feature. The buzz over the web on this one is already deafening, so I won’t add to it, but I’ll encourage everyone to give it time. With iTunes ditching brushed metal and adopting the Mail 2.0 source list style, I fully expect the rest of the OS to follow. What happens in iTunes happens everywhere.