iTunes is the ultimate music library and much more!
iTunes /ˈaɪtjuːnz/ is a media player, media library, online radio broadcaster, and mobile device management application developed by Apple Inc. It is used to play, download, and organize digital audio and video on personal computers running the OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems. The iTunes Store is also available on the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.
Through the iTunes Store, users can purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, audiobooks, podcasts, movies, and movie rentals in some countries, and ringtones, available on the iPhone and iPod Touch (fourth generation onward). Application software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch can be downloaded from the App Store.
iTunes 12 is the most recent major version of iTunes, available for OS X v10.7.5 or later and Windows XP or later; it was released on October 16, 2014.
SoundJam MP, developed by Bill Kincaid and released by Casady & Greene in 1999, was renamed iTunes when Apple purchased it in 2000. Jeff Robbin, Kincaid, and Dave Heller moved to Apple as part of the acquisition, where they continue to work today as the software’s original developers. They simplified SoundJam’s user interface, added the ability to burn CDs, and removed its recording feature and skin support. On January 9, 2001, iTunes 1.0 was released at Macworld San Francisco.
iTunes acts as a front end for Apple’s QuickTime media player. Officially, it is required in order to manage the audio data of an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, although alternative software does exist. Users can organize their music into playlists within one or more libraries, edit file information, record Compact Discs, copy files to a digital audio player, purchase music and videos through its built-in music store (iTunes Store), download free podcasts, back up songs onto a CD or DVD, run a visualizer to display graphical effects in time to the music, and encode music into a number of different audio formats. There is also a large selection of free internet radio stations to listen to. Additionally, users can add PDF files to their library (to add digital liner notes to their albums, for example). The PDFs can be synchronized with and read on an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, but not a regular iPod.
iTunes 8.0 saw the removal of several options in the Preferences window. For example, iTunes once gave users the option to display arrows beside the selected song’s title, artist, album, and genre that link directly to the iTunes Store. These arrows are no longer removable, except through the direct editing of a preferences file.
iTunes keeps track of songs by creating a virtual library, allowing users to access and edit a song’s attributes. These attributes, known as metadata, are stored in two separate library files. The first is a binary file called iTunes Library and it uses a proprietary file format (“ITL”). It caches information like artist and genre from the audio format’s tag capabilities (the ID3 tag, for example) and stores iTunes-specific information like play count and rating. iTunes typically reads library data only from this file. The second file, iTunes Music Library.xml, is refreshed whenever information in iTunes is changed. It uses an XML format, allowing developers to easily write applications that can access the library information (including play count, last played date, and rating, which are not standard fields in the ID3v2.3 format). Apple’s own iDVD, iMovie, and iPhoto applications all access the library. If the first file exists but is corrupted, such as by making it zero-length, iTunes will attempt to reconstruct it from the XML file. Detailed third-party instructions regarding this are documented elsewhere. Beginning with iTunes 10.5.3 this behavior has been changed such that the XML file is not read automatically to recreate the database when the database is corrupted. Rather, the user should load the iTunes Library.xml file via File > Library > Import Playlist….
It has also been noted that iTunes does not automatically track changes to actual files in the library. If a file is moved or deleted, iTunes will display an exclamation mark beside the library entry and the user will need to manually amend the library record. Several third party tools address this problem.
iTunes supports ripping from CDs, but not from DVDs. However, in 2008, Apple and select film studios introduced “iTunes Digital Copy”, a bonus feature on some DVDs that provides a copy-protected and iTunes-compatible file for select films.
File format support
iTunes can currently read, write and convert between MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4, AAC and Apple Lossless (.m4a).
iTunes can also play any audio files that QuickTime can play (as well as some video formats), including Protected AAC files from the iTunes Store and Audible.com audio books. There is limited support for Vorbis and FLAC enclosed in an Ogg container (files using the Ogg container format are not natively supported) or Speex codecs with the Xiph QuickTime Components, but requires iTunes to run in 32-bit mode (no longer an option after iTunes 11.1.2 released with OS X Mavericks). Because tag editing and album art is done within iTunes and not QuickTime, these features will not work with these QuickTime components. As of Snow Leopard, iTunes 9 (Mac) will play HE-AAC / AAC+ internet streams. The latest version of iTunes (Win/Mac) supports importing audio CDs using any of the standard audio file formats iTunes supports (AIFF, WAV, Apple Lossless, AAC, MP3), with the AAC and MP3 available in constant bit rate (CBR) or variable bitrate (VBR) encoding.
The Windows version of iTunes can automatically transcode DRM-free WMA (including version 9) files to other audio formats, but does not support playback of WMA files and will not transcode DRM protected WMA files. Telestream, Inc. provides free codecs for Mac users of QuickTime to enable playback of unprotected Windows Media files. These codecs are recommended by Microsoft.
In addition to importing CDs into the iTunes library, users can also import digital audio files from other sources, in any format that iTunes supports. This can be accomplished by either right clicking on the file, selecting open with, and then selecting iTunes or dragging the file into the open iTunes window. Alternatively, for Amazon.com MP3 files, the Amazon MP3 Downloader application will automatically import the files into the iTunes library.
For MP3 files, iTunes writes tags in ID3v2.2 using UCS-2 encoding by default, but converting them to ID3v2.3 (UCS-2 encoding) and ID3v2.4 (which uses UTF-8 encoding) is possible via its “Advanced” > “Convert ID3 Tags” toolbar menu. If both ID3v2.x and ID3v1.x tags are in a file, iTunes ignores the ID3v1.x tags.
Advanced Audio Coding and Apple Lossless files support Unicode metadata, stored in the MPEG-4 Part 14 container as so-called “atoms”. The QuickTime plugin that supports the OGG container format has no support for tag editing or album art. iTunes uses the Gracenote interactive audio CD database to provide track name listings for audio CDs. The service can be set to activate when a CD is inserted into the computer and an Internet connection is available. Track names for albums imported to iTunes while not connected to the Internet can be obtained during a later connection, by a manual procedure. For any album loaded into iTunes for which there is not an existing Gracenote track listing, the user can choose to submit track name data to Gracenote.
File metadata is displayed in columns, including album, artist, beats per minute, bit rate, composer, date added, date modified, disc number, genre, last played, last skipped, plays, purchase date, size, skips, time, track number, year, and a few fields that may be supplied by users, such as description, kind, and rating. Metadata fields not loaded with the song, or added by a user, remain blank.
iTunes utilizes a special ID3 tag in order to display an Explicit or Clean tag on songs purchased from the iTunes store. Unlike most other tags, the tag cannot be changed within iTunes. It can be changed or added to AAC files in third party software.
The Genius feature, introduced in iTunes 8, automatically generates a playlist of songs from the user’s library which are similar to the selected song. Genius playlists are created by the ratings system and collaborative filtering. An iTunes Store account is required because information about the user’s library must first be sent anonymously to Apple’s database. Algorithms determine which songs to play based on other users’ libraries, and Genius becomes more intelligent given a larger data set. The resulting Genius playlist can contain 25, 50, 75, or 100 songs and can be refreshed for new results or saved. Once Genius becomes active in iTunes, it can be used on current generations of the iPod Classic, iPod Nano, iPod Touch or the iPhone. iTunes 9 added Genius Mixes, where the Genius software finds similar music and automatically puts them into mixes. iTunes Genius creates playlists from the user’s existing iTunes library based on a single selected song. Genius Mixes create playlists based on the musical genre.
One way of sharing a library is over the network, known as network sharing. A user’s iTunes Library can be shared over a local network using the closed, proprietary Digital Audio Access Protocol (DAAP), created by Apple for this purpose. DAAP relies on the Bonjour network service discovery framework, Apple’s implementation of the Zeroconf open network standard. Apple has not made the DAAP specification available to the general public, only to third-party licensees such as Roku. However, the protocol has been reverse-engineered and is now used to stream audio from non-Apple software (mainly on the Linux platform). DAAP allows shared lists of songs within the same subnet to be automatically detected. When a song is shared, iTunes can stream the song but won’t save it on the local hard drive, in order to prevent unauthorized copying. Songs in Protected AAC format can also be accessed, but authentication is required. A maximum of five users may connect to a single user every 24 hours. The multiple, alternate “View” options normally available to iTunes users including “Cover Flow” are disabled when viewing a shared library over a network.
Library sharing was first introduced with iTunes 4.0, where users could freely access shared music anywhere over the Internet, in addition to one’s own subnet, by specifying IP addresses of remote shared song libraries. Apple quickly removed this feature with version 4.0.1, claiming that users were violating the End User License Agreement.
With the release of iTunes 7.0, Apple changed their implementation of DAAP. This change prevents any third-party client, such as a computer running Linux, a modified Xbox, or any computer without iTunes installed, from connecting to a remote iTunes repository. iTunes will still connect as a client to other iTunes servers and to third-party servers.
iTunes libraries can also be shared using the “Home Share” option. This option enables users to share both video and audio files through the application. This allows users to also look for items that they don’t already have. Like network sharing, it allows users to share over the same network to up to five computers. The media can then be transferred to any type of iPod or iPad. To set up home sharing, the two computers being used must be on the same network as well as set up using the same Apple ID.
Another option to share music files is to burn CDs. To do this the user needs to create a playlist with the songs the user wishes to share. If the playlist exceeds roughly twenty songs it is likely they will need to make multiple CDs. By inserting a disk into the disk drive a button on the bottom of the window should give the option to burn a disk. The files are automatically downloaded to the disk and may be uploaded onto another computer or saved as a backup for the user’s computer.
iTunes allows users to choose different ways to categorise their collection, and displays content according to the selection. The default settings show the music collection sorted by album, laying out the artwork in a grid similar to the iPad music application. When selected, albums extend downwards, showing their contents, and allowing users to browse the store for missing or related content. The content listings are themed depending on the predominant color of the album artwork. Film and television shows are laid out in the same manner, with their posters or artwork laid out in a grid. Users may alternately arrange their music collection as a list of every song, by genre, or by artist. These show details in a list structure, but the latter two include the album artwork as thumbnails to aid navigation. Items are automatically arranged alphabetically by album name, but users may rearrange this if using the song list option.
iTunes 11 removes the Cover Flow option, previously the default viewing method for a user’s music collection. It also disables the sidebar by default, focusing on spreading content across the width of the window. The status bar is also disabled by default. Both of these may be reactivated by the user. The sidebar design has been slightly altered, reinstating the colored icons removed in iTunes 10. When the sidebar is not activated, users can move between media libraries using a drop down menu below the control buttons.
In addition to static playlist support, version 3 of iTunes introduced support for smart playlists. Smart playlists are playlists that can be set to automatically filter the library based on a customized list of selection criteria, much like a database query. Multiple criteria can be entered to manage the smart playlist.
Some automatic smart playlists that are added to the user’s library include Top 25 Most Played, Recently Played, Recently Added, My Top Rated, Music Videos, Classical Music, Purchased, and 90’s Music. While creating Smart Playlists the user has to choose whether they want the playlist to be based on genre, whether or not the songs have album artwork, date added, etc. and if they want it to contain or not contain certain genres or artists. For example, a genre like country music, or songs added in a specific month or year, or an individual artist. The user can also limit the amount of songs they want in the playlist or they can leave it as unlimited. The Live Updating option will automatically update their new playlist as their library changes.
There formerly was a feature which allowed publishing of a playlist, which was called iMix.
Introduced in iTunes 4.5, the “Party Shuffle” playlist was intended as a simple DJing aid. By default, it selects tracks randomly from other playlists or the library, but users can override the automatic selections by deleting tracks (iTunes will choose new ones to replace them) or by adding their own via drag-and-drop or contextual menu. This allows a mixture of both preselected and random tracks in the same meta-playlist. The playlist from which Party Shuffle drew could be changed on the fly by the computer user, but doing so will cause all randomly chosen tracks to disappear and be replaced.
Party Shuffle was renamed iTunes DJ in iTunes 8. When iTunes was updated to 8.1, quite a few features were added to iTunes DJ. The free Apple Remote application for the iPhone and iPod Touch was also updated at this time that added a new iTunes DJ option in the settings screen when the user is connected to a Wi-Fi network and a new song request feature is enabled in iTunes DJ on the hosts. Along with the song request feature voting on songs in the queue was added, the more votes a song gets the higher in the queue it will be and the sooner it will be played. Song voting can only be done when song requesting is enabled and in two ways: the first by right clicking on a song in the iTunes DJ queue on the host’s computer in iTunes, the second is in the Remote application ether connected with the iTunes DJ option by a guest or by the host in the full playlist section. When song requesting is enabled a customizable welcome message is displayed below the host’s shared library name in the button used to connect to iTunes DJ.
Playlists can be played randomly or sequentially. The randomness of the shuffle algorithm can be biased for or against playing multiple tracks from the same album or artists in sequence (a feature introduced in iTunes 5.0, and later discontinued in iTunes 8.0). iTunes DJ can also be biased towards selecting tracks with a higher star rating.
With the release of iTunes 11, the iTunes DJ feature was removed in favor of the Up Next feature, which allows users to specify a song from their collection to play next, add it to a queue of songs to be played, or view a list of previously played tracks. However, the Up Next feature does not include features previously found in iTunes DJ, such as the ability for guests to request songs, does not provide as much information as the playlist view, and requires juggling multiple windows and floating dialogs to perform similar tasks.
To compensate for the lack of a physical CD, iTunes can print custom-made jewel case inserts as well as song lists and album lists. After burning a CD from a playlist, one can select that playlist and bring up a dialog box with several print options. The user can choose to print either a single album cover (for purchased iTunes albums) or a compilation cover (for user-created playlists). iTunes then automatically sets up a template with art on one side and track titles on the other.
iTunes includes sound processing features, such as equalization, “sound enhancement” and crossfade. There is also a feature called “Sound Check”, which automatically adjusts the playback volume of all songs in the library to the same level; this is usually called volume leveling or audio normalization. Like “sound enhancement” and crossfade, this can be turned on in the Playback section of iTunes’ preferences.
On May 9, 2005, video support was introduced to iTunes with the release of iTunes 4.8. Users can drag and drop video clips from the computer into the iTunes Library for cataloguing and organization. They can be viewed in a small frame in the main iTunes display, in a separate window, or fullscreen. Before version 7 provided separate libraries for media types, videos were only distinguished from audio in the Library by a small icon resembling a TV screen and grouped with music in the library, organized by the same musical categories (such as “album” and “composer”).
On October 12, 2005, Apple introduced iTunes 6.0, which added support for purchasing and viewing of video content from the iTunes Music Store. The iTunes Music Store initially offered a selection of thousands of Music Videos and five TV shows, including most notably the ABC network’s Lost and Desperate Housewives. Disney Channel shows (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and That’s So Raven) were also offered 24 hours after airing, as well as episode packs from past seasons. Since then, the collection has expanded to include content from numerous television networks. The iTunes Music Store also gives the ability to view Apple’s large collection of film trailers.
As of September 5, 2006, the iTunes Store offers over 550 television shows for download. Additionally, a catalog of 75 feature-length films from Disney-owned studios was introduced. As of April 11, 2007, over 500 feature-length films are available through iTunes.
Originally, films and TV shows were only available to U.S. customers, with the only video content available to non-U.S. customers being music videos and Pixar’s short films. This feature is being extended to other countries as licensing issues are resolved.
Video content available from the store used to be encoded as 540 kbit/s Protected MPEG-4 video (H.264) with an approximately 128 kbit/s AAC audio track. Many videos and video podcasts currently require the latest version of QuickTime, QuickTime 7, which is incompatible with older versions of Mac OS (only v10.3.9 and later are supported). On September 12, 2006, the resolution of video content sold on the iTunes Store was increased from 320×240 (QVGA) to 640×480 (VGA). The higher resolution video content is encoded as 1.5 Mbit/s (minimum) Protected MPEG-4 video (H.264) with a minimum 128 kbit/s AAC audio track.
File format support
iTunes currently supports MP4, M4V and MOV files. mobile all datas
In September 2006, iTunes started to sell full-length films. This entails downloading movies from the iTunes store. The prices for these range from: $9.99, $14.99 if it is a new release, and $19.99 if it is in High Definition. iTunes also gives the option of renting movies, which began in January 2008. The price for renting a movie can range from $0.99 if the movie is on sale, $3.99, and $4.99 if the rental is HD. However, iTunes sometimes carries, for a limited time, movies to rent that are available OnDemand, for a price of $6.99 in both SD and HD. Once a rental is downloaded the viewer has thirty days to watch the movie before it expires. Once the viewer begins to watch the movie he/she has twenty-four (in the US) or forty-eight hours to finish the movie before it expires. Movies can be organized in the iTunes library by title, genre, or unwatched.
In October 2005, the iTunes Store began to offer the option of downloading television shows. iTunes offers the option of buying individual episodes of TV shows for $1.99 in standard definition or $2.99 in high definition. The high definition feature on TV shows was added in July 2008. iTunes also offers the ability to buy a season pass for television shows. This allows viewers to buy an entire season that automatically downloads new episodes around twenty-four hours after they air. In the iTunes library, these shows are then categorized by season of the particular show. iTunes also gives the option of ordering shows based on: series, genre, or whether or not the episodes are unwatched. In fall of 2010 iTunes offered TV show rental options, but as of August 2011 this option is no longer offered.
Version 4.9 of iTunes, released on June 28, 2005, added built-in support for podcasts.
Users can subscribe to any podcast by entering its RSS feed URL, but also by browsing the podcast directory within the iTunes Store. The front page of this displays high-profile podcasts from commercial broadcasters and independent podcasters and allows searching by category or popularity. Once subscribed, the podcast can be set to download manually, or automatically — and as with other audio, content can be listened to directly or synced to a portable hardware device like an MP3 player.
The addition of podcasting functionality to such a widespread audio application like iTunes greatly helped podcasting enter the mainstream. Within days after iTunes 4.9 was released, podcasters were reporting that the number of downloads of their audio files had tripled, sometimes even quadrupled, and iTunes is considered the dominant podcast client.
Version 6 of iTunes introduced official support for video podcasting, although video and RSS support was already unofficially there in version 4.9.
Users can subscribe to RSS feeds through the iTunes Store or by directly entering the feed URL. Video podcasts can contain downloadable video files (in MOV, MP4, M4V, or MPG format), but also streaming sources and even IPTV.
Downloadable files can be synchronized to a video-capable iPod, or downloadable files and streams can be shown in Front Row.
iTunes offers the ability to create “Smart Playlists” that can be used to control which podcasts are in the playlist, using multiple criteria such as date, number of times listened to, type, etc. It is also possible to set up iTunes so that only certain playlists will be synced with the iPod. By using a combination of the two techniques, it is possible to control exactly which music and/or podcasts will be transferred to the iPod. A user may configure a smart playlist to display only podcasts less than two weeks old or removing any podcast that the iPod user has already listened to. This smart playlist is synced with the iPod every time the iPod is plugged into the PC, ensuring that the user does not have to listen to the same show more than once. Once a podcast has been listened to, it will be removed from this list as soon as the iPod is synced with the PC. There are many criteria which can control what goes in a smart playlist, such as “name”, “artist”, “category”, “grouping”, “kind”, “last played”, “play count”, “rating”, “last skipped”, and “playlist” and these can be combined with functions such as “equals”, “is greater than”, “is less than”, “contains”, “does not contain”, “is true”, “is false”, “is”, “is not”, “starts with”, “ends with”, “is in the range”, “is before”, and “is after”. As a result, it is possible to control exactly which podcasts are transferred to the iPod.
In February 2010, Apple announced the release of the iPad, and along with it a new app for it called iBooks. The application performs two functions. The first function is as a direct link to the iTunes book store, called iBookstore, which can be accessed on iOS devices and computers (Mac or PC). The second was as a storage place for downloaded books (whether free or purchased) from the iBookstore. The format of books from the Apple store (and the only one users could use with iBooks, until PDF functionality was added later) is ePub.
Additional functions were later added in mid-2010 to include annotations and placeholder/bookmarks in any book being read. Also PDF documents were able to be added, and were stored under their own tab in a user’s iBooks library, with the same functionality. The iBooks app for the other two iOS devices (iPhone and iPod Touch) was released when iOS 4 was distributed shortly before the release of the iPhone 4.
Until the release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks in October 2013, books (though not PDF documents) could only be read using the app on any iOS device and not on a user’s Mac or PC. With the release of Mavericks, Apple released a standalone iBooks app for OS X, which moved books from the iTunes library, and allows Mac users to read these books on their Macs. PDF documents can be read using Preview or any other PDF reader/editor application the user has on their machine.
On January 19, 2012, Apple announced a new part of the Books store with textbooks. They also released a new authoring method called iBooks Author.
The App section on iTunes keeps track of all of the apps the user has downloaded or purchased. It also organizes their apps by genre and there is another tab that lets the user see all of their apps. It also informs the user when they have updates available for their apps.
Version 4 of iTunes introduced the iTunes Store, then named the iTunes Music Store, from which iTunes users can buy and download songs for use on a limited number of computers and an unlimited number of iPods. In previous years, purchased music from the iTunes Store were copy protected with Apple’s FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) system which allows protected songs to be played on up to five computers at one time, as well as unlimited devices (iPod, AppleTV, etc.) DRM protected songs cannot be played on computers not authorized to the purchaser’s iTunes account. At the 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo, it was announced that the iTunes Music Store would be DRM-free, with all songs DRM-free by April 2009.
Apple also announced changes in their price tier. They announced that songs will now cost $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29, but did not elaborate on how they will be priced. Observers expected new hits to be $1.29 while older songs will be the cheaper $0.99 or $0.69 tier. However, many record labels have listed whole catalogs by artists with nothing but $1.29 songs, taking advantage of the price option. Due to this, there are very few songs in the iTunes store with a $0.69 price tag.
In the years since, films, television programs, music videos, podcasts, and the App Store (for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) have been added to iTunes’ extensive store catalog.
On January 6, 2009, Phil Schiller announced in his Macworld 2009 keynote speech that over 6 billion songs had been downloaded since the service first launched on April 28, 2003, making it the largest online music store in the world.
At the previous Macworld Expo 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated that the service had set a new single day record of 20 million songs on December 25, 2007. He also announced that the iTunes Store will offer over 1,000 movies for rental by the end of February. The iTunes movie catalog includes content from 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. These movies will also be transferable to all 6th generation iPods.
On February 24, 2010, Apple announced that over 10 billion tracks had been downloaded from the iTunes Store.
As of Tuesday, November 16, 2010, Beatles fans could download their entire catalog digitally via iTunes. Artists whose music remains largely unavailable include Garth Brooks, Tool, Aaliyah and Bob Seger. Def Leppard albums are no longer available through iTunes. The KLF, who infamously deleted their back catalogue, had their catalogue unofficially released onto the iTunes store.
On May 30, 2007, Apple announced the launch of “iTunes U” via its digital content store, iTunes, which delivers university lectures through a format called iTunesU. The service was created to manage, distribute, and control access to educational audio and video content for students in a college or university. Member institutions have the opportunity to have their own iTunes U site, which facilitates searching for material. The online service is free for uploading or downloading these documents. iTunes U includes lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports, and campus tours provided by many colleges and universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.
Right around the end of 2009/start of 2011 , new members’ institutions no longer have the capability to upload content to Apple’s servers. Any member institutions before that are grandfathered in.
iTunes U has collected materials from a variety of locations around the world, including colleges, universities, museums, libraries and other cultural institutions of educational value. There are currently more than 75,000 files available for download. The Open University in the UK set the record for the most downloads as of October 3, 2011 having reached 40 million downloads.
In late February 2013, iTunes U surpassed one billion downloads from more than 800 institutions.
Increase of iTunes U as E-Learning
As the Internet industries are becoming more widespread, the use of digital technology is seeping into the educational and classroom setting. With iTunes U, educators, lecturers, and professors are able to produce audio and visual media technology through podcast, which can be accessed through the iTunes store by students or anyone wishing to listen to a lecture via the internet. In 2013, the popularity of this method of online learning skyrocketed as numbers reached one billion downloads. iTunes U offers free educational content that stems from world famous universities, professors and organizations. Although not everyone agrees with it, it has the ability to allow iOS users and students to learn at their own pace and on their own time since there is no obligation to be in a classroom or enrolled in a university. Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice president of Internet Software and Services notes that there are more than 250,000 students enrolled in courses offered through iTunes U. This method of online education offers individuals who contribute to podcasts on iTunes the opportunity to spread their knowledge to a worldwide audience. For instance, over 60% of iTunes application downloads are from outside the United States, resulting in international recognition.
Podcasts such as iTunes U, allow for students to review their lectures and notes, before exams or whenever they need to study. Students in nursing, business and dentistry note that reviewing audio technology podcasts prepares them more for an exam than reviewing a textbook. The move toward technology and online learning is able to occur because of the increase in ownership of technological devices. Over 80% of American college students own a portable device such as an iPhone, iPod or laptop computer. This allows for the increase and popularity of online education because students are free to access the material through these devices.
Software and Infrastructure
Podcasting in the classroom, such as iTunes U, requires planning and infrastructure. For instance, Berkeley set up 23 classrooms for audio recording. Each room has a device called an “instreamer” which records audio in a classroom setting and converts it to web mp3 files, which can then be uploaded via iTunes U on the internet. Each instreamer used by Berkeley from Barix, retailed for approximately $395. In addition, George Washington University uses podcasting software to capture the audio through Anysteam, by Apreso, which ranges around $10,000 per year. This equipment allows for the audio from the podcast to be converted and made accessible online.
Challenge to Traditional Models of Education
The Internet economy has impacted online learning through entities such as iTunes U because of the shift to a networked information economy, a concept proposed by scholar Yochai Benkler in his book The Wealth of Networks. The networked information economy includes “decentralized individual action-specifically, new and important cooperative and coordination action carried out through radically distributed, nonmarket mechanisms that do not depend on proprietary strategies”. The production of information across the Internet is open to contribution and modification from people around the world with Internet access, which is also a concept of Massive open online course. iTunes U is an example of a shift towards the networked information economy because educational information is being produced from professors and educators all around the world for the purpose of online education. The iTunes U online guidelines states that anyone can create an iTunes U course manager and start a course, therefore contributing to the information economy. iTunes U allows for portability and “on-the-go” learning that is able to occur on the personal time of students, and individuals wishing to learn from renowned educators.
iTunes U offers online courses for grades K-12 as well as university and college level courses, in a multitude of areas. Some areas that are recognized as profound in connecting education and technology from Boyne City Public School include courses on the solar system, ecosystems, presidents and the Underground Railroad. By engaging with educational courses in online technology, schools are able to access customized online courses that allow students to engage through audio or visual technology with the best teaching staff. Schools around the world have access to people with expertise in their fields who participate in podcasting and iTunes U can contribute their lectures so that even students not physically in their classroom can benefit from their teaching. The notion of sharing expertise via the network allows for global access to information from highly appraised professors which challenges traditional models of education because the Internet has made access to free education easy as long as one has access to iTunes U through iOS software.
Schools such as Stanford and Harvard participate in iTunes U as an option for students and people unaffiliated with their university to have access to online, free courses. Harvard on iTunes U was launched in March 2010 as a supplemental way to “distribute lectures, music, performances, and more that convey the academic and intellectual opportunities at Harvard”. Additionally, Stanford is also active on iTunes U. In early 2013, Brent Izutsu, Stanford’s director of digital media stated that over 1.35 million people subscribed to a course offered from Stanford on iTunes U and audio technology lectures have been downloaded over 64 million times. In 2012, Stanford took advantage of iTunes U, in that it allowed homework and assignments able to be uploaded in addition to online audio technology. This enabled “remote students” to have access to a more “comprehensive [Stanford] course experience,” according to Izutsu.
Issues with iTunes U
Students do not receive credit for courses that they listen to on iTunes U, and it is a free source of education. This challenges traditional models of education because while students are paying thousands and thousands of dollars for degrees at world-renowned universities, people access those same lectures for free through iTunes U. Apple does not pay for the content, and professors do not get paid for podcasting their lectures through iTunes U. While very few people have the opportunity to obtain a degree from MIT, physics professor Walter Lewin says that opening up courses from MIT for free access gives people an experience of learning as it would be at MIT.
New Paradigm in Learning
Since 1992, with the invention of the World Wide Web, online education has begun to make its way up the latter with new innovative ways of learning. The first online educational courses began 1981, with courses that were offered for no credit, such as the Executive Education Program in 1982 by the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. Online educational inventions such as these were the failures that led way to online learning concepts such as Virtual U in 1995, and iTunes U in 2007. Simon Fraser University adopted Virtual U as an online environment for tools in setting where there was group work, team learning, and research based courses. Virtual U preceded iTunes U but acknowledged the fact that online education must “transcend traditional geographic obstacles” so that access can be provided to those who do not have access to the university. This new shift in learning, which is held today in iTunes U, is the access of educational materials on individual’s time. An examination of 32 online courses showed that 75% percent of students on Virtual U logged in at least 10 times per week, and 88% logged in at 5 times per week. The shift in online learning is primarily due to access, as students can access online education such as iTunes U, whenever they please.
iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match
While iTunes 10 supported the Cloud, it did not integrate offline and cloud libraries. A list of previously purchased content was accessible via the iTunes store, where users could download content to the device they were using. Automatic downloading of newly purchased content could also be enabled, and iTunes Match allowed content purchased outside of the iTunes store to be uploaded to the Cloud. With the release of iTunes 11, the Cloud became fully integrated into iTunes. Content stored in a user’s Cloud is displayed in the same way as that stored on their device, and online content does not have to be downloaded to be played. Films and TV shows also resume from where they were left off on the last device to have played them.
An iMix is a free user-created playlist published in the iTunes Store. iMixes were first introduced in iTunes version 4.5, and were phased out beginning with iTunes version 11, and are no longer available as of the release of 11.1. However, they were limited to 100 songs, had to feature content available on the iTunes Store, and were active for one year from their original publication date. iMixes were public and searchable by any iTunes user, and could be rated using a five-star system. Users could publish their iTunes iMix to their blog, profile page, or website. The removal of this popular feature is one of the controversial features of recent iTunes versions.
When iTunes was first released, it came with support for the Kerbango Internet radio tuner service, giving users a selection of some of the more popular online radio streams available. When Kerbango went out of business in 2001, Apple created its own Internet radio service for use with iTunes 2.0 and later. As of February 2008, the iTunes radio service features 1795 “radio stations”, mostly in MP3 streaming format. Programming covers many genres of music and talk, including streams from both internet-only sources and traditional radio stations. iTunes also supports the .pls and .m3u stream file formats used by Winamp and other media players.
Since the release of iTunes 7, Apple no longer promotes the Internet radio feature, though it remains in the application. Some third parties offer iTunes plugins that add additional radio stations.
In addition, users are able to enter additional stream feeds to listen to in their own music libraries. This is done by selecting the menu item “Advanced” > “Open Audio Stream…” or by the hotkey Ctrl-U (PC) or Command-U (Mac).