Adam already posted that iTunes 7.2 and iTunes Plus went live, but I don’t think the actual functionality was live when he made the post. Here are a quick look and a few points I’ve noted with the new iTunes features.
After you’ve updated iTunes to 7.2 from either downloading it separately or running Software Update, when you fire-up the iTunes Store in 7.2, you may not notice much change. To setup your preferences for future iTunes Plus purchases, you’re going to want to hop into your iTunes account settings (which can be found in the quick links on the right column or by clicking on your user name just below the search field in the iTunes window). From there, the first option you should see is labeled “iTunes Plus.”
Click on the “Manage iTunes Plus” button, and you’ll have the option to have iTunes always show iTunes Plus tracks (whether music or music videos), when available. Note, that these Plus tracks are limited to music and music videos, at least for now (read: no unDRM’ing and burning your iTunes movie or TV purchases to a DVD, yet).
After you check the box, save changes and go back to the store, you may start to see select tracks (presumably from EMI) identified with a little “+” next to the check-out price. It seems that those tracks are limited in availability, and I haven’t checked this extensively, so your feedback would be useful to share with the rest of the MacCast community.
Also, when you go back to the main page, you should also see a box for iTunes Plus, below New Releases.
After clicking on it, you’ll be taken to a page that gives you the opportunity to “upgrade your library,” and it will show the number of songs and albums (and probably any music videos if you have any—I didn’t), along with the price of the upgrade. I didn’t have many downloaded songs in this Mac’s iTunes library, so my upgrade is fairly inexpensive.
The drill down into the specifics of the charges is interesting. The specifics show that charges are as follows:
$0.30 / song
30% off the current album price
$0.60 / music video
The page is also supposed to update when more tracks from your library become available as unDRM’d/higher bit-rate iTunes Plus content.
The biggest question I had about all of this is what I’m going to call a iTunes Plus / Complete My Album cross-grade. There’s a real value-opportunity here for consumers, but the question is: After enabling iTunes Plus, when I use Complete My Album, will the album completion give me the unDRM’d / upgraded version?
In investigating this further, it would appear that you can only upgrade your library via the Upgrade My Library page, and only all at once. Meaning, it seems that if you only want to upgrade specific tracks, you’re going to have to re-purchase those individual tracks for full price, unless you upgrade your complete library (at least those now available in iTunes Plus) all at once. This is confirmed by the iTunes Plus FAQ:
”You cannot choose which songs, music videos or albums to upgrade individually.”
Don’t worry, though, once new songs from your library become available via iTunes Plus, you can return to this page and upgrade those songs at a later date. For testing purposes, this was a bummer for me, but might not be a big deal to the rest of the upgrading public—but you can be the judge on that one.
When upgrading your account, you’re also asked if you want to keep the old tracks (which will be saved to a folder on your desktop) or trash them. When downloading a Plus’d album, I thought it was interesting that iTunes decided to re-download the album art. It’s still downloading so I’m not yet sure if it’s somehow enhanced or less protected :-)
After completing my library upgrade, I transfered a Coldplay track to my Nokia 6270 mobile phone, which I now discovered cannot play files with the extension .m4a (even though it correctly identified it as audio), but renaming the extension to .aac, the song played just fine. With your new freedom, keep the renaming trick in mind if you try to play music on non-iPod devices. During this extension renaming, I also discovered the new option in iTunes for the new unDRM’d Plus tracks: convert selection to mp3.
That’s about it for right now. Please add your comments below with your experiences of the new iTunes Plus features.