In true Apple fashion, the maker of the iTunes software has quietly released an updated with few details of its features. Itis not until you take a good look at version 4.8 that you find it is more than just an "incremental update" with "minor fixes", as many have described it, but chocked full of new bells and whistles that too some extent make two other products obsolete.
The latest and greatest feature is the ability to not only store video files, but play them in the thumbnail window, normally used to display album covers, as well as a separate QuickTime window (see screen shot below). Users can default to always watching a video "in the main window," "a separate window," or "full screen" by selecting an option in the "Advanced" preferences.
Simply drag a video file on top of the iTunes window, select it, and off it plays. If you drag a video into the "Source" window and double-click it, you must then select the video again in the main items pane for it to either come up as a thumbnail or video in a separate window. Movies can also be re-sized by holding the Control key and clicking on the movie. Youill then have a contextual menu to select one of four sizes. You can also drag and drop the thumbnail image into the main pane at will display the video in the size you have selected in "Advanced" preferences.
I was unable to get .avi files to drag, drop and play in iTunes like I can on the QT Player, a frustration for those with lots of online downloads from Windows users. This is one of just a few drawbacks over QT Player 7. Another problem: You canit share movies via music sharing on your AirPort Express. A software designer has informed me that this is more a choice by Apple to figure out its future direction of video sharing and licensing issues than a issue of not being able to add the functionality into iTunes 4.8.
Forget the QT player. iTunes now plays videos.
Showing that it wants to more than your audio and video solution, iTunes 4.8 now lets you synchronize your Address Book as well as you iCal calendars.
Somewhat similar to iSync, you can now go to preferences and select a connected iPod. Two new tabs appear -- Contacts and Calendars -- that let you sync all or selected addresses and calendars.
And forget iSync too. iTunes now syncs up your addresses and calendars.
As of press time, iTunes 4.8 was not available for download via the automatic software update. Instead, it is available for manual download at Appleis iTunes Web site.
With new features always come the inevitability that certain hardware and versions of the operating system become obsolete. iTunes 4.8 is no exception, unfortunately for those running Mac OS X 10.1.5. The minimum OS requirement is now 10.2.8 or later.