iTunes 8.0 Grid View : A simple review

Have you installed iTunes 8.0 ?

I did it quickly when I read about the new GRID VIEW. From Apple Web Site about the new iTunes Grid View: “See your iTunes library in a new way. Select Albums in Grid View and iTunes 8 displays your entire music library using cover art. Select Artists, Genres, or Composers and iTunes automatically creates groups of albums based on your selection. Simply skim across a group to see the albums inside, and start playing an album with a single click.”

Wow.. sounds good. So I downloaded iTunes 8.0 and when I first run iTunes, I had a minor little initial shock to see the BLACK BOXES with QUESTION MARKS on the iTunes screen WITHOUT any album art. A little second later, a box appears and informs me that iTunes is creating the album artwork thumbnails for my MP3 songs (which already have album art embedded in them).

iTunes 8 Creating Artwork Thumbnail

When it is done (might take a while depending on how big your collection is), you should see the new GRID VIEW of iTunes 8.0. If you don’t, make sure you are in GRID VIEW by going to VIEW->AS GRID

iTUnes 8 GRID VIEW Setting

My Grid View then appears and the albums are listed in nice square boxes.
iTUnes 8 GRID VIEW showing thumbnails

One good setting to do is to GROUP the albums. The way this works is that iTunes will then GROUP your ALBUMS according to the way you SORTED your albums. For example, in ALBUM GRID VIEW, I sorted my albums by artists and then when I do a GROUP ALBUM, the albums are then broken up into groups of individual artist.

Grouping Albums in iTunes 8

This is how my Library looks for my favourite Leslie Cheung and Jacky Cheung when Grouped by Artist in album grid view
Grouping Albums by Artist

Another example is when you sort by TITLES and hence when you GROUP, you get albums in “A”, “B”, “C” etc.
Grouping Albums by English Title
Useful for English songs but I am not so sure about Chinese songs since they all fall under a # in iTunes 8.0 🙂
Grouping Albums by Chinese Title

From the album view, you can mouse over the album and you will see a “PLAY ALBUM” button appear. You can then click on that and the album will play. Hence, fulfilling what Apple say “start playing an album with a single click.”

Playing an Album with a Single Click

There is also a couple of other views that are conveniently available at the top of the iTunes. This includes album view, artists view, genres views and composers views.

The Different Views in iTunes 8

When you choose the Artists view, the albums for each artist are then grouped into the artist box itself. You will see a short description of how many albums and how many songs are “inside” that artist.
The Artist View in iTunes 8

The very pretty nice thing is that when you hover your mouse over the artist thumbnail and move around the thumbnail, the thumbnail will CHANGE from one album art to another album art. So if the artist has 3 albums, as you move the mouse over the thumbnail, it will change from one album to the 2nd album to the 3rd album. Very very NEAT !

For example, Jay Chou…
The changing artist view 1 in iTunes 8
The changing artist view 2 in iTunes 8
The changing artist view 3 in iTunes 8
The changing artist view 4 in iTunes 8

If you double click on the artist, it will then bring you to a list of the albums for the artist. If you are familiar with iTunes, that view is just the normal album listing view. I wonder why it cannot be the GRID VIEW of the albums for the artist. By that, I mean when I click on the artist, instead of getting a boring list, I get a grid view of the thumb nails of the albums. Just like the original album view above ! It just look so un-cool to move from grid artist view to the listing view:
Listing of all albums for an artist

There is also the GENRES view which again, upon double clicking, gives you a LIST VIEW rather than a GRID VIEW. I would really prefer a drilling down effect where clicking on the artist or genres gives you a grid view of the albums just like the original GRID VIEW for ALBUMS.
Genre Views in iTunes 8

One weird part is in that in grid view, I noticed there is a tiny white line above each album thumbnail. See if you can spot it. I wonder why this is happening 🙁

White lines above albumart thumbnails in iTunes 8

So what’s the conclusion. I guess this new grid view is great and I can imagine that it is useful for people who use iTunes to play their music regularly. In fact, I can imagine that in Apple TV or a Mac/PC that runs iTunes in the living room, it is pretty neat to be able to do your selection of the songs on your LCD TV or projector via the grid view. So the grid view is very much tailored for the living room !

For myself, I guess it is nice to see the grid view of beautiful thumbnails of my MP3 album art (minus the white lines) but I will be switching back to the Cover Flow view soon because I use iTunes to manage my iPod music collection and the cover flow view allows me to do sorting and other music management tasks easier.

Nice idea though ! I am happy with the Grid View in iTunes 8 !

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