updated 02:00 pm EDT, Thu May 31, 2007
iTunes Plus growing pains
A review of Apple's newly unveiled iTunes Plus service, which offers higher quality DRM-free audio tracks for an additional $0.30 cents above the company's $0.99 cent protected songs, reveals several "growing pains" with the service. PC World details notes that Apple requires iTunes 7.2 or later to use the new service, but presents some mixed up categories under the software's Genre pop-up menu. iTunes Plus users who choose to view unprotected tracks cannot see the less expensive DRM-wrapped version of the song, and the reverse is true when viewing protected tracks -- unprotected songs are hidden while browsing the cheaper $0.99 cent songs.
Other oddities include an error dialog box that appears when attempting to change iTunes Plus preferences -- which actually retains the preference but complains that an error occurred anyway -- and iTunes Plus shoppers cannot gift unprotected music. Further, Apple's 'Upgrade My Library' feature -- which apparently disappears from time to time -- offers an all-or-nothing upgrade for DRM-protected tracks which are replaceable with their unrestricted counterparts.
iTunes Plus charges the extra $0.30 cents to upgrade each track, and only charges shoppers for each track that is upgraded to the higher quality open format. The reviewer reports, however, that upgrading the iTunes library was a hit-or-miss affair.
"Of the 48 tracks I attempted to upgrade, 14 failed with an unknown (504) error."
New unprotected songs do sound better, according to the reviewer, with clearer tones and less "overwhelming" sounds flooding the ears.