Today’s Apple announcement was mostly as-expected, and ho-hum for music listeners. Wait, what’s that? John Lennon on iTunes! Fantasti— uh, sorry. That’s John Legend. Never mind. (One of these artists is not like the other.)

Apple did offer improved iPods, long-awaited movie service and high-resolution TV shows, an upcoming video and audio streaming device for US$300, and two features I think music lovers will enjoy:

First, the new “AlbumFlow” feature in fact comes direct from CoverFlow, the homemade app that created gorgeous 3D versions of album art and let you flip through them. Apple can’t be accused of stealing from the Mac developer community in this case: they purchased the technology outright, as can be seen on the CoverFlow site’s announcement today. (Thanks, Lee!) Microsoft recently added a ripped-off version of this look in Windows Media Player 11 beta’s album view and URGE music store, but the iTunes version — in both the store and library — looks much better.

Even if you just use iTunes to store music and never buy from the iTunes Music Store, the new album display will work with your music; Apple will download album art for you. (And, as always, you can copy-and-paste custom artwork into an album if it’s, say, your own music.)

The other minor announcement you may have missed is that Apple is now rolling out seamless audio playback across all its players, from iTunes to iPods. That’s a small detail, but it makes a big difference for listening to music, especially if you’re a classical lover. Now if we could just get OGG/FLAC playback in iTunes.

It’d be nice to see more on the pro music side of things from Apple, but I expect that’ll come soon, especially with AES around the corner.

  • never bought an ipod before, but the price drops plus the gapless playback has interested me. at least changes my opinion from "would not consider" to "would consider". that is, "would consider if i wasn't going to be unemployed in a few days." 🙂

  • Rozling

    If there were a way to integrate Albumflow with Live I would be a happy DJ! Actually having the two windows open would probably be enough – drag-n-drop would be sweet though… one wish I have for Live is that they'd use the info pane for album artwork/movies.

  • SJB

    The Album art is a very welcome addition, however I'm not having a lot of success with letting iTunes pull down the art for me. In fact I would say it only found art for around 20% of my music. Or is this something that is going to continue working in the background and eventually I will have covers for a majaority of my music?

  • butzie

    GOD I hate this gapless playback. I can't find anywhere to disabled it.

    Back to the old version for me

  • I can't believe its taken Apple so long to put gapless playback in iPods. Wikipedia says the Gen1 iPod was announced in October 2001. So it has taken them almost 5 years to figure out how to implement this most-requested of features?

    Aaah Apple, why you gotta make me hurt you baby?

  • inasilentway

    Thank God for gapless playback! Now I can finally listen to "Abbey Road" in iTunes without cringing. The album art is also incredibly welcome, I love browsing through my vinyl by cover and it's something I miss a lot with mp3s.

  • chris thompson

    gapless playback is so great finally a full run of glass "music in 12 parts"… which on 2 CDs wasn't possible to play gapless even in the stereo

    I'm also having trouble getting it to find album artwork. very strange. does anyone know what criteria it uses to identify which artwork to download? I've modified a lot of my track information

  • agree with above two posts totally. except that for music in 12 parts, at least the nonesuch recording (which is 3 cds, btw) splits part 5 into two tracks. the two tracks don't go together seamlessly. it sounds like performers stopped between cds, so some editing would have to be done there.

    in addition to the examples above, there are sound collage albums which often have 40+ tracks. gaah!

    i use a hi-md player most of the time largely for this reason (gapless at least with sony's format), although there are plenty of faults with that option.

  • TrX

    Should Microsoft really be accused of 'ripping off' this look when they've had album view in wmp11 since at least beta 1 and have been showing that it would be part of vista forever?

  • kokorozashi

    Depends. How old is CoverFlow?

  • GaryG

    Kristin Hersh!

  • Seems that people are divided over whether Gapless playback is good or not. Half the people are saying "Yay! it's awesome" and the other half are complaining that it is ruining their music and making iTunes 7 a miserable experience.

    I am one of the latter of those two. Whenever I start iTunes it tries "determining gapless playback" stuff, but crashes straight away. After sending an error report it loads up and does the exact same thing again.

  • So beeurd, is it the idea of no gaps between songs that you don't like, or is it just that Apple's implementation of it is broken for you?

    I truly can't see why anyone would want gaps between their songs. I understand that crossfading can be annoying, but wanting to keep artificial gaps between different audio files just seems bizarre to me.

    I'm sure people have their reasons, but I personally can't think of any.

  • tc5986

    I think the problem is that it's going through my songs to determing the gapless playback information, very slowly through over 4400 tracks, and on top of that most of the songs are over the network

  • I have finally got it all gapless by using my Mac. My PC didn't like ITunes7 so I'm back on 6 there.

    Initially I started tagging each of my mixed albums 'gapless' but got to letter B and realised that all the albums are gapless already.

    Oh well I dont know how or what happened but I'm happy now. (so far).

  • james…

    I have 47000 songs from 3500 CDs ripped by me and placed on a 500GB drive. All rips are of the highest quality VBR rip. The Music drive in question is a network drive so that the people in my home can access and use it as they desire. The problem lies within the collection of gapless playback info from itunes 7. It will take days to collect this information for just one computer let alone many computers or user profiles. This propogation delay is primarily because it is on the network, but alas we live in a networked world. What were the developers thinking. You would think that the developers would have considered all possible sources of music data, ie; local, usb, network, etc… At least give us an option to shut this shit off!!!!!!!

    I certainly cannot use this product because of this limitation. If anyone has any clue as to shut this off i would appreciate this. i have tried the 1 second crossfading.. it does not work!!!

    Regards,

    james

    james@tridelsolutions.com

  • mbs090

    i can't do ANYTHING on itunes. when i start it up it's immediately "determinging gapless information" and everything i click takes a full 2 minutes to respond.. after 3 or 4 clicks on anything, it just wont respond anymore and i have to end it and restart it. I've done this probably ten times in the last two days.. i want to download music, create a cd, etc.. i can't do a thing because its so slow and then i have to get out of it. does anyone know what the problem is or if my computer just sucks? has this happened to anyone else?

  • Jonathan

    Also have this gapless problem, has rendered itunes unusable and I am at my wits end. Have SFX library and large music library on a G5 and at the speed its going it would hang up my computer for weeks. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Phibes

    Recently updated to iTunes 7 for Windows and, like another user, the program continually shuts down right after I boot it. It starts scanning the library for "gapless playback deterimination" but within about three seconds the entire thing crashes. If I can get the scanning to stop (by hitting the X) everything stays in place until I import a CD, at which time the damn thing crashes again. Any help would be appreciated! (Also, I've tried going back to Ver. 6 but it says my library has been converted to a later version of iTunes and will no longer play). HELP!

  • Alan

    About to buy an Ipod because of the gapless playback, listening to Abbey Road, Dark Side of the Moon etc. Question is, does gapless playback apply to both the Ipod and the Ipod Nano?

  • Jorge

    Has anyone tried using Sysetem Restore to reverse the new installation?

  • Robert W.

    I am also, having the gapless playback issue. Whenever I import mp3 files, itunes keeps "determining gapless playback information". Most of the time this happens, itunes immediately tells me that it has "encountered problems" and must shut down!

    Itunes is making my life miserable! Help!

  • raquenel

    filehippo and apple website are still hosting iTunes 6.

  • USSCole-man

    I am also having this "gapless playback determination" problem. Is this a one time scan or does it do it every time you start Itunes or add a mp3 file?

  • jbh

    I'm also having trouble with my PC hanging up in gapless playback infinite H…!! I uninstalled iTunes altogether and reinstalled 7.2. It seems to have moved it along – I'm on 17 of 3988 instead of 3, which is all very odd because I have about 8000 songs. I haven't even started trying to update my new iPod! Also have not been able to find any solutions for this problem.

  • Jay Jay

    Man, what a pain those apple folks are… finally found a reasonable work-around to this… first, you have to be quick when iTunes launches to click on the X as the "determining gapless playback information" is scrolling by… next, select all, then choose get info, click on the box at the bottom right, put a X in the box next to Gapless Album, make sure the drop down is NO… this will set all the files to no gap… still takes a minute or two with 30K files, but beats locking up XP with the auto scan…

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  • Paul

    I was also have my music on an external NDAS disk and was suffering from the Gapless Playback processing issue. Having followed various pieces of advice, here is the procedure to follow: (1) stop iTunes, (2) Re-start it, (3) AS SOON AS the Gapless Playback message appears at the top, click on the "X" next to the message: this stops the process, (4) Go to your music library and select all the tracks (ctrl A) or "select all" under "file"), (5) right click on the music and select "get info", (6) click on the box next to "gapless album" and select "no", then "OK". This will stop future Gapless Playback processing. – P.

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  • Danny

    Yes, ITunes 7 also hangs on my system while determining gapless playback information – total lock-up of the program. Seems like Apple would come up with a fix for a problem that is so widespread!

  • Danny

    Yes, ITunes also locks up on my XP Home system while determining gapless playback info. Seems Apple would come up with a fix for a problem that is so widespread!