I’m not normally that bothered about iTunes updates, but iTunes 7 is a big improvement.
Two of the new features are gapless playback (thank you Apple) – touted as a big boon for classical music lovers but also pretty good for people like me who listen to dance mixes (I may be a 34 year-old family man but there’s an Ibizan clubber trying to escape from inside me) – and automatic download of album art, including a cover browser view to flip through albums jukebox style.
Unfortunately the iTunes album art service obviously has some holes, because most of my collection is still lacking album art. Short of scanning CD inlays and applying the artwork to the tracks manually, there’s not a great deal that can be done, but Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) users can make use of an Amazon Album Art Widget.
This handy utility searches Amazon‘s Austrian, Canadian, French, German, Japanese, UK or US sites and finds one or more matches for the currently playing song, which than then be applied as artwork for selected tracks, the currently playing track or the currently playing album. As most of my CDs are from UK or Australian sources (and I suspect iTunes is very US focused) this is doing a great job of filling in the gaps, even if the quality of Amazon’s album art sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. Of course, much of my collection will have long since been deleted from catalogues, but I guess I’m now getting up towards the 80% mark on artwork completeness, which vastly improves the view of my cover browser.