Genius playlists. Select a song, click this feature, and you’ll get a playlist from your collection of similar songs, plus iTunes recommendations. This sounds like a promising way to solve the fatigue that a lot of users develop with their own collections after a few months, as well as the jarring transitions that sometimes pop up during a random shuffle session. Of course, so much depends on how well it works–will the algorithm adhere toward the same artists and genres? Will it be reliant on metadata such as composer and year, or can it analyze actual audio characteristics like tempo and key? The latter would be amazingly cool. I’ll check it out later Tuesday and post more details then.
The iPod Touch is also getting a makeover, super-thin with an integrated speaker, has the App Store (games!) and Genius and Nike+ features built-in. This is really becoming a hybrid entertainment device–more like a PSP than a mere MP3 player. Still, I’ve always thought this product fits into a weird niche between the iPhone and old-fashioned iPods or other MP3 players. I guess it’s for people who want cutting-edge technology (touch screen!) but aren’t ready to part with their current phone. BlackBerry fans, maybe. They seem to be targeting it at gamers, but with an entry price of $229 I’m not sure that will work–that’s $100 more than the cheapest Nintendo DS Lite, about $60 more than the cheapest Sony PSP, and–heck–$20 more than an Xbox 360 Arcade. Then again, it is the market-leading MP3 player as well as a game device.