Apple GeniusSo Apple released a new version of iTunes today. Version 8 includes a new feature called “Genius”.

Play a song, click the Genius button, and iTunes creates a playlist of other songs from your library that go great together.

This sounds like a cool idea, although I consider myself already pretty handy at creating smart playlists.
What really intrigued me was the new Genius Sidebar:

As you select songs in your library, the Genius sidebar displays songs from the iTunes Store that go great with it.

Lots of other people are, of course, getting paranoid about sharing their listening data with the Apple mothership, but I’m not. I’m thrilled if iTunes is going to start watching what I’m playing in order to recommend other stuff. Finding new music is one of my favorite things to do.

Unfortunately for me, it is a complete FAIL.

Paul Simon:  GeniusHere’s the problem I have with Apple’s new Genius Sidebar: Because I am fanatical about organization and tagging, my songs are all unable to be found. When I import a Paul Simon CD, I rename my tags so that the artist is Simon, Paul (or Beatles, The instead of The Beatles). I can’t understand what kind of person would search in P for Paul Simon instead of S, or under B for Bob Dylan instead of D. (Looking at other people’s libraries usually makes me lose my lunch.)

Apple’s site says, “The Genius sidebar won’t recommend songs already in your library,” but this is clearly not true. Look at this example! I promise you that I already own Kodachrome and 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

If Apple’s Genius Sidebar is not smart enough to know that what I have categorized as “Simon, Paul – You Can Call Me Al” is the same thing as what’s in the iTunes store as “Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al” then I would say it’s not much of a genius.

Hopefully this is a Day One release bug and by this time tomorrow the Genius servers will be a smidge smarter.

There are 3 comments on this post

  1. Perhaps my only gripe – and a quasi-dealbreaker – with Itunes is the very thing you’re lamenting here. Forget Genius for a moment, how can anyone consider Itunes the gold standard when it cannot recognize multiple copies of the same song, despite their names differing by only a simple rewording or omission of a minor syllable OR their tracks ending 1 second earlier or later? For God’s sake, there was a completely worthless cellphone a few months ago that could identify music by playing the tune into the mic!

    A real “Genius” would have an application under Tools that allows the user to sort through these versions based on similarity, and sync their info with the master Itunes database, thereby eliminating any confusion of album cover, lyrics, or other supplemental information pertinent to playlist sorting, Genius function, and overall collection management.

    In other news, Steve Jobs has a monster schlong.

  2. […] a lot of people who don’t seem to like the genius feature of iTunes. In fact, quite a few seem to hate […]

  3. I’m one of those people who gets incredibly irritated with things that are not indexed properly. However, over the years, I have had to unlearn English indexing conventions, because in Pakistan, people don’t necessarily have family names, and therefore, alphabetizing is done by the first name. It’s particularly confusing since there are multiple ways to transliterate common Pakistani names. When I tried filing things at work by the last name, no one else could find anything.

    If you think about it, there’s no real reason why we should index by surnames. It really is just a question of how the convention has evolved. So while my gut reaction is still the same as yours, I have learned to grin, grit my teeth, and bear it. 🙂

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