OK, I hate writing this, because it makes me sound like a corporate shill, or worse, a member of the Cult of Steve, which – in either case – I think entitles me to a little cut of the Cupertino good life. Drop me an email and I’ll let you know where to send the check.
In a fit of insanity the other night, I decided that I would succumb to the omnipresent pestering by iTunes to enable the “Genius” feature, and let it crawl through my music library, no doubt uploading my most intimate secrets to impeccably designed aluminum-clad servers at Infinite Loop. It was only able to identify about 3000 out of 8000 songs, by the way, a ratio which allows me to level a certain degree of smugness in the vague direction of Northern California.
That done, and a rather long re-sync of my iPod complete, I have been putting it through its paces.
It is, and this I say with ultimate grudgingness, fecking brilliant.
One of the biggest problems with a big music library is this: Stuff gets lost. Playlists are a pain to set up and setting your player to “random all” results in a hell of a lot of skipping tracks.
Genius lets you pick a song that you know you want to listen to, and then goes off and finds a bunch of songs that it thinks will go well with it. When pointed at my first test case, Rick Astley’s magnum opus, it cheerfully provided me a set of 25 songs that read like a K-Tel “Best Love Songs of the Eighties” compilation; when pointed at my favorite Kotoko song, it pulled out a set of Kotoko, Hirano Aya, Dream, Hamasaki Ayumi, and Ohtsuka Ai.
The point is, most of the songs it was finding were songs that were lost in the limbo of “not in any playlist”, that I was rather in danger of forgetting that I had, and that were surprisingly close to being what I was in the mood for.
It’s the first feature, outside of the “iPod ecosystem”, that actually stands out as a compelling reason to use an iPod over any of the alternatives, other than the little problem that there are no serious alternatives any more.
Now I just need to figure out how to get it to recognize the 5,000 songs that it’s clueless about.