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Source: MacCentral.com

With the introduction of its new iPod models and iTunes Music Service, Apple has also released iTunes 4. What's more, QuickTime has been updated, as has a new software update for owners of older iPods.

iTunes 4 is a cornerstone of Apple's new offerings. The new version of Apple's popular digital jukebox software features integration with Apple's new iTunes Music Store, making it possible to browse the store, buy and download music from directly within iTunes. iTunes 4 also adds support for viewing album artwork.

iTunes also new features support for Advanced Audio Codec, or AAC -- a Dolby-produced audio technology that's supported by the QuickTime 6 and MPEG-4 standards. Apple claims that files encoded using AAC sound better than MP3s, and occupy less space on your hard disk at the same bit rate.

What's more, iTunes 4 sports the ability to share music within the same household. The software uses Apple's Rendezvous technology to provide users with remote streaming access, so there's no need to configure any network settings to get the software to work.

iTunes 4 adds the ability to burn DVD archives of your music for the first time, as well, and also adds new search options. You can also categorize tracks by beats per minute.

As always, iTunes 4 is free. The software requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later, a Mac with built-in USB ports, G3/400MHz or faster processor, and 256MB RAM recommended.

Changes in QuickTime 6.2 include new foundation support for iTunes 4, according to Apple, along with an enhanced AAC audio encoder for users of QuickTime Pro, the US$29 upgrade to QuickTime that provides authoring features.

If you already have an iPod and you'd like to make sure it works with iTunes 4 and iTunes Music Store, pop on by Apple's Web site (or fire up Software Update) and look for iPod Software Update 1.3. The new version of the iPod software is required for support for iTunes 4, and plays back AAC-encoded audio files.

Other changes have been made, as well, including audio playback and user interface enhancements. Apple claims that the new version provides increased playback time on scroll-wheel iPods and longer stand-by time on all models.

iPod Software Update 1.3 is only necessary if you have a touch-wheel or scroll-wheel iPod without a dock connector -- a feature of the new iPods introduced on April 28, 2003. If you're using a dock connector-equipped iPod (expected to hit stores May 2, 2003), you don't need this update.

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