The iPod's iTunes Store
At one time, the iPod touch's version of the iTunes Store was called the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, so named because you could shop only for music (to obtain videos or podcasts, you had to use iTunes on your computer), and you could do so only over a Wi-Fi connection. iPod touch owners are still confined to Wi-Fi, as the iPod doesn't support any other wireless networking protocol. (iPhone owners can download content via EDGE and 3G networks.)
Today's iTunes Store is far more capable. Now you can download almost any content offered by the iTunes Store directly to the iPod; the sole exception is HD movies (see the following note).
Although this store's face is far less crowded than that of the full-size iTunes Store, the selection is no different. You can choose among the same millions of tracks, podcasts, TV shows, music videos, movies, and iTunes U content in this pocket-size version of The Store and in the iTunes Store available via iTunes. The feature works this way.
Browsing the little store
Tap the iTunes icon on the iPod touch's Home screen while you're connected to a Wi-Fi network, and the iTunes Store screen appears. Across the bottom of the screen, you see Music, Videos, Podcasts, Search, and More icons. Tap More, and you see Audiobooks, iTunes U, and Downloads. Here's what to expect.
Tap Music, and you're taken to The Store's music section. Across the top of the screen are three buttons: New Releases, Top Tens, and Genres. These buttons work much as they do in the same-named areas of the full-grown iTunes Store's home page (which I hope you'll take the time to explore).
New Releases. Here, you see a list of the week's coolest additions—singles as well as albums. To preview or purchase one of these items, tap it to move to that item's screen. (I discuss the workings of this screen shortly.) In addition to the week's new releases, you're likely to see buttons for accessing free tracks and music videos and for viewing the hottest items currently available. At the very bottom of the screen is an Account button that displays your iTunes account email address—email@example.com, for example—along with the amount of any credit you have ($25 Credit, for example, if you've redeemed an iTunes gift card). Tap that, and you're offered the option to view your account details, sign out, or forget the whole thing by tapping Cancel.
At the bottom of the list of new releases, you'll see a Redeem item. As its name hints, you tap this item to access the Redeem screen, where you enter the code for an iTunes gift card or gift certificate. Just tap in the Code field, and the iPod's keyboard appears. After you enter the code, tap the Redeem button in the top-right corner of the screen to send the code to Apple.
Top Tens. This section features top songs and albums organized within particular genres. Tap Alternative, for example, and the next screen includes two large buttons: Top Songs and Top Albums (Figure 4.1). Tap one to see the top ten items of that kind. To see the complete list of Top Ten genres, tap the More Top Tens button near the bottom of the screen.
Figure 4.1 A Top Tens screen.
Genres. This section lists popular genres (Pop, Alternative, Hip-Hop/Rap, Rock, and Country, as I write this chapter). To view the complete list of genres, tap the More Genres button near the bottom of the screen. What you see when you tap a genre depends on the genre. When I tap Rock, for example, I see new releases. When I tap Soundtrack, I see titles offered below an In Theaters heading. Tapping Classical, Singer/Songwriter, or Jazz displays a list of albums. The top of each screen includes a couple of buttons that you can tap to go to albums that The Store believes worthy of your attention.
The Videos area of The Store is where you can rent or purchase movies, purchase TV shows or entire TV seasons, and buy music videos. Tap the Videos button at the bottom of the screen, and you see a layout similar to the Music screen, with three buttons across the top: Movies, TV Shows, and Music Videos.
Movies. The Movies screen displays a couple of featured movies at the top (hot new releases, as I write this chapter). Below is a New Releases area with 30 entries; below that are Top Tens and Genres entries. Each entry lists the movie's genre (such as Comedy or Drama), its title, its user rating (1 to 5 stars, including half-stars), and the number of ratings it has received (128 Ratings, for example).
Tap a movie, and you see that movie's screen, where you can buy or rent it (if rental is an option—not all movies are for rent), as well as watch a preview of the movie. To do one of these things, tap the appropriate button. Below the buttons is a Reviews button that displays a five-star scale, reflecting the average rating given by people who chose to submit reviews. These people may or may not have purchased or rented that movie from iTunes (and may not have seen it at all, so take some reviews with a grain of salt). Tap that button, and you'll see the average rating and the number of people who have rated the movie. Below are user reviews, complete with title, text, date, and rating.
If you'd like to write a review of your own, tap the Write a Review button at the top of the screen. You'll be prompted for your iTunes password. Enter it, and you go to the Submit Review screen, where you can enter a rating, title, and review. To submit the review, just tap Send.
TV Shows. This section works almost exactly the same way as the Movies area. The main difference is that the items in this window are entire series (The Wire, for example) rather than single episodes. Tap a show, and you're taken to the season screen, where you can purchase individual episodes and, sometimes, entire seasons. These screens carry no Preview button. Instead, just tap an episode title, and the movie-player window displays a preview. TV Shows screens also have a Reviews button.
Music Videos. Same idea here. You see a couple of featured items at the top of the screen, a list of music videos below, and Top Tens and Genres menus. Tap a video, and you see the Buy and Preview buttons, along with the tapworthy reviews entry. In most cases, you also find a More by This Artist button. Tap it to see a screen listing other music videos by that artist.
We've been through all this before, right? The Podcasts screen has its own three buttons: What's Hot, Top Tens, and Categories. If you read the section on the Music and Videos areas, you have a solid idea of how The Store works. These buttons show you exactly what they say they do: popular podcasts of the day, the top ten podcasts in specific categories (News & Politics, Sports & Recreation, Technology, Comedy, Music, and More Top Tens, at this writing), and featured podcasts in the same categories I just listed. Podcasts come in both audio and video form, and all of them are free.
Search is very iPod touch-like. Tap this button, and a Search field appears. Tap this field, and the iPod's keyboard appears. Type a song title, album title, or artist name in the Search field; as you type, suggestions appear below. When the result you desire appears, tap it.
The resulting screen displays a variety of media—including some that you may not expect. I searched for Led Zeppelin, and the results screen included "Stairway to Heaven" (of course), the Mothership album, two popular songs ("Kashmir" and "Black Dog"), two albums, three TV episodes (the TV show NewsRadio used "Led Zeppelin" in the title of three of its episodes), two movies, a couple of podcasts, two TV seasons (NewsRadio again), and two audiobooks. As you can see, a search can pull up a lot of unexpected results.
When you tap the More button at the bottom of the screen, you see three entries: Audiobooks, iTunes U, and Downloads. I needn't walk you through the first two. Just understand that The Store, like Audible.com, sells audiobooks that you can play on an iPod, iPhone, or your computer. Like music tracks, audiobooks can be burned to CD. You already know that iTunes U is the educational area of The Store, where you can download lectures, classes, and concerts offered, for the most part, by universities and colleges. Again, iTunes U content is free.
Downloads. As you might expect, this area is where you can watch the progress of the content you're downloading. It works like this: When you tap a price, it turns into a Buy Now button. Tap that button, and the item swoops down onto the Downloads icon, at which point you're prompted for your iTunes password (the same password that you use at the iTunes Store).
An icon on the Downloads button blinks, indicating the number of items that the iPod is downloading. Tap this icon, and a screen shows you the progress of the download (Figure 4.2 on the following page). After the item has downloaded, you can play it on the iPod. When you next sync your iPod, the tracks you've purchased will be transferred from the iPod to your computer.
Figure 4.2 The Downloads screen lets you watch the progress of music coming to your iPod.
When these tracks are downloaded for the first time, a new playlist appears below the Store heading in the computer-based version of iTunes' Source list. That playlist is called Purchased on nameofiPod, where nameofiPod is the name of your iPod. After these tracks are in your iTunes Library, they behave like any others you own. You can burn music tracks to disc, and you can play any media on any of your authorized computers or any iPods and iPhones you own.
The Downloads screen also offers a shortcut to just those music tracks you've purchased on your iPod since you last synced the iPod. Tap the Purchased arrow in the top-right corner of the Downloads screen, and the iPod application opens and displays the Purchased on iPod playlist, which contains those purchased tracks.
Browsing at Starbucks
Walk into a Starbucks outlet and tap the iTunes application, and your iPod is likely to display a Starbucks button. When you tap that button, your iPod will tell you the name of the track that's currently playing in that store, as well as recently played tracks. Using the Starbucks interface, you can purchase any of these tracks.