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The iPod's iTunes Store

At one time, the iPod touch's and iPhone'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.

Today's iTunes Store is far more capable. Now you can download almost any content offered by the iTunes Store directly to the iPod.

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 iTunes 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'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, Ping, Search, and More icons. Tap More, and you see Podcasts, Audiobooks, iTunes U, Downloads, and Ringtones. Here's what to expect.

Music

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). Tap them to go to screens with the same names.

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.

Near 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.

At the very bottom of the New Releases screen is an Account button that displays your iTunes account email address—example6@mac.com, for example—along with the amount of any credit you have ($25 Credit, perhaps, if you've redeemed an iTunes gift card). Tap that button, and you're offered the option to view your account details, sign out, or forget the whole thing by tapping Cancel.

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

Figure 4.1 A Top Tens screen.

Genres. This section lists popular genres. 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 a Now Showing 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 Music info screen

When you tap an album or track, you're taken the information screen for that hunk of music. There, you'll find the artist's name, the album title, the album price (which you tap to purchase the item), Like and Post buttons (related to the Ping service, which I discuss later in this chapter), a reviews link that takes you to a screen of star-rated and commented reviews, and a list of album tracks with the price of each track next to the track entry. To preview a track, just tap the track.

At the bottom of the screen, you may see More By This Artist, Profile, and Concerts links. (Popular artists have these links, whereas more obscure artists don't.) More By This Artist takes you to the artist's screen, where you can view top songs and albums by that artist. The Profile link takes you to the artist's Ping page, where you can choose to view more music by this artist as well as follow him, her, or them on Ping. Finally, Concerts shows you where the artist is playing, both around the world and locally. In the Concerts screen, you can indicate that you're going to the show and tap a Tickets button, whereupon Safari launches and takes you to the Ticketmaster Web site, where you can purchase tickets.

Videos

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 and a link to 99-cent movie rentals, as I write this chapter). Below is a New Releases area with 40 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 Buy and Rent buttons is a Reviews entry 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 entry, 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 Reviews 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.

Below the Reviews entry for some movies, you'll find a Rotten Tomatoes rating. (Rotten Tomatoes is a popular Web site that aggregates critics' movie reviews.) These ratings provide a positive percentage rating (62% positive, for example) as well as a Rotten (green) or Fresh (red) tomato icon, indicating generally how good the movie is. Tap the rating, and you see a Rotten Tomatoes screen that features the Tomatometer (a gauge that measures fresh-to-rotten reviews); excerpts from some reviews; and a Read More On Rotten Tomatoes button that, when tapped, launches Safari and takes you to the Rotten Tomatoes site, where you can read even more reviews of the movie.

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. If you'd like to learn more about an episode (and see the options to rent or purchase it), double-tap the entry. 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.

Ping

Ping is Apple's music-centric social networking service. Similar to Facebook, it lets you find people to follow—ideally, those whose musical tastes you respect, but you can just as easily follow your tasteless pals. In turn, other people follow you. Then you recommend or comment on music available from the iTunes Store. (You can't recommend music that's not available in The Store.)

On the iPod touch, you access this service by tapping the Ping entry in the Source list. When you do, you see a screen with three buttons along the top:

Activity. Activity lists everything the people you follow have done, including other people they've followed, the music they've purchased or commented on, and the comments they've replied to. Below each entry are Like and Add a Comment buttons. Tap Like, and your vote of confidence is appended to that entry. Tap Add a Comment, and you can do just that in the resulting Comment screen.

People. Tap the People button, and you see lists of the people you follow as well as those who follow you. (You see just the 10 most recently added people in each list, though you can see more by tapping the Show More link at the bottom of each list.) When you tap a person's entry, you see his Recent Activity screen, which displays the things he's been doing on Ping lately. Tap the Info button at the top of the screen, and you see that person's Info screen, where you can view his picture, the three genres of music that he likes most, where he lives, and a short bio that he's created. Below that info is a list of up to 10 songs that he enjoys, and below that list are links to the people he follows and to his own followers.

My Profile. The My Profile button displays your Ping page, which lists all the things you've done with Ping recently. You have the option to create new comments as well as respond to other people's comments.

Regardless of which screen you're viewing, whenever you see a link to a particular song or album, you can tap it. If you tap a song, a preview of the song plays. If you tap an album, you see a screen that lists all the album's tracks. In this screen, you can preview and purchase individual tracks as well as the entire album.

Search

Search is very iPod-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 a Top Results entry (the albums Mothership and The Complete Led Zeppelin), two albums (Led Zeppelin IV and Led Zeppelin II), two popular songs ("Stairway to Heaven," of course, and "Kashmir"), a couple of ringtones, two Led Zeppelin documentary movies, a couple of Zep audiobook biographies, two podcasts, two TV seasons (the TV series NewsRadio used "Led Zeppelin" in the title of three of its episodes), and those three TV episodes.

More

When you tap the More button at the bottom of the screen, you see five entries: Ringtones, Podcasts, Audiobooks, iTunes U, and Downloads.

Ringtones. If you seek a way to customize your iPod by having it play 30-second snippets of popular songs when it receives a FaceTime call, tapping this button is one way to go about it. You can purchase these snippets directly from your iPod for $1.29 per ringtone. To preview a ringtone, just tap its title.

Podcasts. The Podcasts screen has its own three buttons: What's Hot, Top Tens, and Categories. If you read the sections on the Music and Videos areas earlier in this chapter, you have a solid idea of how this screen works. Podcasts come in both audio and video form, and all of them are free.

Audiobooks. Like Audible.com, the iTunes Store sells audiobooks that you can play on an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, or on your computer. Like music tracks, audiobooks can be burned to CD.

iTunes U. If you don't already know, 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. The Downloads section bears some scrutiny. 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). 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

Figure 4.2 The Downloads screen lets you watch the progress of music coming to your iPod.

When these tracks have downloaded for the first time, a new play list 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 you've given 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 other iPods, iPhones, and iPads you may own.

Browsing at Starbucks

Walk into a Starbucks outlet, log on to the store's free Wi-Fi network, and tap the iTunes app, 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 on the spot.

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