iPhone Life magazine

Music

A Developer's View on In-App Purchases for Free Apps

 Apple recently announced a major shift in how they treat free apps and I have been mulling over what it means to developers, in addition to end users.

In the past, "In-App Purchases", or the ability to add features to an app, were only available for paid apps.  Free apps could not be upgraded, short of purchasing the paid version separately.  Now, users of these free apps can purchase upgrades.

On one hand, more choices are a good thing.  But I have some concerns.



Wunder Radio

WunderRadioWunder Radio is one of the best streaming radio apps available. It’s great to have when you’re traveling or at work and want to listen to a live match. Wunder Radio boasts over 30,000 radio stations worldwide. It allows you to search by location and genre, and then build a list of your favorite stations. When I typed in “soccer,” it turned up 6 results. But when I searched on “football” (what the rest of the world calls the sport), it listed over 30 international radio stations.

iTSfv

iTSfvThe name of this program stands for iTunes Store File Validator, and its principal use is to standardize all the metadata in your tracks according to the iTunes file standard. It has many other features, including automatic genre tagging from Last.fm, exporting iTunes Store artwork, and downloading lyrics from LyricsWiki. It also gives an automatic rating according to how often a track is played, creates statistics for your music library, and more. Like many open source applications, iTSfv has a lot of features, but they’re not always easy to find.

MetaX

MetaX MacWhile much of the discussion above is related to cleaning up the metadata associated with MP3 files, similar utilities exist for cleaning up MP4 metadata, which is very useful if you have a lot of music videos, TV shows, and movies in iTunes. In particular, iTunes tends to classify music videos as movies and leaves out metadata such as the artist and album. MetaX can fix this as well as do a host of other things. For example, it lets you grab a frame from the video to serve as the poster, and automatically searches for posters online.

Fetch Art for iTunes

FetchArtThis application has nearly 300,000 downloads on VersionTracker alone, and many more on other sites, so it certainly must be one of the more widely used for retrieving album art. You control it using the Script menu in iTunes. Simply select one or more songs in iTunes, select Fetch Art from the script menu, and it searches Amazon.com for the album art. As with other add-ons, Fetch Art only works well if the music’s metadata is accurate, so use one of the add-ons mentioned above before you use it.

GimmeSomeTune

GimmeSomeTuneEditor's ChoiceGimmeSomeTune runs in the background when iTunes is open. It automatically fetches missing cover art and lyrics and adds them to your library of music. You simply start playing a song, and the software does the fetching. You can also have the application display a song’s lyrics in a separate window. If the program can’t find the lyrics, it lets you quickly do a Google search for them.

SongGenie and CoverScout

SongGenieCoverScoutSimilar to TuneUp, SongGenie (above left) creates an acoustic fingerprint of your tracks to identify them and fill in missing or incorrect metadata information. It works with most standard music file formats (MP3, M4P, MP4A, etc.) and gets its metadata information from the MusicIP database. The same company also offers CoverScout (above right), which uses the corrected metadata to find album covers.

Getting the Most Out of iTunes

Use these desktop add-ons to automatically download cover art and lyrics

The desktop version of iTunes is a great application, with features that I’m still learning to use. In addition, there’s a world of add-ons and programs out there that make iTunes even better! I’ve just begun exploring these and wanted to share my comments about some of the best. Some of them are available for both the Mac and Windows PC; others are available for one platform only. Some are freeware and others commercial apps.


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Misc news & roundup / guide updates (09/27/2009)

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I’ve updated several of my guides / bibles / roundups to reflect the latest changes. See the bottommost “UPDATE (09/27/2009)” section in each of them. The only news item I haven’t published in another article is the one describing the new Backgrounder version.

AppStore news:

Ever wanted to watch WMV (TV) streams on your iPhone? Now you can!: making Streamer compatible with all WMV streams; NetTV [Lite] news.


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