Apple has no problem with throwing the word genius around. At 55, founder Steve Jobs continues to be touted as a “boy genius”.  The Apple Store unapologetically bills a collection of four stools and a T-shirt clad techie, as the “Genius Bar”. Following form, this week Apple released version 8.0 of their flagship software application, iTunes, complete with its own built in “Genius”. Being an inhabitant of the venn diagram overlap between music geek and tech nerd, I was thrilled.

The iTunes Genius function promises to reacquaint you with your own musical library by suggesting other songs that are similar to a selected track. Having a library of almost 3000 albums, I was thrilled with the possibility of learning more about my neglected digital possessions. Admittedly, having a new software function introduce me to my own music felt a little like going to a marriage counselor to learn more about my wife but the doohickey delivers.

After downloading a boatload of information from the Apple iTunes Store about my collection, Genius busily offered tips to compliment my listening experience. Some made perfect sense (suggesting Wolf Parade to compliment TV on the Radio), while others where less helpful (suggesting TV on the Radio to compliment TV on the Radio). In all cases, the suggestions where on the money. After Genius does its thing, you can ask for more suggestions (up to 100 at a time), “refresh” the list with a quick reshuffle or even save it as a dynamic “Genius Playlist” (making the previous “Smart Playlists” feel like total morons by comparison). As you might expect, Genius also has some recommendations from the iTunes store but it certainly isn’t a pushy salesman. You can preview the purchasable music from within a sidebar or simply slam the section shut if you aren’t in the mood to kick start our economy.

I was curious about Genius’s selection making criteria and wondered if it was based on Pandora’s music genome project so I pointed my browser to Apple’s web page to learn more. Disappointingly, the “how Genius works” section is just a simple set of user directions. It’s as if Apple was telling me, “don’t worry your pretty little head about it because you’ll never understand, it’s a Genius.” Ambiguity aside, Genius is a welcomed addition to iTunes and one more notch in the hipster “mac guy’s” bedpost.

5 Responses to “Real Genius?”
  1. Lorenzo E. says:

    Genius reminds me of the Riddler from Batman Forever. He used a device to suck up peoples thoughts to benefit his own. Likewise, Genius sucks up information from other peoples Itunes Library and give back music suggestions to your own.

  2. Ronnie B says:

    HI Todd! I’ve entered the land of geeks and have been taking weekly computer lessons at the Apple store in Ardmore. It’s another country complete with a foreign language. I have been enjoying my lessons and am trying to master IPhoto so I can send you a retrospective of my “art”! Well-one of these days!
    Unfortunately, first Fridays won’t usually work for me because we have a standing Friday invite from Hannah, Mark and the boys. Lots of good times to you and Heather and Rocco.

  3. Randy Zeitman says:

    >> Apple has no problem with throwing the word genius around.

    Yes! It’s very arrogant of them. And to that I say “Good!”. If you want to portray yourself as the very best and there’s no objective measure for then why not?

    It’s a good marketing lesson…when you can brag you should brag and do so to the Nth degree. Does the world hate Mohammed Ali for it? (Nope…but I never liked it…so what.)

    Genius…it’s the pinnacle…lots of people can be an expert but the very nature of “genius” is the cream of the cream.

  4. bevan says:

    maybe it is because i have a powerbook g4 ironically due to the serrato scratch live stabilized compatability as opposed to the new intel….but after 10 attempts the genius does not download for me
    i have over 12ooo tracks so maybe it is getting overloaded, or my songs are making it cross over from genius to insanity

  5. Todd Marrone says:

    That’s certainly a fine line.