AppleScript Changes in iTunes 4.9

iTunes 4.9 was released on June 28, 2005. New features include support for downloading podcasts from the iTunes Music Store. To accommodate podcasts, a couple of new AppleScript properties have been introduced. Additionally, several clues about a future "iTunes phone" have been discovered in iTunes 4.9's resources, however there are no AppleScript references to such a device.


AppleScript enhancements

iTunes 4.9 allows users to subscribe to quite a number of podcasts in the iTunes Music Store. No doubt hundreds more will be added in the coming days. (As I was trying to suggest my own podcast, I got a message saying that the iTMS was experiencing "technical difficulties". Hmm, avalanche of podcasts?)

Briefly, several new GUI changes have been made. The first thing you'll notice in iTunes 4.9 is that a new "Podcast" playlist has been added to the Source pane. This is where podcasts downloaded from the Store will appear. I am not certain if extant podcasting software will also copy podcasts to this playlist. My experience with them is that they create their own playlists.

In iTunes Preferences, a new "Podcast" pane has been added. This is where various options can be set regarding how often to download subscribed-to podcasts and how long to keep them. In the "iPod" Preference pane a new "Podcasts" tab has been added which is where your podcast subscriptions are listed along with options to automatically download.

As far as AppleScript is concerned, there are two new properties. The first is a playlist property called special kind. This property contains a read-only value which can be none, Purchased Music, Party Shuffle, or Podcasts. This will be handy when you want to refer to only a specific type of playlist. For example, "Party Shuffle" has always been "in the way" because until now it has always been a user playlist and you had to skip over it. So something like this will get a reference to just your "regular" playlists:

tell application "iTunes"
	set all_playlists to every playlist whose special kind is none
end tell

Or you can detect the special kind of a selected playlist before operating on it:

tell application "iTunes"
	if special kind of view of front browser window is none then
		set this_playlist to view of front browser window
		-- do something with this_playlist...
	end if
end tell

And so on.

The second new property in iTunes 4.9 is a track property named podcast. It is a boolean read-only set to true if a track is or false if it is not a podcast track.

A new subscribe command allows you to subscribe to a podcast using an URL.

New Conventions

Apple has changed the name of the iTunes database file from "iTunes 4 Music Library" to "iTunes Library". (This may not mean anything to you, but iTunes Library Manager v4.1 will not recognize this file. I will be updating it shortly.)

Chris Breen at Playlist Magazine points out that there are some new settings for AAC importing. If you select to encode as AAC you'll have a "Custom" option and a "Podcast" option. The "Podcast" option allows you to convert/import a file at 32kbps mono or 64 kbps stereo at 22.050 kHz with "voice filtering".

More as it develops...

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