NBC Returns to ITunes, ITunes 8 Released

At its special "Let's Rock" event in San Francisco on Tuesday, Apple introduced iTunes 8. The new release ties in to new features available through the iTunes store, including HD television programs. iTunes 8 is available as a free download from Apple's Web site starting Tuesday.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the iTunes Store now features more than 8.5 million songs and more than 125,000 podcasts. More than 35,000 television shows are available, along with 2,600 movies and more than 3,000 applications for the iPod touch and iPhone. There are now more than 65 million accounts in iTunes.

The new version 8 release features the ability to purchase, download and watch television shows in HD. They cost more than Standard Definition (SD) shows -- US$2.99 per episode, versus $1.99.

What's more, the iTunes Store will once again feature television shows produced by NBC. The Office, Monk, Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock, Heroes and other popular series broadcast on NBC and its cable affiliates will once again be available for purchase and download. NBC stopped offering content on iTunes in 2007 after it failed to reach an agreement with Apple over iTunes revenue.

"Genius" is a new feature that lets you make playlists from songs in your music library "that go great together, with just one click," according to Jobs. A new button in the bottom right corner of the iTunes window lets you make a Genius playlist. A sidebar will also make recommendations for accompanying songs that are available through the iTunes Store.

iTunes' interface has been reworked for improved accessibility. The new iTunes 8 can be operated using VoiceOver, Apple's accessibility software for disabled users. New browsing options have been added; you can skim albums by artist, and use a similar view to examine your movies, TV shows and other content.

Macworld will provide more detailed information about iTunes 8 shortly.

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