A couple of cool things of note about my iPod and iTunes 4.9. First, and this has probably been there forever and I just didn’t notice, but when you’re playing a track, and click the “select” button (the centre of the click wheel), the progress indicator changes from a bar to a diamond. I couldn’t figure out why, until yesterday I happened to “spin the wheel” while in this mode–and I was zooming through the track! Cool! This is a much quicker way of moving around in a long track than my previous technique of holding down the forward or back buttons, which would cause the player to fast forward (or back) at about 20x normal speed.
Second, and this is definitely new in iTunes 4.9 (well, firmware 1.4 for the mini anyway): syncing podcasts now checks for what ‘casts will be removed in a sync (because they’ve been played) as well as what will be added before calculating the available space. Previously, it had pained me greatly (having “only” a 6GB mini) that I’d have to manually juggle my iPod contents when syncing if I had lots of new ‘casts. Even though those on the ‘pod that I’d listened to (and would be removed by my smart playlist) would have freed enough space for the new ones, iTunes was not smart enough to work that out. But with the new explicit support for podcasts (they’re a “first class” thing on the iPod now, not just another mp3), the sync removes played ones before updating news ones. Cool++!
I know it sounds like a cliche (ok, is a cliche), but podcasting is really changing the way I think about radio–most of the podcasts I subscribe to are ABC or NPR radio shows, and now I can listen to them when it suits me, not just if I happen to be near a radio (and sufficient silence) when they are being broadcast.