One of the lesser-used features of iTunes is its visualizer, the colorful animated display that accompanies any music that’s playing. The visuals are a fun little distraction, but once the novelty wears off, the usefulness of the function tends to be limited. Though, in college, a PowerBook and an LCD projector made for a pretty rockin portable party system.
Ol’ trusty G-Force
iTunes, from version 1.0, has shipped with a default visualizer: G-Force, which was originally a plugin for SoundJam (the app that iTunes was initially derived from). It was groundbreaking at the time of its release and it still has some appeal, but at seven years old with no major updates, the plugin shows its age.
Enter Magnetosphere, a brand-new visualizer that was recently released as a beta. It’s not the first third-party visualizer, but it is the best one I’ve seen yet.
Magnetosphere features excellent music response, smooth animation (even on my aging G4 PowerBook), a variety of visual themes, and best of all, lots of pretty colors. One could stare at it for hours (assuming they have nothing productive to be doing with their time) and I’m even tempted to throw a party just to show it off.
This thing is awesome, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s a video I made of it in action:
The best part starts around 1:50, but really, just watch the whole thing. And if at all you’re curious, the song is Nostrand, the sleeper hit from Ratatat’s Classics.
Download Magnetosphere from Barbarian Software. Mac OS X and Windows versions available. Requires iTunes of course.
Update 5 Sept 08: There’s a rumor going around that the Magnetosphere visualizer will be included with the also-rumored iTunes 8, which itself is rumored to be released mid-September 2008.
Update 9 Sept 08: Yep, looks like the rumor mill had it right. Magenetosphere is now a part of iTunes by default, as of version 8, which is available for download from Apple.