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Apple adds 30-second samples to browser-based iTunes previews

Last November, Apple launched browser-based iTunes previews, which gave customers information on a song or artist before pushing them out to the iTunes Store. It's a handy, welcome change. And now this week, they've added 30-second song samples to those preview pages (check it out). Just as you do in the store, you can hear any track's sample by clicking the small "Play" button that appears when you mouse over its name.

There has been speculation about the future of a streaming-based version of iTunes since Apple bought Lala in November. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that LaLa executives have been given key roles at Apple, and that members of the existing iTunes team will report to them. While playing with the new previews today, we explored the page's source for any hints of Lala, but found nothing. However, we did come across something interesting. Turns out you can easily turn any 30-second preview into an iPhone-compatible ringtone, and you don't even need GarageBand.

First, find a snippet you're interested in. Then view the page's source. Scroll down until you see something that starts:
audio-preview-url="http://a1.phobos.apple.com/us/r1000/016/Music/3a/7b/83/mzm.ekrigiqi.aac.p.m4a"
Copy the URL (minus the quotes) and paste it into Safari's Downloads window. You'll get a file with a name similar to:
"/mzm.ekrigiqi.aac.p.m4a"
Now, replace ".aac.p.m4a" with ".m4r," drop it into iTunes and sync. You've got a new ringtone! Of course, you can't choose the 30 seconds you hear, and that use probably isn't intended by Apple. But if the preview happens to be what you want, there you go.

[Via Mac Rumors]

Last November, Apple launched browser-based iTunes previews, which gave customers information on a song or artist before pushing them out...