Apple has introduced a series of new features to iTunes - and while some grab the critics, others are seeing a rain of criticism hail down upon the company.

iTunes 6.0.2 extends its support for AirPort Express. It now supports streaming to up to three Express units at once, rather than just one. This means users can command their music play in any one room, or transmit it to all connected speaker systems in their home.

iTunes MiniStore in data-grab horror

The new software also introduced a MiniStore - an annoying pester screen at the bottom of the media browser that even shows up when a user is looking through their own personal library.

Apple says the MiniStore exists to offer users personalised music recommendations that are based on the songs they like to listen to.

But that's not the frightening thing about the new "feature".

A note on Apple's website confirms the privacy-busting aspect of the software: "iTunes sends data about the song selected in your library to the iTunes Music Store to provide relevant recommendations," Apple reports.

Apple's software automatically sends details of songs iTunes plays from a user's system to iTunes HQ so it can feedback song recommendations.

Users who want to keep their personal music habits personal need to switch the MiniStore off to preserve their privacy.

"When the MiniStore is hidden, this data is not sent to the iTunes Music Store," Apple claims.

Introducing 'SpyTunes'

However, Apple's data-grabbing attempt has tarnished the reputation of the world's leading music software, with bloggers calling it "spytunes" as a result of the move.

Many users are angry that until the feedback was spotted, Apple hadn't revealed it - and had failed to offer user's the chance to opt-out.

Apple's system was spotted by legal and technical writer Marc Garrett, who reveals: "When the MiniStore is open, iTunes 6.0.2 sends two bursts of data each time the user selects a new song: one to Apple itself, and the second to a third party site called, a site owned by the marketing firm Omniture."

Apple doesn't mention Omniture in the iTunes licence, Terms of Service, or Customer Privacy Statement.

'But we don't keep the data'

However, Apple has responded to the concerns, saying in a statement: "Apple does not save or store any information used to create recommendations for the MiniStore."

Despite Apple's reassurance on privacy, critics say that with its commanding lead in digital music sales, the company should not need to introduce unwanted advertising into a user's personal experience of their music library.

It's a move that devalues the experience by reducing personal control of it.