Apple launches iTunes 8, NBC comes back, TV shows at $1.99, Genius in the house

Just in time for couch season, Apple has busted out iTunes 8 with a slew of new features, like the Genius sidebar. Also, NBC is back on board with its lineup of TV shows. According to Jobs, "The Office is coming back, Monk, Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock... and they're coming back in HD."

HD versions of shows will run you $2.99 while SD versions run a reasonable $1.99 (when compared to, say, a full month's cable access). Meanwhile, "Genius" is a new feature that Apple says will change the way you browse your media. "Old browsing wasn't efficient," said Jobs. "in iTunes 8 you can look by album cover, and this new bar at the top let's you look at anything graphically in little tiles."

Basically, Genius is a contextual iTunes store recommendation tool that will, in essence, make it easier for you to spend money. It also makes custom playlists on the fly based on your habits, and shares them (anonymously, they promise) with other users. So what's missing so far? None of the rumored subscription services, for one, and any mention of new hardware or iPhone functions, like, say disk mode. We'll keep wishing. Apple says it is making iTunes 8 available immediately (which, to them, may mean "some time later"), so let the download races begin!

Update: We've got a gallery of iTunes 8 -- check it out below.