Our music library just got a whole lot bigger
It's been called over-complicated, it's been called confusing, but it's also been called the place where you keep all your music by nearly everyone in the civilized world. That last has now changed: it's the place you get to almost all the music ever created in the history of the world, and then some. Okay, maybe no,t but we had -- hang on, let's check -- 9,692 songs yesterday and today we have (counts on fingers) 30,000,000, give or take the Beatles. The new iTunes 12.2 for Mac brings some minor changes, and one massive one with the introduction of Apple Music to OS X.
Shuffle, Nano, Touch to continue, but no obvious visible changes seen
An image buried inside the resources of iTunes 12.2 offers a surprising revelation to iPod fans: Apple's iPod lineup, which has seen diminishing sales for years, will get another -- though possibly final -- hurrah, with new color options and likely upgraded processors and storage. All three of the company's current iPod models -- the wearable Shuffle, the diminutive Nano, and the full-sized "iPhone with no phone," the iPod touch -- will see new colors, including strong shades of blue and pink, as well as the now-expected gold option.
The MacNN staff look at today's massive litany of releases by Apple
It's that time again -- Apple has hit us all with a flood of releases, and leading the pack are Apple Music and Beats One. Join Managing Editor Mike, MacNN Editor Charles, and writer William for a discussion of all the hits, misses, and we discuss if we should keep the wheel in the sky turning for what's on tap, or if Apple's new offering is little more than a rainbow in the dark.
Update brings Apple Music, fixes to the venerable music player
Breaking: As predicted, Apple has just made iTunes 12.2 available for OS X users, as of 6PM ET. While not yet available through the iTunes update menu, the package can be seen and downloaded through the App Store's update tab. The software, which was expected earlier today to coincide with the launch of Beats 1 and Apple's paid music services, brings a revamped set of free and paid services to the music-management program, replacing iTunes Radio and making other minor interface changes to align with the iOS release.
Lack of update preventing Apple Music from arriving on Macs
[Update: iTunes 12.2 now released at 6PM ET] While iOS users are experiencing changes related to Apple Music, Mac users are also seeing things fall into place, but at a far slower pace. Before Mac users will be able to use Apple Music and listen to Beats 1, they will have to upgrade iTunes from the current version 12.1.2 to version 12.2 -- an update which is currently unavailable to download by users, and is conspicuous by its absence on a day when Apple has overloaded it servers with a plethora of major, minor, and security updates.
Virtual music storage locker hit with problems; workaround revealed
The launch on Tuesday of Apple Music appears to be wreaking havoc with existing users of iTunes Match, the company's virtual music cloud storage service. Reports beginning yesterday and worsening today indicate that users who have not or are unable to currently update their iOS version to the just-released 8.4, as well as Apple TV users, are seeing issues including duplicate entries for artists and playlists, inaccurate album art, and a general inability to download or stream songs.
Virtual locker included with paid Apple Music, to expand to 100,000 songs
Through confirmations, now-deleted posts, and a series of tweets, Apple has revealed that iOS 8.4 will be released tomorrow, June 30, at 8AM PT (11AM ET), and SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has clarified how iTunes Match and the paid Apple Music subscription service will work together. In addition, Senior Director of Apple Music (and former Beats CEO) Ian C. Rogers revealed that with the arrival of iOS 9, the cloud music locker both services share will expand to hold 100,000 or more songs.
New always-on radio station will be free, debuts June 30
As the countdown progresses towards the launch of iOS 8.4 and the arrival of new features and services for Apple's Music app, the company has invested in a billboard to promote one of the principle free new features: the Beats 1 radio station, which will be free of charge to all users of iTunes. A new, gigantic billboard for the service is now live in Time Square in New York City, host Zane Lowe tweeted.
Genre-based stations remain, but non-functional outside US
Following the addition of a Music service sign-up sheet (non-functional) in Apple's latest iOS betas, on Thursday the Music app for iOS 8.4 and iOS 9 also gained a teaser trailer for Apple's forthcoming Beats 1 radio station and a new "Radio" tab that offers a number of revamped "genre" stations inherited from iTunes Radio. Like Beats 1 itself, the radio stations will be free to listen to for all users, alongside their own music libraries.
Misunderstandings, free trial, terms threaten to derail diversity of sources
While major publishers and record labels are on board with Apple's planned streaming service Apple Music and article aggregator News, independent music labels and news-oriented publishers -- who last week complained about being left out of such announcements -- now say that the terms Apple is offering contain problematic clauses or conditions. For music labels, the three-month free trial is the issue; for news publishers, it's Apple's requirement to opt out.
Simple solution for music, audio, even photos and movies
We've written some Pointers entries previously about iTunes -- frequently, in fact -- and that's mainly because in addition to be a vast program that does a lot of different things -- on top of the syncing and the playlisting and the jukeboxing and the app or media purchasing and the podcast listening and the movie watching and now the Apple Music subscribing -- it also has a fair few features under the hood that tend to get underused when they are even known about. Today, you'll uncover another one.
Revamps Beats Music, iTunes Radio in new unified effort
Apple on Monday fulfilled expectations by debuting its Apple Music re-branding, which takes in iTunes on iOS, the former Beats Music, and iTunes Radio in a new effort to capture the wave of subscription-based streaming music services. Intended to both steal users from existing streaming services as well as expand the market generally, Apple has invested in a number of prominent musical and industry figures as well as a new emphasis on human curation of music in its efforts.
Era of iPods, streaming music do not eliminate CDs entirely just yet
Today's Pointers column is inspired by a lamentation from a veteran Mac user of our acquaintance who expressed some regret over the upgrade to iTunes 12 (he had jumped several versions in finally doing the upgrade). Among the other changes the recent version had introduced, he was convinced that Apple had removed the ability to burn music CDs, which he still found useful. In case others are laboring under this misconception, this column will show you that yes, CD music burning is still doable in iTunes 12.1 in 2015.
More than a dozen years with the maligned music player
I can see me doing this now, ripping a track off a CD of mine for the very first time. I was in my living room, it was Orinoco Flow by Enya, and I was ripping it onto my PowerBook G3. Can't quite tell you when it was, can't even be sure that iTunes existed then, but I remember how peculiarly, deliciously weird it felt having that music continue playing after I took the CD out.
Despite all the time, effort, money, podcasts can be richly rewarding
Over the last five weeks on the Wednesday Pointers column, we have gone through the steps involved in creating a podcast, from choosing a good mic (do not use your built-in mic or some cheapo piece of crap) to packaging and hosting the files iTunes needs to send potential listeners your way. So far, we've learned that podcasts are more than just capturing an entertaining conversation, or at least they should be, and that there's as much of a technical effort required as a creative one.
Company pushing forward despite reports of record company reticence, federal investigations
Speculation and unconfirmed reports have run rampant over Apple's progress in its effort to revamp its iTunes music services, with recent reports suggesting the company may have difficulty hitting its planned June target for formally introducing both a revised Music app for iOS in the forthcoming iOS 8.4, and a significantly revamped iTunes Radio and Beats Music streaming service designed to compete with Spotify. Various reports, however, claim obstacles -- ranging from music label reluctance to federal investigations.
Apple poaching more BBC Radio 1 producers for upgrade to Beats Music, iTunes Radio
Following the hiring of influential former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe in February as part of both iTunes Radio and a speculated revamp of the Beats Music service, a trade magazine for the music industry has reported that as many as four other top producers for Radio 1 are leaving to join Lowe to work on the revamped subscription service at Apple, which could be announced as early as June's Worldwide Developer Conference.
Series of earthquakes leave 3,600 dead, aid urgently needed in stricken country
Following a major earthquake and series of aftershocks on Saturday in the small nation of Nepal, Apple has set up a special iTunes page for donations to the American Red Cross to aid in disaster relief. Visitors can donate in denominations ranging from $5 to $200, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the charity to help survivors and the families of the estimated 3,617 who have been reported as killed by the quake.
Get the good and avoid the irritating features of streaming music
There are other streaming music services, and you can well argue that there are better ones, but Spotify is winning the war to become the Hoover, Xerox, and iPad of its class: the brand name that somehow becomes synonymous with the idea. At least, nobody tells you what their favourite iTunes Radio station is, no one in the world sends you links to Pandora, and it's like few people have heard of Beats Music. Yet. However, Spotify is known even by normal people, and it is a way in to the whole streaming music subscription concept.
New 12.1.12 version of iTunes adds support for OS X Photos, iOS 8.3 syncing, more
Apple has updated its iTunes music software for OS X separately of its 10.10.3 release yesterday. The new version, 12.1.2, adds support for the OS X Photos application that was included in 10.10.3, though it also still supports iPhoto. The update brings sync support for Photos to sync to iOS devices. It has also added support for syncing with iOS 8.3, and made general "refinements" to the Get Info display in iTunes, as well as improving overall stability.
How to remove duplicates – and when not to
Don't follow this Pointers tutorial until you've read it all first: you could end up deleting tracks from your iTunes library that you don't intend to. Apple has provided tools that make up for how preposterously easy it is to end up with five copies of the same song, but while they are good and you can make them more exact, they are not perfect. Then there are ways to undo mistakes, but since deleted songs go to the trash, you could well empty that before finding out that you wish you hadn't.
Beats integration, iTunes overhaul likely to be on agenda for WWDC in June
A new article in The New York Times describes in some detail the alleged transition plans Apple is undertaking to transform both iTunes and Beats Music, it's acquired subscription streaming service. Among other details, the report assigns roles to iTunes Radio chief Zane Lowe, who until recently was a top BBC Radio 1 DJ, and describes musician Trent Reznor as a "point man" on an iOS Music app overhaul.
Connectivity down globally, but issue resolved by 11:30AM ET
A widespread but apparently brief outage was reported to have affected Apples online digital storefronts this morning, such as the App Store, iTunes Store and Mac App Store. The problem appeared to occur worldwide, but Apple's System Status Page did not acknowledge the issue until hours after it was resolved, which occurred at approximately 8:30AM Pacific. The company suffered a much longer and more severe outage just two weeks ago.
Move intended to capture more of the burgeoning digital audio ad market
Apple has brought its iAd platform to iTunes Radio, and is now offering programmatic ad buying. Alongside the new offering, the Cupertino company is giving ad buyers additional customer targeting ability, with Apple's "Customer Match" tool which indexes customers based on iTunes purchases and behavior in its app stores, linked to an automatic IDFA mobile identifier, rather than manual pairing.
A little fine-tuning will result in delightful listening
Apple's iTunes Radio is one of those things that is criminally underused by most Mac and iOS users, and its a shame: the service is really very good -- and with a tiny amount of effort, can be as, or more, enjoyable than even Pandora One or the other subscription streaming music services, not to mention cheaper. In this post, we're going to show you how to create, and then fine-tune, a custom station that features music you love and compatible new discoveries.
Outage may have cost apple up to $8 million in lost media sales
After nearly a 12-hour downtime, Apple's Internet-facing services such as the iTunes Music Store, iOS App Store, iBookstore and Mac App Store have returned. Apple calls the issue related to an "internal DNS" problem, and with estimates of hourly revenue at about $1 million an hour, this may be the most costly Internet service outage ever.
Mac App Store, iTunes Store preventing users from buying content
[Update: Apple acknowledges issues] A range of Apple's online services are experiencing issues, with the majority of problems relating to the company's online stores. The iTunes Store, App Store, and Mac App Store are all apparently having issues loading up elements of some store pages, though the issues are also apparently affecting back-end services as well as those on the consumer side.
AppleCare now handling support for Beats Music, Apple Pay for Business
Apple will now handle support for Beats Music customers, along with businesses offering Apple Pay, through its AppleCare division, according to reports. Previously, Beats Music support was handled by an outsourced firm, but has now been moved in-house after the company was acquired by Apple last year. The move to offer support to businesses implementing Apple Pay will encourage more companies to do so. There is also a specific Merchants support hotline for Apple Pay for those already using the system.
Timing for overhaul set for around WWDC; Android version might continue?
Apple is now aiming for a revamp of its Beats Music streaming service, which will see the offering tied in more closely to both iTunes and other Apple products and services, to happen in June -- right around the time of the expected Worldwide Developers Conference, which is likely to happen on June 8–12, according to sources familiar with current plans. In addition to retaining the personalization and hand-curated recommendation features, Apple may be planning to lower the monthly cost.
SF's Yerba Buena Center gains Apple signage for the 'Spring Forward' event
Crews are putting up banners, signs, and other decorations to transform the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco into an Apple auditorium for the March 9 "Spring Forward" event, where Apple is expected to offer a general update on its various initiatives as well as formally debut the Apple Watch, which will arrive in stores some time in April. As reported earlier, Apple is also building on an extension to the center that will likely serve as a showcase room for the press to try out the new Apple Watch.
Clever route map for walkers
Footpath -- usually $1 but at time of review free on the App Store -- is a route map app for walkers and runners that does one thing very well. We would like it to do just a little more for the ambulatory, but it's one of those apps you'll play with just to see how it works.
Patent troll owns patent, Apple claims patent too broad and covered by others
Apple has been handed a rare loss in a patent licensing trial. The Cupertino manufacturer has been ordered to pay patent aggregation company Smartflash, a non-practicing entity, $532.9 million for willful infringement of the company's patents in iTunes and in-app purchase processing. The trial was held in Tyler, Texas, the "rocket docket" of patent courts, and notoriously friendly to patent trolls.
Migration assistant set up; users have until March 31, or could lose purchases
Along with the death of AOL logins for use in Messages, the ability of AOL members to use AOL credentials to log into iTunes and its various stores is ending next month, Apple reports. The move, which appears to have been instigated by AOL, will mean that users who use AOL logins will need to migrate to an Apple ID in order to preserve purchase records and access to purchased items from iTunes, the iOS App Store and the iBookstore.
Wide variety of app updates bring instant hotel rooms, streaming video, bug fixes, more
A number of apps for both iOS and OS X have received notable updates lately, ranging from the official NBC app gaining live streaking to Kayak adding a service that allows same-day discounted hotel rooms. Apple has updated iTunes 12.1 specifically for Windows users, while Snapchat now lets users play music while snapchatting. Yelp has added translations of reviews to its own app, and The Sims 4 has debuted on the Mac.
UK-based music tastemaker heading to United States for Apple job
Apple will soon be getting more help with its musical ambitions, as it has reportedly hired BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. The New Zealand-born radio personality, known in the United Kingdom as a tastemaker and helped launch the musical careers of stars including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, will be quitting the station next month before moving to the United States to work with Apple.
First episode of Better Call Saul free on iTunes, Google Play
Better Call Saul, the long-awaited spin-off to Breaking Bad, is now available on iTunes and Google Play. The premiere episode of the series, which is set in the years before the protagonist becomes Walter White's lawyer, is free to acquire from both services, with extra episodes priced at $2 each or $17 for the season pass in standard definition. The high-definition version on iTunes costs $3 per episode and $26 for the entire season.
Making the fiddly easy
Look, we're writing this as much for ourselves as for you. Every time we hanker to add a new sound effect to our text messages or a whole new ringtone to our iPhones, we sweat through the steps and end up seriously wondering if Apple deliberately makes this hard. So that you and we have one place we can look up when we want to do this, here's this Friday's Pointers tutorial on making yourself wish you'd never bothered -- we mean on getting through this as quickly as you can.
Stream any video, from nearly any original source, to your Apple TV
One of the very handiest things about Apple TV is that with it, you can use your television to watch any video on your Macs -- except you really can't, if you operate outside Apple's garden at all. If that video is in iTunes by hook or by crook, you're all set. If it isn't -- and we know you have some that isn't -- then you need to buy Silver Screen: it will stream any video, of just about any format, to your TV.
Fun and promising music controller, but it's not quite there yet
If you have a minute, go get the free ControlAir app just for the fun of seeing it work. It's a way of controlling the music your Mac plays, and doing so by gestures rather than pressing any buttons. Given that it is meant for people who are working at their Macs, it doesn't seem a gigantic saving, waving your finger in the air instead of using it to press down on the keyboard's Skip button. Except pushing buttons was never this entertaining.
Everything you need to know about communal e-living
It didn't take long after the first release of iTunes for some enterprising writers to produce books on how to use it. They were enterprising, and the books sold, but surely most people bought them out of curiosity: how can you stretch talking about iTunes for an entire book? If you managed to make "click on the iTunes icon to open it" last for an entire chapter, what would the rest of the book cover? Back in the day, iTunes was a very smart and very simple piece of software for letting you play music.
Amazon adds iTunes, Spotify, Pandora music options to Echo
An update to the Amazon Echo has added more options for music playback. Recode reports the Internet-connected speaker now offers voice control for Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora, when the Echo is paired with a device that has the required apps installed. Improved responsiveness, question accuracy, and more voice commands have also been touted for the device, which has yet to have a wider release outside of its invitation-only testing.
Widget allows at-a-glance song info, opportunity to purchase through iTunes Radio
On Thursday, Apple released iTunes 12.1, a minor update for Yosemite users only that brings only one new feature, along with a general improvement in syncing performance with iOS devices. The big change is that the program now includes a widget that can be optionally added to the Mac's Notification Center. This will allow users to control and get info on a playing song at a glance, whether the user is listening to their own library or to iTunes Radio.
Appears to replace defunct Single of the Week
Apple has launched a new area on the iTunes Store in the US, simply dubbed "Free on iTunes." rel='nofollow' The section highlights free song and TV downloads. Some musical examples include singles from Waters, Sharon Van Etten, The Babies, and Penguin Prison. TV content includes episodes from Backstrom, 12 Monkeys, The Musketeers, and other shows.
May hint at discontinuing all iTunes freebies
Apple appears to have ended its free Single of the Week promotion on iTunes, visitors note. No tracks have been offered in the first two weeks of 2015, and a person on Apple's support forums claims to have been told by iTunes Support that the company has officially dropped the initiative. It's missing from iTunes Stores across the globe.
Discover new music with surprisingly intuitive app
Finding new music is a difficult task, especially when the radio has become a collective pool of the same 15 songs over and over, almost regardless of station. Streaming service Pandora is a safe bet for many Americans, though that often requires sitting through hours of familiar or similar music in hopes of finding a few undiscovered gems. What are you supposed to do if you're short on time, but equally short on tunes? You try something new, like Discovr, by Filter Squad , which aims to help you find new music you'll love by just knowing your current favorites.
Industry trends hurting Apple
Tracking data from Nielsen SoundScan indicates that on-demand streaming of music content (including audio and video) rose 54 percent in 2014, from 106 billion song streams to 164 billion. At the same time, sales of digital albums fell nine percent, to 117.6 million; sales of individual songs dropped even further, down 12 percent to 1.26 billion. Combined physical and digital album sales slipped 11 percent, to 257 million.
Refunds previously just loosely allowed
European shoppers now have a definite 14-day window in which to claim refunds for iTunes Store purchases, according to updated support documents (PDF). Customers can ask for a refund "without giving any reason," the documents say, and in most cases simply need to find the "Report a Problem" tool. In other instances -- namely those involving iTunes Match, Season Pass, Multi-Pass, or unredeemed iTunes gifts -- a person has to contact iTunes Support.
Looks to copy success of Beyoncé album launch on iTunes
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- whose company is now owned by Apple -- is in negotiations with a number of artists about securing more exclusives for Beats Music, sources claim. The idea is reportedly to copy the success Beyoncé and Apple had with an iTunes exclusive, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, in December of last year. Iovine is known for his connections in the music industry, which include acts like Will.i.am, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani; Minaj sometimes advertises Beats products via placements in her videos. A potential obstacle, though, is opposition from record labels, which typically don't like artists signing their own side deals.
US customers get holiday channels on iTunes Radio instead
As was the case last year, Canadians are once again getting a sale on selected albums in iTunes as part of a "Boxing Day" event, part of a traditional observance throughout Canada and a number of other Commonwealth countries. The UK iTunes Store is also having a sale on hit albums, but doesn't label the event as a "Boxing Day" sale. US users don't get a sale, but are instead enjoying special holiday channels on iTunes Radio, which remains unavailable in the UK and Canada.
Early marketing focuses on 'Best of 2014' content
Apple has expanded its presence in social media, with a new Tumblr blog dedicated to iTunes. At the moment, the site focuses mainly on Apple's Best of 2014 content, in categories including movies, music, TV, and books. The company has had very little presence on Tumblr so far; it launched a page dedicated to the iPhone 5c in March, but has otherwise ignored the site.