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.
Library syncing software for iTunes packed with features at a great value
Apple's iTunes media player has been around since 2001 -- meaning that for many users, it's likely that their library has traversed multiple system upgrades, duplicating and splintering across a variety of drives and mobile devices along the way. For this, there is SuperSync, an app designed to provide access to all your music in one location, allow libraries to be accessed via the Internet, and organize multiple music libraries as to stay organized. Aimed at DJs, avid music collectors, and anyone with multiple libraries, SuperSync aims to get all your tracks in a row. Pricing is organized by license packs, starting at $23 for 2 computers. We took a look at SuperSync for ourselves, and took some of its features for a test run.
Decision reached in less than 24 hours
The jury for the iPod/iTunes DRM lawsuit has ruled that Apple didn't violate antitrust laws by blocking music from rival storefronts in iTunes software updates, Reuters reports. The verdict was rendered in less than a day, following closing arguments on Monday. Had the jury swung in favor of the plaintiffs, the company could have owed some $350 million in penalties.
One dollar app ensures you don't hear the same song too often
There are at least several apps that come to mind that aim to accentuate your iTunes experience. One that we're taking a look at today is Altunenator, a budget-friendly, $1 app that ensures the listener isn't subjected to the same songs (or other media content) too frequently. Altunenator skips tracks for you based on preset parameters such the duration between the last time a song was played, which is particularly suited for playing a large playlist or your full library on shuffle. Is it worth checking out?
Jump, slide, and dance your way through this retro-inspired platformer
Bit.Trip.Run is a game set in the universe of Bit.Trip, a popular app by developer Gaijin Games that debuted on the Wii back in 2009. A total of seven variations came along, with Bit.Trip Runner meeting with great success that quickly went multi-platform, with releases on both the Nintendo 3DS as well as Steam. Bit.Trip.Run is not to be confused with Bit.Trip Runner, which begs the question: how does Bit.Trip.Run distinguish itself from the others in the series?
Top iPad apps previously promoted by Apple
Apple has introduced its annual "Best of 2014" list at the iTunes Store, promoting content in different media categories. The top iPad app, for instance, is Pixelmator, the image editing app Apple also highlighted during its recent press event for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. The top iPad game is Monument Valley, an Apple Design Award winner from WWDC.
Purchase dates may still put whole case at risk
Following the revelation that the two plaintiffs in the ongoing iPod DRM lawsuit may have bought their iPods too late or too early, one of them has withdrawn, reports the New York Times. Melanie Tucker bought one iPod in 2005, and an iPod touch in 2010. The suit only addresses iPods bought between September 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009.
Explains why DRM was formerly required by record companies, more
Day three of the Real vs. Apple trial over allegations that Apple deliberately blocked rival stores' DRM music files on the iPod (a potential antitrust violation) continued today with testimony from Eddy Cue, Apple's SVP of Internet software and services and the executive in charge of the iTunes Store. Cue was on the stand for hours, going through an explanation of why the original iTunes Store had to have digital rights management in the first place, how Apple developed its FairPlay wrapper, and why it chose not to license FairPlay to others.
Standard annual procedure
For 2014, the annual shutdown of iTunes Connect will run from December 22 through to December 29, Apple has announced via its developer portal. Connect is the service used by app developers and book publishers to submit material for sale on iTunes, change prices, and study analytics. During the downtime, app makers won't be able to submit new apps, any updates, or introduce new in-app purchases. Changes to TestFlight betas will also be impossible, although people will be able to continue using beta apps.
Argued Beats could 'plug' Apple's 'hole in music'
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine actively chased after this year's $3 billion acquisition by Apple, a new GQ interview reveals. Iovine explains that Apple was the only company he wanted to work for, and that his argument to Apple executives was that Beats would fill a critical gap. "I know you have a hole in music right now; let me plug it," he said. The pursuit is said to have taken about two years.
Emails show Apple CEO wanted to keep other services off iPod
Evidence from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is likely to be central in an antitrust case against the company set to go to trial tomorrow, notes the New York Times. The plaintiffs charge that Apple's now-defunct DRM restrictions on iPods -- which limited people from copying purchased tracks to unauthorized devices, but had the side effect of limiting options music bought on the iTunes Store, obtained elsewhere in a DRM-free format, or ripped from a CD -- represented anti-competitive behavior, in turn leading to higher prices. Jobs recorded a video deposition prior to his death in 2011, which the plaintiffs' lawyers intend to use, alongside emails written by the CEO.
Only known official online premiere for latest entry in franchise
Apple has confirmed that the first official trailer for next year's new chapter in the saga, The Force Awakens, will debut online on Friday on iTunes. Disney, which now owns the rights to the franchise, had previously said that only 30 cinemas in the US would be screening the trailer on Friday, implying a wider release later. Rumors began shortly afterwards, however, that there would be an online debut as well.
Proceeds from participating apps being donated to Global Fund
To mark the upcoming World AIDS Day on December 1, Apple has launched a trio of initiatives. On the 1st itself, Apple says it will donate "a portion" of its Black Friday sales at its online and retail stores to the Global Fund, which is mainly dedicated to combating AIDS but also tackles diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. On November 28, some random product purchases will include a Product (RED) iTunes gift card; any purchases made with the card in future will go to the Fund. From today through December 7, a program called "Apps for (RED)" will donate the sales from 24 iOS apps - and in some cases, special in-app purchases -- to the same cause.
Billboard introducing streaming plays, digital sales into album chart
The way the popularity of content is measured may be seeing some changes in the coming weeks, both for audio and video. Billboard will start to include streaming and digital track sales as part of the Billboard 200 albums chart, while Nielsen is said to be preparing to track content watched through streaming services starting from next month.
Singer hints at revival of iTunes LP-style concepts
Speaking at today's Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland, U2 frontman Bono dropped some more hints about the band's involvement in a new digital music format for Apple. The company "let us [U2] into the labs," he commented at one point, suggesting direct involvement in unreleased products. Apple is normally extremely strict about who it lets into its development labs, to the extent that even people with high clearance might be allowed in one lab but not another.
Royalty collection company claims Spotify payments 13-percent higher than iTunes
Streaming services are heavily impacting music sales, with one report claiming Spotify's music royalty payments have eclipsed royalties earned through iTunes sales in Europe. Kobalt, a music royalty company representing over 6,000 songwriters and artists, claims that Spotify-derived revenues on the continent were higher that those earned from European iTunes sales by 13 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Company may have acquired local startup
Apple has established an engineering office in Seattle, Washington, according to the Seattle Times. The core of the office is said to be a group of former F5 engineers, working on network infrastructure. The engineers also have connections to Union Bay Networks, a cloud computing startup based near Google's Seattle campus. Union Bay's information email address is no longer operating, and at least five people from that firm have changed their LinkedIn profiles to say they switched to Apple in September. In all, seven of nine people at Union Bay have made the jump.
Company admits to sagging iTunes music sales
Apple's 2014 10-K filing, just published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, shows major increases in acquisitions and research spending. Even excluding its $3 billion Beats takeover, the company still managed to increase acquisition spending from $496 million to $957 million during the last fiscal year. Annual research and development spending has more than doubled during the past three years, rising from $2.4 billion to $6 billion.
Beats Music expected to be rebuilt, integrated into iTunes
Sales at Apple's iTunes Store have fallen between 13 and 14 percent in 2014 so far, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. That represents a steepening decline, coming in the wake of a 2.1 percent dip in 2013. The trend is believed to be connected to the music industry's overall swing away from downloads, and towards streaming subscription services like Pandora and Spotify.
Company's performance generally healthy
In the wake of its official announcement, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its Q4 financial results. On a regional basis, the company did well in most cases, for example increasing Americas revenue 17 percent year-over-year to $16.247 billion, and European revenue 19 percent to $9.535 billion. "Greater" China -- including Hong Kong and Taiwan -- advanced one percent to $5.778 billion, and Japan was up five percent to $3.507 billion. Only the rest of the Asia Pacific region saw problems, with revenue dipping three percent to $1.923 billion. Global retail sales rose 15 percent to $5.133 billion.
Company claims discount could attract more subscribers
In preparation for relaunching Beats Music next year, Apple is currently pushing record labels to allow lowering monthly subscription fees from $10 to $5, sources say. The company's marketing pitch, allegedly, is that even Apple's best iTunes customers typically spend an average of $60 per year, or $5 per month. As such, anyone switching from downloads to streaming would generate an equal amount of revenue -- and more importantly, the potential subscriber pool would increase thanks to more affordable fees.
Software already bundled into OS X Yosemite
Following its debut for the Mac alongside OS X Yosemite, Apple has released the Windows version of iTunes 12. The software brings with it a radically different look, borrowing design cues from Yosemite. One of the major interface changes is the relocation of categories like Music, Apps, Podcasts, and Movies to buttons in a new menu bar, where a second set of fluctuating options makes it easier to jump to associated items like playlists, app updates, a specific section of the iTunes Store, or iTunes Radio.
Analytics portal to be taken offline for maintenance for six hours next Sunday
According to a brief notification sent to developers, Apple is planning to take iTunes Connect offline for approximately six hours starting at 6AM Pacific on Sunday, October 26. The portal is used by developers to submit, take down, update, adjust pricing and study analytics of apps submitted to the Mac and iOS App Stores. The modest maintenance downtime is unusual in light of Apple annual and longer downtime that usually happens in December.
Deluxe version now available on Amazon, other retailers
While many users were happy to get a free album from iTunes, the recent promotion of U2's Songs of Innocence LP done through Apple -- where every iTunes user had a copy added to their past purchases list -- rubbed some listeners the wrong way. Bono, the lead singer for the group, has issued an apology for what he characterized as an overzealous move that resulted from a combination of "a drop of megalomania" and "deep fear" that the songs wouldn't be widely heard.
Less-obvious buttons, more white space, flatter icons fall in line with iOS 7 aesthetic
The flatter, more minimalist look sported by both iOS 7 and 8 as well as the forthcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite has reached iTunes, or at least the version currently being beta-tested for imminent release. With OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1 expected to be unveiled next week at Apple's press event, the music management and storefront application that ties into most users' iOS devices for media access has gained a whiter, flatter interface that does away with shadows and 3D effects in favor of clean lines and subtle buttons.
Apple counting only full album downloads; 81M more have 'experienced' tracks
Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue revealed on Thursday that the U2 album Apple bought and gave away to its users for free, Songs of Innocence, has now been deliberately downloaded by users more than 26 million times, with another 65 million users having listened to at least one of the songs from it either through iTunes Radio, Beats Music or on iTunes. This figure, Cue said, was a little shy of double the sum total of all U2 music bought from iTunes since 2003.
Further tweaks on design in preparation for likely October release
On Thursday, Apple released an updated version of the beta for iTunes 12, intended for developers and OS X 10.10 Yosemite Public Beta testers. The update follows on the heels of Monday's Golden Master candidate for Yosemite. The iTunes update makes very minor changes to version 12, including some refinement on vertical alignment in the top bar, a handful of revised icons and other minor tweaks. The forthcoming final release will include support for Family Sharing, and an overall new look.
First non-disaster donation portal, will be active throughout October
City of Hope, a research and treatment charity focused on cancer and diabetes among other life-threatening illnesses, will be the recipient of donations given by iTunes users through a new portal on the iTunes Store and available for iOS, Mac and Windows users. The move, the first time Apple has set up a donation system for a non-disaster relief organization, is in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and will be available throughout October.
Apple plans for platform's tech still unknown
[Updated with Apple denial] Despite recent efforts to promote the streaming service, Apple is planning to discontinue Beats Music, sources within Apple and Beats say. "Many" Beats Music engineers have reportedly been diverted to other projects, such as iTunes. The sources have no insight on what Apple plans to do with the service's technology.
Automatic downloads annoying some users
Responding to complaints, Apple has created a special web tool for removing U2's Songs of Innocence album from an iTunes account. Users must sign in with an Apple ID, and the company cautions that once the album is removed, people must purchase it if they want it again. The record is still free until October 13th.
Total may be artificially inflated
U2's Songs of Innocence album -- which Apple is currently giving away for free via iTunes -- has already been downloaded over two million times since Tuesday, sources say. The group's back catalog appears to be doing well as well, with 17 albums on the iTunes Top 100 chart, led by The Joshua Tree at number 12.
Company paying for band, Universal's marketing
Apple's giveaway of the latest U2 album cost it over $100 million, sources tell the New York Times. The company is said to have paid the band and its music label, Universal, a blanket royalty fee, and on top of that promised a marketing campaign worth up to $100 million. That includes a worldwide TV campaign, which kicked off with a commercial shown during Apple's livestream on Tuesday.
Minor cosmetic tweaks a-plenty, but no new major features
Following its update of the iOS 8 beta to Golden Master status, Apple on Wednesday also updated iTunes 12, being tested as part of the OS X 10.10 Yosemite public and developer betas. The new version, which still carries the same v12.0 moniker, does not list any significant changes but testers have reported minor tweaks, ranging from a new transparency in the sidebar to a variety of tiny cosmetic changes.
U2 partnership allows large launch, free Sounds of Innocence album until October 13
Not leaving any stone unturned, Apple made a final announcement during the iPhone 6 unveiling that moved away from hardware. After bringing the much-rumored group U2 to the stage to perform their new single during the event, Tim Cook and Bono played out a little event on stage that would lead to one of the biggest musical launches in history, and it was happening on iTunes.
App and Media stores, iTunes Match and Radio unavailable to some users
[Update: problems resolved as of approximately 7:45PM ET] For the second time in as many days, Apple's online stores are unavailable for an undetermined percentage of users. The current outage, which began around 4:30PM ET and is ongoing, is affecting the both the iOS and Mac App Stores, the iBookstore, and a variety of iTunes services such as iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and the iTunes Store. Other iCloud services, such as Siri, email, FaceTime and syncing services are not affected.
Famed tenor Placido Domingo to close out month-long concert series
The iTunes Festival is now underway in London, having kicked off the first night of the month-long concert series with headliner Deadmau5 and opening acts Friends Within and Kate Simko & the London Electronic Orchestra. Performances are streamed live through the official iOS app, iTunes on the Mac or Windows, or via the dedicated Apple TV channel, with selected acts available for repeat or later viewing.
PayPal offering discounted UK iTunes cards at 25 percent off
PayPal is currently offering digital iTunes cards at 25 percent off for UK customers. Users can purchase iTunes codes to redeem for music, films, TV programs, games, apps and more from the iTunes Store, iBooks Store and the App Store. Content purchased can be accessed on iOS devices and Mac or PC computers. The discount offer is available until tonight at 11:59 BST.
deadmau5, Tony Bennett, Placebo among artists
[Updated with iOS app, Apple TV channel news] Another 19 musical acts have been added to the list performing at next month's iTunes Festival in London. Some prominent names include Mary J. Blige, deadmau5, Tony Bennett, Ed Sheeran, Placebo, and Little Dragon. In all, Apple has announced 40 artists, but over 20 more have yet to be made public.
Participants in the OS X Beta Program can now download a second public beta of OS X Yosemite via the Mac App Store. Changes are unlisted, but since it's following just a few days after the release of Developer Preview 6, it presumably incorporates that code's fixes and feature additions. Apple is believed to be building towards a final launch of Yosemite in October, which could mean one or two more public betas in the interim.
Apple adds Wellington, NZ and Yosemite National Park in advance of next OS X release
On Tuesday, Apple further improved its Maps application by adding Flyover and other map data for Wellington, New Zealand and -- ahead of its debut as the namesake for the next OS X upgrade -- Yosemite National Park in California. The company also added new photos of Yosemite's Half Dome mountain as wallpapers in the current developer beta, DP6, which was released on Monday. The addition of Wellington marks the third New Zealand city added to Flyover, joining Auckland and the city of Christchurch.
Elbow, David Gray, Lenny Kravitz, First Aid Kit among names
Apple has added another 21 acts to the list performing at next month's iTunes Festival in London. Some of the better-known additions include Jenny Lewis, Elbow, Paolo Nutini, David Gray, The Script, Jessie Ware, Ryan Adams, First Aid Kit, and Lenny Kravitz. Over 60 acts will be playing in total -- previously-announced performers include Beck, Pharrell Williams, Kylie Minogue, Maroon 5, and Robert Plant.
Facility presumably meant to support iCloud in South America
Construction of a new Apple datacenter is underway on Curaçao, reports say. Curaçao is an island off the coast of Venezuela, but a constituent country of the Netherlands. The center is said to be nearly complete already; the original company behind the project went bankrupt however, forcing the Unique Infrastructure Group to take over.
Last prong of three-spoke trial initial hearing held in front of skeptical judge
A nine-year-old lawsuit over Apple's digital rights management in the iTunes Music Store and on the iPod rages on. Lawyers for the complainants continue to claim that changes in iTunes blocking other companies' music stores from functioning on the iPod allowed Apple to raise prices. The $350 million lawsuit against the Cupertino manufacturer had a hearing earlier this week, following the retirement of the first judge in the case.
Comic legend offered the original voice to the 'Your Verse' campaign
[Updated with addition of feature spot on the main Apple website] The death of actor and comic Robin Williams has spawned a dedicated section at the iTunes Store where fans can find various movies, specials and other performances from the widely-loved actor and comedian. Among the offerings are both videos and audio-only appearances, celebrating the diversity of his career along with a brief biographical note. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Nest CEO Tony Fadell were among the luminaries that remembered Williams in tweets on Monday.