Now offers Tune Your Taste, verified accounts, song history, more
As the process of Beats Music's acquisition by Apple continues, the iOS app for the subscription-based Beats Music service has received an update to both make playback better and more reliable as well as to improve the overall user experience. The new version 2.2.0 gives users the ability to customize the services's "Just For You" recommendations by changing artists and genres with a new feature called Tune Your Taste. In addition to some other changes, Beats reports that it has "fixed a ton of bugs."
Apple pushes iTunes 12 beta as optional update for OS X Yosemite beta
Apple is pushing OS X Yosemite public beta users access to the new iTunes 12 beta. Developers were granted access to the iTunes 12 beta earlier in this week, and similarly OS X Yosemite public beta users will receive a notification via the Mac App Store software update function to install the optional update. iTunes 12 comes with a redesigned interface along with new features. Like the OS X Yosemite beta, the software is not finalized for release and may not alway work as expected, but gives Mac users an opportunity to provide Apple with feedback ahead of its official introduction.
iTunes and App Store difficulties already resolved
[Updated with spreading service issues] Apple online services have been affected by a pair of problems on Thursday, the company's system status page indicates. Still ongoing is a glitch with iCloud Mail, resulting in "slower than normal response" for some users. Trouble appears to have begun shortly after 2PM Eastern.
iPod continues terminal decline
In addition to its official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown of its fiscal Q3 results. "Greater China" -- including Taiwan and Hong Kong -- continued to lead the charge regionally, with its revenue increasing 28 percent year-over-year to $5.935 billion. Europe and Asia-Pacific each advanced 6 percent, to $8.091 billion and $2.161 billion, respectively. Apple's most important market, the Americas, rose 1 percent to $14.577 billion. Global retail numbers were up 1 percent to $4.104 billion.
OS X gets iTunes 12, iOS 8 gets new Tips app
(Updated with other beta releases, more Yosemite changes) Apple is now seeding its fourth betas of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite to developers. Perhaps the most significant change is in the latter, which includes the first beta of iTunes 12. The updated media player uses a flatter, streamlined design more in keeping with Yosemite, and is the first version to support Family Sharing, something also present in iOS 8. While Yosemite is still only accessible to developers, sources claim that the first public beta could go live later this month, after Apple has put more polish on it.
Passbook card is refillable at Apple Stores, debuted in Japan
One day after the service initially debuted in Japan, the new "iTunes Pass" Passbook card is now available in the US and Australia. The iTunes app on an iPhone or iPad can now issue an "iTunes Pass" card for Passbook to users who click on the "Redeem" button in the iTunes app. Once in place, users can bring the device to their nearest Apple retail store, where staff can take money and instantly add it to the Passbook card by scanning the card, which in turn credits the users' iTunes account.
New app versions include videos, interviews, photos and lower cost
In an unusual move, Concord Music Group and former Beatle Paul McCartney have re-worked five of the singer-songwriter's classic albums -- McCartney, Ram, Band on the Run, Wings over America and 1980's McCartney II -- as multi-media iPad apps. The re-worked iPad versions feature not only remastered audio of the albums in question, but also videos, interviews, artwork associated with the release (such as single covers) and photos from the period.
Google's Chrome browser app for iOS adds Chromecast support
Google has updated its Chrome browser app for iOS today, adding Chromecast support. Chrome for iOS syncs tabs and bookmarks across devices, can translate webpages in any language, and allows users to open as many tabs as is desired. Chrome v36.0.19 allows mobile sites that have added Cast support to work one's Cast-enabled device. Additionally included in the update are stability-focused improvements and bug fixes. Chrome for iOS is free to download and requires iOS 6.0 or later.
Could reach more regions soon
In Japan, Apple has unexpectedly announced iTunes Pass, a new service based on iOS' Passbook app. People wanting to refill their iTunes Store account can take an iPhone (or iPod touch) into a Japanese Apple Store and buy credit from a clerk, who then scans in the amount via Passbook. The money should be available immediately.
iOS users will have to wait for iOS 8
Apple has released iTunes 11.3 for Mac and Windows users. The main addition is support for iTunes Extras associated with HD movies, granting access to things like galleries, commentaries, behind-the-scenes clips, and short films. Not every movie has Extras, since these require special formatting on the part of content creators, but even previously-purchased titles can get Extras for free if they're added later.
Apple, Disney overcome contract dispute
Disney content is once again available on the Japanese version of the iTunes Store, according to an official statement. That content suddenly disappeared recently, and without explanation. In talking with Variety, though, Disney confirms that "the interruption was due to difficulties negotiating the renewal of the old contract between Apple and Disney Japan. The new contract was signed on Wednesday and both rentals (VoD) and electronic sell-through returned to normal."
Mac video editor update fixes crashing bug, improves stability
On Tuesday, Apple issued a minor update to the OS X version of iMovie, bringing it to v10.0.4. The new version sports only a single bug fix, along with the usual "stability improvements" tweaking. The update addresses an issue that would occasionally cause iMovie to crash or quit unexpectedly. It's not clear if the fix is related to a previous minor update that also addressed a crashing bug. Current iMovie owners can update through Software Update; new users can buy the OS X version of the app for $15 (a version for iOS is also available).
Adds clarity to 'Best New Games' section, showcases recently-refreshed titles
Readers have reported that Apple is continuing to tweak the app-discovery experience in the iOS App Store, and on Thursday added a new "Best New Updates" section for iOS games, drawing user attention to recently-refreshed titles separate of the existing "Best New Games" section, which would sometimes contain updated rather than genuinely new titles. The move should benefit games that fall into both categories by clarifying updated versus all-new titles.
2K Games announces July 2 launch of Civilization Revolution 2 for iOS
2K Games has announced that it will soon release a new iteration of Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2 for iOS and Android. The first title in the franchise specifically designed for mobile use, the game will combine core tactical elements of the series with a user interface specifically intended for touchpad devices. Historical leaders found in this version, as well as the first game, include Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and more, with new appearances from leaders such as Churchill and Kennedy. Available July 2, iOS users can download the game through iTunes.
Best Way to Manage Music Libraries
Yesterday in the MacNN Forums, Mac Elite "schalliol" was explaining a situation he has, where he would like to be able to maintain a high-definition music library on a NAS that can be played from iTunes, Sonos and other applications from the server -- and wondered if there was a way to push MP3/AAC versions of songs to mobile devices. "Which app did this?" asks "Thorzdad" after his wife's iPhone unexpectedly began beeping and producing weather warnings.
Service timing out for some users
A number of iTunes Match users are experiencing problems matching and uploading tracks, according to complaints on Apple's support forums. Affected users will see iTunes say "Matching your music with songs from iTunes Store," but have the process stall out as it appears to be on the verge of completion. Difficulties started on or around June 9 and are continuing.
Some apps not propagating
A number of users are reporting problems accessing functions in various Apple online services, including the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the Apple TV. People with an Apple TV, for example, may be unable to load the Movies or TV Shows apps, although other apps like iTunes Radio and Netflix are still up. At the iOS App Store, some titles -- such as Facebook Messenger or Skype 5.0 -- are apparently missing or otherwise not propagating correctly.
Kindle for iOS adds compatibility with Audible audiobooks
Kindle has updated its iOS app, now allowing users to access purchased Audible content. Users can switch back and forth between reading a Kindle version of a book and the Audible audiobook version, depending on the relevant situation. Over 45,000 Kindle and Audible title pairs are now available. Additional features in v4.3 include synchronized reading progress between the Audible and Kindle versions of a book, the option to increase narration speed by up to 2x, and bulk title downloading. The Kindle iOS app is free to download through iTunes.
New York, Austin, Los Angeles among NPR affliates
As anticipated, ESPN and a collection of local National Public Radio affiliates have been added to Apple's iTunes Radio service. Both are live streams of their broadcast counterparts, and in some cases use custom art for individual shows. Some of the NPR affiliates include ones in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, and Washington DC.
Adds analytics, more app info
A redesigned iTunes Connect portal will be made available to developers and content holders later in 2014, Apple revealed yesterday during its Platforms State of the Union presentation, which is now available in video format via the WWDC website and app. Visually the new interface takes after iCloud.com. Feature-wise however it's receiving several important upgrades, including more data for app developers, and an analytics component that will let people track figures like whether people are remaining active users of software. Apple notes that people won't have to download anything to get the iTunes Connect update.
Ten-year old game makes its way to mobile devices with optimized experience
After showing up on the New Zealand iTunes store, Square Enix has officially announced that Dragon Quest VIII has been released for iOS and Android. The game, which was a popular Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) released for Playstation 2 in 2004, comes to mobile gaming almost 10 years after its release in North America.
Could make iTunes more appealing to marketers
Apple is planning several changes to improve the success of iTunes Radio, according to ad buyers reached by The Information. The first is the addition locally-targeted ads, something reportedly happening later this year. The company may also begin promoting iTunes with "house ads" on its iAd network.
Claims best products in 25 years due in 2014
Speaking yesterday at the Code Conference, Apple's senior VP of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue -- joined by Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- offered an explanation of the company's $3 billion buyout of Beats, and also discussed Apple's upcoming product pipeline. He noted that a deal for Beats and/or the people behind it has been in development for a decade, and that together the two companies should be able to speed up products that are being kept secret.
Notes that Beats' music service got subscription 'right'
In a memo to employees following Apple's $3 billion acquisition of Beats Music and Beats Electronics, CEO Tim Cook has described the purchase as a way to "make our incredible iTunes lineup even better, extending the emotional connection our customers have with music." He also made note of the fact that Apple felt the way Beats music, while a fledgling service, had handled the concept of subscriptions, calling it "just right."
Users spending less money on music
Apple's revenues from iTunes music sales are continuing to shrink, but these will soon be fully compensated for by sales at the App Store, says Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty. In the last quarter, people with iTunes accounts spent an average of just $3.29 on music, a drop of 24 percent year-over-year. Based on estimates though, it's predicted that by the end of 2014 App Store sales should not only replace lost revenue but surpass it.
iTunes 11 enmity and more
Yesterday in the MacNN Forum Regular "Titanium Man" was asking if fellow forum-goers if they had any suggestions for good music players since they hate iTunes 11, and "downgrading to iTunes 10 causes some pretty bad problems." Grizzled Veteran "yoyoman" is still looking for opinions on which ear piece they should buy, one from Dash or one from LG.
Version 11.2.1 corrects accidentally hidden Users folder
On Friday, Apple updated its iTunes application for the second time in as many days, but this time it was to correct a bug apparently introduced in the previous update, which accompanied the release of OS X 10.9.3. The new iTunes 11.2.1 update has the same release notes as the previous version but in fact exists solely to correct an error that hid the "Users" folder, causing consternation among Mavericks upgraders.
Podcasts gets support for Siri, CarPlay, AirDrop
In the wake of OS X 10.9.3 and iTunes 11.2, Apple has also released updated Podcasts and iTunes Connect apps for iOS. Podcasts 2.1 mirrors the latest changes in iTunes, incorporating a new Unplayed tab -- which makes it easier to listen to new content -- and "Feed" tab for browsing episodes ready to download or stream. Favorite episodes can be saved for later listening offline, and played ones can be deleted automatically.
New version brings overall performance and stability improvements
Alongside of Apple's update of OS X Mavericks to 10.9.3, Apple also updated media player and manager iTunes to version 11.2. In addition to the normal improvements to overall performance and stability, the new version fixes some problems with Genius, and modifies the application's podcast management features.
Any changes likely to be introduced at WWDC
Apple is planning to build support for higher-definition audio into iOS 8, claims Japanese site Macotakara. At the moment, iOS can't handle 24-bit audio files and hence sampling frequencies beyond 48kHz. While 16-bit files are fine for most listeners, that means that iOS can't load the lossless formats some people prefer.
Latest in a series of album debuts attracting listeners, press
Apple's iTunes Radio continues to attract publicity and listeners through a string of recent streaming "listening party" album debuts, with the latest being Coldplay offering their latest album, Ghost Stories, as a free stream on the service. The new album, which debuts May 19, joins a long list of recent debuts, including albums by The Black Keys, Pharrell, Eminem and Beyonce.
Beats' Jimmy Iovine seen on Apple campus
Apple took an interest in buying Beats Electronics because of Beats Music, according to a Bloomberg source claimed to be familiar with acquisition talks. Beats Music launched just earlier this year, but Apple executives are said to have been impressed by Beats' ability to convert people into paying subscribers. That could imply that Apple wants to improve iTunes Radio by upgrading its design and/or introducing more subscription options. The closest thing to an iTunes Radio subscription is iTunes Match, which removes ads from Radio but is intended mainly as a way of backing up a personal library and streaming it anywhere.
League likely trying to control usage of team names
Major League Baseball has asked Apple to pull a number of team-based podcasts from iTunes, reports say. These include shows like Pirates Prospects, Mets Musings, It's About the Yankees Stupid, and two Twins podcasts, Talk to Contact and Gleeman and the Geek. The latter, significantly, is hosted by NBC Sports' Aaron Gleeman.
New 'Turn Blue' to be released May 13; two songs available now
As part of an ongoing effort to differentiate itself from other streaming services, iTunes Radio has lately been on a tear of offering pre-release albums streamed on the ad-supported service. The latest entry is the new album Turn Blue by The Black Keys, now available to listen to in its entirety through a dedicated "First Play" channel. Also currently available under the "First Play" moniker are new albums by Michael W. Smith and Chromeo.
Add-on service to capitalize on iPhone, Mac popularity
On Thursday, Apple opened its iTunes Match cloud storage and syncing add-on service to Japan, two-and-a-half years after its original US debut, and in time to take full advantage of the iPhone's staggering popularity in the country. During a conference call with analysts, CEO Tim Cook said that the iPhone now accounts for more than 57 percent marketshare, and that Mac sales have also improved -- seeing "double digit" increases. The subscription-based service is ideal for users who want to carry around large libraries of music with the confines of the space-limited iPhone.
Changes make iTunes video content more useful
Apple has made two important improvements to its German video offerings, reports say. The most important is iTunes in the Cloud support for movies and TV shows; this means that content bought or rented on one device can be downloaded elsewhere, or again, at no extra cost, as long as it's tied to the same Apple ID. By extension, the second change is that TV shows hosted on iTunes can now be viewed on an Apple TV.
Retail revenues virtually flat
As a part of announcing its second-quarter results, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown (PDF), exposing further facts. They reveal, for instance, that Apple's iPad revenues dropped 16.4 percent year-over-year, shifting from roughly $8.7 billion to $7.6 billion. The company has typically seen continuous growth for the iPad, but units fell from just under 19.5 million to 16.3 million. Cook later clarified that inventory changes made the drop seem much more dramatic than it actually was in terms of end-user sales.
iOS 6 users still dealing with FaceTime woes
Apple appears to have fixed a problem that prevented owners of the first-generation Apple TV from accessing iTunes, according to comments on the product's support forums. The outage began over the weekend, but was resolved just earlier today. It's not clear what caused the issue, or why it would only affect first-gen Apple TVs.
Plans described as 'very, very serious'
Apple has been conducting interviews of senior payment industry executives in a bid to build up a mobile payment platform, sources say. The company is allegedly talking to candidates for two positions, one as head of product and another as head of business development. Apple's e-commerce chief, Jennifer Bailey, is indicated to be spearheading payment system efforts and meeting with the candidates in question. "Their [Apple's] ambitions are very, very serious," one of the sources comments.
Song-identification technology may be enlisted for Siri, iTunes Radio
Citing unnamed sources "with knowledge of the product," Bloomberg is reporting that Apple may enter into a partnership with song-identifying app Shazam to bring the music-matching feature to iOS 8. Users could, for example, ask Siri "what song is playing?" as they listen to iTunes Radio or other streaming music services, with the voice assistant enlisting Shazam's services to return an answer after a short identifying pause. This in turn would produce a link to the song on iTunes.
Sighting adds to rumors that Apple plans multi-country but slow rollout
Fueling speculation that Apple may be planning to expand iTunes Radio to selected countries in the near future, tweets on Twitter have revealed that Apple's director of iAd services, Paul Wright, has been making the rounds of London media marketing and ad agencies where he is based. This follows claims by online radio service Bloom, which would be a competitor to iTunes Radio in the UK, that it was rebuffed from advertising on iAd, and a report of iTunes Radio briefly functioning in Ecuador.
Follows earlier report of occasional reception in Canada, UK
Users in Ecuador have provided evidence that iTunes Radio is now sporadically available in the South American country, suggesting that Apple is testing the service in preparation for international rollouts there and elsewhere. The news comes on the heels of previous reports in both the UK and Canada that saw testing of the service in those place, which may hint that Apple plans to announce a big expansion of the service in the near future. Officially, it is only available in the US and Australia currently.
Might accompany rumored overhaul of iTunes Store
[Updated with Apple hiring details] Following on the heels of a claim that Apple is planning to "dramatically" overhaul the iTunes music store in the near future, a previous rumor that the company was considering offering "high-resolution" 24-bit music tracks has gained new currency. Apple has been reported to be looking for ways to boost digital music sales, which have seen a slump as users spend more time listening to on-demand streaming services like Spotify. The higher-quality music files would likely be offered in a lossless format.
iTunes Radio failing to convert listeners into buyers
Apple is considering a major overhaul of the iTunes Music Store in light of iTunes Radio failing to slow the decline of music downloads, say anonymous executives allegedly familiar with the company's plans. One of the key features of iTunes Radio, from Apple's perspective, is the ease with which it lets people by music from the iTunes Store. Only about 1 to 2 percent of people are actually tapping the Buy button though, and overall music downloads have declined by more than 15 percent.
GoT: Ascent debuts on iPad just ahead of April 6 series premiere
Just ahead of its fourth season debut on HBO, the official Game of Thrones: Ascent game, previously playable only on the web and Facebook, has launched on the iPad. The free app includes Game Center integration, updated artwork suitable for Retina-quality displays, and "Volume You," a history of the player's character through the storyline. As the series unfolds, new content will be added to the game to reflect what has happened on the show. Season Four of the popular drama will debut on April 6.
Deals with unauthorized purchases made by children in games
As part of a settlement Apple agreed to with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over problems and excessive charges made by children through in-app purchases (IAPs), the company has sent out letters to some iTunes account holders, offering refunds "in certain cases" where a child has been able to make unauthorized IAPs without the parents' awareness. There have been numerous incidents made public of children who racked up extraordinary charges through IAPs.
Local affiliates anticipated soon
Apple is today adding National Public Radio as a channel on iTunes Radio, according to officials with NPR. The stream will be free and run 24 hours a day, mixing live news with the broadcaster's pre-recorded shows. Within the next few weeks, local NPR affiliates should start offering channels of their own. Other details of the agreement with Apple are unknown, but NPR is run as a non-profit.
'Photowall for Chromecast' App available now, has no functionality
Google has inadvertently released what appears to be a partially-finished iOS application to Apple's App Store, leveraging its new Chromecast television dongle peripheral. The new iOS-only app called "Photowall for Chromecast" will at some point allow users to create a photo montage through the iOS device to a Chromecast.
AnyFront 1.1 released, adds simplified font management
Font app AnyFont for iOS has released an update, v 1.1, offering users greater flexibility with font management. AnyFont allows users to install any additional font in TrueTypeFont (.ttf) or OpenTypeFont (.oft) format on one's iPhone or iPad. In v1.1.0, users can now install multiple fonts or multiple shapes of a font at once, add or delete multiple fonts to AnyFont as a ZIP archive in one step, and preview fonts in AnyFont's storage. Additionally included are bug fixes, including a remedy to a localization issue. Available for $2, AnyFont can be downloaded through iTunes.
Options said to be in early stages, may not come to fruition
About 12 years, Apple brought out its second-generation iPod and made it compatible with Windows, where it had previously been a Mac-only product. A year later, iTunes came to Windows in a move that ensured the software's dominance in the then still-niche MP3 player market. According to music trade magazine Billboard, Apple may again be considering "sleeping with the enemy" in the form of an iTunes app for Android, and is also said to be considering expanding its streaming-music options.