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.
Restores Contacts and Calendar local syncing to iTunes
Following the release of internal betas distributed to Apple and AppleCare employees on Tuesday, the company has now made its latest betas for OS X Mavericks and iTunes available to developers. As noted previously, the update to iTunes restores local management of Contacts and Calendar data for users who prefer not to use iCloud syncing. The latest Mavericks beta features improved support for 4K high-definition displays.
iTunes update returns local calendar and contact sync
Apple has begun seeding new pre-release betas of OS X 10.9.3 and iTunes 11.1.6 within the company. Of the two the latter is the most significant, since it's the first v11.1.6 beta and makes a critical change to iTunes, restoring the ability to sync contact and calendar information to iOS devices via a Mac. The alternative for affected people has been using iCloud sync or manual entry.
Some performances to be available for later viewing
All of the video streaming at this week's iTunes Festival SXSW in Austin, Texas is being handled by Vevo, the online music service has announced. Live streaming starts tonight and runs through March 15th. To view a concert, people must have a Mac, an Apple TV, or an iOS device with the Vevo or iTunes Festival apps. Mac owners must visit vevo.com/itunesfestival using Safari.
New Flagship store in San Francisco gains final approval
All obstacles have been cleared, and the long-planned Union Square flagship Apple Store has finally received final clearance from the San Francisco City Council to demolish the current standing building and begin renovations and construction on the new store. The new building will be a two-story structure with an all-glass frontage facing Union Square, utilizing a cantilevered design that features a patio and waterfall behind the store.
App visible in US, but downloads may be broken
[Updated: US version of the app now downloading normally] Apple appears to have released an updated iTunes Festival app, v5.0, with content support for next week's SXSW concerts in Austin, Texas. So far, though, mostly people outside the US have successfully downloaded the software; Americans trying to download it via iTunes are encountering errors saying the app is "unavailable." Likewise, the title doesn't appear in US App Store searches.
Changes could be wedged into iOS 7.1
Apple is "scrambling" to make changes to the way in-app purchases work ahead of an FTC deadline, a source tells ZDNet. As a part of its $32.5 million settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission, Apple must fix flaws in the App Store that have allowed people -- mostly children -- to inadvertently rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars in iTunes charges. The deadline for those changes is just a few weeks from now, March 31st.
App will allegedly require iOS update
A public release of iOS 7.1 may be imminent, says John Gruber. The tech commentator says he's learned that the app Apple will use to stream iTunes Festival SXSW will require v7.1. Since the festival starts next week, that means that v7.1 would have to be ready in a matter of days.
Judge said to be hesitant to go through with measure
A Belgian judge is considering whether to order local ISPs to block access to Apple websites in the country, local reports say. The measure is a possible response to charges of fraud brought by consumer protection group FPS Economy. FPS points out that while Apple has been claiming a standard warranty of just one year, European law mandates a minimum of two, at no extra cost. Apple has been asking Belgians to buy an extended AppleCare warranty to get two years of support.
90s grunge act Soundgarden to perform 'Superunknown' in full at concert
On the heels of the announcement that the iTunes Festival, a live music event held annually in London, will be extended to a week of shows in the US for the first time at this year's SXSW music festival, Apple has now announced that 90s rock act Soundgarden will join the lineup. The band, featuring its full original lineup, will perform its best-known album "Superunknown" in full during the concert, celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Minor maintenance release
Apple has released a minor update for iTunes, v11.1.5. The new code mainly deals with a glitch related to syncing. It also, however, improves compatibility with iBooks for Mac for users of OS X Mavericks.
SurveyMonkey releases new app for survey tools on iOS
Online survey tool provider SurveyMonkey has launched an app for mobile creation and monitoring of surveys. Currently only available for iOS devices, the app features an intuitive user interface that facilitates the writing and designing of surveys and polls, as well as the sending of completed surveys to anyone via the Web, email or social media. Users can keep track of survey responses as they are received, and SurveryMonkey's analytics tool can organize, compare and filter data results. SurveyMonkey is a free download through iTunes, with Pro subscription options available ($24 monthly, $200 annual) that allow users to personalize the app with one's company logo, have access to more templates, and more.
Mainstream pop acts announced as headliners
The iTunes Festival will be coming to the US for the first time at this year's South-by-Southwest in Austin, Texas, Apple has announced. All shows will be held between March 11th and the 15th at the Moody Theater downtown. So far, only Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull, and ZEDD have been announced as acts, but more announcements are due soon. For people not at the Moody the event will be streamed to Macs, Apple TVs, and iOS devices.
Gives developers insights into sales patterns, useful for targeting
On top of a new beta of OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 delivered ahead of schedule, Apple on Monday also issued a new version of its iTunes Connect Sales and Trends Tool. The program aids developers in understanding more about when and where sales are occurring as well as app data such as how buyers react to price hikes or sales and other insights. The update includes the ability to group sales by territory or across a specified time period.
If it were independent, iTunes would rank 130th on Fortune 500
A new analysis of Apple's iTunes and iTunes-related businesses (music sales, video sales and streaming, e-books and most importantly apps) by Asymco's Horace Dediu has revealed that it is, on its own, one of the world's most valuable businesses -- and would be ranked at 130 on the Fortune 500 if taken separately from the rest of Apple. In addition, Dediu says that iTunes' revenue is about half that of Google's search business, and growing slightly faster.
Canada, UK, New Zealand rumored to be coming soon
iTunes Radio is now available to people in Australia, Apple has announced. There the service is functionally identical to its American sibling, in that it's primarily supported by advertising, but free to people who have an iTunes Match subscription. To listen, people need a Mac or Windows PC with iTunes, an Apple TV, or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Game hinders users ability to rate lower than five stars
Information has surfaced about the new free-to-play Dungeon Keeper game that has lead to a public outcry against Electronic Arts by gamers and fans of the series. In information reported by Gamasutra, the game uses questionable means in order to secure five star ratings on the Google Play.
Song cracked $1 million in first hour after Super Bowl ad
During Bank of America's (Product) RED promotion on iTunes, over 3 million copies of U2's newest single were downloaded, according to an announcement. Over 1 million of those went out during the first hour after an ad promoting the deal ran during the Super Bowl. As a result of the initiative, over $3 million should go towards the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Free download expires later today
Bank of America will donate $1 to (Product) RED for every download of U2's free "Invisible" single on iTunes, the company announced during last night's Super Bowl. (Product) RED is an initiative which directs money from specially-branded products to the Global Fund, a charity dedicated to fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. RED was co-founded by U2's lead singer Bono in 2006.
Rap Genius releases iPhone app, featuring song identification
Lyrical interpretation database site, Rap Genius, released its new app for iOS this week, Genius. Providing access to annotated lyrics for over one million songs, Genius features explanations to unclear lines, defines uncommon terms, and provides context for how songs fit into the broader scope of an artist's work. Users can find out the lyrics for a song that is playing in the vicinity, similar to the capabilities found in music recognition apps such as Shazam. Genius provides lyrics for all the songs in one's iTunes library, presented in the app's My Music section.
Future buyers could scan code with iPhone camera, pay with iTunes credit
A report in the Wall Street Journal suggests that Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue have been holding meetings and discussions with other technology business leaders regarding an Apple-branded mobile payment system. Buyers could, for example, simply scan a product barcode using their iPhone, confirm the purchase, and instantly pay for it through their iTunes or linked credit card accounts.
iOS 7 iTunes permissions, display malfunctions and more
Today, Mac Elite "Zoom" turned to the MacNN forums with some questions about iTunes permissions in iOS 7. "Was it the Chromium browser or a display malfunction?" asks Junior Member "porrid" after their display suddenly went black.
Relatively minor release
Apple has posted a minor update for iTunes, v11.1.4. The only significant feature addition is the ability to access the Wish List from the iTunes library, instead of having to visit the iTunes Store or the App Store. Apple has also improved support for Arabic and Hebrew, and made unspecified stability fixes.
Playlist tech could switch between media sources
The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for a idea called "auto-station tuning," notes AppleInsider. The technology would automatically generate media playlists based on user preferences. While similar in concept to the current Genius function in iTunes, the patented idea would allow playlists to switch between sources such as FM/satellite radio, live TV, and Internet stations, instead of focusing exclusively on locally-stored content.
Akasha game launches on Google Play, with later release on App Store
Games publisher and developer GameEvil has announced its release of Akasha, its latest action MORPG. Featuring three retro classes -- Fighter, Archer and Mage -- players are able to experience dynamic action gameplay while enjoying the classic aesthetic of an MORPG. Its specialized dungeon play and skill upgrading system is customizable. Gamers who play prior to January 26, will receive a Beginner Support Pac and two limited-edition in-game crystals, offering passive stats and bonuses.
Stars premiering Michael Bay-produced show one week before broadcast
A pirate drama by Starz will be taking the unusual step of premiering online one week before being broadcast. Black Sails, produced by Michael Bay, will be made available to view on January 18th through iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Xbox Video, the Maxim website and Xbox Live app, and the Machinima YouTube channel, according to Variety, with Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox, and Charter Communications also set to offer the show through alternative platforms.
Scanner Pro becomes first free App of the Week for 2014
The first "App of the Week" on iTunes for 2014 is Readdle's Scanner Pro, a normally $7 program that turns an iPhone or iPad camera into a scanner. The program combines plane mechanics and border detection to straighten documents, then saves them as PDF files on a variety of cloud services, including iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive. With the purchase of in-app credits, users can also send the PDF scan as an outgoing fax which is delivered to conventional fax machines.
Day six of Apple's "12 Days of Gifts" features free "New Years Eve Mix" from Avicii
Apple's annual 12 Days of Gifts is on its sixth day, with today's offering being the "New Years Eve Mix" single from Swedish DJ Avicii. Each day's gift can be found by using Apple's 12 Days of Gifts app, available for iOS devices, and users can subsequently download the gift item directly from the iTunes Store. Normally priced at $5, the "New Years Eve Mix" single is accompanied by Avicii's music video for "Wake Me Up".
Gifts vary by region or country due to restrictions, store limits
Apple is continuing its "12 Days of Gifts" promotion, which allows iOS users to download a free gift every day (including, for the first time, US users). Monday's Day 5 present is a free copy of the Martin Scorsese film Hugo in the US and Canada, while in the UK the movie is instead the Christmas classic Home Alone (the films normally sell for around $15-$18). The movie is available in 1080p, 720p ("HD") and standard definition.
Dev portal iTunes Connect returns from holiday
Apple on Friday re-opened its iTunes Connect developer portal a day early from its stated week-long holiday, as it has for each of the past three years. Developers are now able to change pricing, post app updates, debut new titles and otherwise manage and analyze app sales. The company had said that the service would be closed until December 28, but it sent out an email to developers on Friday indicating that services were back online. Newsstand magazine updates will also resume with the re-opening of the portal.
US residents enjoy special holiday 'channels' on iTunes Radio instead
While US residents can brag on their ability to listen to special "holiday" channels on iTunes Radio, other countries have their own iTunes celebrations going on -- the Canadian iTunes Store, for example, has launched a "Boxing Day" sale on select albums and songs, while the UK store has a similar sale (but not, strangely, labeled as "Boxing Day" related). In both countries and a few others, "Boxing Day" kicks off a week of sales from all manner of retailers.
Sales galore on games and other apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
[Updated again with yet more app deals] Freebies and discounts on iOS apps are in plentiful supply during this holiday season, and MacNN is scouring the US App Store and web to bring our readers the best of these discounts, most of which should be locked-in throughout the next week or so (Apple is closing its iTunes Connect service, which allows developers to change App Store prices, until December 27). Here are just some of the best deals we've found for you.
New iTunes-exclusive Beyoncé album hits 1M sales in five days
The iTunes-exclusive (and unexpected) self-titled Beyoncé "visual album" has hit over one million in album sales in its first five days, Apple has confirmed. Earlier this week, the iTunes maker had announced sales of over 828,000 copies, making it the fastest-selling record in iTunes history. The eponymous album was kept secret until its release -- borrowing a trick from David Bowie, who launched a similar surprise comeback album a few months back -- and includes 17 videos.
Store was last to get gifting options, works with desktop version too
The last Apple digital storefront has now added a "gift" option, just in time for the holidays. On Tuesday, Apple activated gifting to the iBookstore, allowing customers to buy and send e-books either immediately or on a specific date. The company had previously enabled the option for apps, movies, TV shows and music back in 2010. The option is available on all e-books, and iTunes Store credit can be used to purchase the gift.
Winners organized into six categories
Apple has published seven "Best of 2013" lists, showcasing the year's most popular content from iTunes and the App Store. The six categories include music, movies, TV shows, iOS apps and books. Readers can view existing Top Sellers in each of the sections, or editor's choice content such as "breakthrough artist" in music and "best male performance" in movies.
Move done last minute to extend UK copyright 20 years
A new Beatles album replete with songs previously available only as bootlegs will appear on iTunes on December 17, beating a copyright expiration in the United Kingdom. The album, called The Beatles: bootleg recordings 1963 will be exclusive to Apple's download service, and will serve to extend the copyright over the recordings for another 20 years. It is not known if the tracks will make it to iTunes radio.
Beyoncé moves 829K albums in three days on iTunes
The surprise album pop star Beyoncé Knowles released exclusively on iTunes last week has become the fastest-selling ever on Apple's iTunes Store. Apple on Monday issued a press release revealing that the project -- entitled Beyoncé -- had sold 828,773 albums in its first three days of availability. The iTunes-only album went gold in the United States in just three days, and it went number one in 104 countries.
Updated DataMan Pro offers improved Smart Forecast, usage prediction
DataMan Pro, a data usage app for iOS, has released an updated version today. Version 8.3 of the app learns its user's usage trends, and can notify users how much they can use each day without surpassing a user-defined data cap. The new version also features an improved Smart Forecast, allowing users receive notifications on their usage based on trended information.
Allows more than 25,000 songs to be stored, streamed in virtual 'music locker'
The iTunes Match service, a yearly-subscription service from Apple that allows users to store and stream more than 25,000 songs from their own library (regardless of original source) has arrived in four new Nordic countries. Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden now have access to the service, which costs 249 Krona (between $38-45 US depending on the country) or €25 ($34.40) in Finland. All four countries also gain iTunes in the Cloud, which allows re-downloading of any iTunes Store purchases.
Timely app allows logged hours to be scheduled in advance
New time-tracking app Timely has been launched this week on iTunes. Aiming to minimize the effort involved with logging one's work for invoicing, Timely allows users to schedule and plan work while simultaneously logging the hours. Its layout is like a calendar, though simplified to not display time stamps.