Software maker OpenTV has filed a patent lawsuit against Apple based on accusations that several of the company's products and services, including iTunes, infringe upon five of its patents related to streaming digital video. The civil suit was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and OpenTV is seeking undiclosed compensation for the alleged patent infringement, according to Re/code.
"OpenTV alleges that Apple’s iTunes software for downloading or streaming rented movies violates its patents for securely delivering media to consumer devices. The suit claims that other companies, including Apple rival Google, Cisco Systems and Disney, have licensed its technology."
In late February, a Tyler, Texas district court ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million to patent licensing firm Smartflash LLC in a separate iTunes-related lawsuit for infringing upon the Texas-based company's patents related to digital rights management, data storage and managing access through payment systems. Apple argued that Smartflash was exploiting the patent system and vowed to appeal the decision.
OpenTV was an early provider of interactive TV software used in millions of TV set-top boxes, according to the report, and the wholly owned subsidiary of The Kudelski Group now creates software for on-demand video services and digital video recorders. OpenTV's patents belong to a portfolio of more than 4,400 pending and issued patents related to the secure delivery of media.
Thursday April 9, 2015 10:16 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Apple today released iTunes 12.1.2, a minor update that primarily improves support for syncing photos from iOS devices to the new Photos app for Mac released yesterday as part of OS X 10.10.3.
This update improves support for syncing photos to your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch from the new Photos app for OS X. In addition, this update also adds several refinements to the Get Info window and improves overall stability.
iTunes 12.1.2 is a free download through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.
Friday March 6, 2015 6:38 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
As rumors gear up surrounding the revamped Apple iTunes/Beats music service, a new report claims that the company will opt out of offering a free advertising-supported base tier for its upcoming streaming service (via Re/code).
The company will allow customers an initial trial period of some kind, but following that users will have to pay to continue listening to music, the cost of which most recent rumors agree will be around $7.99.
With the slow decline of digital downloads and the steady rise of streaming services, sources close to Apple media head Eddy Cue and Beats Music founder Jimmy Iovine state that the two agree the music industry, and streaming specifically, “needs to get behind a paywall."
Apple executives have been telling the music industry it can help them roll back the tide of free digital music by relaunching its own subscription streaming service this year. Unlike Spotify and YouTube, Apple’s service won’t offer a free “tier” of music interspersed with ads — after an initial trial period, you’ll need to pay to play.
Now Apple is negotiating with the music labels for licenses for a revamped version of Beats. Sources say Apple would like to make a splash by getting high-profile artists to distribute their music with Apple before it makes its way to other services.
If made official by Apple, the move would be a direct contrast to a service like Spotify, which allows its 60 million worldwide users (15 million of which are paid subscribers) to listen to anything they want for free, with ads interspersed within the music.
Jonathan Prince, head of communications and public policy for Spotify, said that the company's research found that 12 percent of iTunes users have migrated to Spotify, with 40 percent of that group paying for the premium Spotify service. Prince uses this statistic to claim that, despite the service's immense popularity, they aren't single-highhandedly the culprit behind the declining digital download sales of recent years.
Despite these new reports, similar sources say that the company plans to keep the iTunes Radio service intact, claiming web-based radio won't directly impede music sales. The most recent news regarding the long-rumored Apple music service suggests an official unveiling by the company at WWDC this year, with Apple tweaking aspects of the current state of iTunes all the way up to the launch of the revamped service.
Thursday March 5, 2015 11:49 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple will launch a revamped streaming music service in June at the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, according to 9to5Mac and TechCrunch. The report claims the new Beats-based service will debut at Apple's WWDC keynote, likely during the week of June 8, as opposed to an announcement taking place at the upcoming "Spring Forward" media event on March 9.
"Apple currently plans to launch the new music service as part of an iOS 8.4 upgrade for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch following WWDC, but a final decision has not yet been made. It’s possible that the service will be bundled into iOS 9 this fall, which is expected to have a significant focus on bug fixes and stability improvements."
As detailed last month, the purported streaming music service is expected to cost up to $7.99 per month, a few dollars cheaper than Apple-owned Beats Music and competitors such as Spotify, Rdio and Google Play Music. The service will be deeply integrated into iTunes on Mac and the stock Music app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and apps will also be available for Apple TV and Android.
Apple is developing its first in-house Android application for the upcoming streaming music service, one of the rarer times that the iPhone maker offers cross-platform support for its products and services. Nevertheless, as the release of iTunes for Windows in the early 2000s helped drive sales of the iPod, expanding beyond the iPhone, iPad and Mac will provide Apple with a much larger pool of potential subscribers in the competitive streaming music market.
Apple is also reportedly wrapping up development of its next-generation Apple TV set-top box that could ship with an improved, tactile remote control and all-new operating system bundled with an App Store. Apple allegedly planned to release a new Apple TV as soon as this month, but the release may be delayed until later this year or beyond until Apple reaches agreements with more content providers like HBO Now.
Wednesday March 4, 2015 9:45 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Following several months of experimentation with how it curates the music portion of its iTunes Store, Apple has rolled back some of those changes to restore an emphasis on editorial rather than sales-based criteria, according to Billboard.
The news comes after a few independent record labels voiced concern over their artists being lost under the better-performing singers and albums of bigger labels. The company has apparently to not fully eliminate sales-based algorithms for deciding on what content to feature, but have "toned down" that aspect to allow editorial discretion to once again steer the offerings on iTunes' main page.
After a few weeks of experimenting with that presentation, the iTunes teamed toned down the algorithm and re-asserted the role that editorial discretion has in choosing which music is highlighted in the store. "iTunes will always be driven by editorial discretion," says a source who is familiar with Apple's online store philosophy. "Editorial choice will always be at the heart of what music is featured in the store."
Despite the introduction of the sales-focused algorithm towards the end of 2014 and into the new year, the indie music market still found itself fairly well-represented on the storefront. As Billboard reports, the sector got 40 percent of carousel ads on the main page of iTunes, 50 percent of the "New Music" section, 37 percent of the "Hot Tracks" section, and 20 percent of what Apple calls the "Bricks", the rectangular-shaped ads populating the store.
Indie labels were worried that they would get lost in the shuffle with all the changes happening in the iTunes Store. They were concerned that a sales velocity algorithm playing a strong role in determining what would be featured in its sliders would bolster the advantage of the majors, who tend to have bigger-selling records.
Various other concerns of smaller labels were alleviated, as well, including iTunes' ongoing effort to clean up song duplicates in the storefront, to an extent where some songs were taken down despite being in compliance with the company's rules. But, as one indie executive noted, if a proper case is made to bring back the music, Apple will listen. "iTunes are flexible; they are not an account who says 'its our way or the highway.'"
Perhaps the biggest shift on the back-end of iTunes relates to how pre-order numbers factor into album sales. Previously, pre-order numbers were added to launch day sales, rocketing popular pre-release albums to the top of charts on release. The new configuration wipes pre-order figures away on launch day and starts all albums on level ground, requiring albums to garner successful day one-and-onward launches to hit the top spots.
Apple has been steadily building up iTunes in preparation for the future integration with Beats Music this year. The company has most recently hired BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe to possibly work on its iTunes Radio service and acquired media analytics company Semetric to integrate its Musicmetric tracking service into the iTunes/Beats refresh. Apple has also been seeking expertise in music journalism, perhaps to fill out editorial content appearing alongside listings in the iTunes Store.
Wednesday February 25, 2015 3:38 am PST by Joe Rossignol
A federal jury in Tyler, Texas has ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million to patent licensing firm Smartflash LLC for using its patents without permission, reports Bloomberg. The court found certain iTunes apps to be infringing upon the Texas-based company's patents related to digital rights management, data storage and managing access through payment systems.
Apple argues that Smartflash is exploiting the patent system and plans to appeal the decision.
“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. “We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.”
Smartflash was originally seeking $852 million in damages from Apple for infringing three patents, claiming that it was entitled to a percentage of sales of Apple products used to access iTunes, such as iPhones, iPads and Macs. Apple believed that $4.5 million was fair at most, arguing that it was not infringing upon the inventions and that the patents were invalid. Developers Game Circus and KingsIsle Entertainment Inc. were also defendants in the case but were later dismissed from the lawsuit.
“Apple doesn’t respect Smartflash’s inventions,” the company’s lawyer, John Ward of Ward & Smith in Longview, Texas, told the jury. “Not a single witness could be bothered with reviewing the patent.”
Smartflash has also sued Samsung Electronics in a separate lawsuit that is scheduled to begin following the end of this Apple trial. The patent licensing firm also recently filed against Google, which has attempted to move its lawsuit to California, and Amazon in December. This case is Smartflash LLC v. Apple Inc., 13-447, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Texas.
Monday February 23, 2015 8:12 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple has added a support document to its website stating that customers who use an AOL username to sign into the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store will be unable to continue doing so starting March 31 (via 9to5Mac). Apple customers must convert their AOL username to an Apple ID account in order to maintain access to the storefronts following the deadline.
"Starting March 31, 2015, AOL will no longer allow customers to use their AOL Username (also known as an AOL Screen Name) to sign in to the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store. You must convert your AOL Username to an Apple ID in order to maintain access to the stores and to content you purchased previously."
Apple will no longer provide support for AOL usernames that are not converted following March 31. The transition does not affect any iTunes purchases made with the AOL username or any other AOL services that may be associated with the account. To begin the transition process, users must sign into iTunes with an AOL username and follow the on-screen instructions.
Monday February 23, 2015 6:26 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Earlier in the month, Apple's London-based iTunes team posted a job listing describing an "Editorial Producer" who would have past experience reporting on pop culture, with specific background in music journalism (via Music Ally). While far from definitive, the job post could be hinting at some editorial-related expansions coming to the revamped Beats/iTunes merger set to launch later in the year.
Set to be split between editorial and producing duties, the full-time job would require the applicant to write, edit, and oversee a group of various freelance writers covering content from music to books and movies. A good portion of the job will be devoted to "special projects and promotions" as well, with a focus on collaboration between other departments to make sure all of the content is successfully produced on time.
-Excellent communication, cross-departmental collaboration, and planning skills with a strict attention to detail.
-Seasoned writer with broad pop culture background.
-Deep contacts in the freelance world with writers who can cover the spectrum of pop culture (music, movies, books, etc.).
-Experience managing and motivating a stable of freelance writers.
-Experience working cross-functionally across content, business, and production teams.
-Project management experience.
Apple has been hinting at big changes coming to iTunes, with the company acquiring media analytic service Semetric, and BBC Radio host DJ Zane Lowe joining the company ahead of the big Beats Music revamp. As Music Ally points out, the new job posting could be pointing to an even bigger expansion for the service in terms of an original journalistic effort.
As it stands, Apple's iTunes, iBooks, and App Store point users in the direction of various top-selling or most popular music, books, movies, and apps with occasionally short "iTunes Editors' Notes" detailing new and favorite releases amongst the services. Despite the fact the new post seems to be pointing to an attempt by the company to add original content and opinions to their download service, as with any job listing, it's far from a confirmation that this will be a direction the company takes in the future.
Though the exact timeline for the launch of the new Apple-backed Beats Music service has remained blurry, news concerning the service has remained steadily consistent since its announcement. Most recently it was reported that the Beats Music revamp would see a fairly deep integration into OS X and iOS, with users possibly even being able to merge their Apple ID with a Beats account for a more seamless experience.
Friday February 13, 2015 7:50 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
While the Grammy Awards happened last weekend, information on a few Apple-related conversations happening at and around Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party are just now beginning to emerge, reportsBillboard. Representing Apple at the gala were Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine and iTunes VP Robert Kondrk, with the Apple executives chatting with a number of music industry representatives during the event.
The party came as Iovine has reportedly been meeting with senior executives from many record labels in recent weeks, and while Billboard reports "a nondisclosure agreement preceded every sit-down," details on some of the discussions are beginning to trickle out. One of the main takeaways appears to be a targeted spring/summer launch window for the revamped Beats Music streaming service the company is said to be integrating with iOS and OS X.
Left to right: Al Gore, Eddy Cue, Tim Cook, Jimmy Iovine, Nancy Pelosi at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party (Photo via Mashable)
An insider speaking to Billboard claims the Cupertino-based company isn't content just to be in the music business but "to be the music business; it's not to compete with Spotify." Billboard points out that, with new iOS updates in development possibly bringing Beats Music support and the booming popularity of streaming services, the company appears to already be lining up to deal with its digital music problems head-on.
The proof is in the 800 million credit cards it already has on file -- comparably, Spotify has 15 million subscriptions and 60 million monthly users, although the service is growing, headed to an initial public offering.
In fact, integration has begun. Apple TV features a Beats logo, an update to Apple's iOS will include streaming and creative is in the works for new ads starring artists recruited by Iovine. But that may be the extent of Beats' involvement as Kondrk takes the lead on music. Like the Apple-centric design of its offices, the look and feel of Beats is likely to mirror Apple's aesthetic, not the other way around.
Other news out of the talks points to a bit of housecleaning in dealing with iTunes itself, with Apple supposedly planning to rid the store of many covers, soundalikes, and re-recordings. Billboard also reports that the featured ticker seen on the iTunes storefront may lose its editorial-chosen feature and become more sales-based.
Additionally, featured-artist sliders, previously chosen editorially, may now be determined by sales velocity, leaving some to wonder if iTunes is becoming less like a Tower Records and more of a Target -- limited selection and a focus on hit titles. "Until now, iTunes has been good to the indies," contends one vet. Conversely, an Apple source says such case-by-case house-cleaning to eliminate duplicative and deceptive versions is routine.
Despite Apple's challenges in a market where third-party music services can operate fairly freely on Apple's platforms, insiders remain optimistic about Apple's plans, with Davis' son Doug pointing out the company's already hugely popular ecosystem of devices and operating systems helping to launch the new service with a bang. "Their streaming service will see a seamless integration that's cross-platform and convenient, as Spotify has become," Davis said. "As a fan of all-you-can-eat, the industry in general is excited to have more market players."
Wednesday February 4, 2015 8:41 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple is working on a new Beats-based paid music streaming service that will be deeply integrated into iTunes on Mac and the stock Music app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that the Apple-designed streaming service will also be available for Android and through a new Apple TV app in the works.
"Based heavily upon cloud streaming, Apple’s new service is centered around the user’s music library. A new search feature will be able to locate any song in the iTunes/Beats catalog, and users will be able to stream music from the catalog as well as add songs to their personal libraries. Users will be able to select specific tracks to store on their iOS devices and/or computers, or keep all songs solely in the cloud. Apple will also deeply integrate Beats Music’s Playlists, Activities, and Mixes features into the new service, letting users access a vast array of pre-made, human-curated playlists to fit various activities."
The report adds that Beats Music users will be able to merge their existing account with an iTunes/Apple ID account for seamless transition to the new service. The app's design will shift away from the traditional red and black branding of Beats and feature a user interface that resembles the look and feel of iTunes and the stock Music app on iOS. New social features will also be included for sharing music and playlists with friends.
Apple's new subscription-based service is expected to cost $7.99 per month, cheaper than the $9.99 per month charged by Beats Music and competing services such as Spotify, Rdio and Google Play Music. While the new Beats service will inevitably have some overlap with iTunes Radio, iTunes Match and the iTunes Store, the report claims that Apple will retain all three offerings.
While Beats Music is available for Android, this new service will mark the first time that Apple develops an Android app in house. Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously expressed that he does not have an issue developing an app for Android if the circumstances make sense, but this will be the first time the company actually delivers on that idea. Unlike Beats Music, however, no Windows Phone app will be offered.
Due to some personnel changes and other difficulties in the collaboration between Apple and Beats, which the iPhone maker acquired last year for $3 billion, the timeline for this new streaming service project remains in jeopardy. The report claims that while Apple originally planned to launch the service in March, sources claim that the company is now more likely to launch the service at WWDC in June.
Thursday January 29, 2015 3:08 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple today released iTunes 12.1 for OS X Yosemite, introducing a new iTunes widget for the Notification Center. With the widget, it's possible to see what song is playing, skip ahead, and favorite. When listening to iTunes Radio, there's an option to purchase the song that's being played, right within the widget. Today's update also includes performance improvements when syncing an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to iTunes.
iTunes 12.1 can be downloaded via the Software Update Mechanism in the Mac App Store.
This update introduces a new iTunes widget for Notification Center in OS X Yosemite. See what's playing, skip ahead, and even buy songs while listening to iTunes Radio -- right from Notification Center. This update also improves performance when syncing when your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
iTunes 12.1 is the first major update to iTunes 12, which was introduced alongside OS X Yosemite. iTunes 12 brought a new design with Yosemite-style translucency elements to improve depth, a streamlined toolbar, and the melding of the iTunes Store and the personal Library to make it easier to navigate between owned content and what's available in the store.
Wednesday January 28, 2015 7:57 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Sony announced on Wednesday that it will be shutting down its Music Unlimited on-demand streaming music service ahead of launching Spotify on PlayStation Music. Music Unlimited will shut down in all 19 countries it operated on March 29, 2015, with nearly all of the countries among the 41 regions that Spotify for PlayStation Music will be available upon launch, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
Music Unlimited launched in December 2010 on PlayStation Network in several countries worldwide, and the service was later extended to iPhone [Direct Link], Android, PlayStation Vita and other devices and platforms. In February 2011, it was reported that Sony viewed Music Unlimited as a potential iTunes Store alternative and that it was considering pulling music from Apple's platform if its own service became successful.
"If we do [get mass take up] then does Sony Music need to provide content to iTunes?" Mr Ephraim asked. "Currently we do. We have to provide it to iTunes as that's the format right now."
"Publishers are being held to ransom by Apple and they are looking for other delivery systems, and we are waiting to see what the next three to five years will hold."
The on-demand streaming music landscape has gone through significant change in the past three years, however, and Music Unlimited failed to remain competitive with industry leaders such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and Beats Music. Music Unlimited users with active subscriptions will continue to have free access to the service through the March 29 closing date.
MacRumors attracts a broad audience
of both consumers and professionals interested in
the latest technologies and products. We also boast an active community focused on
purchasing decisions and technical aspects of the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac platforms.