Wednesday December 7, 2016 11:59 am PST by Juli Clover
Apple wants to bring new movies to iTunes more quickly, and is in talks with several film studios over rights that would allow it earlier access to content, reports Bloomberg.
Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, and 21st Century Fox are all seeking deals to offer higher-priced rentals of new movies as soon as two weeks after they debut in theaters, and the studios are said to be considering an offer from Apple.
Like Apple Music exclusives, access to earlier releases could draw more people to Apple's platform, but encryption is said to be a concern. Studios aren't sure whether iTunes will be a secure platform for showing movies that are still in theaters, because content can be recorded and leaked online.
The most recent talks are part of longer-running efforts by Cupertino, California-based Apple to get new movies sooner, two of the people said. Such an arrangement could help iTunes stand out in a crowded online market for movies, TV shows and music. While the iTunes store helped Apple build a dominant role in music retailing, the company hasn't carved out a similar role in music and video streaming.
Most major movies that debut in theaters are not available on iTunes and other streaming platforms for a period of 90 days, but film companies are said to be looking to expand beyond theaters to find new revenue streams.
At least one option studios are considering involves a $25 to $50 fee for a new rental, which is potentially more affordable than a movie theater ticket depending on how many people are watching a film.
No deal has been established as of yet, and it's possible the film studios could decide to offer the rights to a competing company.
Tuesday November 29, 2016 9:41 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple has enabled carrier billing in Belgium and Norway, expanding upon the feature's existing availability in Germany, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The feature is limited to select carriers in each country — share if yours is supported in the comments.
The payment method enables customers to pay for iTunes content, App Store apps, iBooks, and Apple Music subscriptions without needing a credit or debit card, or even a bank account. Instead, purchases are added to a customer's mobile phone bill and paid off at the end of the month.
Monday October 31, 2016 6:09 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released iTunes 12.5.3, which is available for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan users.
iTunes 12.5.3's changelog lists the same stability and performance improvements as iTunes 12.5.2, including a fix for an issue where albums may play in an unexpected order. A second fix resolves a problem that prevented lyrics from appearing while listening to Beats 1.
iTunes 12.5.3 can be downloaded immediately from the iTunes download page, and it should also be rolling out through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.
Update: iTunes 12.5.3 has the same update changelog as iTunes 12.5.2 released last week, so what's new in today's update remains unclear. We will update this article if and when we learn more information.
Monday October 24, 2016 7:19 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
On Sunday, Apple's original iPod celebrated the 15th anniversary of its launch on October 23, 2001. The reveal of the iPod by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2001 was preceded by the usual breadcrumb trail of mystery, rumors, and leaks, with most reports pointing to a new "breakthrough digital device" coming from the company later in the month. Apple even hinted itself that "it's not a Mac."
Some speculation went against rumors that the device would be an MP3 player, even suggesting it could be "something more sophisticated such as a component for a home digital stereo system." Still, most reports pointed toward the impending launch of the "iPod," a device that would allow customers to ditch their cumbersome CD players and listen to thousands of songs from one device in their pocket.
In the official keynote address, Jobs referred to the Mac as the focal point of the Apple customer's digital lifestyle, with the new iPod device as the ultra-portable, music-enabled addition to that lifestyle. The iPod launched for $399 with a 5GB hard drive that could hold up to 1,000 songs, a 10-hour battery life, a black and white LCD screen, came equipped with FireWire to enable a connection between it and iTunes on a Mac, and was the size of a deck of cards (2.4" wide, 4" tall, 3/4" thick).
A few individuals who were part of the iPod's launch looked back at the device over the weekend, although Apple itself remained silent on the topic. In the first official promotional video for the iPod, a collection of Apple executives and musicians -- including Phil Schiller, Jony Ive, and Moby -- are seen discussing the creation and impact of the device. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Moby remembers "how magical it was," and remarks on how much has changed with the iPod, and its successor in the iPhone, in 15 years.
“It’s a little disconcerting when I look back at the past, but the past still sounds like the future,” Moby says. “I remember when 2002 seemed like an unimaginably far time — like, really far away. Now it’s like a distant past.”
Technology is, obviously, the perfect physical encapsulation of this: “Remember those multicolored clamshell laptops that Apple had?” he says. “Now they seem old and clunky, like a weird pair of sneakers. But at the time, they just represented the future. The same thing with the iPod, at the time it was so futuristic, and now it just seems like an adorable relic.”
The first alternative iPod lineup, dubbed the iPod mini, debuted in 2004, followed by the iPod nano and iPod shuffle in 2005. The iPod touch was eventually introduced as a non-cellular counterpart to the company's iPhone, and became one of the longest-lasting iPod lines to date (six generations), tied with the classic line, but behind the iPod nano (seven generations).
In 2016, Apple still manufactures and sells the iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle, but the three devices have long been removed from the main toolbar navigation on its website, and are now located under "Music." The three current iPods on sale bear little resemblance to the original device's famous click wheel interface, which was mechanical in the first generation and touch-sensitive in subsequent lines. The last iPod with a click wheel, the iPod Classic, was discontinued by Apple in 2014 and marked the sixth generation of the device.
The iPod began Apple's quest to make music a mainstay in its customers' lives by finding a seamless and effortless way for songs to be carried around, in opposition to the size of CD players and the general confusion at the time over how other MP3 players worked. Today, music is a bigger part of Apple than ever, with Apple Music slowly growing in subscribers and the iPhone now essentially the modern version of the original 5GB iPod from fifteen years ago.
This week at a Mac-focused event, it's also expected that the company will debut the wireless "AirPods." The Bluetooth device will be the newest implementation of its ubiquitous headphone line, which began alongside the iPod in 2001.
Monday October 10, 2016 9:35 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Apple today added a banner to its United States website, iTunes Store, and App Store asking customers to provide donations to individuals affected by the recent devastation from Hurricane Matthew. Like its usual relief efforts, all donations collected will go to the American Red Cross.
Donation tiers available include $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $200, and will be processed as normal iTunes or App Store purchases through a user's connected Apple ID.
Hurricane Matthew made landfall late last week, hitting the southeast coast of the United States and going on to ravage states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As of yesterday, more than 2 million businesses and homes were without power, and over 3,000 people have been placed in safety shelters.
Thursday October 6, 2016 6:57 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple plans to unify its cloud services teams, including Siri, Apple Maps, iCloud, Apple Pay, Apple News, and parts of iTunes and Apple Music, at its existing Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino, California, according to Bloomberg.
Moving the teams into a single campus should streamline growth of Apple services, as the current structure of having teams spread out throughout various office buildings in Cupertino and Sunnyvale contributed to software bugs and slowed product development, the report claims.
The cloud services teams could be on the move again in the near future as Apple completes work on its new Campus 2 headquarters, where well over 13,000 employees are expected to work. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company will begin moving employees to the new campus in 2017.
The report adds that Apple is also planning to shift its services to a single, Apple-made backend system, codenamed Pie. The infrastructure change will reportedly give Apple "more control" and "may speed up load times."
Apple has begun moving over parts of Siri, the iTunes Store, and Apple News to the new platform, one of the people said. Apple plans to move other services, including Maps, to its new system over the next few years. Apple has also developed an internal photo storage system dubbed McQueen to gradually end its reliance on Google and Amazon servers, the people said.
In March, it was reported that Apple is working on an in-house cloud storage system called "McQueen" to reduce its dependence on services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, with today's report specifying it will be an internal photo storage system.
Apple experienced its first-ever iPhone sales decline earlier this year, but its services category continues to grow. In its most recent quarter, Apple reported nearly $6 billion in revenue tied to services like the App Store, Apple Music, AppleCare, Apple Pay, iCloud, and the iTunes Store, up 19% compared to the year-ago period.
Friday September 23, 2016 5:32 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple is planning on turning news stories and articles from popular news sites into audio podcasts called "Spoken Editions," reports TechCrunch. Spoken Editions will be short broadcasts that transform content from publishers into spoken word instead of written word, making it possible for customers to listen to their favorite news sites.
An early leak on iTunes suggests Apple has already teamed up with several publishers, including Wired, TIME, and Forbes, offering dedicated "Spoken Edition" sections on company iTunes pages.
Wired, for example, will launch Spoken Editions for "Business," "Science," and its homepage. TIME has will offer a Spoken Edition called "The Brief." Forbes, .Mic, Bustle, Playboy, OZY, and - yep - TechCrunch (which I discovered while browsing our iTunes page, of all things), will have Spoken Editions, it seems, as all popped up for a time on iTunes.
The links to all the publishers' Spoken Editions have since been pulled, after our discovery and outreach.
Some digging by TechCrunch suggests many of the publishers' Spoken Edition podcasts were created by SpokenLayer, a company that creates streaming audio and podcasts for media brands using text. SpokenLayer already works with a host of publishers like Forbes, Huffington Post, TIME, Reuters, and more, with audio recordings distributed on iTunes, SoundCloud, and other sources.
Spoken Editions will include audio ads, with revenue shared between the publisher and SpokenLayer, and the company makes an effort to make sure each brand sounds unique. "We make sure Wired sounds like Wired and any other publication sounds like those publications," SpokenLayer CEO Will Mayo told TechCrunch.
Spoken Editions are set to launch soon, rolling out in early October.
Tuesday September 20, 2016 1:44 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
With macOS Sierra, users can can float a video window from Safari or iTunes over the desktop or an app thanks to a new picture-in-picture mode. The feature enables Mac users to play a video in any one of the four corners of the desktop and resize it to see more or less of the window behind it.
The video remains pinned above the desktop and apps, including in full-screen mode and split view, so long as the Safari tab or iTunes window where the video originates remains open. The picture-in-picture window has buttons to close or unpin the video, and play and pause controls, but no rewind, fast forward, or scrubbing options.
In Safari, picture-in-picture mode currently only works on certain websites, such as YouTube, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal, but the feature should become more widely available as other websites implement it. In the meantime, it does not work on websites like Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, AMC, or The New York Times.
Even on YouTube, enabling picture-in-picture mode currently requires somewhat of a workaround. Since there is no picture-in-picture mode button in the video player itself, like in the CNN screenshot above, enabling the feature on YouTube requires right-clicking the video player twice until a contextual menu pops up with the option.
macOS Sierra was released today as a free download on the Mac App Store.
Tuesday September 13, 2016 10:09 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released a new version of iTunes, iTunes 12.5.1, which is available for OS X El Capitan and macOS Sierra users. iTunes 12.5.1 introduces a new Apple Music design, bringing Apple Music on the desktop in line with Apple Music on mobile devices just ahead of the release of iOS 10.
The update also brings macOS Sierra-specific features including support for Siri, allowing users to ask Siri to play songs on machines running macOS Sierra, and it includes support for Picture-in-Picture, another new Sierra feature.
iTunes 12.5.1 can be downloaded immediately from the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.
Now with an all-new Apple Music design which brings greater clarity and simplicity to every aspect of the experience.
This update includes support for iOS 10. It also adds enhancements designed for macOS Sierra including:
- Siri. Play music from your Library and Apple Music using your voice. Just ask Siri.
- Picture-in-Picture. Watch videos as you multitask and use different apps. Your video floats above your desktop in any corner of the screen.
While iOS 10 is being introduced today with an all new Apple Music experience that focuses on a cleaner look and easier to use interface, macOS Sierra will not be released until next Tuesday, September 20.
For today only, titles from Warner Brothers, Universal, Paramount, Lionsgate, and Sony Pictures are available to U.S. customers for $9.99. The movies cover a range of genres, including titles like Pacific Rim, The Hangover, Twilight, No Country for Old Men, and The Hunger Games.
During Apple's "It's Showtime!" 2006 keynote – a whole year before the launch of the iPhone – Steve Jobs announced that films with "near-DVD image quality" would be available to download on the iTunes Movies store. On launch, only 75 films listed, all from Disney-owned studios. According to Apple's website, more than 85,000 feature-length movies are now available.
Thursday September 1, 2016 10:44 pm PDT by Husain Sumra
Captain America: Civil War is now available in Digital HD on iTunes. The movie comes with a host of special features exclusive to iTunes, and Forbesreports that Marvel and iTunes Movies worked together to create a new "immersive" set of bonus features for the release.
The iTunes edition of the movie comes with a feature titled "Choose Your Side," which lets viewers choose whether they're on Team Cap or Team Iron Man. Choosing a side unlocks a series of exclusive photos, videos, posters, comics and more for each team. According to Forbes, every actor in the film gets an in-depth filmography that includes the actor's photos over the years and quotes from other actors about what it's like to work with them.
iTunes movies typically include cast filmographies so users can easily purchase or rent other films a certain actor may have starred in, and they sometimes include exclusive bonus features like audio commentary.
In addition to the iTunes-exclusive bonus content, Civil War comes with deleted scenes, audio commentary, a gag reel, a preview of Marvel's upcoming film Doctor Strange and two behind-the-scenes extras. The first is a two-part making-of documentary called "United We Stand, Divided We Fall," and the other is "The Road to Civil War," which charts the journey of Captain America and Iron Man from the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to their stand-off in Civil War.
Apple has also added Team Captain America and Team Iron Man pages to the iTunes Movies carousel. Each page lists movies, comics, music, apps and TV shows tied to the members of that specific team.
Captain America: Civil War is available on iTunes now for $19.99 in Digital HD. [Direct Link]
Wednesday August 24, 2016 12:32 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Canadian songwriter and producer Alex Greggs, who has worked with several renowned artists such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and the late Michael Jackson, is suing Apple in a larger lawsuit filed against singer Ariana Grande, electronic artist David Guetta, publisher Universal Music Group, and others, according to court documents filed electronically this week.
Greggs claims that Grande's single "One Last Time" from 2014 infringes upon the 2011 single "Takes All Night" by Skye Stevens, said to be the subject of a valid pending U.S. copyright registration in Gregg's name. He added that the defendants had access to "Takes All Night" before composing "One Last Time," and that it's "highly likely" the songs were not created independently of one another.
Skye Stephens performed the song on tour and in live performances at festivals and in clubs throughout the United States and Canada in particular, and also appeared on numerous radio shows, in addition to promoting the song through social media. Moreover, the similarity between Takes All Night and One Last Time is so striking that it is highly likely the works were not created independently of one another.
Greggs accuses Apple, as the operator of iTunes, of failing to verify that Grande and the other defendants had reached copyright and synchronization license agreements, and other contractual agreements, with him prior to releasing "One Last Time" as a digital download on iTunes and for streaming on Apple Music. He filed a similar claim against Universal Music Group as distributor of the single.
Songwriter and producer Alex Greggs, left, and singer Ariana Grande
Greggs has demanded a jury trial with the U.S. District Court for Central California, and is seeking adequate monetary damages and a permanent injunction that would see "One Last Time" removed from iTunes, Apple Music, and other music distribution and streaming services. The complaint was filed in Santa Monica on Tuesday, and it will have to be accepted by a judge before proceeding.
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