Archive of iTunes Rumors

Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi spoke with John Gruber in this week's episode of "The Talk Show," where they commented on recent opinions that Apple's software isn't up to snuff and offered some details on a new version of iTunes coming in OS X 10.11.4.

Last week, Re/code's Walt Mossberg wrote a piece entitled "Apple's Apps Need Work," pointing towards a "gradual degradation" in quality in several Apple apps and services like iCloud, Mail, and Photos. iTunes for the desktop was one of the most heavily criticized apps, with Mossberg saying he "dreads" opening it because it's "bloated, complex, and sluggish."

During the podcast, Gruber asked Eddy Cue about Mossberg's opinion, prompting him to give some background on how Apple wanted the iTunes experience to work. iTunes, Cue said, was designed at a time when people synced their devices via cable, so offering a centralized place with all of a user's content was key. With Apple Music, Apple decided on a design that would put music front and center while also integrating cloud music with hard copies purchased through iTunes.

craigeddyitunes
"We decided in the short term that what we wanted to do is really make it when you're in music and iTunes, all you see is music," said Cue. He went on to explain that Apple is continually re-evaluating iTunes, and there are plans to release a refreshed version alongside OS X 10.11.4 next month.
"That's not to say we are continuing... and will continue to think about what's the best way to architect the app and whether it makes sense to do a separate app for some of the components that are in there or all of the components that are in there. But right now, we think we've designed iTunes and you'll see we've got a new refresh with the new version of OS X that's coming out next month that makes it even easier to use in the music space."
Cue and Federighi went on to talk about the issues that arise whenever Apple makes major changes to software, as there are always people who prefer not to see significant changes. According to Federighi, there's a "tricky balancing act" with software updates.
"People are serious about their music and their collection, and so I think we debate pretty heavily internally the right way to evolve these things. We tend to err on the side of being pretty bold, but there's a lot of responsibility.
The two also highlighted the immense scale that Apple is working on, with more than 1 billion active devices and 782 million iCloud users. More than 200,000 iMessages per second are sent at peak times, and there are more than 750 million transactions per week in the iTunes Store and the App Store. Apple Music has grown to 11 million subscribers and more than 2.5 million errors in Maps have been fixed, a number presented as evidence that Apple is continually working on its software.

"I would say first there's nothing we care about more," said Federighi, speaking on Apple's software and services. He believes Apple's core software quality has improved significantly over the course of the last five years, but pointed towards an ever-raising bar that pushes Apple to keep evolving and implementing new features. "Every year we realize the things we were good at last year and the techniques we were using to build the best software we can are not adequate for the next year because the bar keeps going up," he said.

Federighi and Cue's full discussion with John Gruber about the state of software, the desktop version of iTunes, and Apple's efforts to expand its public beta program, can be listed to over on the Daring Fireball website.
Apple has updated its System Status page to reflect that many users may be unable to access, purchase, or update apps on the App Store on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Multiple other iCloud services are or were also experiencing downtime, including the iTunes Store, iBooks Store, iCloud Drive, and iWork for iCloud.

Apple-System-Status-2016
The issues began shortly before 7:00 a.m. Pacific and appear to be widespread, affecting customers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere, according to social media posts. Apple TV services and Apple's Volume Purchase Program are also affected by the service issues.

Update (9:10 a.m. Pacific): Apple's System Status page shows that the App Store, iTunes, and other iCloud services have been restored.
Apple has met with TV producers and Hollywood studios about developing original TV shows to offer exclusively to its iTunes customers, according to TheStreet. The article comes by way of independent contributor Ronald Grover, a longtime entertainment business journalist who has previously covered the media and entertainment industry for Reuters and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Apple-TV-Content
The original content could spearhead Apple's plans to launch its oft-rumored streaming TV service, which has reportedly been placed on hold due to the iPhone maker's difficulties in securing content deals with owners like CBS, ABC, Fox, Disney, and Viacom. The report, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, claims Apple could announce a cable-like offering alongside the iPhone 7 in September.
The Cupertino-based tech giant began sounding out Hollywood's creative community late last year, but has yet to sign any agreements, according to two people with knowledge of the overtures. One plan is to have deals in place so Apple can announce exclusive content as part of a cable-like offering in September, when it is expected to unveil its iPhone 7, said one of the people.
The original TV shows would presumably be available for rent or purchase on iTunes, and/or through a subscription-based service like Netflix that would provide on-demand access to unlimited programming for a set monthly cost. Apple's streaming TV service has been rumored to cost between $30 and $40 per month, but that price was contingent upon a "skinny bundle" of TV channels rather than original programming.

Apple's discussions with Hollywood executives are being led by iTunes chief Eddy Cue, and Robert Kondrk, vice-president of iTunes content, according to the report. In a recent interview, Cue said customers should be "able to buy whatever they want, however they want," and he used the App Store as an example of how Apple provides users with multiple ways to purchase content.


Earlier this month, it was reported that Apple has shown interest in acquiring Time Warner assets, which include CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT, NBA TV, Cartoon Network, its Warner Bros. movies division, and more. Gaining exclusive rights to the popular HBO series Game of Thrones would certainly give Apple a head start on its streaming TV service, along with Silicon Valley and other original programming.

Netflix, which collaborates with Hollywood on exclusive TV shows like Daredevil, House of Cards, Jessica Jones, and Orange is the New Black, has proven that original programming can be highly popular among consumers. Apple adopting a similar strategy could help bolster its own streaming TV service, which may be accessible on the web and devices like the Apple TV, Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
Apple today officially ended free streaming of its iTunes Radio channels worldwide, incorporating the catalogue of stations into its subscription-based Apple Music service.

The change follows Apple's announcement earlier this month that its free radio-listening feature would be discontinued at the end of January but would remain available to Apple Music subscribers.

As of this morning, iOS Music app users who tap on a radio station are bounced to a screen prompting them to join Apple's premium streaming music service.

Apple Music prompt
Likewise, iTunes users on a Mac who attempt to access the stations or create their own are met with a dialog window asking them to "Get on Our Wavelength" and join Apple Music.

iTunes Radio Mac prompt
Users with an iTunes Match subscription are also no longer able to access the stations. However, Apple's Beats 1 radio channel remains available to iTunes users worldwide as a free listening option.

Apple had quietly continued to offer ad-supported iTunes Radio stations in the United States and Australia even after the launch of Apple Music on June 30, 2015. However, after the company's decision to wind down its mobile iAd platform, the feature was already being limited in other regions to those who pay for Apple's streaming music service.

iTunes Radio was originally released with iTunes 11.1 and iOS 7 as a free ad-supported service, offering music discovery through featured and genre stations provided by Apple or through the creation of new stations based on a specific artist or song.
The original motion picture soundtrack for the brand new film Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released today on both Apple Music and iTunes. The tracklist includes all of the orchestral highlights from the movie, beginning in what appears to be chronological order with the well-known opening crawl music to the big finale. Composed by John Williams, there are a total of 23 songs on the soundtrack worth about 1 hour and 18 minutes of playback time.

the force awakens soundtrack
The full soundtrack for The Force Awakens includes:
1) Main Title and the Attack on the Jakku Village - 6:25
2) The Scavenger - 3:39
3) I Can Fly Anything - 3:10
4) Rey Meets BB-8 - 1:31
5) Follow Me - 2:54
6) Rey's Theme - 3:11
7) The Falcon - 3:32
8) That Girl with the Staff - 1:58
9) The Rathars! - 4:05
10) Finn's Confession - 2:08
11) Maz's Counsel - 3:07
12) The Starkiller - 1:50
13) Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle - 2:00
14) The Abduction - 2:23
15) Han and Leia - 4:41
16) March of the Resistance - 2:34
17) Snoke - 2:03
18) On the Inside - 2:06
19) Torn Apart - 4:19
20) The Ways of the Force - 3:14
21) Scherzo for X-Wings - 2:32
22) Farewell and the Trip - 4:55
23) The Jedi Steps and Finale - 8:51
Apple has been helping build fans' excitement over the new entry in the Star Wars saga for a while now, promoting a new Star Wars-themed Apple Music radio station earlier in the week and joining in on the digital release of all six films so far in the series in April. For those without Apple Music subscriptions, the new album costs $11.99 to purchase off of iTunes.
Apple has published its annual Best of 2015 charts for the App Store, iTunes and iBooks Store, naming live video platform Periscope its App of the Year and Tomb Raider puzzler spinoff Lara Croft GO its Game of the Year.

App-Store-Best-of-2015
Enlight and Robinhood were selected as runner-ups for App of the Year, while strategy game Fallout Shelter and one-touch platformer Mr Jump finished second and third place respectively in the Game of the Year standings.

Popular automation app Workflow was deemed the "most innovative" app in 2015, while Dark Echo was awarded the same title in the gaming category. Instagram earned "Best App on iPhone 6s" and Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade won "Best Game on iPhone 6s."

Apple's Top 25 Apps of 2015

1. Periscope
2. Enlight
3. Robinhood
4. Workflow
5. Instagram
6. HBO NOW
7. Hopper
8. Darkroom
9. Lark
10. The Everything Machine
11. Pacemaker
12. Tandem
13. Jet
14. Timeline
15. Vee for Video
16. Fit Men Cook
17. Spark
18. RefME
19. Wildcard
20. Paper by FiftyThree
21. GIPHY CAM
22. PRY
23. Reuters TV
24. Zova
25. Blue Apron

Apple's Top 25 Games of 2015

1. Lara Croft GO
2. Fallout Shelter
3. Mr Jump
4. Dark Echo
5. Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade
6. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
7. Vainglory
8. Dungeon Boss
9. Puzzle Craft 2
10. PAC-MAN 256
11. You Must Build A Boat
12. AG Drive
13. MARVEL Contest of Champions
14. Horizon Chase - World Tour
15. Shadowmatic
16. Wonky Ship
17. Super Sharp
18. Last Voyage
19. Ski Safari 2
20. Downwell
21. Rayman Adventures
22. Afterpulse
23. Psych! Outwit Your Friends
24. HoPiKo
25. Blades of Brim

The top five paid iOS apps in 2015 were Heads Up! Games, Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Trivia Crack (Ad Free), Five Nights at Freddy's 2 and Facetune, while the top five free titles were Trivia Crack, Facebook Messenger, Dubsmash, Instagram and Snapchat.

Clash of Clans was the top grossing app in 2015, followed by Game of War - Fire Age, Candy Crush Saga, Pandora and Candy Crush Soda Saga. The full top charts are available on the App Store on iOS and iTunes on Mac.

Apple also named Max Max: Fury Road, Amy, Inside Out and Dope among its Best of 2015 movies, while Mr. Robot, Fargo, UnREAL and Inside Amy Schumer won Best of 2015 awards for TV shows. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara was Apple's favorite fiction book on the year.

All selections were made by Apple's editorial curation team.
A new collection of 50 music videos by The Beatles has hit the iTunes Store today and comes packed in with remastered versions of the band's most popular singles along with a sampling of "mini-movies" the quartet made together (via MacNews). The $26.99 collection, dubbed The Beatles: 1+, is divided up into 27 music videos of the group's #1 hit singles from the United Kingdom and United States, as well as 23 alternate versions of some of the songs.

The Beatles 1+ collection
After The Beatles stopped touring, and because travelling around the globe to promote new releases was impossible, they increasingly made what could be described as “mini movies”. These pioneering promotional films and videos helped to define the way we have come to watch music. The Beatles 1+ features all of their 27 #1, UK and US singles as beautifully restored videos for each song, along with 23 alternate versions, as well as rarely seen and newly restored films and videos of additional songs.
The restored videos and audio mixes were produced from the classic analogue tapes made at Abbey Road Studios, and even include audio commentary and introductions by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Fans who purchase the collection will also receive a digital illustrated art book with 113 pages of details and notes about each of the hit songs found in the 1+ collection.

Although Apple and The Beatles were initially in disagreement on the exact terms of releasing the band's popular oeuvre onto the iTunes Store, the eventual digital release of their albums saw impressive sales numbers in the months afterwards. The band's music has yet to make its way onto Apple Music, but Apple has curated a few Beatles-themed radio stations, including a track list of the band members' alternative work and some of the more popular Beatles tracks sung by other artists.
Google today acknowledged an ongoing issue causing a number of iPhone, iPad and Mac apps to display incorrect one-star ratings in its search results on the web, and confirmed that a fix should be implemented by early next week.

Dandelion 1 star
"I'm happy to share that we've been working hard on providing a solution, and a new fix has been scheduled for the next release, which should be rolling out early next week," wrote Google Search community manager AJ in the Google support forums.

A growing number of developers, including the makers of Dandelion, have reported incorrect one-star ratings in Google search results since late October, despite actually having higher-than-one-star ratings on iTunes.
One of the apps that we have developed - Dandelion App - has an average of 4 star rating on the iTunes store, however when you search it on Google Search, it comes up as 1 star. How does Google generate the average ratings on its search page? Is this an error? The app has more than 1 review - so just interested why it's coming up with the wrong information.
The issue appears to be limited to App Store apps that have not received enough ratings (five or more) to display an average for the current version, a threshold that can take a while to reach for apps that have limited downloads or frequent updates.

Google community manager AJ advises developers that continue to see incorrect ratings in search results after mid next week to report the issue in the Google support forums so the company can continue to investigate.
newitunes122logoApple has implemented a carrier billing feature that lets Russian customers purchase iTunes content like apps, movies, music, and books using a phone number, reports CNBC. Purchases made with a phone number linked to an iTunes account are then added to a user's monthly cellular telephone bill without the need for a credit card, debit card, or iTunes gift card.

For its new mobile payment initiative, Apple has teamed up with Beeline, the third largest wireless operator in Russia. Beeline's Russian site says the mobile billing feature is now available to Beeline customers in the country, with the payments powered by San Francisco-based company Boku.

Apple's partnership with Beeline comes a month after it established a similar partnership with German carrier O2. As of late October, O2 customers are also able to link a phone number to their iTunes accounts to purchase iTunes content that's added to a monthly cellular phone bill.

According to CNBC, Apple has started expanding into carrier billing due to lower carrier rates. While carriers have charged as much as 10 to 30 percent to handle transactions in the past, Apple has secured a deal with better rates "in the single digits."

Apple's carrier billing partner Boku has partnered with dozens of carriers around the globe, so it's likely Apple will continue to expand its carrier billing initiative to more countries in the future. Boku works with all of the major carriers in the United States and has established partnerships in countries like Germany, France, Korea, the UK, and more.
Apple has updated its system status page to reflect widespread issues affecting multiple Apple products and services since approximately 7:30 PM Pacific, including the App Store, Apple TV, iBooks Store, iTunes Match, iTunes Store, Mac App Store and Radio.

Apple-System-Status-Nov-2015
Many users are also unable to fully access or use the Apple website, Apple Online Store, Apple ID, Apple Music, FaceTime, iCloud, iMessage, Mail, TestFlight and several other Apple services, suggesting possible larger server or DNS issues.

Apple's standard response on its system status page says it is investigating and will provide a status update as more information becomes available.

Update 8:38 PM: Apple's system status page now indicates the issues have been resolved, and users are indeed reporting Apple's services are up and running once again.
For the first time since the iTunes Store launched in 2003, Apple has added a way for customers to pay for purchases without using a credit, debit or iTunes gift card. Starting with German carrier O2, customers can now link a phone number to their iTunes account and use carrier billing for purchases, per TechCrunch.

O2-Carrier-Billing-iTunes
Apple's new mobile phone bill option for iTunes accounts (Image: Carsten Knobloch)

The new payment method enables customers to pay for apps, songs, TV shows, movies, iBooks and other iTunes content 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.

Customers without a contract can have purchases debited from a prepaid amount applied to the iPhone.

O2 parent company Telefonica confirmed it is working on carrier billing with Apple:
“Telefónica Germany is working with Apple related to carrier billing,” a spokesperson told us in an email. “Payment via the O2 phone bill is now available for Apple Music, iTunes, App Store and iBooks Store Purchases. The service is gradually being rolled out and will be available for all O2 customers (prepaid and postpaid) in Germany by the beginning of November 2015.”
Apple may be working with carrier billing provider Bango, used by rivals like Amazon:
We have heard on the grapevine, however, that Apple has been talking for a while with Bango, a carrier billing provider, to roll out carrier billing functionality on iTunes.
TechCrunch believes Apple will expand carrier billing to additional markets in the future.
newitunes122logoAlong with updates for iOS, OS X, and watchOS 2, Apple today released a new version of iTunes, iTunes 12.3.1. The update is a minor one, with the release notes only saying it improves overall stability and performance.

The iTunes update can be downloaded from the software update function in the Mac App Store.

iTunes 12.3.1 comes just over a month after the release of iTunes 12.3, which brought support for iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. iTunes 12, which brought a major redesign to the iTunes software, was initially released in 2014 alongside OS X Yosemite.