updated 03:45 am EST, Thu December 9, 2010
Not available on all songs or albums yet
Apple has started extending the previews listeners get when they sample a song to 90 seconds, up from the previous 30 seconds. The longer previews, meant to stimulate buying by giving customers a better sense of the whole work, have been in the works for some time but were said to have been delayed by hesitance from smaller labels and demands for improved royalties.
The longer previews are not available on all songs -- as promised, songs shorter than two minutes, thirty seconds retain the old 30-second preview. The longer previews appear to be only dependent on the length of the original song, even working with free downloads like (currently) Duran Duran's new single, All You Need is Now.
Mainstream major label releases, Beatles tracks as well as indie labels mostly seem to have the longer previews on qualifying songs, but a random search of the iTunes Store did find occasional albums that do not use the longer previews, suggesting that some labels or artists have not yet given permission for the longer samples.