Adds album artwork to Songs, supports multi-disc albums, more
On Thursday, Apple updated its flagship program iTunes to version 11.0.3, which brings some new features as well as addresses a number of minor bugs and improves security and performance for those running and sorting large collections. The main new features include a redesigned MiniPlayer that now features artwork and a progress bar, and some changes to the Songs view that also adds album artwork. Importantly, multi-disc albums are now seen and counted as one album rather than individual discs.
Stream appears restricted to US
Apple has posted a free streaming preview version of the upcoming Daft Punk album on the iTunes Store. Random Access Memories is 74 minutes in length, and due to be released May 21st for $12. At the moment, at least, the preview is only available to US shoppers.
Apple apparently reticent to add Metro support
"You shouldn't expect an iTunes [Metro] app on Windows 8 any time soon," Microsoft CFO Tami Reller tells CNN Money. "iTunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It's not for lack of trying." The quote may suggest that Microsoft has been talking with Apple about adding Metro support for iTunes, but without any progress.
Option will appear automatically in account details
Apple is extending its two-step verification option for Apple IDs to a wider range of countries, users say. When the feature first launched in late March, it was restricted to the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. Now though people in Canada, Argentina, and Pakistan are reporting getting the feature, and other countries may be following suit.
Sony allegedly holding out for higher fee for streaming music
Apple may have hit another snag in its alleged plan to launch an "iRadio" service in the near future, according to an unconfirmed report from London's Financial Times. The forthcoming service, should negotiations get completed, would allegedly see iTunes offering a streaming music service that leveraged its enormous statistical and purchasing information from users to serve curated songs they would be likely to enjoy from artists they have bought before or would probably like. Sony, according to sources, is still holding out.
Following 50 downloaders after landmark will receive $500 credits
Apple has launched a countdown to 50 billion app downloads on its iOS App Store, and is awarding a $10,000 gift card to the downloader, plus $500 gift cards to the next 50 downloaders following the landmark download. The representative countdown progress is seen in iTunes under the App Store section.
Targeted sites narrowed down to Houston IP address
The people responsible for a new Apple ID phishing scam have compromised 110 websites, says security firm Trend Micro. All of the sites are hosted on a specific IP address, 188.8.131.52, which is registered with an ISP based in Houston, Texas. "Almost all of these sites have not been cleaned," Trend Micro remarks.
Apple A Decade of iTunes promotion covers 10 years of artist, Apple hits
Apple has launched new iTunes promotion it has dubbed ‘A Decade of iTunes.’ However unlike Google Play, which has run has celebrated milestones and offered discounts on some content, Apple is not offering any apparent deals on charting songs and albums from the period covered. In fairness, however, many of the albums and singles have come down in price over the years since they first charted.
Apple lead steady from 2011, gains claimed from minor players' stores
According to information analysis firm NPD Group, the Apple iTunes Store holds a commanding lead in video digital downloads, both for movies and television shows. In 2012, the research firm claims that 67 percent of television show purchases and 65 percent of movie sales were made on Apple's marketplace, up slightly from 2011.
Apple online services continue string of difficulties
Apple's online services are again suffering outages, their official system status page indicates. Between 7:20 and 9:32AM Eastern, some people may have been unable to access the iTunes Store or make purchases there. Still ongoing however are problems preventing people from creating Apple IDs or signing into Game Center, as well as authentication errors when trying to use iCloud. The latter may also prevent people from setting up a new iCloud account.
Puts items in Purchased queue for later access
Apple has quietly added a "Later" option for iTunes downloads, reports say. The feature appears in both iTunes 11 and iOS 6, and lets people buy larger files without immediately downloading them. Items then show up in the Purchased section of a person's iTunes account, where they can then be downloaded when a reliable Internet connection is available.
Number of music buyers remains constant
Apple remains in control of digital music sales in the US, but has lost some ground in the past few years, according to a new NPD Group report. The company currently holds a 63 percent marketshare with iTunes, down from 66 percent in 2010. Amazon has meanwhile established itself as a major player, now at 22 percent of the market versus 13 percent in 2010. The companies are however competing for a static number of music buyers, since the number of Americans that have bought at least one song has remained at roughly 44 million annually for the past three years.
Offline iTunes purchases could use credit system
Apple has won the rights to two more US patents, notes AppleInsider. The first, titled On-device offline purchases using credits, describes a system in which credits stored offline on a portable device could be used to buy content from iTunes. The credits would be bought either through the device itself or the desktop version of iTunes, which would also let people manage transferring credit to and from devices.
Glitch buried App Store links
Strange search results when looking for iOS apps are connected to technical problems, says Google. AppsFire co-founder Ouriel Ohayon has pointed out that when handling searches for apps, Google's servers have recently been burying App Store links, potentially up to several pages deep. "We've been having some issues fetching pages from the iTunes web servers, and as a result some people may have had problems finding iTunes apps in search easily," Google explains in an official response. "We're working with the team there [Apple] to ensure search users can find what they're looking for."
Court rejects first-sale-doctrine defense
A federal judge has ruled against digital music reseller ReDigi, describing the company's business model as a form of copyright infringement. The decision, which was posted by Wired (PDF), rejects ReDigi's claims of protection under the first-sale doctrine, as initial buyers can simply make a duplicate copy of a digital track before offering it for sale through the resale system.
Service would offer streaming, customized music, buy buttons
Music industry executives are evidently not good at keeping secrets -- a number of them have gone on the record talking about Apple's proposed streaming "radio-like" service, currently dubbed "iRadio," and some details behind it. Following an apparent breakthrough in negotiations with Universal and Warner, the company is pushing to get the service launched sometime this summer, according to reports. Likely to be incorporated or at least tied to the iTunes Store, "iRadio's" main sticking point so far has been royalty rates.
Now offers web access, automated refunds
Apple has begun deploying a new version of the "Report a Problem" option at the iTunes Store. The feature was previously limited to people using the OS X or Windows iTunes apps. Now, though, it can be accessed via the web, whether on a computer or a mobile device.
Two-step verification only current defense
(Updated with Apple disabling the iForgot password retrieval page) A new exploit lets people hijack an Apple ID account using only an email address and someone's date of birth, says The Verge. The process involves pasting in a modified URL while answering the date of birth question on Apple's password retrieval page. Doing this lets someone reset an Apple ID's password, locking out the original owner unless they can get Apple's help.
Sends codes to Findy My iPhone, SMS numbers
A two-step verification process is now an option for Apple ID accounts, reports say. The option can be accessed on Apple's website, and once enabled requires entering a PIN before making an account change or a purchase on iTunes or the App Store. Codes are sent via Find My iPhone or a text message.
Auto-tuned 'performance' taken from TV interview, sold on iTunes
A woman from Oklahoma who calls herself "Sweet Brown" became famous over a short but colorful interview she gave to a local TV and radio station following an apartment fire, best known for the signature line from it, "ain't nobody got time for that." The line has subsequently become an Internet "meme," or widely-quoted idea or sentiment. A "song" created by Texas radio personalities following her TV interview using snippets of the KFOR appearance and a subsequent follow-up radio interview was briefly sold on iTunes, and is now the subject of a lawsuit.
Lack of store-wide encrypted connection could have been exploited
After first being alerted to the potential problem last summer, Apple has addressed a potential security issue with connections to the App Store and is now encrypting active content over HTTPS by default as of late last month. A Google security researcher pointed out the potential for an attack in July, noting that a malicious network attacker could conceivably field user passwords, scan the apps on a user's device or even trick users into downloading fake upgrades or prevent an app from installing.
Iovine's 'Project Daisy' subscription service may dovetail with Apple's plans
Legendary music producer, label head and Beats Audio CEO Jimmy Iovine has allegedly met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and media services chief Eddy Cue in a "wide-ranging" discussion of the music industry and related topics, including Iovine's "Project Daisy" proposed music service that he had previously pitched to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The meeting has renewed talk of alleged Apple plans for a subscription or premium music service.
Streaming strategy only applying to high-profile albums
Today through March 12th, the iTunes Store is streaming the entirety of David Bowie's new album, The Next Day. The record is Bowie's first since Reality in 2003. The 12th marks the official premiere date for the album, and Apple is using the run-up to boost pre-orders, which have already put the album on the top of iTunes charts in 34 countries.
Says most downloads happening outside US
(Updated with Apple quote on iPad sales) Over 1 billion downloads have been made through iTunes U, Apple has announced. The service, a subset of iTunes, includes books, coursework, and podcasts, many of which are free to the public. Apple says that it has over 1,200 universities and colleges participating, and about the same number of K-12 institutions. In all, over 2,500 public courses are available, along with "thousands" of private ones.
Music store has gone from iPod supplement to profitable enterprise
Apple's iTunes was originally conceived (and run for a number of years) as a more-or-less "break even" music service that was little more than a value-added feature driving buyers to the high-margin iPod line. Today, the iTunes empire pulls in $13.5 billion annually, of which music sales still play an enormous part -- around $4.4 billion, of which about $3.4 billion goes to music publishers large and small. This would mean that iTunes alone accounts for about 60 percent of the music industry's $5.6 billion in digital music sales.
Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands seeing access
(Updated with complete list of countries) Access to movies and TV shows via iTunes in the Cloud is rolling out across several more European countries, reports say. The one confirmed country is France, where the feature has been tested with both iTunes and the Apple TV. Various people on Twitter, however, are claiming that the option is now also available in Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Downloads, subscriptions credited as major factors
In 2012, the music industry posted its first overall revenue growth since 1999, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Revenues were up 0.3 percent for the year, something the IFPI credits to a mix of downloads, subscriptions, and other avenues. Digital music revenue in particular grew 9 percent to $5.6 billion, just under a third of the industry's total $16.5 billion.
Services back online, but hit iTunes, app stores
Apple suffered multiple online service outages earlier on Thursday, the company's system status page now confirms. Between 9:40AM and 11:50AM Eastern time, purchases at the iTunes Store and the Mac and iOS App Stores may not have gone through. The company also confirms some Wednesday problems in which people couldn't access iCloud calendars.
Also copes with missing purchases
Apple has released an iTunes 11.0.2 update for Mac and Windows users. Notes indicate that the update adds a Composers view to the software, and that the app should be more responsive when syncing large playlists. The code should also solve a glitch which prevented purchases from appearing in an iTunes library.
Vulnerability linked to bug, source says
A "Don't Allow Changes" option introduced alongside iOS 6 is currently broken, a report says. The feature is supposed to allow people to block changes to an account linked to an iOS device. It's particularly important for schools and other institutions that need to ensure a device is tied to a particular account, and/or can't download unauthorized apps.
Sales from iTunes stores dwarf all other phone makers
In an article that talks about the various industries Apple is involved in (and comparing them to others if they were separate businesses), Asymco's Horace Dediu points out that Apple's iTunes business -- all by itself -- is a monster corporation. It has an estimated gross margin of around 15 percent, is steadily growing over 30 percent per year and may become Apple's third-largest "leg of the stool," passing the Mac business at some point this year.
Milestone downloader gets 10,000-euro gift card
The iTunes Store has surpassed 25 billion song downloads, according to an official Apple announcement. The milestone track is said to have been "Monkey Drums (Goskel Vancin Remix)" by Chase Bush, downloaded by Phillip Lüpke in Germany. For his luck Apple is awarding Lüpke a 10,000-euro iTunes gift card.
Report focuses on iVOD, e-sellthrough; excludes Netflix
Apple's continuing resistance to optical drives (and specifically OS-level support for Blu-ray drives) may be an annoyance for some users, but demand for optical disc-based entertainment is experiencing a decline, making the company's move prescient. Thanks to the iTunes Store and Apple's modest but growing success with the Apple TV, a new report from the NPD Group ranks iTunes as the top provider of what it calls the "iVOD" (Internet Video On Demand) market, which doesn't include streaming services like Netflix.
Messages, iCloud, Game Center all on rise
Mostly overlooked in Apple's quarterly report dealing with sales and revenues is the remarkable -- in some cases, astonishing -- growth in Apple's cloud-based services, ranging from the four trillion notifications sent to iOS users through Notification Center to the record-breaking $2.1 billion profit for iTunes. Users now send over two billion iMessages per day -- bypassing the cellular carriers' biggest profit center, SMS messaging -- from over 500 million devices, and over 250 million users now have iCloud accounts.
Company could also relocate some iTunes servers to China
Apple is hoping to start a research and development center in Beijing, according to Tencent. A source for the site says that on January 8th, during his recent tour of China, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned the plans in a meeting with acting Beijing mayor Wang Anshun. Apple has been working on expanding its R&D footprint outside of the US -- mainly in Israel, but it may also be considering Russia.
Couldn't quite convince Jobs, will try again with Eddy Cue
In an interview with AllThingsD during CES, legendary Interscope Records founder, producer and Beats headphones co-creator Jimmy Iovine admitted that he had spent several years attempting to convince Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs to adopt some form of subscription model for iTunes or a related spin-off. Iovine told reporters that he will meet with current iTunes SVP Eddy Cue, even as Apple is allegedly preparing a "Pandora-like" radio service.
Apple unveiled its own default browser, changed music forever
In the midst of a CES that is more about Apple than ever before -- despite the obstinate refusal of the company to have any presence at it -- two of Apple's reinventions that formed a core part of the OS X experience have had birthdays this week. Ten years ago on Monday, in January 2003, Apple created its own Internet browser: Safari. Twelve years ago Wednesday, iTunes was born from the purchase of SoundJam MP and debuted at the 2001 San Francisco MacWorld.
Service forecast to launch sometime in 2013
Apple is still negotiating for song catalogs from music labels as it prepares a streaming music service, claims BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield. A number of reports have mentioned such talks in the past, although it's not clear what sort of progress has been made. As recently as early December, some music industry sources indicated that Apple was nowhere near a deal because major music labels were disappointed with Apple's terms.
Promotional offer good for Canada, the UK, Europe only
Continuing an annual tradition, Apple's 12 Days of Christmas app has given out the first of its post-Christmas "presents," a free EP of songs by the band Maroon 5. The program -- available only to UK, Canada and some European residents -- promises 12 daily free items from the iTunes Store, which can include music, movie rentals, TV episodes, e-books or apps. This year, the app kicked off with one free offer early -- a music video of Rod Stewart's take on "Let it Snow."
Various bug fixes include disappearing AirPlay button
Late Thursday, Apple updated its two-week-old iTunes 11 with a updated named 11.0.1 (currently only available through Software Update), but which nonetheless restores a feature whose absence was decried by upgraders -- the duplicate finder built into the program. The new version restores the dupe finder, and solves a few teething issues with the overhauled iTunes. Apple's iTunes 11 was the first major rewrite and UI overhaul in the program for over a decade, and has been met with some mixed reviews.
Other categories cover podcasts, TV shows
Apple has unveiled its annual Best Of list for 2012, which promotes content the company is selling through the iTunes Store, the App Store, and the iBookstore. The Best Album, for instance, is Shields by Grizzly Bear; Best Director is claimed by Wes Anderson for Moonrise Kingdom. Taking Best Show is Breaking Bad.
Allows more precise notifications
Apple has introduced a new version of its system status page for online services. Whereas the old one often lumped multiple problems together into a single update, the new page has individual lights for each aspect of Apple's services, ranging from Maps, Siri, and FaceTime through to the App Stores and various iCloud functions like Mail, Calendar, Back to My Mac, and iTunes Match.
Some countries missing rentals or HD
Movie sales have gone live in 42 out of the 56 countries that recently gained access to the iTunes Store, notes AppleInsider. Initially, only Russia, Turkey, India, and Indonesia were announced as having video access. Even now movie access is inconsistent, with only some countries also having options for rentals and/or HD quality. Many storefronts reportedly carry nothing beyond movies from Disney, Sony, and their subsidiaries.
Apps may not be able to update
People around the world are having trouble accessing the iTunes Store and the Mac and iOS App Stores, according to accounts on Twitter, and tests by MacNN. While the problems aren't universal, they appear to be affecting people in multiple countries, and in some cases may be creating serious issues. Trying to update iOS apps may fail outright, for example.
Apple terms leaving record labels 'cold'
Apple is nowhere close to completing a deal with the major record labels for a music streaming service, say music industry sources contacted by CNET. The people say that the terms Apple has been offering for the service, nicknamed "iRadio," have left the labels -- Sony, Warner, and Universal -- unsatisfied. It's believed that even if one side or the other changes its position, it could take a long time to complete agreements.
Company explains removal of Cover Flow
(Updated with info on bugfixes) Apple is planning to restore the ability to check for duplicate files in a minor update for iTunes 11, says AllThingsD's Walt Mossberg. In a review of the app, Mossberg explains that he contacted Apple about some questions and was told about the update, although no release timeline was given. Duplicate checking was an important feature of previous versions of iTunes, especially for people importing music libraries from iPods, iPhones, or other computers.
Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia get video
Following some early premieres, Apple has officially opened access to the iTunes Music Store in 56 more countries. While the company isn't providing a full list, it does highlight Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. Of the new countries, only Russia, Turkey, India, and Indonesia are getting access to movie rentals and purchases as well.
Launches precede rumored Moscow event
(Updated with info on Russian iTunes Match, Lebanon) The iTunes Music Store has gone live in Russia and Turkey, users say. iOS screenshots show prices of about 15 rubles (49 cents) or 0.89 Turkish lira (50 cents) per track. In Turkey, an album should typically cost 9.99 lira, or about $5.59. Apple hasn't publicly announced the expansions.
iTunes Music Store finally on verge of Russian launch?
A low-profile iTunes event is scheduled for December 4 in Moscow, a leak suggests. One of Apple's Russian PR staffers, Irina Efremova, is said to have sent out an email invitation to a small group of people, indicating that a musical evening will be taking place at GUM, a shopping center in Red Square. Beyond that nothing is certain; it's thought, though, that it could mean that the iTunes Music Store will finally be opening in Russia in the near future.
New retail gift cards can be loaded up to $500
Apple has made a pair of significant changes to the way iTunes gift cards work. The first is the introduction of new variable-value cards at retail. These can be worth anywhere between $15 and $500; to choose the amount, a buyer asks for help during checkout. Sources for 9to5Mac claim that "at least one supermarket chain and one retailer" are launching the cards today.