Apple will soon offer “Spoken Editions” of written content from some publishers through iTunes, TechCrunch reports. Early versions of podcasts branded Spoken Editions from brands like Time, Wired, and Forbes have begun appearing on iTunes, offering users the ability to get the written news delivered in audio form so they can listen while doing other things.
Following the public release of iOS 10 today, Apple has also released iTunes 12.5.1, updating the design of Apple Music to match the new iOS 10 Apple Music app design, adding support for iOS 10 itself, and incorporating support for Siri and picture-in-picture video in macOS Sierra. iTunes 12.5.1 is available for download from Apple’s iTunes Download Page or via a software update in the macOS App Store.
Apple took to Twitter to announce the news that for today only, iTunes is offering six 10-movie bundles for $10 each to celebrate the 10th anniversary of iTunes Movies. The bundles are arranged by studio, with pre-selected movies from Sony, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate grouped together for purchase. You can view which movies are included in each bundle on iTunes.
Apple has released iOS 9.3.5, its third minor update in the past six weeks, coming only a little more than three weeks on the heels of the release of iOS 9.3.4. As with the prior release, the latest update appears to be another minor patch, with release notes merely describing it once again as “an important security update” that is recommended for all iOS 9 users. With iOS 10 expected to debut in the near future, iOS 9 updates will likely be limited to security patches such as these to accommodate older devices incapable of being updated to iOS 10.
Apple has released iOS 9.3.4, a minor update that comes a little more than two weeks following the release of iOS 9.3.3, and purports to fix at least one security issue with the release notes merely describing it as “an important security update” that is recommended for all iOS 9 users. With iOS 10 expected to debut in the next six to eight weeks, future iOS 9 updates will likely be limited to security patches such as these to accommodate older devices incapable of being updated to iOS 10.
Only two weeks after the release of iTunes 12.4.2, Apple has released iTunes 12.4.3, a minor update intended to address a specific bug that caused changes made to playlists on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to not synchronize back to iTunes. Earlier this month, iTunes 12.5 also began appearing for users running the macOS Sierra developer and public betas, appearing mostly to add support for optimization features in macOS Sierra and Apple Music features in iOS 10; it’s unclear if the playlist syncing bug has been fixed in the iTunes 12.5 betas or not.
Apple is in the process of rolling out the more sophisticated audio fingerprint capabilities from its iTunes Match service to all Apple Music subscribers, according a new post by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop. Although Apple Music provides the ability to integrate a user’s own iTunes library tracks into a cloud-based “iCloud Music Library,” as Dalrymple’s post explains the matching capabilities of the Apple Music service have been limited in comparison to Apple’s $25/year iTunes Match service, meaning that users who subscribed only to Apple Music without also paying for an iTunes Match subscription were stuck with a “metadata version of iTunes Match” which relied on track information rather than acoustic fingerprinting to match a user’s own tracks with Apple Music’s collection, resulting in significantly less accurate results, such as live versions of songs being replaced by studio versions.
Apple released a big set of of updates yesterday afternoon, as iOS 9.3.3, watchOS 2.2.2, tvOS 9.2.2, and iTunes 12.4.2 were all launched to the general public. The updates mostly contain bug fixes and minor enhancements, but the iTunes update resolves a playback issue with short Apple Music songs in your Up Next queue. The updates are currently available. We’ll add to this piece this afternoon if there are any other major findings.
Apple has been making plans to completely eliminate music downloads on the iTunes Store, according to a new report from Digital Music News. Sources “with close and active business relationships with Apple” have told Digital Music News that the company is actively considering a two-year termination timetable, and discussions within Apple have begun focusing on not if purchased music downloads should be retired for good, but rather when it’s going to happen. A range of shutdown timetables are apparently being considered by Apple, with executives suggesting that the company no longer expects to run the service indefinitely, although it may ride out iTunes music sales for a few more years until paid music downloads are eclipsed by “a streaming-dominated industry.”
While it’s unclear exactly why Apple would want to kill off a profitable business market — music industry analysts expect that iTunes music download revenue will still be around $600 million in 2019 — there may be concerns within Apple that the availability of digital download sales are limiting the success of the Apple Music streaming service by providing iTunes and iOS users with options, and that the overlap between Apple Music and the iTunes Store is creating product confusion, both in terms of purchasing products and in the combination of other overlapping services such as iCloud Music Library and iTunes Match. Further, despite the revenue from digital music sales, analysts suggest that music purchases in this form are in rapid decline, dropping by 15 to 30 percent year-over-year, suggesting that Apple may be planning a proactive exit strategy in a world that’s moving progressively more toward streaming services.
Update: A two-word refutation from Apple, as spokesman Tom Neumayr told Re/code that the report is simply “not true.”
Update 2, 6/8/16: Digital Music News is standing firm with its 2-3 year timeframe for Apple phasing out iTunes downloads, saying that sources with knowledge of the company’s plans are still adamant despite public denials. The site claims music downloads have entered a “free fall” this year and the decision to finally pull the plug on music download sales will depend on how sharply sales decline, how quickly streaming accelerates and the internal politics at Apple. It’s interesting that the site is doubling down despite Apple’s firm denial after the initial report was released — there’s a good possibility that factions inside Apple may be split on this issue.
A live stream from NBC Sports Radio is now available for free through the iOS Music app or iTunes. The station joins NPR and BBC World Service as free listening options for Apple users and includes sports talk personalities like Mike Florio, Chris Mannix, Amani Toomer and Rodney Harrison. The update comes ahead of a rumored overhaul of Apple Music expected to be unveiled at WWDC. [via Apple Insider]
Less than a month after the release of iTunes 12.4, Apple has pushed out iTunes 12.4.1, a minor maintenance update that addresses a number of problems with VoiceOver, restores the option to Reset Plays, and fixes issues with Up Next playing songs in the incorrect order and crossfading between songs. The update is available for direct download from www.iTunes.com or via Apple’s Software Update tools.
After going public with his gripe about Apple Music deleting 122 GB of music off his personal computer, musician James Pinkstone added a new blog entry detailing what happened when Apple sent two engineers to his house to investigate the issue. Running a special version of iTunes designed to document any further mass deletions, the engineers spent hours troubleshooting but weren’t able to replicate the issue. Of particular concern was that there is no pattern to what was deleted, with files of all types, sizes and genres suddenly disappearing.
Apple has released a whole slew of updates this afternoon, as iOS 9.3.2, watchOS 2.2.1, tvOS 9.2.1, and iTunes 12.4 have all been launched to the general public. The updates are mostly made of bug fixes and minor enhancements, but as alluded to last week, a few design and navigation tweaks have been made to iTunes. Also, the iOS update fixes a Bluetooth audio quality issue with the iPhone SE. The updates are currently available. We’ll add to this piece this afternoon if there are any other major findings.
Apple has confirmed that an iTunes bug has delete locally stored music from some users’ libraries and said the company is working on a fix, iMore reports. Last week a blog entry from one Apple Music user claimed 122 GB of personal music files had suddenly gone missing from his computer. The post led to speculation that confusion over the “Remove Download” and “Delete Song” options in Apple Music had led the user to accidentally delete his songs across all devices when he had only intended to clear them off a secondary device, but an Apple spokesman later confirmed, “In an extremely small number of cases users have reported that music files saved on their computer were removed without their permission. We’re taking these reports seriously as we know how important music is to our customers and our teams are focused on identifying the cause.”
During a meeting with Apple, seven top podcasters voiced serious concerns over the company’s apparent lack of interest in their business, The New York Times reports. Despite essentially creating the format for downloading “digital audio shows” in 2005, Apple’s cumbersome process for promoting shows and lack of solid tools for artists to share and monetize their work drew serious criticism, according to two attendees of the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Leaked screenshots obtained by MacRumors show only minor tweaks coming to Apple’s iTunes 12.4 redesign, expected to launch in late May or early June. The toggler to switch between types of media has been changed from the existing icons to a dropdown menu, with forward and back buttons that can also be used to flip between sections. The updated left sidebar provides quicker access to specific songs or albums within iTunes. Both the media toggler and sidebar can be edited to display only desired types of content.
Apple will reveal sweeping changes to Apple Music at this year’s WWDC in an effort to draw new interest in the streaming music service, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the plans said the company is trying to make Apple Music’s user interface much more intuitive after the first version was met with tepid reviews and failed to draw the numbers that competitors like Spotify boast. Insiders said development of that first product was complicated by internal culture clashes within Apple that had been brewing ever since the company acquired Beats two years ago, with the company still struggling to integrate the two groups of employees and unite its streaming and download businesses into one coherent music promotion strategy.
Only six months after Apple began selling iBooks and iTunes Movies in China, the company has now been ordered by a Chinese Government agency to shut down sales, The New York Times reports. Although Apple originally had the Chinese government’s approval to introduce the services, a government regulatory agency — the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television — stepped in last week and demanded the services be shut down. While Apple has been unusually successful in introducing new products into the Chinese market, this about-face could be a sign of future problems brewing in China, which is Apple’s second-largest market.
Apple has published a Report on Government Information Requests covering how it handled demands for information from law enforcement agencies received during the second half of 2015. The company said the “vast majority” of those requests were for information about lost or stolen devices, about which Apple complied 80 percent of the time within the United States. Totals outside the U.S. fluctuated between 52 and 80 percent.
Apple has announced that it will be ending the iTunes Allowance program as of May 25, 2016. The allowance feature, which has been available on the iTunes Store for over a decade, was designed to allow parents to setup iTunes Store accounts for their children and automatically add a fixed amount of credit to the account each month. Apple has suggested that users instead move to the new Family Sharing feature debuted in iOS 8, which allows purchases by children on a shared family account to require approval by a parent on an item-by-item basis. Users can also still send iTunes Gifts electronically, either as a dollar amount or for specific items, and of course traditional iTunes Store Gift Cards remain an option as well. Apple notes that users will not be able to create new iTunes Allowances as of April 13, 2016, and existing allowances will automatically be cancelled as of May 25, 2016, with any unused credit remaining in the recipient’s account until it’s used, in the same manner as credit from an iTunes Gift or Gift Card.