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Apple and Hollywood still discussing plans for early movie rentals

Movie studios are still considering plans to offer premium early access movie rentals via iTunes, Bloomberg reports. Despite objections from cinema chains, Hollywood wants to forge ahead in offering digital rentals of films only weeks after they arrive in theatres, according to people familiar with the matter. Discussions about possible studio agreements between Apple and the studios began late last year, and have been ongoing for months since, although the two sides have been struggling to arrive at a means for offering a $30–$50 premium movie-download solution that would be mutually beneficial.

Receipts in UK, Canada hint at 4K and HDR options coming to iTunes

Some iTunes receipts in the UK and Canada are showing movies listed as 4K and HDR, hinting at Apple adding those viewing options in the near future, MacRumors reports. Apple currently only offers movies in SD and HD, which tops out at a maximum 1080p, and even users who are seeing 4K and HDR options on their bills say the movies are still only available for download in HD. The change also hasn’t appeared in the US yet. The current Apple TV can only stream in HD, but in February there were rumors that Apple’s fifth-generation Apple TV—which could debut as soon as this year—would be capable of streaming in 4K.

Ability to use PayPal to pay for Apple downloads and services expanded internationally

Apple users in Canada, the UK, Germany, Mexico, and the Netherlands can now use PayPal to pay for Apple services, according to a statement from PayPal. The payment service has been an available option in the US for years, but is now available to users in some other countries to pay for downloads or services from the App Store, iCloud, iTunes, and Apple Music. [via AppleInsider]

Apple releases iTunes 12.7 for macOS High Sierra beta, with added Apple Music sharing features

Apple has rolled out iTunes 12.7 for users running the macOS High Siera beta, adding in new Apple Music sharing capabilities. Clicking on your profile picture in “For You” in iTunes 12.7 now takes you to a personal profile page showing your username, whichever playlists you want to share, and an “Edit” button that lets you adjust your profile and privacy settings (mostly to determine who can follow you). Once the update is available to the general public, users will be able to follow their friends, view that they’re listening to, and share their own recommendations. The update dovetails with the same social features coming in iOS 11 and helps to streamline and unify the Apple Music experience across various platforms.

New Prince single available on iTunes, Apple Music; EP available for pre-order

Deliverance, the title track of the posthumous EP from Prince set to be released this Friday, is now streaming on Apple Music and available on iTunes for $1. The full six-song record is also available for pre-order for $4. Parts of Prince’s back catalog began streaming on Apple Music earlier this year after previously being exclusive to Tidal.

Apple releases iTunes 12.6 with new cross-device movie rental feature

Apple has released iTunes 12.6 with minor bug fixes and one big new feature: The ability to rent movies in iTunes and watch them on other devices running iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2. The wording in the release notes isn’t specific, but hints at the ability to simply stream a rented movie on any device linked to the Apple ID that rented it. Previously users have always had to actually transfer the rented file from one device to another and could only view it on one device at a time. And while the Apple TV has been able to stream a downloaded movie rental from a user’s computer, it wouldn’t appear in the “Movies” app (like it would if it had been rented on the Apple TV directly), but as a movie in the “Computers” app that is used to access the computer’s regular iTunes library. The iTunes update—combined with the imminent release of a new iPad this Friday—has led to speculation that Apple will release iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 in the next few days to enable this new feature.

Apple releases iTunes 12.5.5

Apple released iTunes 12.5.5, a minor update that mentions no specific improvements outside of “app and performance improvements.” Also on Monday, Apple released iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1 and watchOS 3.1.3.

Apple clarifies relationship between Apple Music and iTunes Match

An Apple Senior Product Specialist has confirmed to iLounge that Apple Music has been expanded to include all of the key features of iTunes Match, clarifying the update to the Apple Music Membership FAQ that we reported on last week. The specialist confirmed that Apple Music subscribers can now download DRM-free versions of “matched” tracks without an iTunes Match subscription, although he clarified that this won’t necessarily be the case for older DRM-laden songs purchased from the iTunes Store — basically, those tracks purchased prior to the 2007-2009 period when Apple began selling music without DRM. Specifically, an iTunes Match subscription is still required to download 256-kbps DRM-free versions of any of those older purchased iTunes Songs — provided the DRM-free versions are available on the iTunes Store — whereas users without an iTunes Match subscription will be limited to the originally-purchased 128kbps DRM-protected versions from their purchase history.

Apple releases iTunes 12.5.4 with TV app and Touch Bar support

Apple has released iTunes 12.5.4, adding support for the new TV app introduced with the releases of iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 earlier this week. The latest iTunes update also adds support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro models, providing a scrubber that allows users to jump to different parts of songs, movies, and TV shows.

Apple acknowledges Apple Music now includes ‘all the benefits of iTunes Match’

Apple has quietly made a change to its Apple Music Membership FAQ, explaining that Apple Music members no longer need to subscribe separately to iTunes Match. The FAQ appears to have been updated within the last three to four weeks, and unequivocally states that users who subscribe to Apple Music do not need to also subscribe to iTunes Match, as “Apple Music includes all the benefits of iTunes Match to make all of your music available on all of your devices.”

Apple adds four new items to (PRODUCT)RED lineup, games get custom content for World AIDS Day

Apple has announced it is taking part in the (RED) charity fundraiser to combat AIDS for the 10th straight year. Apple is adding four new products to its (PRODUCT)RED lineup, offering an iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, iPhone SE Case, Beats Solo 3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones and Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker. All of the new products are available starting today. Apple is also donating a dollar to the cause for every purchase made with Apple Pay at the Apple Store, on the company’s website or through the Apple Store app, all the way up to $1 million.

Report: Apple’s video strategy has Hollywood confused

Apple recently tried to work out an exclusive video deal with Chris Rock, but walked away from the discussions and let the comedian’s two stand-up specials go to Netflix instead, The Information reports. This latest chapter in Apple’s scattered efforts to acquire exclusive video content has added to the confusion in Hollywood over what types of media Apple has an interest in acquiring. The company has been working aggressively to land movies for iTunes—most recently securing the rights to offer Michael Moore’s “TrumpLand” earlier than other online providers—and has picked up shows like “Carpool Karaoke” that fit into its strategy for promoting Apple Music. But after meeting with TV producers and movie studios about developing original content for iTunes, Eddy Cue was quoted as saying Apple is “not in the business of trying to create TV shows,” adding that the company is more interested in offering suggestions and guidance. Apple is refusing to commit the large sums of money necessary to compete with streaming rivals like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, leading analysts to worry the company’s hesitation “could stymie Apple’s ability to increase market share for its streaming video device, the Apple TV, and lock more people into the Apple ecosystem.” [via MacRumors]

Report: Apple acquired technology, employees from streaming music startup

When streaming music startup Omnifone went bankrupt this summer, Apple acquired some of the company’s technology and at least 16 of its employees, TechCrunch reports. Apple was initially rumored to be acquiring Omnifone in June, and 16 of the company’s London-based employees have since changed their LinkedIn status to show they’re now working at Apple. Omniphone still owns over 50 patents related to streaming, downloading and digital media identification, but it’s unclear how many of those — if any — Apple has acquired. A source claims some of that technology found its way into Apple Music and iTunes, and the employees who joined Apple from Omnifone include engineers now working in iTunes and apps. Apple declined to comment on the story.

Apple releases iTunes 12.5.3

Apple has released iTunes 12.5.3, fixing an issue where albums play in an unexpected order, resolving problems that kept lyrics from displaying while listening to Beats 1, and making other minor bug fixes. Yesterday, Apple also released iOS 10.1.1 and beta versions of iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1 and watchOS 3.1.1.

Apple moving $9 billion in assets to Ireland

Despite a bitter legal fight over its tax agreements, Apple is moving even more assets to Ireland, The Business Post reports. The company has relocated its international iTunes business to a data center in Hollyhill, Ireland from its current location in Luxembourg. The Hollyhill facility will now manage “iTunes business and content stores for more than 100 countries,” amounting to an estimated $9 billion in assets. Apple has been clear that it remains committed to doing business in Ireland even as it fights a ruling from the European Union that ordered the company to pay Ireland $14.5 billion in back taxes. [via Apple Insider]

Apple launches Spoken Editions of popular websites

After a quick test last month, Apple has officially launched its new Spoken Editions section under the podcasts heading in iTunes. Users can now get a spoken-word version of news updates from media companies like Time, Reuters, Slate, Wired, Mic, Bustle, Jezebel, and the Huffington Post. Apple’s simple pitch for the section targets people too busy to read their favorite websites each morning, offering narrated versions of the stories for those on the go. Providers are divided into categories that cover breaking news, politics, LGBT and racial issues, pop culture, lifestyle, business, and technology.

Apple to offer ‘Spoken Editions’ of written content from top publishers

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.

Apple releases iTunes 12.5.1

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 offering 10-movie bundles for $10 today to celebrate iTunes Movies’ 10th anniversary

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 releases iOS 9.3.5 ‘security update’

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.

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