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Apple expands ‘Apple Music for Artists’ beta, reveals new iTunes promotional graphics

Apple Music has announced an expansion of the “Apple Music for Artists” beta program, allowing artists to sign up for access to data about how often their music is played, how users are finding it, where their listeners are located and more. The roll out of the beta earlier this year was limited to a few thousand artists, but now the program is seemingly open to all artists who have their tracks listed on Apple Music.

Apple pulling the plug on ‘iTunes LPs’ format

In a letter to music industry representatives, Apple has quietly announced that it will be discontinuing its iTunes LPs, Metro reports. While LP means “long-playing” and usually refers to a full album as far as physical media are concerned, in Apple’s world the LP signifies a special music bundle that includes extras like liner notes, photos and videos. Apple won’t be accepting new submissions for iTunes LPs starting next month and the company plans to remove the existing bundles from the iTunes Store through the rest of 2018. While Apple said, “Customers who have previously purchased an album containing an iTunes LP will still be able to download the additional content using iTunes Match,” VentureBeat claims an attempt to download a previously purchased iTunes LP from the iTunes Store only yielded the album’s tracks without the accompanying content.

Apple to end iTunes Store access for first-gen Apple TVs, PCs running Windows XP and Vista in May

According to a new support document, Apple plans to cut off access to the iTunes Store for first generation Apple TVs and PCs running Windows XP and Vista on May 25. Apple is blaming the move on “security changes” that won’t be supported on the older devices. Older versions of iTunes already installed on XP and Vista machines will continue to function, but won’t be supported by Apple. To download new content from the iTunes Store (or to redownload previous purchases), PC users will need Windows 7 or later. It’s worth keeping in mind that Microsoft officially ended support for Windows Vista last spring, and Apple declared the first-generation Apple TV as “obsolete” over two years ago, so the move is not entirely surprising. For now, at least, second-generation Apple TV users appear to be unaffected, despite the fact that Apple also officially ended support for that model almost a year ago.

Report: HomePod will support iTunes Match

A new report from iMore confirms that Apple’s HomePod will not only work for streaming Apple Music and iTunes Store purchases from the cloud, but will also fully support iCloud Music Library — both for Apple Music and iTunes Match subscribers — meaning that HomePod users will be able to stream any tracks that are stored in their iCloud Music Library, even those that they have uploaded themselves, directly to the HomePod via Siri commands.

Although this makes logical sense in light of Apple’s merging of Apple Music and iTunes Match features in late 2016, most of the early reviews were vague on whether content that could be called up via Siri would be limited to only that available on Apple Music, or would extend to any tracks stored in a user’s iCloud Music Library. The iMore report now confirms this, providing specifics on what will be supported by the HomePod based on which services a user subscribes to. In addition to Apple Music and iCloud Music Library content, users can also use Siri to call up any podcast or episode found in Apple’s Podcast directory and Beats 1 and other live radio stations, and the HomePod of course also provides AirPlay support to allow users to stream pretty much anything else directly from an iOS device, Mac, or Apple TV.

Apple releases iTunes 12.7.3 with HomePod support

Apple has released iTunes 12.7.3, a minor update that appears to be focused entirely on adding support for Apple’s new HomePod speaker, featuring a redesigned AirPlay menu, similar to that found in iOS 11.2.5, that allows Apple Music playback to be started and controlled remotely on not only the new HomePod, but also fourth-generation Apple TV devices running tvOS 11.2.5.

iTunes is now designed to work with HomePod. Use the improved AirPlay menu to easily choose HomePod and control what plays next with your Apple Music subscription.

When clicking on the AirPlay menu in iTunes 12.7.3, additional compatible playback destinations will be shown, and selecting an alternative target, such as an Apple TV, will allow you to control music playback on that device, with content selected from iTunes streamed directly from Apple Music in the cloud to the target device, rather than sent from your computer using AirPlay.

Apple unveils redesigned App Store web preview pages

Following a major overhaul of the App Store in iOS 11, Apple has quietly revamped the App Store’s web preview pages to bring them more in line with new iOS design aesthetic. The new layout opens up with a clear banner notifying users that they will need to open the App Store on their iOS device to actually download the app, followed by a cleaner title area with a larger icon, title, subtitle, developer link, ranking/rating information, and price. Below that the new preview page now focuses on screenshots rather than a description, with links to switch between iPhone, iPad, iMessage, and Apple Watch screenshots; Apple TV screenshots are notably absent from the new preview pages, however. Description and What’s New sections come after the screenshots, followed by a more conspicuous customer reviews section that features a design first introduced in the Apple TV App Store.

iTunes not making it into the Microsoft Store this year

After promises from Microsoft that iTunes would be making its way into the Microsoft Store by the end of the year, Apple said that won’t be the case, ZDNet reports. “We have been working with Microsoft to deliver the full iTunes experience to our customers and we need a little more time to get it right,” an Apple spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. The plan is still to offer iTunes at some point, but the delay leaves Windows 10 S users — who can only run apps available through the Microsoft Store — out of the loop.Neither Apple nor Microsoft have revealed the cause of the holdup or a timetable for the app’s release.

Apple unveils best Apps, Music, Movies, and TV Shows for 2017

Apple has announced its editorial picks for the best apps, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts available from its various online content stores. The App Store team noted four rising trends for 2017, including the introduction of augmented reality apps with iOS 11, a rise of real-time competitive gaming, and an increased focus on mental health and mindfulness as well as storytelling and reading. The 2017 iPhone App of the Year was the health and fitness app, Calm, while the very popular Affinity Photo won 2017 iPad App of the Year. In games, Splitter Critters was the top iPhone pick, and the open-ended exploratory puzzler The Witness was the 2017 iPad Game of the Year.

Apple releases iTunes 12.7.1 with minor updates

Alongside the release of new versions of iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS, Apple has rolled out iTunes 12.7.1, featuring only “minor app and performance improvements.” The small update continues the program’s more focused emphasis “on music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks” after a redesign that saw the removal of the App Store. For those looking to keep the App Store within iTunes, Apple has released a standalone version of the program that won’t update to a newer version.

iTunes U app update moves collections to Podcasts app, in line with iTunes changes

Apple has updated its iTunes U app to bring it in line with the recent changes to iTunes, migrating the collections features to the Podcasts app just like they were moved to the podcasts area within iTunes. Other than that, the app functions mostly the same as before, allowing users to view iTunes U courses and offering “performance improvements for accounts with a large number of courses.” Links to collections from within the iTunes U app will now open directly in the Podcasts app.

Apple leaves version of iTunes featuring App Store available for anyone to download

While Apple removed the App Store from its latest update of iTunes, the company has also left a version featuring the App Store — version 12.6.3 — available for download. The company’s support page for that download makes it clear the intent is to allow businesses deploying their own internal apps the ability to access the App Store from iTunes, even going so far as to provide special provisions allowing the older version to be downloaded to machines that already inadvertently downloaded iTunes 12.7. Anyone who wasn’t quite ready to part with all the things left out in Apple’s streamlining of iTunes can download iTunes 12.6.3 for PC or Mac, but the software won’t prompt you to execute future updates like iTunes always seems to do, so if you want to upgrade at a later date you’ll have to seek out the update yourself.

Apple increases iTunes movie rental time to 48 hours for US users

Apple has increased the time a user has to finish or rewatch a movie rented from iTunes from 24 hours to 48 hours for U.S. users, according to the company’s updated support document. Users in the U.S. users have 30 days from the time they rent a movie to begin watching it, and now they’ll have twice as much time to finish it. The 48 hour window to watch an iTunes rental has been available since the beginning of iTunes movie rentals in Canada and the U.K. — among other countries — and it’s not entirely clear why the U.S. had a shorter time limit. The company also recently made 4K movies available for rent at the same price as HD movies (but they can’t be downloaded for offline viewing).

4K Movies begin appearing on iTunes

Apple has begun offering a number of movie titles in 4K HDR ahead of next week’s Apple TV 4K, identify by a “4K” designation where “HD” was previously shown, as well as a “Dolby Vision” logo. In addition to selling content in 4K for the same price as other HD content, Apple has promised that users who have previously purchased HD versions of titles that are now available in 4K will be able to download or stream the 4K version at no additional cost.

Apple releases iTunes 12.7, ditching App Store and adding iOS 11 support, new social features

Apple has released iTunes 12.7 to all users, adding support for iOS 11 and Apple Music’s new social sharing features. The update also entirely does away with the App Store and Ringtones (and Books for Windows users), leaving those items to live on the iOS devices where they’re actually used and taking iTunes out of the equation. Apple has also eliminated separate categories for Internet Radio and iTunes U, streamlining the interface to place iTunes U collections in Podcasts and listing Internet Radio stations in the music library’s sidebar.

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.

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