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iOS 6 to feature redesigned iTunes, App + iBook Stores

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Apple’s just-posted iOS 6 Preview page has revealed that the on-device iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstores will receive substantial makeovers in the new OS. According to the page, the redesigned stores will feature “the best of what’s new in music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books at the top of each store’s home page”, and will allow users to browse those listings with swipe gestures and tap to learn more. The new stores will also offer a History button for reviewing media you’ve previewed, and will sync History across devices via iPad. Finally, the text on the page states that “now you can buy your favorite music, apps, and more without leaving the app you’re in”, suggesting iOS 6 will support In-App Purchasing of content from Apple’s various stores.

Apple to launch Back to School promo tomorrow

Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion tomorrow, according to a new report. MacRumors claims that this year’s promotion will again involve iTunes Gift Cards for those purchasing new equipment. Students purchasing qualifying Macs will receive a $100 iTunes Gift Card, while those purchasing an iPad will receive a $50 Card. Notably, this is they first year in which those purchasing an iPad will be eligible to participate. While specifics were not available, Apple’s Back to School promotions have traditionally ended in September.

Apple tweaks App Store with Editors’ Choice, Free picks

Apple has made some minor but notable changes to its front page App Store listings. In place of the prior App of the Week listings are two new Editors’ Choice picks for both the iPhone and the iPad, which rotate in the top slot alongside traditional themed bundles of promoted apps—a number of apps dedicated to Dinosaurs is being highlighted this week, for instance. The App of the Week moniker is not being retired, however, as it is now being used further down the page to promote a Free App of the Week—this week, Cut the Rope: Experiments for the iPhone and Cut the Rope: Experiments HD for the iPad. [via The Verge]

Apple censors ‘jailbreak’ on iTunes Store

Apple has started to censor out the word “jailbreak” on all listings on the iTunes & App Stores. MacRumors reports that the filtering extends to even song and album titles, including an entire album from Thin Lizzy and two episodes of The Roy Rodgers Show. Apple has long been opposed to jailbreaking, which the company has argued is tantamount to copyright infringement.

Report: Siri APIs, Siri for iPad coming in iOS 6?

Apple may launch both developer-accessible Siri APIs and Siri for iPad with the release of iOS 6, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, TechCrunch reports that the software, codenamed “Sundance”, will indeed feature a new, Apple-based replacement for Google Maps in the Maps application, and while the 3D mapping feature is said to be neat, it is also unlikely to be used very often. The report goes on to state that there have been “whispers” backing up the idea that Apple might announce a set of developer-accessible APIs for Siri, which would also make its debut on the iPad in iOS 6. Regarding the latter, the report claims that the difficulty with Siri on the iPad has been in designing a UI for the larger screen, rather than any technical challenge.

Finally, the report claims that new iCloud functionality and deep ties to OS X Mountain Lion will also be key parts of the software, which it claims may arrive at the same time as a completely revamped version of iTunes, and potentially even a “full-on Spotify competitor.” Apple is expected to unveil iOS 6 at its Worldwide Developers Conference next month.

Apple hit with class action suit over iTunes billing

Apple has been sued by a New York-based iTunes customer who claims he was double-billed for a song. Justia reports that Robert Herskowitz was charged twice for the song “Whataya Want from Me”, and Apple refused to refund him for the extra charge. “Your request for a refund for “Whataya Want from Me” was carefully considered; however, according to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are ineligible for refund,” Apple’s response read, according to the lawsuit. “This policy matches Apple’s refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials.” Herskowitz is seeking class action status for the suit.

iTunes Match rolls out to several new countries

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Apple is in the process of rolling out its iTunes Match service in a number of new countries. 9to5Mac reports that users in Italy, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, and Austria can now sign up for the service, although they have yet to be added to Apple’s official list of countries in which the service is available. Launched in the U.S. in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices.

Apple offers eBook settlement in Europe

Apple has offered a settlement relating to the ongoing eBook pricing case in Europe. The Telegraph reports that according to European Union competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, the body has received settlement offers from Apple as well as all the publishers, save for Penguin. “[The publishers] are making proposals to reach an early resolution of the case,” he said; terms of the proposals were not disclosed. Notably, Apple has not made an effort to settle a similar case in the US, possibly due to the differing conditions of the two markets at the time of the alleged collusion.

Apple responds to DOJ eBook antitrust suit

Apple has issued a statement on the matter of the antitrust lawsuit filed against itself and several major book publishers earlier this week. “The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true”, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.”

Apple enhancing Apple ID security with extra info

Apple is reportedly starting to require additional security information when using an Apple ID for purchases. The Next Web reports that Apple is prompting some users to confirm their password, add a backup email address, and create a number of new security questions that will be used to verify user identity in the future. According to the report, Apple is sending out an email to the new backup address once the process has been completed, thanking the user for adding the information, and asking them to click on a link to verify their address by clicking a link in the email. The prompt is apparently appearing when attempting to buy media directly on a device or via iTunes; notably, no iLounge editor has yet encountered the prompt, suggesting that Apple is rolling out the new security features slowly.

iTunes 11 to feature iOS 6 support, iCloud integration?

Apple has started to internally seed versions of iTunes 11, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, 9to5Mac reports that current development is focused on under-the-hood changes, but that new interface elements and features are likely being developed, possibly by a separate group. Among the new features mentioned for the software are support for iOS 6 devices and a dedicated iCloud settings panel with controls for iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iCloud iOS device backups, and more, all consolidated in a single spot. In addition, the report claims that a full iTunes/App Store revamp is underway with a launch expected sometime in the summer or fall, and that another 10.x point update is possible for initial iOS 6 compatibility, with one source calling that “more likely” than a simultaneous rollout of iTunes 11.

Universal Studios’ films now available on iCloud

Films from Universal Studios are now available for re-download through Apple’s iCloud service. Citing multiple reader reports, MacRumors notes that films from Universal no longer display a “this movie will not be available from iTunes in the Cloud” warning when viewing the movies’ listings in iTunes, while films from 20th Century Fox retain the warning. A report from last month indicated that the absence of both Universal and Fox was attributable to a contractual obligation to pay TV channel HBO; both companies were said to be in negotiations to solve the issue.

Apple releases iTunes 10.6.1 with fixes for Apple TV sorting issues

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Apple has released iTunes 10.6.1, the latest update to its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, the update fixes several issues that may cause iTunes to unexpectedly quit while playing videos, adjusting artwork size in Grid view or syncing photos, addresses issues with VocieOver and WindowEyes and fixes problems with responsiveness while syncing the iPod nano or iPod shuffle. The update also resolves the sorting problem browsing TV shows on the Apple TV that was introduced in iTunes 10.6. iTunes 10.6.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility or as a free download from apple.com/itunes.

Apple’s third-gen iPad, Apple TV event coverage, summarized

There’s been a crazy quantity of news over the last day—new iPad and Apple TV hardware, new iOS and iTunes software, a new iPhoto app for iOS, and updates to virtually every major Apple-developed app in the App Store. Here’s an index to all of the major stories we’ve posted so that you can see what’s what, easily.

The Third-Generation iPad: Apple unveiled the third-generation iPad, dropping its recent numbering scheme in favor of calling it “the new iPad.” It features a Retina Display with over 3 million pixels, a new 5MP rear camera, support for some 4G LTE networks, and a body that’s slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2’s, but is otherwise cosmetically virtually identical. After the announcement, we discovered that the new iPad’s battery was much larger, Bluetooth 4 was added, and AirPlay was still locked at 720p from the super high-res device.

Click on the title of this article for many more links to our coverage.

Fox, Universal movies missing from iTunes in the Cloud

Announced yesterday, Apple’s move to include Movies in its iTunes in the Cloud service means that you can re-download previously purchased movies from the Purchases section of the iTunes Store, and stream those films directly from the Apple TV — unless that film is from NBC Universal or Fox. AllThingsD reports that both studios are left out of the service for the time being due to a conflicting contractual obligation to HBO that gives the pay-TV channel exclusive windows. The report claims that the conflict will likely be solved in short order, however, as HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson suggests: “With every technological enhancement, we have always been able to find common ground with our studio partners, and we’re sure that will be the result here.”

US Justice Department warns Apple of anti-trust suit

The United States Justice Department has warned Apple and five of the largest U.S. publishers that it plans to file an anti-trust suit against them. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the suit will accuse Apple, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan, and HarperCollins of colluding to raise the price of electronic books. Several of the parties have held talks to settle the case and prevent a court battle, according to the report, and such a settlement could lead to cheaper e-book pricing. Not every publisher is in settlement discussions, however. The companies are also being investigated by the European Union over the same alleged offense.

Apple releases iTunes 10.6 with 1080p support, iTunes Match improvements

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Following today’s iPad event, Apple has released iTunes 10.6, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to the release notes, iTunes 10.6 adds the ability to play 1080p HD movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store and adds a number of improvements for iTunes Match including improved song matching, album artwork handling, downloading and display. As with all new Apple media hardware, iTunes 10.6 will also be the minimum requirement for syncing the new third-generation iPad and new third-generation Apple TV announced at today’s event. iTunes 10.6 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes and should be available via the company’s Software Update utility later today.

Apple adds Movies to iTunes in the Cloud

During it’s iPad event today in San Francisco, Apple announced the expansion of its iTunes in the Cloud service to include Movies from the iTunes Store. Originally launched last June, iTunes in the Cloud allows iTunes users to re-download previously purchased music, books, apps and TV shows to their iTunes library or any iOS device. The service was initially released in the U.S. and later expanded to several other countries late last year, initially for music and later for TV shows as well. The second-generation Apple TV received the ability to stream TV shows from iTunes in the Cloud last summer; although it is not clear whether support for Movies will be included in a coming Apple TV software update or will be exclusive to the third-generation Apple TV also announced today. Apple has also not yet been announced in which countries Movies will be available from iTunes in the Cloud.

Update: The feature has now been activated for U.S. iTunes Store accounts, allowing users to re-download previously purchased movies from the Purchases section of the iTunes Store.

Apple developing adaptive streaming audio format

Apple is working on a new audio file format that would allow it to deliver high- or low-quality files to iCloud users based on bandwidth. Citing a source with inside knowledge of the process, the Guardian reports that the new system would adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device, and would be used to enhance the company’s iTunes Match service. According to the report, Apple has already asked a London studio to prepare audio files for the new streaming format. “All of a sudden, all your audio from iTunes is in HD rather than AAC. Users wouldn’t have to touch a thing – their library will improve in an instant,” said the source. Apple has recently been encouraging submission of audio files in the 24-bit/96KHz standard, and has also released a set of guidelines for mastering to iTunes which hint at a such a possible future service: “As technology advances and bandwidth, storage, battery life, and processor power increase, keeping the highest quality masters available in our systems allows for full advantage of future improvements to your music. These masters matter – especially given the move into the cloud on post-PC devices.”

Apple acquires app search service Chomp

Apple has acquired the app search and discovery service Chomp, according to a pair of reports. TechCrunch reports that Chomp’s technology will be used to completely revamp App Store search and recommendations. The report notes that Chomp received seed funding in 2009 and eventually grew to include both iOS and Android apps. The company currently has a deal with Verizon to power all of their Android-based app searches, which is likely to end as soon as the Chomp team and product finishes its transition to Apple. 9to5Mac adds that Chomp CEO Ben Keighran and CTO Cathy Edwards are already working at Apple, with Keighran working on the iTunes marketing team, and Edwards serving as a senior iTunes engineer. The price of the deal is currently unknown.

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