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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Apple has posted a What’s New page (Translated Link) covering its latest enhancements to the iTunes Store in Japan. Among the enhancements listed online are the ability to download songs over 3G, iTunes Plus-quality downloads, iTunes in the Cloud, Ringtones, a listing of albums that have been Mastered for iTunes, and Complete My Album. All the new enhancements are live now on the Japanese iTunes Store. [via Mac Rumors]
The Beatles have announced that the band’s first ringtones have been released worldwide on the iTunes Store. According to the announcement, the ringtones—being offered for the first time—are available exclusively from the iTunes Store, and include all 27 of the band’s UK and US #1 hits, which are also featured on the band’s 1 album. The 30-second ringtones are available for purchase directly from the iTunes Store on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for $1.29 each.
Apple has posted a new contest celebrating the download of the 25 billionth app. As the company has with past countdown contests, it has posted a counter roughly showing the number of apps downloaded to this point on the contest page; similar graphics have yet to appear on the main iTunes Store or App Store, but will likely appear later today. “As of today, nearly 25 billion apps have been downloaded worldwide”, reads the contest page. “Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 25 billionth app, and you could win a US$10,000 App Store Gift Card. Just visit the App Store and download your best app yet.” The contest will end once the 25 billionth app has been downloaded; no purchase or download is necessary to enter.
Apple has sent out an email to iBookstore content creators, informing them of several new additions and features to the eBook publishing section of iTunes Connect. According to AppleInsider, the email touted publishers’ new ability to post screenshots, receive up to 50 promo codes for each book published, offer pre-orders for certain titles before their release, and create series of books, which ties the separate volumes together on the iBookstore. The report indicates that the new features are active for both established publishers and iBooks Authors alike, and are available now.
The End User License Agreement for Apple’s new iBooks Author app has drawn the attention of some members of the online community. The criticism revolves around a section at the top, which states, “If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.” As summarized by Dan Wineman, that statement, and section 2 B, suggest that “Apple is trying to establish a rule that whatever I create with this application, if I sell it, I have to give them a cut. ” Such an arrangement isn’t unreasonable on the surface, as Apple is providing the software for free, and it does not appear to bar users from distributing works freely online. Wineman argues, however, that Apple did not give him a chance to agree to the terms prior to installing the software, at which point the user is implicitly accepting of it; he compares it to a car dealership hiding secret terms in the glove box, which go into affect as soon as a customer drives a purchased automobile. Apple has yet to comment on the situation.
Apple has posted a streaming video of this morning’s education event on its website. The video, which clocks in at roughly one hour long, features Apple executives Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and Roger Rosner introducing the company’s new textbook and education initiatives, which include iBooks 2.0, the new digital textbooks section of the iBookstore, iBooks Author for Mac, and the new iTunes U app. For more information on the event, check out our transcript, or simply take a peek at our News section.