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Apple working with McGraw-Hill, to launch ‘GarageBand’ for textbooks?

Apple has been working with McGraw-Hill and potentially other publishers on a digital interactive textbook initiative that it is expected to launch at its special event on Thursday, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that McGraw-Hill has been working with Apple on the announcement since June, and may have been joined in participation by Pearson and Houghton Mifflin. Cengage Learning, a leader in higher-education textbooks, has partnered with Apple in the past and will also be attending the event. “Apple today clearly has a strong position in hardware, and companies like Cengage Learning have a very strong position on the content side,” said Bill Rieders, Cengage executive vice president of global strategy and business development. “To the extent there’s a combination there, that could be exciting.”

In a separate report, Ars Technica also suggests that Apple is working on digital textbooks, but instead suggests that Apple will announce support for the more robust ePub 3 standard in iBooks moving forward, as well as a new tool for creating ePub 3- compliant e-books. Referring to the tool as “GarageBand for e-books”, the report cites former Apple education employee and current CEO of digital textbook house Inkling Matt MacInnis as expecting such a tool. “That’s what we believe you’re about to see,” MacInnis told Ars, a statement that was agreeable to the report’s other sources. “Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content. Remember iWeb? That iWeb code didn’t just get flushed down the toilet—I think you’ll see some of [that code] repurposed.” Late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was known to have been involved with the initiative, and according to the report worked on this project for several years.

Apple launches iTunes Match in the Netherlands [Updated]

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Apple has officially launched its iTunes Match online music service in the Netherlands. 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. As noted by Mac Rumors, Dutch collecting society Buma/Stemra announced last week that it had reached a deal with Apple for iTunes Match; links to the service have yet to appear on the Dutch iTunes Store, but Apple has updated its terms and conditions with new text covering the service, and the direct link to the iTunes Match page is now working.

Update: According to AppleInsider, iTunes Match has also launched in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Latvia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.

Apple to hold iBooks-focused media event this month?

Apple will hold a an “important” event in New York City later this month, focused on publishing and iBooks, according to a pair of independent reports. Citing multiple sources close to the situation, AllThingsD reports that the schedule for the event could change at any moment, and that the event will focus on a media-related announcement — although it states that the event could be related to some kind of advertising or even publishing announcement, and notes that Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue is reportedly involved. TechCrunch claims that it has confirmed the report with an anonymous source, who stated that the event will not involve any hardware, but will instead focus on publishing and eBooks. According to the report, the event will be used to unveil improvements to iBooks, and is not considered to be “major.”

Apple posts iTunes Match walkthrough video, FAQ

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Apple has posted a new webpage dedicated to its iTunes Match service. Launched 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. The walkthrough video and page clearly explain how the service works and the steps needed to subscribe, while the FAQ addresses topics such as supported file types, number of devices supported—up to 10—and whether the service streams or downloads songs. For more information on iTunes Match, see our Instant Expert article.

Apple launches Complete My Season Pass on iTunes

Apple has launched a new Complete My Season Pass feature on the iTunes Store, according to a Mac Rumors report. Similar to the Complete My Album feature, the Complete My Season Pass feature discounts the price of full TV show seasons by the amount of any individual episodes previously purchased, allowing users to buy the entire season without paying a penalty for buying individual episodes. It appears that the feature may only be live for certain shows, however, as some older shows no longer available via Season Pass do not show the option.

Apple begins international rollout of iTunes Match

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Apple has started to roll out its iTunes Match cloud music service internationally. Available since early November in the U.S. and launched earlier this week in Brazil, links to activate the service have appeared on the front page of the iTunes Store in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and possibly in other countries. 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. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple launches iTunes Store in Brazil, Latin America

Apple has launched the iTunes Store in Brazil, as well as 15 additional Latin American countries. According to the company, the iTunes Store in Brazil offers a catalog of over 20 million songs, including local artists, over a thousand movies to rent or purchase, many in HD, and iTunes Match. In the other 15 countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela—customers can browse a catalog of music from the major labels and thousands of independent labels, and also receive standard iTunes in the Cloud service for free.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.2 with iTunes Match, distortion fixes

Apple today released iTunes 10.5.2, the latest update to its digital media management software. According to the company, iTunes 10.5.2 “includes several improvements for iTunes Match and fixes an audio distortion problem when playing or importing certain CDs.” iTunes 10.5.2 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes, and is expected to be available via Apple’s Software Update utility shortly.

Apple airs new Beatles iTunes ad

Apple has started to air a new 30-second TV advertisement touting The Beatles on iTunes. The ad is based on the covers of the band’s albums, including Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour—the titular track plays in the background—The Beatles [White Album], Yellow Submarine, Let It Be, and Abbey Road, in that order, with a simple “The Beatles on iTunes” message appearing in text at the end, followed by an Apple logo. Apple is notably giving away The Beatles Yellow Submarine children’s book right now on the iBookstore. The new ad is available for viewing on Apple’s website.

EU launches antitrust probe of Apple, publishers

The European Commission—the executive body of the European Union—has launched a probe into whether Apple helped major publishing houses illegally raise prices for e-books when it launched the iBookstore. Apple was notably the first retailer of digital books to allow publishers to use the so-called agency model, under which publishers set the price at which books are sold to consumers. “The Commission has concerns that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” the body said in a statement. Also included in the probe are Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan.

Infinity Blade Soundtrack now available on iTunes

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Infinity Blade II, Chair and Epic Games have released Infinity Blade: Original Soundtrack on iTunes and other online digital music stores. From acclaimed composer Josh Aker, the album features 25 tracks of original orchestral and world music from both the original Infinity Blade and Infinity Blade II, scheduled for release on the App Store on December 1st. Infinity Blade: Original Soundtrack is available from the iTunes Store for $10 or via Amazon MP3, Amazon on Demand or Zune Marketplace.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.1, launches iTunes Match

Apple has released iTunes 10.5.1, and officially launched its iTunes Match music service. Previously made available in beta form to registered iOS developers, iTunes 10.5.1 adds support for iTunes Match, and also offers other performance and stability improvements. 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 had planned to launch iTunes Match at the end of October, but delayed the launch for unspecified reasons, while it continued to provide developers with updates to the beta version of iTunes 10.5.1. iTunes 10.5.1 is available now as a direct download from apple.com/itunes and is expected to appear in Apple’s Software Update utility shortly.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.1 beta 3 to developers

As part of its ongoing testing efforts, Apple has released iTunes 10.5.1 beta 3 to registered iOS developers. According to Apple’s release notes, the software offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all developers currently subscribed to the iTunes Match beta. Apple notified all developers earlier this week that it would delete all iTunes Match libraries on November 12, but has yet to announce an updated release date for the service, which was scheduled to launch at the end of October. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 3 is available now from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple to delete all iTunes Match libraries Nov. 12

Apple has sent out an email to registered iOS developers informing them that it will be deleting all current iCloud libraries on Saturday, November 12 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. The correspondence recommends that current users should turn off iTunes Match on all of their computers and iOS devices, and says that songs on their computers should not be affected. Apple has offered iTunes Match to its registered iOS developers on a limited, beta basis since the end of August, but notably missed its “end of October” timetable for a public launch, and has instead continued releasing beta updates to iTunes 10.5.1 to developers as it continues to test the service.

Russound AirGo uses AirPort Express for AirPlay

Russound has introduced its new AirGo outdoor speaker, which relies on an Apple AirPort Express unit to provide support for AirPlay wireless audio streaming. The AirGo is a portable, weather-resistant speaker featuring an internal speaker and specially designed amplifier, a protective chamber for housing an AirPort express, which serves as the audio source for the unit. Alternatively, users can connect other 3.5mm audio sources. The AirGo requires connecting to an AC outlet, and is available now for $400.

Apple seeds iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2, adds iTunes Match to Apple TV

Apple seeded developers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 late last evening, and also added iTunes Match to the second-generation Apple TV under the new main menu option “Music.” According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to the iTunes Match beta. Apple had promised to launch iTunes Match by the end of October, but missed its self-imposed deadline earlier this week, and is evident by these new releases, is continuing to test the service ahead of its anticipated wide-scale rollout. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 is available now as a free download from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple launches iTunes movie offerings in new markets

Apple has launched new iTunes Store movie content in a number of new markets. Citing reader reports as well as iTunes Store checks, Mac Rumors reports that movies are now available in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia, with Romania strangely left out. According to the report, Apple has yet to add dedicated navigation bar tabs for movies in the new markets, but the content is showing up in search results.

Apple to reset iTunes Match libraries ahead of launch

Apple has sent out an email notice to registered iOS developers, informing them that the company will be deleting all iTunes Match libraries later today. “To continue to improve the overall quality and reliability of iTunes Match, we will be deleting all current iCloud libraries on Thursday, October 27,” the message reads. It also reminds users to turn off iTunes Match on all their computers and iOS devices ahead of the scheduled deletion. Announced in June at WWDC, iTunes Match is a $24.99/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 said at its “Let’s talk iPhone” event that the service would be available at the “end of October.”

Apple adds iTunes Match setting to iOS 5 ahead of launch

Apple has added a toggle for turning iTunes Match on and off to the Music section of iOS 5’s Settings app, suggesting an imminent launch for the service. Announced in June at WWDC, iTunes Match is a $24.99/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. The appearance of the toggle — which currently activates an alert stating that “You are not currently subscribed to iTunes Match. Use iTunes on your computer to subscribe” — has some suggesting that the service may launch ahead of Apple’s “end of October” estimate, however, the service does require iTunes 10.5.1, which is currently in developer beta and not available to the public at large. [via Mac Rumors]

iTunes in the Cloud rolls out internationally

Apple has started rolling out its iTunes in the Cloud feature in a variety of new countries. According to a MacRumors report, iTunes in the Cloud has started rolling out in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, with other countries possibly to follow. Part of Apple’s iCloud initiative, iTunes in the Cloud allows users to re-download past music, books, app purchases from the iTunes, iBook-, and App stores directly to their iOS devices or computers, and also offers an “Automatic Downloads” feature.

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