Apple has released its “Best of 2012” list for iTunes. The lists highlight Apple’s 2012 favorites in music, movies, TV, apps, books, and podcasts. In the App Store, Action Movie FX was selected as iPhone App of the Year, with Rayman Jungle Run as iPhone Game of the Year; Paper was named Apple’s iPad App of the Year, while iPad Game of the Year was The Room. Numerous runners up and “editors’ choices” were listed alongside the winners.
iTunes Store users in 42 more countries now have access to movie sales and rentals, according to Apple Insider. Last week’s iTunes launch in 56 countries initially brought movies to only Russia, Turkey, India, and Indonesia. Access to iTunes Store movies is also now available in: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cape Verde, Dominica, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, St. Kitts and Nevis, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe. Movie availability differs from country to country, as the result of country- and region-specific contractual rights issues.
A previous iTunes feature that located duplicate songs will be restored to iTunes 11 in an update, according to AllThingsD, which also mentions that some album covers were missing in album view—a “rare bug” that Apple said it has solved and will fix in an update. Another bug preventing Apple TV users from streaming cloud-based movies to their TVs will be fixed. Cover Flow, however, is not coming back to iTunes, as Apple said “too few users considered it useful.”
Following reports of an iTunes-centric event to be held tomorrow in Moscow, users in Russia are reporting seeing the iTunes Store going live. Similar reports are coming out of Turkey, another country where Apple’s digital content has yet to be made available for purchase. It is unclear as of yet what content is available in these countries or if it is appearing elsewhere in the region. Presumably official details will be announced by Apple at tomorrow’s event. [via MacRumors]
Updated Dec. 4: Apple has announced the launch of the iTunes Store in 56 countries today, including Russia, Turkey, India, and South Africa. A full list of countries was not released by Apple, though the press release noted that “movies are available today in Russia, Turkey, India, and Indonesia, and will be available in select additional countries.”
Apple will be hosting an invitation-only event in Moscow Tuesday, according to an email obtained by TechCrunch, and it’s possible the event could be the long-awaited launch of iTunes in Russia. A recent report from Russian news service RIA Novosti claims the iTunes launch was “delayed indefinitely” after rumors the service would debut on Nov. 20. Russia could be a major market for Apple, as the country doesn’t have major smartphone penetration as of yet, and Android devices are currently more popular; piracy has long been a problem in the country, however. Negotiations with music labels for store rights have allegedly held up the iTunes launch.
Apple is introducing new denomination-free iTunes retail gift cards that allow customers to purchase iTunes credit ranging from $15 to $500, 9to5Mac reports. Unlike past iTunes gift cards that were pre-printed with $15, $25, $50, or $100 denominations, the new cards rely on the store’s cashier to put the desired amount on the card; a few stores could begin stocking the cards today.
Starbucks has announced a split digital gift card in conjunction with Apple, the Starbucks iTunes (RED) eGift basket. A $30 purchase gets two eGifts — $15 to Starbucks and $15 to iTunes. For every gift sold, Starbucks and iTunes will contribute 5 percent of the purchase price to the Global Fund, which is working to eradicate AIDS in Africa.
In another piece of iTunes gift card news, iTunes 11 now allows gift cards to be redeemed using your computer’s camera. When pressing the “Redeem” button in the iTunes Store, the camera can snap a photo, and iTunes will automatically read the code from the back of the gift card, so the user doesn’t have to enter it manually.
Alongside iTunes 11, Apple has released a new version of the Remote iOS app for iTunes. Remote version 3.0 is redesigned, featuring an iPad interface that more closely resembles the look of iTunes 11, plus a more powerful search feature that delivers real-time results as you type.
Up Next, which offers a simpler way of seeing the next songs in a playlist, is included, as is an Expanded view that shows all songs on an album. The app is also optimized for the iPhone 5. Remote 3.0 also features new icons for both itself and connected iTunes libraries, now with gray accents rather than black ones.
Apple has officially released iTunes 11. The new iTunes features a simplified player, redesigned Store, and new iCloud features. A considerably redesigned interface focuses on edge-to-edge designs for albums, movies, and TV shows in the iTunes library, and personal recommendations are available when users click In the Store, which has similarly been simplified visually. Purchases in iCloud now appear inside your iTunes library, and can be played directly from iCloud or downloaded as a copy to sync to a device or play offline. Playback syncing is also a possibility with iCloud, which remembers where you left off in a movie or TV show; iTunes will now continue playing right where you left off, no matter what device you use.
iTunes 11 features Up Next, a simple way to see which songs are playing next. Up Next enables users to reorder, add, or skip songs at any point. The new, smaller MiniPlayer includes album art, adds Up Next, and makes searching easier. Apple is also boasting improved search within iTunes, as instant results from your library pop up as you type in the search field. For Mac, iTunes 11 is being updated through the Mac App Store, an iTunes first. Expect some initial downloading time to be followed by behind-the-scenes hard drive grinding as your library is updated in the background after installation.
Notably, the Mac requirements for iTunes 11 are a computer with an Intel Core processor and 512MB of RAM, OS X version 10.6.8 or later, 400MB of available disk space, and a broadband Internet connection; Safari is no longer listed as a required item for iTunes. Windows system requirements are a PC with a 1 GHz Intel or AMD processor and 512 MB of RAM, Windows XP SP2/Vista/7/8, 400 MB of available disk space, and a broadband Internet connection, up from 250MB required for the prior PC version.
Apple’s iTunes 11 is “expected as soon as” today, according to The Wall Street Journal. A profile of Apple’s Senior VP Eddy Cue also mentions the launch of the new iTunes, which “has been delayed a month by engineering issues that required parts to be rebuilt, according to people who have seen it.” A recent report expected the launch of iTunes 11 shortly, and Apple has said the media player and organizational tool would appear by the end of November after missing its original October launch date.
Facebook has announced that iTunes has been added to Facebook Gifts as of today. Users can now send recommendations or iTunes credit for purchases — in denominations of $10, $15, $25, or $50 — to Facebook friends. Facebook Gifts launched near the end of September with about 100 merchants, and the social network recently announced more new partners. [via CNET]
iTunes 11 could be released “within the next days,” according to MacRumors. A post on one of the site’s forums shows an email reportedly sent to record labels by Fieyr, a German music distribution service. The email is asking for picture and gallery submissions of musicians to iTunes. Apple has previously said iTunes 11 would appear by the end of November, after missing its original October launch date.
AC/DC’s complete catalog is now available for the first time on iTunes, Apple announced today in conjunction with Columbia Records. Two specially packaged compilations are also being offered — all AC/DC studio albums are offered in The Collection ($100), and The Complete Collection ($150) includes the band’s complete catalog, a special promotion reminiscent of the iTunes compilations Apple created for The Beatles and U2. The AC/DC catalog includes 16 studio albums, four live albums, and three compilation albums.
Apple’s iTunes Match service is suffering from an outage, which appears to have started early on Monday; songs are not loading from the service. This follows a weekend in which iMessage and FaceTime both experienced outages. Apple’s Support website for iCloud noted that some users experienced iMessage and FaceTime outages Sunday, but does not note iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match status. [via Apple Insider]
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr has informed CNET that iTunes 11 will not ship in October as originally announced; it is now expected by the end of November. “The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right,” Neumayr said. “We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface, and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.”
Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently negotiating with major record labels to launch an ad-supported Internet radio service within the first three months of 2013. Previously rumored, the service is said to be similar to those offered by Pandora and others, although it will allow users more flexibility as to what they hear. According to the report, advertising revenues have weighed heavily in the negotiations, as the labels are seeking a percentage of ad sales, while Apple wants to grow its iAd platform.
SuperSync, an iTunes library synchronization and management tool, has been updated to version 5.0. The latest version goes beyond allowing Mac or PC users to view, merge, and synchronize iTunes libraries over local networks or over the Internet: the newest update adds advanced iTunes Match support, helping users to get more matches, upgrade tracks to the highest bit rate possible, and remove iCloud duplicates. SuperSync 5.0 is available now with a two-computer/unlimited iOS device license for $23.
Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled two new dedicated AirPlay speakers, the A7 and A5. The A7 ($800) comes equipped with a six-inch dedicated bass driver alongside two sets of 1” tweeters and 3” mid-range drivers, while the A5 ($500) is a smaller version of the same all-in-one design, using twin 1” tweeters and 4” full-range drivers. Both new wireless speakers feature a design similar to the company’s MM-1 speakers, though more elongated, and without separated satellites.
As with all AirPlay speakers, a Wi-Fi network and either an iOS device or a computer running iTunes are the only things needed to use the speakers. Both models will be available in October.
As of September 30, Apple will deactivate its unpopular Ping social network for music. According to a message found within iTunes, “Ping will no longer be available as of September 30. Thank you for your interest in Ping. We are no longer accepting new members.”
The move was previously indicated by Apple, and the service’s lack of traction was openly conceded by executives some time ago. In addition to integrating some support for social networks such as Twitter and Facebook within iTunes, separate reports have suggested that Apple is working on a music streaming service similar to Pandora, which might offer new opportunities for users to discuss and share their favorite songs.
The latest update to Apple’s iTunes software, version 10.7, is now available for download from the company’s website although as of press time it hasn’t yet appeared as a software update.
Although no new features were mentioned during Apple’s iPhone 5 keynote presentation today, this update likely adds support for iPhone 5 and iOS 6, to be released next week. It also adds support for the latest iPod nano, shuffle, and touch models.
During today’s iPhone 5 event, Apple also unveiled a major update to iTunes, its iconic media management application. Designed to be “dramatically simpler” the new version provides a much more simplified user interface presented primarily as a grid view, with album content expanding in place in a style similar to iOS folders and deeper links into the iTunes Store for browsing and purchasing additional content. A new split screen view allows users to see their full library while working with playlists, a new popup and drop down dialogs provide access to now playing queues and search results, providing more effective navigation without taking the focus away from the main screen. Improved playlist management allows users to move effectively drag and drop tracks directly into their preferred playlists and a new mini-player interface has been added providing album artwork with basic controls and search capabilities.
The new version of iTunes will also provide direct iCloud integration allowing users to stream previously purchased content from iCloud such as Movies and TV shows, with playback positions automatically synced with iOS devices via iCloud. Tighter iTunes Store integration also allows artists to share photos and other information and allows users to access artist pages to look for information such as concert dates and scheduled new releases. The new iTunes is expected to be available in late October.