Apple appears to be expanding the iTunes Store in Europe, with reports indicating plans to bring the Store to 10 new European Union countries and movie and iBookstore content becoming available for purchase and rent in the existing European iTunes Stores. A report from Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita indicates that Apple is preparing to launch the iTunes Music Store in ten new EU countries, possibly as soon as next month. The report specifies Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, but does not name the other countries although at this time there are only twelve EU member states where the iTunes Store is not available.
In a separate report, MacRumors notes that Apple now appears to be rolling out iTunes movie sales and rentals in existing European iTunes Stores, with readers reporting movies now available in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden and paid iBookstore content in Switzerland. Dedicated content sections have reportedly not yet appeared in these countries, however the content is available via the iTunes Store search function.
Apple and Starbucks have once again expanded their long-running “Pick of the Week” promotion to include books from the iBookstore. Mac Rumors reports that this week’s pick is an iBookstore redemption code for The Night Circus, a novel by Erin Morgenstern that normally sells for $12.99. Earlier this year, Starbucks began to offer apps as part of the “Pick of the Week” promotion, later stating that it would offer redemption codes for “apps, extended samples of books on the iBookstore, TV shows, and more from iTunes.”
Apple over the weekend reopened its iTunes Match beta to registered iOS developers. Mac Rumors reports that the company sent out emails to developers, letting them know that the beta has been expanded to additional developers in the U.S. The email also notes that iTunes 10.5 beta 8 is required to use the service. iTunes Match is an upcoming $25/year cloud-based service from Apple that matches the songs in users’ iTunes libraries with songs available on the iTunes Store, uploading songs that can’t be matched, and subsequently offering the users access to their entire libraries across all their computers and iOS devices anywhere they have an Internet connection. The iTunes Match beta was launched late last month, but was closed for new signups shortly afterwards.
Apple has uncharacteristically released a small update to its beta version of iTunes 10.5 for registered iOS developers. According to release notes provided to iLounge by an anonymous source, the update focuses mainly on Apple’s iTunes Match service, which remains closed for new developer sign-ups. iTunes 10.5 beta 8, as well as iWork for iOS beta 3, are available for download now from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has promoted its vice president of Internet services Eddy Cue to the position of Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services. According to his Apple Press bio, Cue will be reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook, and his duties will include overseeing the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, as well as iAd and iCloud services. In an email to Apple employees announcing the move, Cook credited Cue with playing a major role in the launch of the Apple online store in 1998, the iTunes Music Store in 2003, and the App Store in 2008; the complete email is available at 9to5Mac.
Apple has seeded its seventh beta version of iOS 5 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to registered developers. Listed as build 9a5313e, the release is also available as an over-the-air update for devices running the prior beta, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 7 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has made a beta version of its new iTunes Match cloud music service available to developers. The service, announced in June, allows users to pay $25 a year for the ability to match songs on their personal library with songs in the iTunes Store library—and upload any songs that can’t be matched—for cloud access from any Mac or iOS device. The service limits the total number of songs at 25,000, and iTunes Store purchases do not count against that total. In the email announcing the beta release, Apple states that beta subscribers will receive an additional three months free with their paid 12 month subscription, and advises users to maintain a local backup of their iTunes library, as well as any music they upload to iCloud. “Apple will periodically reset your iCloud library during the beta and it is critical that you backup your music regularly,” the email states. “Some features and optimizations of iTunes Match will not be available during the beta.” In support of the service, Apple has released iTunes 10.5 beta 6.1, which is now available to registered developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Insanely Great Mac has posted a video walkthrough of the new service showing that it is capable of not only allowing for downloads to iOS devices—which is how the company’s current “iTunes in the Cloud” service works—but also streaming, integrating the customer’s iTunes Match library into the Music application, and letting the user choose between downloading or streaming each song. Apple is expected to officially launch iTunes Match later this fall. [via Mac Rumors]
Update: Apple has posted a notice on the iTunes Match signup page noting that “beta testing has begun with an initial set of developers. Over the next days, we will continue to expand our testing.”
Update x2: Apple has informed AllThingsD that the new iTunes Match service isn’t technically streaming songs, but is instead offering a simultaneous listen and download feature that, on the surface, appears quite similar to streaming.
Apple has pulled, at least temporarily, all of its 99-cent TV show rentals from the iTunes Store. The option to rent individual TV episodes from participating networks has disappeared from both the second-generation Apple TV and the iTunes Store on the Mac and PC, and, as noted by AppleInsider, Apple has also removed a support document entitled “iTunes Store: How to rent TV shows” from the web, as well as all mention of 99-cent TV show rentals from the Apple TV product page. Apple earlier this month enabled streaming of previously-purchased TV shows directly from the Apple TV, paving the way for such a move; it is also possible that lack of network support for the rental initiative led to its demise.
Apple has released iTunes 10.4.1, the latest update to its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, the new version fixes a problem where the media keys on some third-party keyboards would work inconsistently, addresses issues with adding artwork to songs and videos, resolves an issue which may cause iTunes to become unresponsive when purchasing an HD movie, fixes a problem where iTunes may take longer than expected to open after waking your Mac from sleep, and addresses issues with VoiceOver support. iTunes 10.4.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility or as a free download from apple.com/itunes.
With the release of iOS 5, Apple appears ready to end iTunes’ use as a middleman between iOS devices and nikeplus.com. According to an anonymous source, iOS 5 beta 6 devices with Nike+ data now prompt an iTunes dialog box stating that workout data can now be sent using the “Send Workouts to Nike+” feature in the iOS device’s Nike + iPod settings, and iTunes 10.5 no longer displays a Nike + iPod synchronization tab for iOS 5 devices. Notably, iOS 4.x devices and iPod nanos still bring up the option to sync Nike+ data when connected to the new iTunes beta release. Readers may recall that the ability to sync Nike+ data wirelessly to nikeplus.com from an iOS device was added as an option in iOS 4.1, although users still had iTunes wired syncing as an alternative—the latter, traditional option is what has disappeared today.
Apple has released the sixth beta version of its upcoming iOS 5 operating system for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Listed as build 9A5302b and available exclusively to paid iOS developers, the release does not appear to include any major changes from prior versions, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 6 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has quietly removed the “Back Up to Disc” feature in iTunes 10.4, as indicated in a recently updated Apple Support article. First introduced in iTunes 7, the Back Up to Disc feature allowed users to backup all or a portion of their iTunes library to optical media such as CD or DVD, preserving library metadata such as playlists, play counts, and ratings in the process. This feature is no longer available in iTunes 10.4, with Apple now suggesting that users instead backup their iTunes Library manually to an external hard drive or that Mac OS X users can rely on Time Machine to provide this capability. It appears that iTunes 10.4 will continue to read backup media created with this feature in prior versions of iTunes, but is unclear whether this support will continue in future versions.
Apple and Starbucks have expanded their long-running “Pick of the Week” promotion to include apps. The promotion, which debuted in April 2008, has offered a complimentary song or music video every week as a free download for Starbucks customers, via a card with a redeemable promo code on the back. Cnet reports that the apps are being distributed in the same manner, with the first app to be offered being Shazam Encore, the music-identifying app that normally sells for $5.99. The report states that Starbucks declined to comment on whether the apps take the place of that week’s music track or video.
Apple has started sending app purchase notification emails to iTunes Store users in an effort to curb app purchase fraud. According to Mac Rumors, an email is sent when a user’s Apple ID is used to make a purchase on the App Store from a new device. One such email—reprinted in the report—states, “Your Apple ID [redacted] was just used to purchase [a specific app] from the App Store on a computer or device that had not previously been associated with that Apple ID. If you made this purchase, you can disregard this email. This email was sent as a safeguard designed to protect you against unauthorized purchases. If you did not make this purchase, we recommend that you go to iforgot.apple.com to change your password.” The report notes that Apple already requires credit card users to reenter the three or four digit CID number from their credit cards to authenticate new devices, but no similar authentication system is in place for users with gift card balances.
Walmart has announced that after eight years in business, it is closing its music download store. Citing a certified letter sent by Walmart to its distribution and licensing partners, Digital Music News reports that the store, located at mp3.walmart.com, will close on August 28. The retail giant will continue to sell physical CDs in its brick-and-mortar stores, and will continue to provide support for older, DRM-laden WMA files that were purchased from the store prior to its move to DRM-free MP3 files; it will also continue to operate its Soundcheck live streaming site. [via The Atlantic]
- August 9, 2011
A new Apple Support article has been posted noting that iTunes 10.4 users on OS X Lion may encounter problems opening older media files with an error message that “This movie requires QuickTime, which is not supported by this version of iTunes.” The article explains that some older media files may still require QuickTime in order to play and that QuickTime only runs in 32-bit mode. In order to play media files that are affected by this issue the article provides instructions on how to explicitly open iTunes in 32-bit mode. Notably, this issue only affects OS X Lion users as iTunes 10.4 continues to run in 32-bit mode on older versions of OS X.
- August 8, 2011
Orange UK has announced that all Orange customers—including home broadband, pay as you go, monthly pay, mobile broadband, and business customers—will now get a free film rental from iTunes every Thursday at no cost. The feature, which is launching this week, requires users to text “FILMTOGO” to 85060, or visit Orange’s Film To Go Facebook page, or use the Film To Go app to receive a response code which can be entered on the company’s dedicated Film To Go website to start the download.The restrictions on the downloads are the same as standard iTunes movie rentals in the UK, with users having 30 days to watch the download and 48 hours to finish watching once playback has begun. [via TUAW]
Apple has rolled out extended 90-second song previews to the iTunes Store in several international countries. Launched last January in the U.S., the longer previews are available for all songs with a duration longer than two minutes and 30 seconds. Mac Rumors reports that the longer previews are now available in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and other parts of Europe. As noted in the report, it is unclear what caused the extended delay between the U.S. roll out of the feature and its appearance in other countries, as Apple told labels before the U.S. rollout that they could either leave their tracks on the Store and thereby indicate their acceptance of the longer preview standard or remove their tracks from the store.
Apple has released Apple TV Software 4.3, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. According to John Gruber of Daring Fireball, the update adds the ability to purchase TV show episodes directly from the device, and to access and stream any TV show episodes previously purchased using the iTunes Store account tied to the device. In support of this feature, Apple has added a listing for TV shows to the “Purchased” section of the iTunes Store, allowing users to download previously purchased TV show episodes, and the update also adds support for Vimeo.
Notably, the ability to re-download previously purchased TV show episodes seems to be tied to the particular network or studio that owns the rights to the show, as iLounge has discovered that certain shows—including, specifically, episodes from series that originally ran on Comedy Central and FX—do not appear under the Purchased section and are therefore unavailable for re-download. Apple TV Software 4.3 is available now via the device’s software update feature.
Apple has released its fourth beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5274d—is accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5 and Apple TV Software. It is unclear what major changes, if any, may be present in the new version. iOS 5 beta 4 is available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Update: 9 to 5 Mac reports that the update can be installed on devices running iOS 5 beta 3 via the over-the-air software update feature found within the Settings app.