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Apple using email alerts to combat App Store fraud

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 bows to iTunes, shutters MP3 store

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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]

Apple notes iTunes compatibility issues with some media files

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.

Orange UK offering customers free iTunes movie rentals

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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 rolls out 90 second song previews internationally

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 updates Apple TV 2G, adds TV shows to iCloud

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 releases iOS 5 beta 4

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.

Apple releases iTunes 10.4 with Lion support

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Apple has released iTunes 10.4 adding support for some of the new features in Mac OS X Lion and a number of important stability and performance improvements. iTunes 10.4 now works with Lion’s new Full-Screen App feature allowing the app to be placed in its own full-screen window. Version 10.4 is also now a 64-bit Cocoa application on OS X Lion, and the release notes indicate that this may render some plug-ins no longer compatible. The latest version of iTunes is available for via Apple’s Software Update tools or from http://www.itunes.com/download.

iTunes Connect maintenance to cause App Store issues?

Apple will be performing scheduled maintenance on its iTunes Connect developer portal that may leave some users unable to make purchases from the App Store. Citing an email to developers, Mac Rumors reports that the work on iTunes Connect, the developer service used to submit applications to the App Store, is scheduled for today at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time. During this time, according to the email, any pricing changes made on the service will cause the app or apps to become unavailable for the remaining duration of the maintenance, after which it will reappear on the App Store at the new price. Notably, the email also states that customers in Mexico, the U.K., Australia, Switzerland, Japan, and Norway may not be able to purchase apps during the maintenance period. As noted in the report, a number of users reported connection issues with the App Store server last evening; it’s unclear whether the issues were related to the maintenance.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 3

Apple has released its third beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5259f—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 3 is available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple preparing to offer 1080p movies on iTunes?

Apple may begin offering 1080p video sales and streaming as soon as this fall, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, AppleInsider reports that a handful of feature films being submitted to the iTunes Store for release in the September/October timeframe include documentation for an optional 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution. The reports states that the new format is being listed as “HD+” and that the average bitrate on these higher-quality copies is 10,000 kbps. As noted in the report, such high-quality files would require an Internet connection with a stable download link of approximately 10 megabits per second, which is higher than the national average in most countries, and might force Apple to offer the files strictly as downloads.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 2 with Wi-fi Sync

Apple has posted the second beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5248d—includes support for Wi-Fi Sync. As noted by Mac Rumors, the release notes state, “In iOS 5.0 beta 2, wireless syncing is now available for the Mac. It requires iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and OS X 10.6.8 or Lion. You will see an option to enable wireless syncing when you connect your device to iTunes with the USB cable. It is recommended you perform your initial sync with a cable after restoring your device.”

The text continues, “Wireless syncing is triggered automatically when the device is connected to power and on the same network as the paired computer. Or, you can manually trigger a sync from iTunes or from Settings -> General -> iTunes Sync (same network as paired computer required). Be sure your device is plugged into a power source when performing Wireless syncs. If you find issues with apps, media and/or photos synced to your device, you can reset then resync. From Settings -> General -> Reset, choose Erase all Content and Settings. Then reconnect to iTunes and sync again. In this beta, iTunes may incorrectly report Photos as ‘Other’ in the capacity bar. Photo syncing otherwise works as expected.” In addition to iOS 5 beta 2, iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and Apple TV Software beta 2 have also been released; all three are available from the iOS Dev Center.

iTunes Match to use Gracenote MusicID technology

Apple’s upcoming iTunes Match service will use Gracenote’s MusicID technology to identify and match songs in users’ iTunes libraries to copies on Apple’s servers, according to a statement from the company. In a reply to a Facebook user inquiry as to whether iTunes Match uses Gracenote’s technology, the company said, “Yes, the iTunes Match service uses Gracenote MusicID to help recognize tracks in a user’s existing music collection.” According to the company’s website, MusicID “has the capability to recognize, categorize and organize any music source, be it CDs, digital files, or analog streams,” and “provides track level descriptive and factual metadata, including artist name, track, title, genre, origin, era, artist type, mood and tempo, and uses Gracenote’s global genre system to categorize music based on regional preferences.” According to Cult of Mac, Apple already uses MusicID to add song and artist data to songs ripped from physical CDs, and also employs it for its Genius recommendation system.

Apple launches Back to School promo with $100 Gift Card

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Apple has officially launched its annual Back to School promotion. Unlike past years, which saw the company bundle a free iPod with the purchase of a qualifying Mac with Education Pricing, Apple is now offering a $100 Gift Card under the same conditions. The Gift Card can be used on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, or Mac App Store, although the focus of the promotional materials is on the latter. Qualifying systems include the company’s MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro laptop computers, as well as its iMac desktops. Full terms and conditions are available here.

The switch to a Gift Card instead of an iPod may indicate a sea change at Apple, as the iPod + Mac promotion ran for six straight years, beginning with an offer of a free iPod mini, then changing to include an iPod nano, and eventually adding the iPod touch. The change is also notable in that Apple has also traditionally used the promotion as a tool to help clear out iPod inventory prior to its annual music event, traditionally held in early September.

Report: iTunes in the Cloud not coming to UK this year

Apple won’t be launching its iTunes in the Cloud service in the UK until 2012, according to a new report. Citing a spokesman for the Performing Right Society, a group that ensures composers, songwriters, and publishers are paid for their work, the Telegraph reports that talks between Apple and UK-based labels are in their early stages. “The licensing team at the PRS have started talks with Apple, but are a long way off from any deals being signed,” the spokesman said. “It is very much the early stages of the negotiations and is similar to the launch of iTunes – which began in the US and took a while to roll out to other countries.” An executive from one of the major record labels echoed the sentiment, saying, “Tentative talks have begun between the major labels and Apple in the UK. However, all talks are at the really early stages and no one expects to see the cloud music service live on this side of the pond until 2012.” Apple has yet to announce any expected rollout dates for its iTunes in the Cloud service, or any other part of its iCloud service, outside the U.S. [via MDN]

Apple releases iTunes 10.3.1

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Apple has released iTunes 10.3.1, the latest version of its digital media management software. The purpose of the update, which arrived without version-specific release notes, is unknown; the prior version, 10.3, was announced during the company’s keynote address on Monday but was not made available for download until early yesterday morning. iTunes 10.3.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility.

iTunes in the Cloud services now live on iOS 4 devices

If you’ve purchased music or music videos from the iTunes Store in the past, now would be a good time to check out the iOS 4 version of the iTunes Store application. A new “Purchased” tab has just been added dynamically to the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad versions of iTunes, enabling you to see and retrieve the entire collection of music that you’ve previously purchased from the iTunes Store—including music videos. This is the live implementation of the iTunes in the Cloud.

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Several options are available from the Purchased tab. A list of “All” songs shows you everything you’ve purchased, with 50 Recent Purchases as a secondary list, above a scrollable alphabetical collection of individual artists with a number of downloaded files off to the side. You can Download All [Artist’s Name] Songs by clicking a cloud download icon, or do the same with the Recent Purchases list—but not the “All Songs” collection. You’re also able to use a tab to sort the list by Not On This iPad/iPhone/iPod files, seeing only the ones you don’t currently have on the device.

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Songs are downloaded individually to the device, and cannot be streamed; this is solely a locker to retrieve tracks as needed for your device. For users who thought they’d lost their only backups of iTunes-purchased music, this is a great new feature, and provides high-quality 256kbps AAC versions of tracks, assuming that you purchased the “iTunes Plus” versions from Apple. We’ve discovered that tracks that were purchased at 128kbps and not upgraded to iTunes Plus will still redownload via iTunes in the Cloud at 128kbps.

Note: The feature appears to be working only for U.S. iTunes Store accounts for the time being, notes our Canada-based editor Jesse Hollington.

Apple unveils $25/year iTunes Match service

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As part of its new iCloud service suite, Apple today unveiled iTunes in the Cloud, a service which allows users to download previously purchased iTunes music to all devices at no additional cost. For music that wasn’t purchased from iTunes, users can gain the same benefits by signing up for a service called iTunes Match. iTunes Match scans a user’s existing music library and replaces existing tracks with 256 kbps AAC DRM-free files if they can be matched to the over 18 million songs on the iTunes Store and will upload any tracks that it can’t match to Apple’s servers. Apple indicated during its keynote address that there will not be any limit to the number of tracks that can be used with the service. iTunes Match will be available this fall for a $24.99 annual fee.

Update: Apple has updated its website to indicate that iTunes Match will be limited 25,000 songs, but that any purchases made from the iTunes Store don’t count against the limit.

WWDC 2011 Keynote play-by-play transcript now available

We’ve just posted the full chronological transcript of our play-by-play from the WWDC 2011 Keynote. If you haven’t seen the separate news stories yet, today’s big announcements pertained to the fall 2011 releases of iOS 5 and Apple’s new free wireless synchronization service iCloud, as well as the July 2011 release of Mac OS Lion. Click on the title of this article for the full transcript, and visit our Flickr photostream for live photos from the event.

Apple to pay labels $100M+ for iCloud deals?

Apple has agreed to pay the four major music labels between $100 and $150 million in advanced payments as part of its cloud music deals, according to a new report. Citing three separate sources, the New York Post reports that Apple will pay each label between $25 million and $50 million to get on board with the iCloud service, dependent on how many tracks early customers are storing. According to the report, these same payments were a major hold-up for Google in its discussions with the labels, and may have influenced its decision to launch its cloud service without label support. The report states that Google will now likely have to pay higher fees to secure deals similar to those between the labels and Apple, but could have a similar cloud offering online as soon as September.

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