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 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.
- July 11, 2011
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 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.
- June 20, 2011
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Becoming the second outlet to report that Apple has signed a cloud music deal with Universal, giving it deals with all four of the major labels, the Los Angeles Times has provided additional details on Apple’s upcoming iCloud service. Citing sources familiar with the negotiations, the report claims that the service will initially be offered for free to customers who purchase music from the iTunes Store, but will eventually cost roughly $25 a year. The report also states that Apple plans to sell advertising around the iCloud service—specifics, including if the ads would appear for paid subscribers, were not offered—and that the company’s agreements with the labels call for it to share 30 percent of any revenue from the service with the labels, as well as 12 percent with music publishers. In line with recent reports, it also notes that although the service is initially focused on music, Apple eventually plans for the service to be used for movies, TV shows, and other digital content sold through iTunes.
Apple may have plans to include the online storage and streaming of both films and TV shows in its iCloud offering, according to a new report. Citing two sources close to the negotiations, Cnet reports that Apple has increased its efforts to convince major Hollywood film studios to issue licenses that would enable such a service; the report notes that Apple began discussing such a service with the studios over a year ago. The report also claims that part of the challenge in signing all six major studios is the so-called HBO blackout, part of the contract between the cable network and three of the six studios—Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and NBC Universal—that prohibits other electronic distribution outlets from selling the title while it’s airing on HBO. Whether or not a deal concerning the HBO contract is ready in time, the report states that Apple could still launch such a service with the support of the other three major studios—Disney, Paramount, and Sony—when it officially unveils its iCloud service June 6.
A new report has emerged offering details on Apple’s cloud music offering. Citing people briefed on the talks between Apple and the major music labels, Bloomberg reports that Apple will be able to scan customers’ digital music libraries in iTunes and quickly mirror their collections on its own servers, replacing low-quality songs with higher quality versions, after which users will be able to stream their songs and albums directly to their devices. According to the report, users will be able to store their entire music collections in the cloud—including songs that may have been obtained illegally, giving the music labels a way to earn money on pirated music through whatever fee Apple plans to charge. The report claims that the labels are negotiating aggressively to ensure they make a profit from the shift to the cloud, as it may be the last opportunity to stem piracy and dropping sales. Apple has already signed deals with three of the four major labels for the service, and is said to be close to reaching a deal with the final holdout, Universal Music. Apple could announce its cloud music service as early as its Worldwide Developers Conference, which begins with a keynote address on June 6.
Apple, along with AT&T and US Cellular, has been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit by Visual Interactive Phone Concepts (VIPC). In its case against Apple, VIPC is asserting two patents, both of which are entitled “videophone interactive mailbox facility system and method of processing information,” according to a FOSS Patents report. The complaint states that Apple infringes on the patents due to its sales of “mobile communication devices that are videophones,” and also names the App Store—“an application service for users to view, download and use applications on their videophones”—the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore as infringing entities, because they include “a central data center that facilitates the order and delivery of [apps, entertainment content, books, PDF documents, etc.].” Apple is accused of “intentional and willful infringement,” which, as the report notes, would result in treble damages should the court agree.
Apple is closing in on deals which would give it the music publishing rights necessary to launch its anticipated cloud music service, according to a new report. Citing two sources with knowledge of the talks, Cnet reports that negotiations between Apple and music publishers began in earnest recently, but that the amount of money separating the two sides is relatively small. Despite the seemingly small monetary gap between the two, the report notes that cloud services are new, and thus there is no precedent for how to license them. On the label side, Apple has reportedly signed license agreements with EMI Music, Warner Music, and Sony Music; a deal with Universal Music, the final holdout of the largest four labels, could come as soon as this week, according to the report.
Apple has now reached a cloud-based music licensing agreement with Sony Music Group, giving it deals with three of the four largest labels, according to a Bloomberg report. Citing people with knowledge of the deals, the report reiterates that the service will allow users to store content on Apple’s servers and access it via the Internet rather than storing it locally on a device. An Apple patent application discovered yesterday shows one implementation of how such a service could work. The report goes on to state that Apple is close to a deal with Universal Music Group, and that separate agreements with music publishers would also be necessary, as they control different rights than the labels.
A newly published Apple patent application suggests that the company may be planning to use small, locally-stored clips of media items stored in the cloud as an on-device buffer. Such a setup would allow for reduced media footprints on devices such as the iPod and iPhone, as only a short portion of each song or video—think an iTunes preview clip—would be stored locally, in order to give the device an opportunity to grab the rest of the item while reducing the possibility of playback pauses as media is retrieved from a server.
Entitled “Local Storage of a Portion of Streamed Media Items,” the patent describes “locally storing one or more clips corresponding to a media item such that the clips can be immediately played back in response to a user request to play back the media item. While the clips are played back, the electronic device can retrieve the remaining segments of the media item from the user’s media library as a media stream over a communications network. Once the playback of the clip is complete, the electronic device can seamlessly switch playback to the media stream received from the user’s library.” Notably, one of the images included with the patent shows an iTunes synchronization settings screen, in which an iPhone is set to “Sync partial music,” with a “Minimum Connection Speed” of 3G. As with all Apple patents, this application does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has signed a cloud-based music licensing agreement with EMI music and is close to securing deals with the remaining “big four” labels, according to a new report. Citing multiple music industry sources, Cnet reports that EMI, along with Warner Music Group, have signed agreements with Apple, while similar deals with Sony Music Group and Universal Music Group are nearing completion. The report states that negotiations with the latter two labels could be wrapped up as early as next week, giving Apple contracts with all four of the top labels heading into WWDC, where many expect the company to announce its cloud-based offering. Apple’s approach differs from that of rivals Amazon and Google, both of which have launched cloud-based music services without the support of the labels; the report claims that the labels’ agreements with Apple may allow it to offer features that Amazon and Google lack.