With the return of Apple’s annual iTunes Festival for 2013, the company has once again added a dedicated Apple TV section allowing users to access and stream content directly onto the Apple TV. An update to the free iTunes Festival universal iOS app has also just been released, refreshing the design and allowing users to stream live and on-demand content directly to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Content can also be streamed directly to a Mac or Windows PC via the iTunes Festival Page in the iTunes Store.
The Festival will feature 30 nights of free, live music from more than 50 artists performing at the Roundhouse in London from September 1 to September 30, 2013. Previous shows are expected to be available for a limited time via iTunes, the Apple TV, and the iOS app, and it is unclear for how long the iTunes Festival section will remain available on the Apple TV following the conclusion of the event on September 30th.
AdAge reports that Apple’s new iTunes Radio service will be joined by a number of high-profile advertising partners when it debuts next month, including such big names as McDonald’s, Nissan, Pepsi, and Proter & Gamble. The multi-million dollar deals will include twelve-month advertising campaigns that will run within the streaming music service, as well as exclusivity within each of their respective industries through the end of 2013.
iTunes Radio will reportedly include three forms of advertising: interstitial audio and video ads in addition to interactive full-screen “slate” ads that will appear on iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and desktop PCs and Macs via iTunes. Audio ads will apparently be served up once every 15 minutes, while video ads will appear once per hour, at times that users are likely to be looking at their device’s screen. At launch, ads will be run across all devices, however plans are said to be in the works to allow advertisers to target ads to specific devices, with advertising costs based on screen size. As previously announced by Apple, an ad-free option will be available for iTunes Match subscribers.
Apple has released iTunes 11.0.5, intended to fix an iTunes in the Cloud related issue where “some purchased may download or play unexpected items.” In addition to the public release of iTunes 11.0.5, Apple has also posted iTunes 11.1 beta 2 to the iOS Developer Site. The initial iTunes beta added support for iTunes Radio; it is unclear what has changed in beta 2, although it presumably addresses the same iTunes in the Cloud issue as the public release.
Apple is now offering a sale on iTunes movie and TV bundles, featuring some surprisingly deep discounts. For example, the entire eight-film Harry Potter collection is being sold for $10 in SD or HD, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is being offered for the same price. The Godfather Trilogy, Back to the Future Trilogy, and a 10-film Star Trek collection are also offered, among many other bundles. Some discounted bundles have appeared in the TV show section as well, including The Sopranos Seasons 1-3 and 4-6 for $45 each—notably down from $125 total before, but up from $40 per bundle several days ago—and a Fan Favorites collection from Star Trek: The Original Series for $10.
Update: Some of the bundle prices were changed early in the sale — the Harry Potter collection went from $10 to $60, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy changed to $18, and some other prices changed, as well. Though some of those early prices were likely accidental, some buyers did get bundles for those low initial prices.
Apple rolled out movie support for iTunes in the Cloud across eight more countries today: Austria, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Users in those countries can now re-download previously purchased iTunes movies. Notably, Apple has yet to mark the countries as now offering movie support on the iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match Availability page. There are still a number of countries in which Apple offers support for music and music videos in iTunes in the Cloud, but not movies. [via MacRumors]
An outage with Apple’s iTunes Store is preventing some users from making purchases, as well as completing transactions that were underway at the time of the outage. The issue has continued for nearly two hours as of this writing, according to Apple’s System Status page. iLounge editors have experienced the problem firsthand, in the form of being unable to complete video purchases, and through in-progress app downloads that won’t authorize via iTunes.
Update: Apple’s System Status page is now showing a number of issues with other services. According to the status page, “Users may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore. Users may also be unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup.”
Second update: All of those services have been restored, but now some users are unable to make FaceTime calls, according to Apple’s System Status page as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
Alongside today’s release of iOS 7 beta 4, Apple has also posted a beta version of iTunes 11 for Registered iOS Developers.
Listed as iTunes 11 beta 1, the new version includes support for iTunes Radio for those in the U.S. It also notes that OS X 10.7 or later is required for iTunes Radio support.
Using the iTunes Store to spread the news, Apple has confirmed that one billion podcasts have been subscribed to on iTunes. A special new section in the iTunes Store Podcasts section spotlights “some of the most popular podcasts of all time, as well as a collection of captivating new shows.” These featured podcasts are grouped into “The Classics,” “What’s Hot,” and “New & Noteworthy.” Podcasts on iTunes launched in the summer of 2005.
Apple will pay royalties for iTunes Radio based on both how many times listeners hear a song, and how much advertising Apple sells, according to a report. iTunes Radio will pay labels 13 cents each time a song is played, in addition to 15 percent of net advertising revenue, “proportionate to a given label’s share of the music played on iTunes.” The rates will rise to 14 cents and 19 percent of ad revenue in the second year of iTunes Radio. These rates exceed the 12 cents per listen paid by Pandora, which is very similar to iTunes Radio.
It’s notable, however, that a number of songs played on iTunes Radio will be exempt from paid royalties. These include songs already in a listener’s iTunes library, songs on an album that is partially owned by a listener, and “Heat Seeker” tracks selected for special promotions. Apple also avoids paying royalties for songs skipped before 20 seconds have played, but the company can only avoid royalty payments for two songs per hour. These terms, given to independent labels, are “similar but not identical to” the terms given to the three major labels — Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. There are also references to terms regarding the use of music in talk, weather, sports, and news programming on iTunes Radio, but the report notes “it’s unlikely Apple will invest much in creating such programming.” [via The Wall Street Journal]
Noted within Apple’s official announcement regarding HBO GO and WatchESPN launching on Apple TV, the company has disclosed that iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes. While the numbers pale by comparison with app and song download numbers, they represent interesting milestones for video content. Apple notes that iTunes users are now purchasing more than 800,000 TV episodes and more than 350,000 movies per day. The Apple TV now offers users more than 60,000 movies and more than 230,000 TV episodes.
Apple’s WWDC 2013 keynote is about to begin in San Francisco, California, with iOS 7, an Apple music streaming service nicknamed iRadio, and new Mac computers/software expected to be officially announced. We’ll be providing live updates throughout the course of the event to let you know what’s happening with iOS 7, any new iOS-related accessories, and other products that may be announced. Click on the title of this article for the latest details as they happen.
Note: We’ve moved iOS-related updates to the top of the article so you can see them before the Mac-related news.
Note 2: The event is now over, with all updates below.
Apple’s upcoming iRadio music streaming service will feature virtual radio stations akin to Pandora’s, according to a new report, but will differ in selling “highly targeted” interstitial audio ads and onscreen ads using the iOS iAds service. Advertisers will be able to target users based on location, as well as entertainment tastes, due to Apple’s collection of user data from the device and iTunes account. These ads would conceivably be more pricey and desirable than Pandora ads, which can’t target users as specifically, relying on only several comparatively basic pieces of information. Selling ads and songs through iTunes will reportedly enable Apple to offer the service for free to iOS users, though it’s unknown if there will be a subscription-based alternative without ads. If the report is accurate, iRadio will notably not include on-demand song selection, which Spotify offers to mobile users who pay a monthly fee. [via Ad Age]
Apple has released iTunes 11.0.4, which “fixes a problem that may cause iTunes to quit if you switch between wired and wireless syncing.” Also, an issue that forced users to repeatedly login to the iTunes Store is resolved. The update is available through the Mac App Store, and will soon be offered through the iTunes download page as well.
Apple has released iTunes 11.0.3, adding a new MiniPlayer, improved Songs view, and support for multi-disc albums. A greater emphasis has been put on allowing users to showcase album artwork in the redesigned MiniPlayer and Songs view, and the MiniPlayer now includes a built-in progress bar.
In addition, users with multiple disc albums can now have them appear as a single album. Apple also notes that the update provides performance improvements for working with large iTunes libraries.
Windows 8 “Metro” users shouldn’t get their hopes up regarding an iTunes app on their operating system, according to a new report. “You shouldn’t expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon,” said Tami Reller of Microsoft’s Windows division. “ITunes (sic) is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It’s not for lack of trying.” Windows 8 users can only use iTunes in desktop mode, which means the iTunes experience suffers on Windows tablets. It also means iTunes can’t be used on the Microsoft Surface, which only runs Microsoft desktop software. And as the report notes, “There’s no reason for Apple to help make the Surface a better product.” [via CNN Money]
Apple’s iTunes store is now featuring “A Decade of iTunes,” an interactive timeline celebrating the past 10 years of iTunes. The 10th anniversary of the iTunes Store is this Sunday, April 28. The timeline lets users view the top selling songs and albums each year from 2003 onward and lists a number of Apple and iTunes milestones along the way.
Apple has added a “download later” option for large media purchases in the iTunes store. Users who purchase a TV season, Season Pass, movie bundle, music box set, or an individual movie or TV episode now have the ability to download the media at a later time from iTunes in the Cloud. This new option could benefit users who want to buy such media, but don’t have the time or data connection to download a large file at the moment of purchase. The “later” option is available for users using iTunes 11, or iOS 6 or later, and in countries that support iTunes in the Cloud for the selected media.
A federal court has ruled that startup ReDigi can’t resell iTunes songs, as it has claimed it could. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan granted a partial summary judgment in favor of Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records, as Universal sued ReDigi for copyright violation. Sullivan ruled that users can’t resell digital media files unless given explicit permission by the copyright owner. Notably, a recently published Apple patent filing offers a solution that would let digital rights be transferred during a resale or loan, contemplating both software technology and contract rights to allow it. [via All Things D]
Apple has confirmed that it has added an “Offers In-App Purchases” line to freemium apps found in the App Store. Currently, the line is only found within the iTunes desktop version of the App Store. The company recently settled a class action lawsuit over freemium apps aimed at children, but as one British boy showed during an in-app spending spree, freemium purchases remain an issue. The disclosure offers a somewhat more conspicuous up-front sign of the potential for post-download charges, though apps can squeak through by debuting without in-app purchasing and subsequently adding the feature. [via The Guardian]
Marvel Comics has released its new Marvel Unlimited iOS app, enabling iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users to access Marvel’s digital comics subscription program. Though the app is free, subscriptions to the Marvel Unlimited service are $10 a month, or $60 for a year.
About 13,000 back issues of Marvel comics are included with the service. Comics can be added to a user’s library, and six issues can be stored for offline reading; downloaded comics can be synced across all of a user’s devices. Peter Phillips, SVP of Marvel Digital, said most major Marvel titles “should be in there at six months,” according to a report; all of the comics available through Marvel Unlimited are at least six months old. [via Gizmodo]