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iTunes U content downloads top one billion

Apple announced this morning that iTunes U content downloads have now exceeded one billion. iTunes U features “the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content” from schools and other learning organizations, including lectures, books, assignments, quizzes, and more. Apple claims more than 1,200 universities and colleges and 1,200 K-12 schools and districts now host more than 2,500 public and thousands of private courses on iTunes U. “It’s inspiring to see what educators and students of all types are doing with iTunes U,” Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue said in a press release. “With the incredible content offered on iTunes U, students can learn like never before―there are now iTunes U courses with more than 250,000 students enrolled in them, which is a phenomenal shift in the way we teach and learn.”

France, Holland, Sweden get iTunes Cloud videos

Apple appears to have launched iTunes in the Cloud movie and TV show support in France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, according to new reports. French website iGen first reported the availability of Cloud movies and TV shows in France, while Twitter users in the Netherlands and Sweden have reported the same access. Notably, Apple has not yet updated its iTunes in the Cloud country list to include these three countries.

Update: Apple has confirmed that Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden now have iTunes in the Cloud movie support, while France also has TV show support. [via The Next Web]

Apple releases iTunes 11.0.2, adds Composer view

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Apple has released iTunes 11.0.2, a minor update adding a new Composers view for browsing music along with several stability and performance improvements. The update specifically promises to improve responsiveness when syncing large playlists and fixes an issue where purchases may not appear in the iTunes library.

iTunes adds self-published Breakout Books section

Apple has introduced Breakout Books, a new section to its iBookstore. The section features selected independently published books that have earned four and five star reviews.

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Currently, four categories are featured in the section: Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Mysteries & Thrillers, and More to Explore. Breakout Books will be featured at the top of the iTunes Store’s book section for at least two weeks before being moved to a less prominent location. [via MacRumors]

Report: ‘Radio Buy” button hidden in iPad iOS 6.1

A new set of files discovered in the iPad music app may signal new functionality in the future, according to a new report. Discovered on a jailbroken iPad running iOS 6.1, button files are labeled with “radio buy” in the file names. It’s unknown as to what these files may actually mean, if anything, but previous reports suggest that Apple plans to launch its own streaming radio service; one report suggested that the feature could have been launched as an iPhone 5 feature prior to royalty negotiations breaking down. It’s notable that these “radio buy” files have not been discovered in jailbroken iPhones running iOS 6.1. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: iOS bugs, policies hurting users, developers?

A new report details a number of software-related issues that are impacting Apple users and developers, as Adam C. Engst of TidBITS provides anonymized summaries of “some concerning problems that haven’t gotten as much press” as recent hardware manufacturing delays. Engst notes that iOS 6 has seen “more (and more-troubling) bugs in iOS 6 than any previous version of iOS in particular,” noting that users were hit with problems such as excessive cellular data usage and battery drain, issues that Apple took four months to address with iOS 6.1. Second-hand reports shared by Engst suggest that Apple engineers have left “because they felt their software was being shipped before it was ready,” and that he has also “heard story after story of Apple’s App Store policies and behaviors causing significant headaches.” While developers wouldn’t go on the record with their individual issues, they described iTunes Connect problems regarding app approval, company changes, and customer management that were creating unnecessary problems for users, such as confusing update and upgrade paths for important new releases. Engst suggests that Apple’s success has “effectively blinded” it to the software and developer problems, which he deems “the emperor’s wardrobe malfunction,” issues that “aren’t likely to affect the stock price in the short term, but could have long term consequences.”

Court backs Apple in online credit card privacy case

Apple and other online retailers did not break the law by requiring consumers to provide their addresses and phone numberes to make credit card payments, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday, noting that state privacy protections for credit cards don’t apply to downloaded online purchases. Consumer David Krescent had sued Apple after making purchases from iTunes, which sells content exclusively online. Notably, the same court ruled in 2011 that the privacy protections apply to brick-and-mortar retailers, which would not be allowed to request a ZIP code during a credit card transaction. In this case, four California Supreme Court justices backed Apple, while three said that the ruling was “a major loss for consumers.” [via Reuters]

The Wall Street Journal joins iOS Newsstand

The Wall Street Journal has finally joined Apple’s iOS Newsstand service. One of the last high-profile publishers to holdout from offering subscriptions via iTunes, the Journal will now sell digital subscriptions from directly within the app — and will pay the standard 30 percent of subscription revenue from in-app subscriptions to Apple. Although The Wall Street Journal has long had its own reader app for iOS, it initially chose to remove in-app subscription purchasing following the launch of Apple’s in-app subscription service early last year, rather than sharing revenue and customer data with Apple. Former Dow Jones president Todd Larsen had opposed Newsstand subscriptions, but he left the company last summer. [via All Things D]

Apple releases iTunes 11.0.1, adds duplicate display

Apple has released iTunes 11.0.1, which restores the ability to display duplicate items within a user’s iTunes library. The update also fixes an issue where new purchases in iCloud may not appear in a user’s library if iTunes Match is turned on, makes searching a large library more responsive, and fixes a problem where the AirPlay button may not appear. Other stability and performance improvements are also included in the update.

Apple releases its ‘Best of 2012’ on iTunes

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 movies now available in 42 more countries

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.

iTunes update to fix dupe, TV, art bugs, omit Cover Flow

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.”

iTunes Store beginning rollout in Russia, Turkey

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.”

Moscow event could be Russian iTunes launch

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.

iTunes gift cards: Variable prices, Starbucks, iTunes 11

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.

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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.

Apple releases new Remote 3.0 iOS app

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.

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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.

iTunes 11 officially released

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.

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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.

Report: iTunes 11 could be released today

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.

iTunes now on Facebook Gifts

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]

Report: iTunes 11 release ‘within the next days’

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.

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