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]
Apple has offered a refund to the family of Danny Kitchen, a British boy who spent £1,700 (about $2,550) of his parents’ money on in-app purchases in an iPad game within 15 minutes. The family believed the boy was downloading “a free game,” and entered a password for the download, which was followed by a collection of huge in-app purchases. Apple recently settled a class action lawsuit regarding freemium apps aimed at children, offering refunds for claims that minors made in-app purchases without parental knowledge or permission. [via BBC]
David Bowie’s first album in 10 years is streaming for free exclusively on iTunes until its March 12 release. Also available for pre-order, The Next Day is Bowie’s first album since 2003’s Reality, and features 14 tracks and 3 bonus tracks. A handful of artists have exclusively used iTunes to stream a new album before release — Jack White’s Blunderbuss got the same treatment last April. The album cover, interestingly enough, is the same album cover used for Bowie’s classic Heroes album, with the old album title crossed out and the new title plastered over Bowie’s face in a big white square.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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]
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]
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.”
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 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 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 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 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.