Apple is in the process of rolling out its iTunes Match service in a number of new countries. 9to5Mac reports that users in Italy, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, and Austria can now sign up for the service, although they have yet to be added to Apple’s official list of countries in which the service is available. Launched in the U.S. in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices.
Apple is testing a new system which would automatically backup the device of any customer seeking an iOS device exchange or replacement at an Apple Store Genius Bar, according to a new report. Citing retail sources, 9to5Mac reports that the system is based on a wireless server that would securely and temporarily store a user’s content locally, then automatically wipe the content once the device swap is made. The report indicates that this backup information could come from iCloud or the device itself, and that this solution is preferable to simply relying on an iCloud backup as the process of restoring from an iCloud backup is typically takes too long. The system is said to be in the very early stages of testing, and should it launch, Apple is planning to pilot the system in a few select store by mid-2013, with a full-scale launch coming later that year.
A German regional court has upheld a ban on push emails delivered by Apple’s iCloud and MobileMe services, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The Mannheim regional court backed an earlier decision that barred Apple from offering the service in Germany on devices that were part of a patent dispute brought by Motorola Mobility. The court also held Apple liable for damages which must be paid to Motorola, although no amount was specified. A decision on a separate dispute between the two companies related to mobile communications standards was adjourned, with no date given for an expected ruling.
Apple has started to internally seed versions of iTunes 11, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, 9to5Mac reports that current development is focused on under-the-hood changes, but that new interface elements and features are likely being developed, possibly by a separate group. Among the new features mentioned for the software are support for iOS 6 devices and a dedicated iCloud settings panel with controls for iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iCloud iOS device backups, and more, all consolidated in a single spot. In addition, the report claims that a full iTunes/App Store revamp is underway with a launch expected sometime in the summer or fall, and that another 10.x point update is possible for initial iOS 6 compatibility, with one source calling that “more likely” than a simultaneous rollout of iTunes 11.
Films from Universal Studios are now available for re-download through Apple’s iCloud service. Citing multiple reader reports, MacRumors notes that films from Universal no longer display a “this movie will not be available from iTunes in the Cloud” warning when viewing the movies’ listings in iTunes, while films from 20th Century Fox retain the warning. A report from last month indicated that the absence of both Universal and Fox was attributable to a contractual obligation to pay TV channel HBO; both companies were said to be in negotiations to solve the issue.
Announced yesterday, Apple’s move to include Movies in its iTunes in the Cloud service means that you can re-download previously purchased movies from the Purchases section of the iTunes Store, and stream those films directly from the Apple TV — unless that film is from NBC Universal or Fox. AllThingsD reports that both studios are left out of the service for the time being due to a conflicting contractual obligation to HBO that gives the pay-TV channel exclusive windows. The report claims that the conflict will likely be solved in short order, however, as HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson suggests: “With every technological enhancement, we have always been able to find common ground with our studio partners, and we’re sure that will be the result here.”
Apple is working on a new audio file format that would allow it to deliver high- or low-quality files to iCloud users based on bandwidth. Citing a source with inside knowledge of the process, the Guardian reports that the new system would adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device, and would be used to enhance the company’s iTunes Match service. According to the report, Apple has already asked a London studio to prepare audio files for the new streaming format. “All of a sudden, all your audio from iTunes is in HD rather than AAC. Users wouldn’t have to touch a thing – their library will improve in an instant,” said the source. Apple has recently been encouraging submission of audio files in the 24-bit/96KHz standard, and has also released a set of guidelines for mastering to iTunes which hint at a such a possible future service: “As technology advances and bandwidth, storage, battery life, and processor power increase, keeping the highest quality masters available in our systems allows for full advantage of future improvements to your music. These masters matter – especially given the move into the cloud on post-PC devices.”
Apple has temporarily suspended push email service for iCloud and MobileMe users in Germany due to its ongoing legal battle with Motorola Mobility. A newly published Apple support document on the subject reads, “iCloud and MobileMe users are currently unable to have iCloud and MobileMe email pushed to their iOS devices while located within the borders of Germany”. It continues, “Affected customers will still receive iCloud and MobileMe email, but new messages will be downloaded to their devices when the Mail app is opened, or when their device periodically fetches new messages as configured in iOS Settings. Push email service on desktop computers, laptop computers, and the web is unaffected, as is service from other providers such as Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Apple believes Motorola’s patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.” No timeline was given for possible reactivation of the service. [via Engadget]
Apple this morning announced OS X Mountain Lion, the next release of its desktop operating system for its Mac computers. Among the new features debuted by Apple this morning—many of which were based on existing iOS apps, including Notes, Reminders, and Game Center—is AirPlay Mirroring. As the name suggests, the feature will allow users to mirror their Mac’s screen on a HDTV using an Apple TV, making it easy for users to share web pages, videos, lessons, and presentations with others. In addition, the company announced a beta version of Messages for OS X. This iChat replacement mimics the Messages app on iOS, allowing users to send iMessages across both iOS and Mac devices. The app also integrates support for AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts, as well as FaceTime, removing the need for a separate, standalone app. The beta version of Messages is available now as a free download for users of OS X Lion 10.7.3 or later; OS X Mountain Lion is currently available in preview form to registered Mac developers and is slated to ship in late summer.
In addition to the previously reported statements on supply chain statistics and the Apple TV, Apple CEO Tim Cook provided several other noteworthy comments during his talk at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. Regarding iCloud, Cook suggested that the genesis of Apple’s Internet-based synchronization was customer convenience; in his words, it was not a great customer experience to have to sync content between devices, and Cook explained that iCloud makes this easier by letting its now 100 million users transfer content back and forth from the cloud rather than from an increasing variety of computer-like devices they now use. Cook also mentioned Siri, describing it as an emerging alternative to the physical keyboard and mouse, along with Multi-Touch. He called both iCloud and Siri “profound” innovations in computing, and claimed that they are things today’s users will talk about with their grandkids.
Additionally, when asked what mark he would like to leave on the company, Cook said Apple was a unique company, and unique culture, that can’t be replicated. Speaking forcefully, he said that he would not witness or permit the slow undoing of Apple—an allusion to the John Sculley regime of the 1980s—because Cook believes in the company’s work so deeply. “Steve drilled in all of us over many years that the company should revolve around great products, and that we should stay extremely focused on few things rather than try to do so many that we did nothing well, and that we should only go into markets where we can make significant contributions to society, not just sell a lot of products,” Cook said. “These things, along with the expectation of keeping excellence… these are the things I focus on. Because those are the things that make Apple this magical place, that really smart people want to work in, and not just do their life’s work, but their life’s best work…”
Motorola Mobility has filed a new patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. According to Reuters, the case, filed in a Florida federal court, claims that Apple is infringing upon six patents related to wireless antennae, software, data filtering, and messaging. Notably, Motorola said the patents cited in this suit are the same as those cited in a separate Florida suit against Apple, the difference being that the new suit names both the iPhone 4S and iCloud as infringing products. Google agreed to buy Motorola Mobility last August for $12.5 billion, and likely approved this latest suit as part of its purchase agreement with the company.
Apple has officially launched its iTunes Match online music service in the Netherlands. Launched in the U.S. in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. As noted by Mac Rumors, Dutch collecting society Buma/Stemra announced last week that it had reached a deal with Apple for iTunes Match; links to the service have yet to appear on the Dutch iTunes Store, but Apple has updated its terms and conditions with new text covering the service, and the direct link to the iTunes Match page is now working.
Update: According to AppleInsider, iTunes Match has also launched in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Latvia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.
Apple has posted a new webpage dedicated to its iTunes Match service. Launched in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. The walkthrough video and page clearly explain how the service works and the steps needed to subscribe, while the FAQ addresses topics such as supported file types, number of devices supported—up to 10—and whether the service streams or downloads songs. For more information on iTunes Match, see our Instant Expert article.
Apple executives have recently discussed their vision for the future of TV with media executives at several large companies, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the executives, including Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, outlined new ways Apple could recognize users across various devices, and described potential TV technology that would respond to users’ voices and movements. The report reiterates prior rumors that Apple is working on a TV set that relies on wireless streaming technology to access content, which would use a version of AirPlay to integrate with iPhones and iPads, and might leverage an iCloud-based DVR service which would allow users to watch shows they have saved across different devices. According to the report, Apple’s talks with the media companies have thus far been “vague”, with no proposals made in regards to licensing.
Apple has started to roll out its iTunes Match cloud music service internationally. Available since early November in the U.S. and launched earlier this week in Brazil, links to activate the service have appeared on the front page of the iTunes Store in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and possibly in other countries. iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. [via Mac Rumors]
An apparent glitch or oversight in the way Apple’s iMessage SMS replacement service is set up is allowing thieves and unknown buyers of stolen iPhones to continue to receive and send texts via iMessage using the Apple ID of the original owner. Citing separate Mac Rumors and Apple Support forum threads, Ars Technica reports that the problem persists even after the device is registered under a new account. According to the report, neither remote wiping, changing Apple ID passwords, or even moving the prior phone number to a new phone fixes the problem, with the only proven fix to completely cancel the Apple ID that was used for iMessages on the stolen device. Ars contacted Apple to ask why this was happening, but has yet to receive a response.
Apple has launched the iTunes Store in Brazil, as well as 15 additional Latin American countries. According to the company, the iTunes Store in Brazil offers a catalog of over 20 million songs, including local artists, over a thousand movies to rent or purchase, many in HD, and iTunes Match. In the other 15 countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela—customers can browse a catalog of music from the major labels and thousands of independent labels, and also receive standard iTunes in the Cloud service for free.
Apple is considering building a large data center in Prineville, Oregon, according to a new report. Citing two people with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans, The Oregonian reports that Apple’s option to purchase 160 acres of land—currently owned by Crook County—expires at the end of the month, with climate, power costs, and tax breaks all playing roles in the decision. Notably, the location would place Apple’s data center less than a mile away from a large data center run by Facebook, and close to another sizable data center run by Google. Apple brought online a new $1 billion data facility in North Carolina earlier this year, which is used for both the iTunes Store and iCloud.
Apple has recently been looking to hire senior-level executives with backgrounds in web-based software, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that since earlier this year, the company has approached at least one “prominent” Internet entrepreneur about a possible position, the details of which are unclear. Apple is also said to have discussed its needs with recruiters. The report goes on to say that Apple is considering building new cloud-based web applications, and is seeking web-focused managers who could work at the director level. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has released iTunes 10.5.1, and officially launched its iTunes Match music service. Previously made available in beta form to registered iOS developers, iTunes 10.5.1 adds support for iTunes Match, and also offers other performance and stability improvements. iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. Apple had planned to launch iTunes Match at the end of October, but delayed the launch for unspecified reasons, while it continued to provide developers with updates to the beta version of iTunes 10.5.1. iTunes 10.5.1 is available now as a direct download from apple.com/itunes and is expected to appear in Apple’s Software Update utility shortly.