Apple releases iTunes 10.5.1 update, includes long-anticipated iTunes Match feature

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Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 11:15
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released iTunes 10.5.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 102 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Introducing iTunes Match. Store your entire music library in iCloud, including music you’ve imported from CDs, and enjoy your collection anywhere, anytime, on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, computer, or Apple TV.

iTunes 10.5.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, let us know in the comments.

Apple releases third iTunes 10.5.1 beta, focuses on iTunes Match feature

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Date: Monday, November 14th, 2011, 07:23
Category: iTunes, News, Software

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After erasing developers’ iTunes Match accounts, Apple has supplied its developers with a third beta of iTunes 10.5.1 to test the new US$24.99-per-year service.

Per AppleInsider, the third beta of iTunes 10.5.1 is now available to members of Apple’s developer program. The company said it includes “a number of important stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match.”

All who are testing the iTunes Match service, which also remains in beta, must update to the latest iTunes 10.5.1 beta in order to continue using the subscription service. The last beta was supplied earlier this month, and brought iTunes Match testing to the Apple TV.

The first beta of iTunes 10.5.1 was supplied to developers in October, soon after the public release of iTunes 10.5. Apple originally promised that iTunes Match would become publicly available by the end of October, but that deadline came and went without comment from the company.

As Apple continues to attempt to work out kinks with iTunes Match, the company once again erased accounts Saturday morning. Developers were notified on Friday that their iTunes Match beta libraries would be erased as Apple continues to prepare for the forthcoming launch of the service.

When it is eventually publicly available, iTunes Match will support music collections of up to 25,000 songs for US$24.99 per year. The service will scan users’ personal music libraries, including songs obtained from ripped CDs or other locations, and match them up with tracks sold on the iTunes Store.

iTunes Match subscribers will be able to re-download any of their matched songs on other enabled devices, including iPhones and iPads. Those downloads will be 256Kbps AAC files, even if the original user-owned files are of lower quality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Onyx 2.4.2 released

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Date: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, 04:12
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.4.2. The new version, a 12.9 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

- Show/hide QuickTime Player 7 Movie Inspector at launch.

- Force enabling AirDrop.

- Bugs corrected in the Parameters > iTunes panel.

- Bugs corrected in the Infos panel.

- Xcode isn’t required anymore to install the Network Link Conditioner Preferences Pane.

- If the Spotlight icon is hidden, it remains after repairing permissions from OnyX.

- New replacement icons.

- Help corrected, improved and reindexed.

- Localizations…

Onyx 2.4.2 requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Prior to passing, Steve Jobs left iTunes creator in charge of HDTV project

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:51
Category: Rumor, Software

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When Steve Jobs passed away, he put certain Apple employees in place to keep things going and make sure his final goals were realized.

It looks like another has been discovered.

According to Bloomberg, Jeff Robbin, an Apple vice president and engineer who helped create both iTunes and the iPod, is leading the company’s efforts to produce a connected TV with integrated search functionality.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the project, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Robbin is in charge of Cupertino, Calif., company’s secretive high-definition TV project. According to the sources, Apple is working to integrate seamless content search features into the device.

“For example, instead of having to separately check to see if a movie or show is available through Netflix or a cable service, all the material could be integrated,” the report noted.

Robbin worked as a system software engineer at Apple in the 1990s before leaving to work on his own software projects. While at software publisher Casady & Greene, he helped to develop the SoundJam MP MP3 player software. In late 2000, Apple purchased the rights for SoundJam from Casady & Greene, bringing Robbin back into the fold to head up the software’s transformation into iTunes.

Back at Apple, Robbin also played a crucial role in the development of the iPod, which just recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. He is listed among the inventors of several key iPod-related patent filings, though not all of the applications were successfully converted into legitimate patents.

His current role at Apple is vice president of consumer applications and lead software designer for iTunes.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs at one point considered Robbin to be of such high value to the company that he worked to keep Robbin’s role under wraps. According to the bestselling biography on Jobs, officially released on Monday, Jobs refused to allow a Time magazine reporter to use the engineer’s full name in an article because he feared Robbin would be poached by another company. The book also noted that Robbin was one of the Apple executives who successfully lobbied Jobs to allow a Windows version of iTunes.

Having persisted for years, rumors surrounding Apple’s connected television initiative have gained momentum after Jobs’ biography confirmed that he had been working on such a device. Author Walter Isaacson quoted Jobs in an interview as saying that he wanted to make television sets “simple and elegant,” just like he had done with computers, music players and phones.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs reportedly said of the project. “I finally cracked it.”

Multiple analysts claimed on Monday that Apple has been building prototype high-definition TVs, possibly in preparation for a 2012 launch. The rumored product would represent a strong opportunity for the company, as some have projected the LCD TV market to top US$100 billion next year.

Apple currently sells a US$99 Apple TV set-top box, but considers the device to be little more than a “hobby.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 4.4.1 update, addresses iTunes library connection bugs

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Date: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011, 09:19
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It’s the smaller updates that make a difference.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has provided another minor update intended to fix bugs for its Apple TV set-top box.

Apple TV software update version 4.4.1 is now available for download on the device. It can be obtained by navigating to “General,” then “Settings,” and choosing Update Software.

According to Apple, the software update addresses an issue that required a small number of Apple TV units to be connected to iTunes in order to complete last week’s 4.4 update.

One of the major features added with last week’s iOS 5 update is AirPlay mirroring, which allows a user to send their iPad 2 display wirelessly to the Apple TV. It also allows console-style gaming via supported titles like Real Racing 2 HD.

Last week’s Apple TV update also added access to Apple’s new iCloud-powered Photo Stream feature, which automatically uploads pictures taken with an iPhone or iPad 2 and shares them among iOS devices. With the update, users can view Photo Stream pictures on their HDTV.

The update also added access to iTunes Trailers, Wall Street Journal Live, and the ability to watch live games through the National Hockey League’s GameCenter subscription service.

If you’ve tried the new update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know via the comments.

Rumor: Apple in talks with studios to begin streaming movies to iCloud

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Date: Thursday, October 13th, 2011, 06:23
Category: Apple TV, iCloud, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

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Additional movies: They’re never a bad thing.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be involved in negotiations with Hollywood movie studios in an effort to give customers the ability to stream movies they own to devices like an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.

Citing sources close to the story, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Apple wants to give its customers the ability to stream movies they have purchased through iTunes without the need to manually transfer the files. The talks come as Apple has launched its iCloud product, and movie studios have rolled out their own cloud-based movie streaming service, dubbed UltraViolet.

UltraViolet movies can be streamed to an iPhone or iPad using the Flixster application available on the iOS App Store, however an UltraViolet account does not include any movies that may have been purchased through iTunes. The new UltraViolet format lets people stream a film they have purchased on DVD or Blu-ray, and is seen as a way to help boost slumping sales of movies.

Rumors that Apple wants to give users the ability to stream and re-download movies they have purchased are not new. Apple has already secured deals for iTunes customers, allowing them to re-download songs and TV shows they own, but Hollywood movies cannot be re-downloaded.

Previous reports have claimed that the so-called “HBO window” has been a sticking point in negotiations. The window is a deal in which three of the top six film studios have distribution deals with premium network HBO, and under the terms of that deal, outlets must halt sales or distribution of a film when it premieres on HBO.

As recently as August, Apple was still said to be pursuing a cloud-based streaming and re-downloading service, though such a deal with Hollywood studios was said to not be imminent.

The studios’ UltraViolet service launched this week, giving customers access to “digital lockers” that let customers stream or download a digital copy of physical purchases on a wide variety of devices. The service requires customers to create an account that serves as a hub for all of their purchased media, and passcodes that ship with physical discs allow users to access those movies online from remote servers.

All of the major movie studios except for Walt Disney Co. are backing UltraViolet, while it is planning its own proprietary service called KeyChest. Neither Disney nor Apple were part of the consortium that formed UltraViolet.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Software

After months of anticipation, speculation and generally looking forward to it, Apple has released iOS 5.0 for its current iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models.

The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:

Notifications:
- Swipe from the top of any screen to view notifications in one place with Notification Center

- New notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen

- View notifications from lock screen

- Slide the notification app icon to the right on the lock screen to go directly to the app

iMessage:
- Send and receive unlimited text, photo, and video messages with other iOS 5 users

- Track messages with delivery and read receipts

- Group messaging and secure encryption

- Works over cellular network and Wi-Fi*

Newsstand:
- Automatically organizes magazine and newspaper subscriptions on Home Screen

- Displays the cover of the latest issue

- Background downloads of new issues

- Reminders for managing to do lists

- Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook

- Location-based reminders when you leave or arrive at a location for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

Built-in support for Twitter:
- Sign-in once in Settings and tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and YouTube

- Add location to any tweet

- View twitter profile pictures and usernames in Contacts

Camera improvements for devices with cameras:
- Double click the home button when device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)

- Volume Up button to take a picture

- Optional grid lines to line up shots

- Pinch to zoom in the preview screen

- Swipe to camera roll from preview screen

- Tap and hold to lock focus and exposure, iPad 2 and iPod touch (4th generation) only support exposure lock

- Photo improvements for devices with cameras

- Crop and rotate

- Red eye removal

- One tap enhance

- Organize photos into albums

Mail improvements:
- Format text using bold, italic, or underlined fonts

- Indentation control

- Drag to rearrange names in address fields

- Flag messages

- Mass mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Customize mail alert sounds

- S/MIME

Calendar improvements:
- Year view on iPad and new Week view for iPhone and iPod touch

- Tap to create an event

- View and add event attachments

Game Center improvements:
- Use personal photos for your Game Center account

- Compare your overall achievement scores with your friends

- Find new Game Center friends with friend recommendations and friends of friends

- Discover new games with custom game recommendations

- AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 and iPhone 4S

Multitasking Gestures for iPad:
- Use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen

- Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar

- Swipe left or right to switch between apps

- On-device setup, activation and configuration with Setup Assistant

- Software updates available over the air without tethering

iCloud support:
- iTunes in the Cloud

- Photo Stream

- Documents in the Cloud

- Apps and Books automatic download and purchase history

- Backup

- Contacts, Calendar, and Mail

- Find My iPhone

- Redesigned Music app for iPad

- Hourly weather forecast

- Real-time stock quotes

- Wireless sync to iTunes

Keyboard improvements:
- Split keyboard for iPad

- Improved autocorrection accuracy

- Improved Chinese and Japanese input

- New Emoji keyboard

- Personal dictionary for autocorrection

- Optionally create keyboard short cuts for frequently used words

Accessibility improvements:
- Option to light LED flash on incoming calls and alerts for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

- Custom vibration patterns for incoming calls on iPhone

- New interface for using iOS with mobility-impairment input devices

- Option to speak a selection of text

- Custom element labeling for VoiceOver

- Exchange ActiveSync improvements

- Wirelessly sync tasks

- Mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Improved offline support

- Save a new contact from a GAL service

- More than 1,500 new developer APIs

- Bug fixes

iOS 5.0 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new iOS update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.1 beta update to developer community, focuses on upcoming iTunes Match feature

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Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 04:50
Category: iCloud, News, Software

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Following the public release of iTunes 10.5 with support for iOS 5 devices, Apple also privately released iTunes 10.5.1 to its developer community, allowing them to test the forthcoming iTunes Match service.

Per AppleInsider, the final release of iTunes 10.5, released earlier Tuesday, does not include support for the US$24.99-per-year iTunes Match service. It will become publicly available later this month, along with another update to iTunes.

Developers can test the iTunes Match service with the first beta of iTunes 10.5.1, supplied to them by Apple on Tuesday. The beta is available for both Mac and Windows, and iTunes Match is currently available only to developers in the U.S.

When it launches later this month, iTunes Match will scan users’ personal music libraries on their computer for music files that were not purchased through iTunes. Those tracks will then be matched up with Apple’s library of over 20 million songs in the iTunes Music Store.

With the annual fee, users will be able to access their library of up to 25,000 songs from any device, and will be able to re-download songs via iTunes in the Cloud. Users will also be able to replace their matched files with higher quality 256Kbps iTunes Plus AAC files, even if the original copy is of lower quality.

Apple’s iTunes Match service is different from competing options with Google and Amazon, which require that a user upload their personal library of tracks to remote servers. Apple’s method bypasses the need for uploading songs by simply matching the files with its own extensive selection.

For songs that may not be available on iTunes, Apple will also upload those files and remotely host them. The songs will then also be available for users to re-download on another Mac or PC, or on the go with an iPhone or iPad.

If you’ve gotten a chance to play around with the beta, please let us know what you make of it.

Otherwise, stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Comcast developing AnyPlay app, looking to stream Xfinity content to iOS devices

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Date: Monday, September 26th, 2011, 08:08
Category: iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, Rumor, Software

Get it to the iPad and they will love it.

Per a leaked screenshot and article over on MacRumors, Comcast, the largest cable provider in the U.S., is said to be working on a new live television streaming service called AnyPlay, which will let iPad users stream live TV to its existing Xfinity TV iOS application.

The upcoming AnyPlay feature could allow Comcast subscribers to watch most channels included in their Xfinity TV service on the iPad, except for On Demand and Pay-Per-View programs.

AnyPlay will be limited to in-home use, as the service requires iPad owners to be in the proximity of a Motorola-made cable box. That hardware will allegedly send the live cable stream to the Xfinity TV iPad.

In addition to the AnyPlay box, users will also require an active Xfinity TV subscription and a high-speed wireless Internet connection to be able to watch live TV on the tablet.

The service will not work over other any other Wi-Fi or 3G network and will be limited to up to 10 registered tablets per home. Only one device can be used at a time to stream live TV programs.

The Xfinity TV iOS application, available in the App Store as a free download (iTunes link) for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, currently lets users access On Demand programs, browse through TV listings and control TVs and DVRs.

AnyPlay streaming would be accessed from inside the app in the future, although Comcast has not specified any details about the launch and availability of the new streaming service.

Competing companies like Cablevision and Time Warner have similar TV streaming applications — Optimum for iPad and TWCable TV, respectively — which are already available in the App Store. Earlier this year, Time Warner pulled major networks including MTV and FX from its application to placate broadcasters.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple seeds updated iTunes 10.5 beta with iCloud iTunes Match feature to developers

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Date: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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The rest of the iCloud is coming.

And it will have additional snazzy features.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has released a new version of iTunes for developer testing of the functionality of iCloud’s new iTunes Match feature for storing songs “in the cloud” for flexible access from mobile devices.

Apple has already publicly introduced some new iCloud features in iTunes, including the ability to browse and download any previously purchased songs at no additional charge.

The new iTunes 6.1 beta release is the first to support the “scan and match” cloud access feature that Apple first announced at this summer’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

This new feature allows users to pay for an annual iTunes Match subscription that will make their entire existing music collection (including songs not purchased through iTunes) available from Apple’s cloud servers as well.

The service will support music collections up to 25,000 songs and costs US$24.99 per year. That library limit does not count any songs purchased from iTunes, which are already cloud accessible. The service is also limited to music, and does not support the uploading of apps, audiobooks, books, movies, TV shows, ringtones or interactive content such as iTunes LP liner notes or iTunes Extras for movies.

Users can upload any music they want (up to the 25,000 title limit) onto Apple’s cloud servers, but the biggest feature of iTunes Match is its upload-free, automated file matching service.

Rather than forcing users to upload the many gigabytes of data that thousands of songs would involve, Apple’s iTunes Match will simply scan the user’s library and then make those same songs available from iTunes’ vast catalog of songs, effectively allowing users to upgrade their CD collections into cloud-accessible, high quality iTunes downloads without having to repurchase their music as digital downloads.

The beta program is for developer testing only, and Apple warns that any content copied up to its cloud servers during the test period may be erased. For this reason, developer notes tell users testing the service to back up their original songs, and not to delete any music they’ve uploaded into the service.

Developers participating in the program pay the standard subscription fee, but are given three free months for participating. The iTunes Match feature is currently limited to the Mac version of iTunes only, but once songs are added to the iCloud library, they can be accessed from any computer running the iTunes 10.5 beta as well as any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running the latest iOS 5 beta.

The iTunes Match service works with up to 10 iTunes PCs and iOS devices connected to the same Apple ID, although only five of those devices can be computers. Apple also notes that a computer or iOS device can only be associated with a new Apple ID once every 90 days.

Apple notes that iTunes Match is currently limited to certain supported song formats “at this time,” and that some songs may be matched incorrectly. Matched songs may also be a different version of the same song.

Apple also tells developers to watch out for performance issues on iOS devices, and notes that under the existing iOS 5 beta, music will continue to download from the cloud over cellular connections even if that option has been restricted to WiFi only in the Settings app.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new beta and have any feedback, let us know what you think in the comments.