O'Grady's PowerPage » iTunes

Apple Purchases Lala Streaming Service, Analyst Predicts Steps Towards Mobile iTunes Content

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Date: Monday, December 7th, 2009, 07:39
Category: iTunes, News

Apple’s purchase of the Lala streaming music service could set up an infrastructure for iTunes content and purchases to be accessed from multiple locations via a Web browser, one analyst has predicted.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Maynard J. Um of UBS Investment Research stated in a note that the purchase of Lala supports the idea that Apple is building a cloud-based system to allow access of content across all of its products on Monday morning. The purchase could tie in to Apple’s $1 billion server farm project which found a home in North Carolina this past summer.

“We believe the Lala acquisition fits into our view that Apple is building a data center for a service to provide seamless access & mobility of digital content across all of its products, including media-focused content of iTunes and user-generated content of MobileMe,” Um said. “Lala gives Apple browser/Web-based technology to access music anywhere.”

Apple made its first integration between the browser and iTunes in November, when iTunes Preview was quietly released. Links generated via iTunes direct to a Web site that gives customers the option to view content without launching Apple’s desktop media suite. Previously, users who did not have iTunes installed were prompted to do so in order to view content.

Apple’s purchase of Lala was confirmed last week, though the terms of the agreement have not been revealed. The , Palo Alto, California-based company has a catalog of over 8 million songs, and allows users to match songs on their PCs to its licensed content, and then play them anywhere on the Web through a browser. DRM-free songs can be downloaded for about 89 cents, while Web-only streams are about 10 cents.

“Lala also allows users to browse friends’ collections, create/listen to playlists, & get updates when new or recommended music is added to their sites,” Um said. “The service is similar to Apple’s Genius feature except driven by real people (vs. algorithms).”

He believes that the purchase of Lala will widen Apple’s “halo” that draws consumers to purchase Apple products. By allowing iTunes content to be more easily accessed across a variety of Apple-branded devices, the purchase could further future hardware sales.

In October, Lala, along with iLike, entered a partnership with Google to allow users to quickly discover song previews, artist info, pictures, video and more. Currently, Google searches for artists or songs can return a full, streaming, embedded song at the top of results, courtesy of Lala.

Apple Releases Version 1.0.2 Firmware Update for Fifth-Generation iPod Nano

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Date: Monday, November 16th, 2009, 04:29
Category: iPod Nano, Software

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Late Friday, Apple released version 1.0.2 of its firmware for the company’s fifth generation iPod nano. The update, which can be located through iTunes, fixes audiobook playback to allow Normal, Slower, and Faster settings to work for audio podcasts.

Per Macworld UK, the update also resolves an issue where Genius Mixes were not working for anyone using the Nike + iPod Sport Kit add-on. Other fixes in the 1.0.2 nano update include one that allows the accessibility setting for Mono Audio to work and another involving a bug where VoiceOver menu items were skipped when using the plus (+) and minus (-) volume buttons on the included headphones.

If you’ve tried the update and have any positive or negative feedback, let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple Looking Into Creating $30/Month iTunes TV Subscription Service

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Date: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009, 05:10
Category: iTunes, Rumor

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If you want additional television content over iTunes, you might not have that much longer to wait.

Per MediaMemo, Apple has reportedly reached out to TV networks in recent weeks with a proposed US$30/month subscription plan to deliver content via iTunes — a service it hopes to launch in early 2010.

Citing multiple sources, the article stated that Apple’s subscription proposal is not based on any specific piece of hardware, like the Apple TV or forthcoming tablet. Rather, the plan would stick with the existing iTunes desktop software.

“Apple has told industry executives it wants to launch the service early next year,” the report said, “but I have yet to hear of a single programmer that has made a firm commitment to the company, which has tasked iTunes boss Eddy Cue with promoting the idea.”

If anyone does bite, the first expected is Disney, of which Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder. Disney was the first to allow its content on iTunes and saw tremendous early success.

Kafka said that industry executives are “intrigued” by the prospect of a subscription plan on iTunes, as they are looking for new revenue streams as advertising returns diminish. However, cable networks are concerned about sacrificing existing relationships with providers like Comcast, and all content providers are worried that advertising revenue could decrease if live viewership shrinks.

“So Apple’s proposed subscription service, which the company has floated in the past, is no longer a huge stretch,” the report said. “Says one executive briefed on the company’s plans: ‘I think they might get it right this time.'”

Apple has been long rumored to provide a subscription option for TV content. In August, Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray senior research analyst, said he believes that Apple would release a new Apple TV in conjunction with a subscription TV account. But the agreements necessary to offer a subscription service would take some time.

“Apple could leverage its deep library of content with many network and cable channel content owners to provide unlimited access to a sub-library of its TV shows for a standard monthly fee ($30 or $40 per month),” Munster writes. “Such a product would effectively replace a consumer’s monthly cable bill (~$85/month) and offer access to current and older episodes of select shows on select channels.”

Last week, the Apple TV software was updated to version 3.0. Improvements included a newly redesigned interface, support for iTunes Extras and iTunes LP, and streaming Internet radio.

Apple TV 3.0 Out the Door

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 30th, 2009, 04:17
Category: Apple TV, Software

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About six weeks after dropping the 40 gigabyte Apple TV model and reducing the price on the remaining 160 gigabyte model to US$229, Apple has released version 3.0 of its Apple TV software. Per Macworld, the updated software offers a new main menu interface that provides direct access to rented and purchased movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, photos, and YouTube videos. Your content (My Movies, for example) now sits at the top of lists instead of at the bottom. Once you drill down into secondary menus, however, the interface is the same as before.

The new software also lets Apple TV users enjoy iTunes LP and iTunes Extras content for albums and movies, respectively.

The Apple TV now supports Genius Mixes as well, a new feature of iTunes 9 that also works on some iPod models.

For photos, the latest software adds support for iPhoto ‘09’s Events and Faces (but not Places) features.

Finally, Apple has stated that users can now listen to thousands of Internet radio stations and tag stations for later listening. You could in fact listen to Internet radio on the Apple TV previously, you just had to put the stations in a playlist.

The software is a free update for all Apple TV owners and can be snagged via the Apple TV’s Software Update feature.

Apple Releases iTunes 9.0.2 Update

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Date: Friday, October 30th, 2009, 04:49
Category: Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 9.0.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, an 85.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Adds support for Apple TV software version 3.0, adds an option for a dark background for Grid View, and improves support for accessibility.

iTunes 9.0.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple Contacted Media Outfits Regarding Tablet Device

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Date: Wednesday, September 30th, 2009, 04:01
Category: Rumor

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Per Gizmodo, Apple recently approached a number of newspapers, magazines and other print media describing putting their products for sale on iTunes via a new piece of hardware. The report cited people familiar with The New York Times, publishers McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press, and a trip that “several executives from one of the largest magazine groups” took to the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

The Apple tablet project has apparently been through a number of different iterations, and the project has been reset numerous times by company co-founder Steve Jobs. The report said that Jobs was presented with a tablet device that ran a modified version of OS X years ago, but the device was shelved because the company could not determine what use people would have for the hardware.

The focus of the hardware now is said to not be the playback of media, which the iPod and iPhone lines already handle well. Instead, Apple is reportedly working to have publishers place their print content on iTunes.

“The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video, interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static,” the report said. “And with release dates for Microsoft’s Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static e-ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content. First, it’ll get its feet wet with more basic repurposing of the stuff found on dead trees today.”

The article has stated that the device will debut in early 2010, which seems consistent with the rest of the rumor mill on this issue.

Two employees from The New York Times were allegedly contacted by Apple in June about putting their product on a “new device.” Publishers McGraw Hilll and Oberlin Press are said to be working to put their textbooks on iTunes, possibly in a DRMed format that would allow use for a period of time. Magazine executives are alleged to have presented their ideas on the future of publishing on Apple’s campus. Given the evidence, the report asserts that Apple is looking to go beyond e-readers, like Amazon’s Kindle, to “redefine print.”

Apple Hunting Down Feedback from iPhone 3GS Users Citing Poor Battery Life

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 21st, 2009, 04:52
Category: iPhone, News

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Albeit Apple is not openly acknowledging the issue, it’s taking the “shy kid” approach to reaching a solution. Per iPhone Blog, Apple is apparently seeking feedback from iPhone users over claims that the recent iPhone 3.1 Software Update is draining batteries.

Short battery life has been a concern since the introduction of the iPhone 3GS amongst many users, despite Apple promising improved performance at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple said the iPhone 3GS would deliver 9 hours of use on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback and 30 hours of music on a single charge, about a 30% upgrade to the iPhone 3G.

However, a recent teardown by iFixit noted that the iPhone 3GS’s battery was just 6% more powerful than the battery in its predecessor.

Recently, the company has contacted a number of users on Apple’s discussion boards who have posted negative comments asking for feedback. A list of 11 questions – covering e-mail, push notifications, Wi-fi, Bluetooth and application use – is being sent out reports The iPhone Blog.

The note also contains an attachment which, when double-clicked, installs what looks like an unsigned profile, which apparently enables Battery Life Logging on the iPhone.

Once enabled, the iPhone will sync power logs back via iTunes, and they ask that those logs be sent back to Apple reports the The iPhone Blog.

The blog notes this isn’t the first time Apple, via AppleCare, has contacted iPhone users after posts on the company’s discussion boards.

It is not known what percentage of iPhone owners might be experiencing the problem.

Apple TV Price Reduced by $100 for 160GB Model, 40GB Model Discontinued

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Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 06:58
Category: Apple TV, News

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If you recently purchased a 40GB Apple TV unit, now may be the time to start kicking yourself. According to Macworld UK, the 160GB model’s price has been reduced by US$100 to US$229 while the company has discontinued the 40GB model, as seen in the Apple Store.

Some, including analysts, had anticipated a new version of the Apple TV at last Wednesday’s San Francisco event which saw a iPod refresh and new look in iTunes.

iTunes 9 adds a range of features, including Home Sharing and iTunes LP that would benefit the Apple TV.

Apple Releases QuickTime 7.6.4 Update

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Date: Thursday, September 10th, 2009, 03:44
Category: Software

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On Thursday, Apple released the latest version of QuickTime, its multimedia support system for Mac OS X and Windows. The new version, known as QuickTime 7.6.4, is available as a variably-sized download (depending on version chosen through the download page), improves compatibility with iTunes 9 and improves audio device support on Windows Vista.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and can be located and snagged via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.1, iTunes 9.0 at Media Event

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 9th, 2009, 11:14
Category: iPhone, iPod, Software

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An Apple media event is nothing without significant software releases and to this end, iTunes 9 and the long-awaited iPhone OS 3.1 update should suffice.

iTunes 9, which is available as an 82.8 megabyte download, features the following changes and fixes:
– An improved look and feel, including a new Column Browser for easily browsing your artists or albums, movies, TV shows, and more.
– iTunes Store has a brand new look, with improved navigation for quick and easy exploration.
– iTunes LP and iTunes Extras create unique experiences that feature exclusive interviews, videos, photos, and more – available with select album and movie purchases on the iTunes Store.
– Home Sharing helps you manage your family’s iTunes collection between computers in your home. iTunes can automatically transfer new purchases, or you can choose just the items you want.
– Genius Mixes are created for you by iTunes and play songs from your library that go great together.
– iPod and iPhone syncing now allows you to organize your iPhone and iPod touch home screens directly in iTunes. Syncing is now also more flexible, allowing you to sync individual artists, genres, or TV show and Podcast episodes.
– iTunes U items are now organized into their own section in your iTunes library.
– Sync with iPod nano (5th generation), iPod classic (Fall 2009), and iPod touch (Fall 2009)..
– iTunes 9 also includes many other improvements, such as HE-AAC encoding and playback, more flexibility with Smart Playlists rules, simpler organization of your media files inside an iTunes Media folder, and more.

iTunes 9 is also available for free via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

For iPhone and iPod touch users, iPhone OS 3.1 offers the following features and changes:
– Improved syncing for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos.
– iTunes U content organization.
– Redeem iTunes Gift Cards, codes, and certificates in the App Store.
– Display available iTunes account credits in the App Store and iTunes Store.
– Save video from Mail and MMS into Camera Roll.
– Option to “Save as new clip” when trimming a video on iPhone 3GS.
– Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned on.
– Remotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe.
– Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets.
– Paste phone numbers into the keypad.
– Option to use Home button to turn on accessibility features on iPhone 3GS.
– Warn when visiting fraudulent websites in Safari (anti-phishing).
– Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling.
– Fixes issue that cause some app icons to display incorrectly.

Like previous iPhone OS updates, simply attach your iPhone or iPod touch to your computer, go into iTunes, select the device and click the “Check for Update” button. iTunes will then download and install the update, which requires a Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 and iTunes 8.0 or later to run.

As always, let us know if good things happen (your terrier begins teach physics at the local high school), bad things happen (the living room is now on fire) or if things remain relatively hunky-dory per your Mac, your iTunes and your iPhone or iPod touch.