iTunes Match Streaming that isn’t (according to Apple)


iTunes Icon

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Most people thought that when Apple introduced its concept of iTunes Match and a digital locker in the iCloud, that meant that users would be able to stream music from their digital locker to their device (iPod, iPhone etc). However, in recent announcements Apple denied this was the case.

On further investigation by various bloggers it seems that its a case of semantics and users will indeed be able to stream to their devices, but not in the way we all perhaps expected. Good news is though that it’s looking as Apple’s way of doing things is actually better!

It seems that any track will in fact be downloaded to a local cache and be available for replay even when the connection the iCloud isn’t available. It will remain available as long as the cache isn’t cleared, which seems to happen whenever the user changes settings (such as to Airplane Mode).

Users will apparently also have the option to download tracks directly by tapping on the iCloud icon associated with each track.

Lion OS X available for mere $29.99 from App Store. Arrives July.


OS X Lion revealed at WWDCFinally, Lion OS X was unveiled after much fanfare and expectation at Apple’s WWDC on the 6th June. Perhaps the greatest surprise was the price and the fact that it will be available only though the App Store. The download will be 4GB and you won’t need to reboot! The price will be $29.99 (£20.99) and you will be able to install it all your Macs that are authorised on your Apple account. You will also be able to purchase the Server version for just $49.99 (UK price TBC), a huge reduction on the previous price of $999!

The next iteration of OS X comes with 250+ improvements (though most are minor tweaks). Here is the most important ones (as chosen by Apple):

OS X LIon's new featuresHighlights look to be Mission Control, Multi-Touch Gestures and Resume.

Mission Control:

Mission Control brings together full-screen apps, Dashboard, Exposé and Spaces in one new feature that gives you a bird’s-eye view of everything on your system. With a single swipe on the trackpad, your desktop zooms out to Mission Control. Think of it as the hub of your system: view everything and go anywhere with just a click.

Mission ControlApple has brought together the functionality of Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces and full-screen apps into one place. By using the trackpad or the Mission Control icon in the Dock, you can zoom your desktop and voila, the Mission Control GUI appears! nWith Mission Control, a row of thumbnails appears at the top of your screen. Icons represent Dashboard, desktop spaces and your full-screen apps. The lower part of the screen shows an Exposé view of the open windows on your desktop grouped by app. To get where you want to go, just swipe left or right. Or click a thumbnail. Simple!

You can create new ‘spaces’ easily by just dragging an app to the top row of icons on the screen or by clicking on the + icon in the top row. If you want to move windows to a new space then just drag it from the Exposé area to the icon at the top for that particular space.

Multi-Touch Gestures:

Multi-touch gestures allows you to tap, scroll, pinch and swipe to navigate around your Mac in an intuitive manner.

Multi-Touch Gestures

With Multi-Touch Gestures, when you scroll down on your trackpad or Magic Mouse, your document scrolls down. When you scroll up, your web page scrolls up. When you swipe left, your photos move left. In addition, Lion introduces new animations, making it all seem more fluid and enhancing the whole experience. In addition, in OS X Lion, the scroll bar appears only when you scroll. So it doesn’t get in the way of the content on the screen.

Resume:

Apps resume when launched

When you launch an application, it appears exactly as you left it. All the open windows, palettes and panes — even the cursor position and highlighted text — come back just as they were.

System resume on restart

When you restart your computer, OS X Lion pauses your system so everything comes back just as you left it. All the apps that were running reopen, and windows appear exactly as they were, so you can begin working immediately.

Clean start

Lion lets you choose a clean start, so you return to a fresh desktop after you restart your Mac.

All in all, the next version of OS X looks like it will improve what is already the best user-experience beyond anything in Windows 7 or Linux. Also, the gradual alignment of features in OS X and iOS should help make the whole experience of switching between your Mac, iPhone and iPad all that much more smoother. This can only be a good thing and may actually help sell more Macs. Good news all round basically.

Mac App Store due next week?


Mac App StoreRumours are that the Mac App Store is due to arrive next week. Announced as part of the preview of the next iteration of OS X (Lion), the Mac App Store is touted as the next great thing on the Mac platform. Designed to work just like the App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, it will simplify the finding and downloading of software for your Mac.

Apple claims it will revolutionise the way we install applications on our computers and will use the same account details you already have registered in iTunes. Claiming that in seconds the application will be installed in your Dock and ready to go, it sounds like it will be the bees knees.

Another feature is that you will be able to install the apps on every Mac you own, as well as re-download them in the future if need be. The Mac App Store will also simplify keeping your apps up to date, keeping track of which ones you have installed and notifying you of updates.

This could prove to be the most significant change in the way we use our Macs and promises to make life simpler, especially for novices who are used to the way apps on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad works.

Magical Mystery Tour finally over!


It seems forever that we have been waiting for the Beatles to come to iTunes and at long last they are finally here! Today, all 13 Beatles Studio albums and also a special digital box set are now available for the first time.

Commenting on the news, the two living Beatles said:

“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes,” said Sir Paul McCartney. “It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around.”

“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes,” said Ringo Starr. “At last, if you want it—you can get it now—The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo.”

Getting in on the act as well:

“In the joyful spirit of Give Peace A Chance, I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John’s 70th birthday year,” said Yoko Ono Lennon.

“The Beatles on iTunes—Bravo!” said Olivia Harrison.

Each of the Beatles’ 13 legendary remastered studio albums, including “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Revolver,” “The Beatles [The White Album]” and “Abbey Road” include iTunes LPs, which create an immersive album experience with a beautiful design and expanded visual features including a unique mini-documentary about the creation of each album. The two-volume “Past Masters” compilation and the classic “Red” and “Blue” collections are also available.

Single albums are available for purchase and download for $12.99 each, double albums for $19.99 each and individual songs for $1.29 each. (UK prices are: £10.99 single albums and £17.99 double albums)

The special digital “Beatles Box Set” ($149 – £125.00) contains the 13 remastered studio albums with iTunes LPs and all mini-documentaries, “Past Masters,” and the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” concert film, a worldwide iTunes exclusive which captures the Beatles’ very first US concert in its entirety. In addition, Beatles fans can stream and view the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” concert film from iTunes for free for the remainder of this calendar year.

So, has it been worth the wait? I guess many fans already have the complete set on CD and have added them to their iTunes library already. No doubt though they will still sell like hot cakes.

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iTunes 10.0.1 update released


iTunes 10.0.1 updateiTunes 10.0.1 makes it easier to share your favorite music with your friends on Ping. You can now Like or Post about music right from your iTunes library. You can also easily see the recent activity of a selected artist in your library, or of all artists and friends you follow on Ping using the new Ping Sidebar.

This release also provides a number of important bug fixes, including:

• Addresses an issue where the picture quality of a video changes depending on whether the on-screen controls are visible.
• Resolves an issue where iTunes may unexpectedly quit while interacting with album artwork viewed in a separate window.
• Fixes a problem that affects the performance of some third-party visualizers.
• Addresses an issue where the iTunes library and playlists appear empty.
• Resolves an issue that created an incompatibility with some third-party shared libraries.

iTunes 10 comes with many new features and improvements, including:

• Introducing Ping. Use Ping to follow your favorite artists and friends or connect with the world’s most passionate music fans. Discover the music everyone is talking about, listening to, and downloading.

• Rent HD TV episodes for just 99¢ each. Watch them on your Mac or PC, on-the-go with iPhone or iPod touch, or in your living room with the all new Apple TV.

• Play your favorites on the all new iPod touch, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, and Apple TV.

• Play music wirelessly with AirPlay on AirPlay-enabled speakers, home theater receivers, and iPod accessories.

• Explore many look-and-feel improvements throughout iTunes.

• Enjoy performance improvements which make iTunes faster and more responsive.

• Additional voice support with VoiceOver Kit for iPod.

For information on the security content of this update, please visit:http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222

Ping is the new Facebook?


Image representing Last.fm as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Along with its raft of updates to the iPod and the revamp of the Apple TV, Apple also announced iTunes 10. As expected by many pundits, iTunes 10 includes social networking, called Ping by Apple. Now many were hoping  that Ping would be Apple’s response to Facebook and the like. However, its really more like the social networking features within Last FM and Spotify than Facebook. At least for now, Facebook has nothing to fear from Ping.

Ping brings social networking to iTunes

So, exactly what is Ping and is it a game-changer? Well, Steve Jobs claimed it is “like Facebook meets Twitter meets iTunes” and that’s a pretty good description (as you’d expect, coming from Steve). So, it allows you to follow friends, share what music your are listening to and allows you to be notified when artists you are following announce concert dates and the like.

Ping in left menu

Its available now in 23 countries (around 160 million iTunes users). Whether it will catch on depends. For instance, my daughter (aged 14) is an avid listener of music on her iPod touch (not the latest one) and on her Mac. She uses Last FM and Spotify. She already uses the social networking features of both (Last FM in particular) and she has come right out and said that she hardly ever uses iTunes, except to sync her iPod touch. So I guess Ping will not be gaining her as a fan anytime soon. My feeling is that she isn’t alone and that Apple will have a hard time persuading many music lovers to use it on a regular basis. Certainly, I can’t see it replacing Last FM and Spotify for many users in the short-term, especially those who don’t own a Mac.

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12 Days of Christmas Apple Promotion


For the second year in a row, Apple is running their 12 Days of Christmas promotion for UK residents. From December 26 to January 6 anyone with a UK iTunes account can download a free song, music video, app, television show, or film from ‘some of the biggest star performers’ on iTunes. Each free download is only available for 24 hours, so be sure to sign up for their email alerts to be notified of the new daily download.

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