Posts tagged with "itunes"

iTunes 12′s New Interface

I find iTunes 12 to be one of the most confusing UIs Apple has ever shipped (it's up there with the Health app for iOS 8). I don't listen to all my music in iTunes, but I like to think that I'm not completely ignorant about the app either. I use it for iTunes Match, I am a regular iTunes Radio listener, and, of course, I have a huge library of apps in it. Lately, I've even been using it to listen to podcasts because I wanted to try iCloud sync.

I don't understand most of the changes that went into the iTunes 12 interface: from the lack of a sidebar to the new tabs for navigation and separation of media types and iTunes Store, I feel completely lost using the new iTunes.

Thankfully, Agen G. N. Schmitz has a good overview of the changes over at TidBITS. He calls the iTunes interface “cleaned-up”, but when I read stuff like this…

Sidebar purists (such as myself) might be a little cheesed off by the starkness of the My Music view, but you can easily return to the sidebar by clicking the Playlists text button placed in the top middle of each media type view. This selection is sticky, so if you choose to view Playlists in Music, and then head over to view the Movies media type, you’ll return to Playlists once you select Music again. However, the iTunes Store view (available in all the media types, save for Tones and Internet Radio) trumps this stickiness. If you select iTunes Store while in Movies and then choose the Music media type, you’ll find yourself still in the iTunes Store — only switched to the Music section.

…I'm baffled by Apple's choices. This used to be simple: there was a sidebar with a Store button and you clicked the button and then you changed sections in the Store. Now, you have to account for “stickiness”.

I look at the screenshots of the new iTunes, I try to use the app, and I don't know what's going on. Maybe I'm the problem because I'm not “committed” to learning iTunes enough – but that's not supposed to happen with good interface design.

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Apple Updates iTunes Connect App for iOS 7

Following OS X, iTunes, and Podcasts for iOS, Apple released a long overdue update to the iTunes Connect app today, bringing a new iOS 7 design and wider support for media sold on the iTunes Store.

If you're a developer or content creator, you can now enjoy a redesigned app (nothing special, but nice icon) and view stats for music, movies, and TV shows available on iTunes.

iTunes Connect 3.0 is available on the App Store.

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Tuning into the Curious Design Decisions of iTunes Radio

Last week, I listened to Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds to Mars talk about his hometown of Los Angeles. He talked about, and then played, the songs that remind him of the City of Angels and other songs that have inspired him as a musical artist. It was great to listen to, not just as a big fan of Thirty Seconds to Mars but as someone who has just spent over two months living, studying, and working in Los Angeles.

So where did I listen to Leto and these songs? iTunes Radio.

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Apple Adds NPR News Channel To iTunes Radio

Apple's iTunes Radio has gained a news channel today with the addition of NPR, as first reported by re/code and confirmed on NPR's All Tech Considered blog.

Digital streams of Morning Edition, All Things Considered and hourly newscasts will be available on a new 24-hour streaming NPR channel on iTunes Radio.

"What you hear today is just the start of what's to come," said Zach Brand, NPR's vice president of digital media. Later this spring, the channel will expand to include streams of our member stations from across the country.

iTunes Radio, launched alongside iOS 7 in September, allows users to listen to free, ad-supported streams of songs that are automatically suggested by the service or collected in stations curated by music experts and artists. The new channel, available for streaming on iTunes Radio for iOS 7 devices and computers running iTunes, marks an important milestone for Apple in diversifying the offer of its iTunes Radio service, thus far focused on promoting music content with direct integration with the iTunes Store for purchases -- iTunes Radio is built into Apple's Music and iTunes apps, which have buttons to quickly purchase a song from a stream.

NPR will offer both pre-programmed and live shows; at the moment, it's displayed as a station in iTunes Radio next to music stations created by customers or curated by Apple. Since the launch in September, Apple has been trying various experiments with iTunes Radio for music content: the company regularly hosts "First Play" stations with previews of upcoming albums from popular artists, and it recently launched a special station with audio streams of iTunes Festival at SXSW.

Apple is believed to be considering a dedicated app for iTunes Radio in a future version of iOS, which could give the company more flexibility for separating user-made stations and curated sections, or music content from news, interviews, and other audio content. Currently, the entire iTunes Radio service lives in a dedicated page of the existing Music app for iOS.

Apple's expansion of iTunes Radio could also be particularly interesting for CarPlay, the company's initiative to bring iOS apps and services to car infotainment systems with a dedicated interface and iPhone integration. In initial demos, Apple showed how CarPlay could stream songs off iTunes Radio through an iPhone, but news channels and other audio content could easily fit into the same vision with the unified iTunes Radio service.

NPR's new iTunes Radio channel is available here.



Use The Hidden iTunes Store Power Search

The iTunes Store used to have a Power Search link in its page footers. You could choose to search specific types of content, and enter search terms in appropriate fields, such as Artist for music; Author for books; Actor for movies; etc. With iTunes 11, this link disappeared, but there’s still a way to get to it.

I had forgotten about this tip shared by Kirk McElhearn. If you want a faster way to access Power Search in iTunes using AppleScript, Doug Adams shows you how.

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Apple Releases iTunes Festival 5.0 with New iOS 7 Design, SXSW Streaming

Apple pushed version 5.0 of its iTunes Festival app on the App Store today, updating the app's UI for iOS 7 and the upcoming iTunes Festival at SXSW, which starts next week on Tuesday, March 11.

The app, which can be opened on iTunes or the App Store through this link, isn't however available for download at the moment. While the link redirects to the app's iTunes page that shows updated screenshots, icon, and changelog, the app can't be downloaded, as iTunes returns an error that says that the item is "temporarily unavailable".

According to recent speculation by Daring Fireball's John Gruber, Apple was preparing an update to the iTunes Festival app to launch alongside iOS 7.1, which, according to his sources, will be required to run the updated app. On iTunes, technical requirements for iTunes Festival 5.0 don't mention iOS 7.1 and report that "iOS 7.0 or later" is required, though the fact that the app can't be downloaded may indicate an early release by Apple.

Update: According to initial reports via Twitter, it appears that the updated iTunes Festival app can be downloaded on some international App Store and run using the current version of iOS -- iOS 7.0.6.



Quick iTunes Affiliate Link Creation with Affiliate for Mac

Developed by Bytesize Apps, Affiliate is a $1.99 utility for Mac that simplifies the process of creating affiliate links for iTunes and Amazon. I was especially interested in checking out Affiliate as, after Apple launched a new affiliate program with PHG in August 2013, we've been using affiliate links every day at MacStories, and I've been looking for a solution to quickly generate them.

Affiliate lives in the menubar and intercepts iTunes/Amazon links you to copy to the clipboard, adding your affiliate token/tag to them automatically. In the app's popover, you can configure an affiliate token and campaign tracking code for iTunes (PHG) and an affiliate tag for Amazon links. Every time you copy an iTunes link anywhere on your computer (iTunes, an email message, the browser -- anything), Affiliate will see it, append your affiliate data in the proper format, and place the affiliate link in the clipboard for you to paste anywhere you want. The app plays a sound and displays a notification when it generates a URL and the process is simple and immediate.

Unfortunately, in its current version Affiliate doesn't support international Amazon links (it'll only work with .com Amazon URLs) and it doesn't come with an option to choose from multiple campaign tracking codes for iTunes links. We use various tracking codes at MacStories, and I need to choose from multiple ones depending on the link I want to share; for this reason, I still have to use a fill-in snippet created in TextExpander with support for multiple options. I like, however, how Affiliate can detect an iTunes link that's already an affiliate one and clean it up for you, turning it into an affiliate link for your token.

If you don't care about the limitations mentioned above (that will likely be fixed soon) and if you generate affiliate links on a daily basis for your blog or Twitter account, I recommend getting Affiliate. It's fast, it automatically puts affiliate links in the clipboard, it'll save you time, and it's $1.99.