This week's sponsor

Timing

Stop worrying about time and focus on doing your best work instead.


Posts tagged with "itunes"

The Original Apple TV: Ushering in a New Era of Entertainment

Today's Apple TV is its own full-fledged platform. While it is more expensive and less popular than other some other media streamers, the Apple TV has come into its own. The current device can stream 4K HDR content, play games and even be used as a calculator.

The original Apple TV didn't enjoy such a wide feature set, and it wasn't treated as a full-blown product by the company, which repeatedly talked about it as a "hobby."

To understand that attitude, I think it's important to go back to when Steve Jobs first previewed the device in September 2006.

Read more


iTunes Removes the App Store and More to Focus on Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, and Audiobooks

Apple has updated iTunes on macOS to eliminate ringtones, iTunes U, and perhaps most surprising of all, iOS apps. According to Apple’s support page:

Apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are now exclusively available in the new App Store for iOS.

iTunes 12.7 now includes music, movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, and Audiobooks only. Apple’s support page links to instructions on how to download each type of content that has been eliminated.

Although there were prior indications that Apple was streamlining iTunes, such as when it announced that iTunes U content was being eliminated from the app, the removal of downloaded iOS apps and the App Store itself is surprising. iTunes is now focused on just two types of media audio and video.

The update to iTunes also adds the Friends feature first seen in the iOS 11 beta. Apple Music subscribers can set up a profile and follow friends to see the music and playlists they are listening to. I’ve been using the Friends feature all summer and it’s been a great way to find and try new music.


iTunes U Collections Are Moving to Apple Podcasts

Apple has announced that in September, when iTunes 12.7 is released, it will migrate iTunes U collections to Apple Podcasts. iTunes U courses will be available only through the iTunes U app on iOS.

iTunes U was launched in 2007 to offer downloadable collections of free educational content through the iTunes Store. In 2012, Apple introduced the iTunes U iOS app, which allowed educators to create iTunes U courses that go beyond audio and video by incorporating handouts, homework, quizzes, ebooks, and other content. Although courses are currently listed alongside collections in iTunes on macOS, courses are designed to work best in the iTunes U app, which is iOS-only.

According to Apple’s announcement and support pages, it will automatically convert iTunes U Collections to podcasts in September and eliminate the iTunes U section of iTunes on macOS. That means there will no longer be a way to download iTunes U course materials on a Mac. The change also means that the iTunes U catalog will only include courses and will only be accessible from an iOS device.

The transition of iTunes U collections to podcasts will occur automatically but carries a couple of caveats. First, iTunes U and podcast categories are different. Collections will be assigned podcast categories automatically, but they may differ from the ones assigned in iTunes U. However, collection creators can use their new iTunes Podcast Site Manager sites to change the category at any time.

Second, collections that include ePub files may want to substitute them with PDF files. According to Apple’s iTunes U Public Site Manager support page:

Apple Podcasts supports all media types currently supported by iTunes U collections, with the exception of ePub files. If your collections contain ePub files, you might want to replace the ePub files with another file type (for example, a PDF file).

This advice seems at odds with the Apple Podcasts Connect support page that says ePub files are supported by podcasts. However, unless Apple provides clarification, it is probably best to switch to PDFs as suggested.

As podcasts grow in popularity, converting iTunes U collections to podcasts should expose them to a broader audience. The transition also simplifies iTunes on macOS and limits the iTunes U app to the content that is designed to work best with it. Each of those reasons makes sense in isolation, but there is a gap that hasn’t been addressed. What’s missing is a way to access iTunes U courses on the Mac. It’s possible that Apple has decided that iTunes U courses should be iOS-only, but I can’t help but think we’ll see a new approach to iTunes U on the Mac this fall and that this transition may be part of a broader plan to dismantle iTunes.


PayPal is Rolling Out to the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks

PayPal announced that its payment service is coming to the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks on iOS devices and Macs today, starting in Canada and Mexico with the US and other countries to follow soon. Setting up PayPal works the same as adding a credit card:

Paying with PayPal is simple. Customers with a new or existing Apple ID can select “PayPal” as their payment method from their account settings in the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes [and iBooks] from their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac, or on iTunes from their PC.

After PayPal is enabled, purchases from the selected Apple ID will be made from the customer’s PayPal account.

Adding PayPal should expand the universe of customers making purchases from Apple’s stores by creating an alternative for people who don’t have or don’t want to use a credit card.

Permalink


AppleScript, the Perfect Adjunct to iTunes

Kirk McElhearn, writing for Macworld on automation in iTunes following Sal Soghoian's departure from Apple:

No application can do everything its users need, and none should offer everything they want. For this reason, AppleScript has long been the perfect adjunct to iTunes, which is already feature-rich (some say “bloated,” but I disagree), and doesn’t need more options and tools. Many of these AppleScripts are designed to tag files, edit their metadata to correct errors, improve consistency, and ensure that users can find the files they want, and help them efficiently use smart playlists.

It’s not clear whether the termination of Mr. Soghoian means the demise of AppleScript altogether, and particularly in iTunes, but many developers, iTunes users, and others are concerned by this decision.

You see, it’s all about freedom. Freedom to do things we want that Apple doesn’t think we need to be able to do. Freedom to explore. Freedom to discover new ways to link applications, to interact with files, to create our own solutions. We can’t expect apps to cater to all our whims, and tools like AppleScript and Automator allow us to go a step further and discover ways to do things that Apple never even considered.

Losing AppleScript and automation features altogether would be a horrific loss for the Mac. However, I don't think that's going to be the case. Like Jason Snell, I believe today's Apple finds this stuff uninteresting and "vintage"; rather than removing it, I feel like they'll stop pretending they care about it, just as they did for Dashboard. Which isn't an ideal scenario either, but between two poisons, it's the one I'd pick.

See also: Dr. Drang back in 2013, 'When and why I automate'.

Permalink

SoundShare Adds an iMessage App

SoundShare is designed to bring music lovers together regardless of the streaming services they use. I reviewed SoundShare back in May when it launched a big update and since then, Matt Abras has continued to refine and improve the app with a series of updates.

Today, SoundShare released an update that includes a great iMessage app. From SoundShare’s iMessage app, you can pick a song from among the iTunes Top 100 list or search for something else using the search bar at the top of the iMessage drawer. Tapping a song adds album art, the title, and artist to a message ready to send with or without a comment.

What makes SoundShare’s iMessage app so handy is that when your recipient taps on the album art, it opens full screen with options to open the song in iTunes, Apple Music, YouTube, or the SoundShare app. This isn’t the full compliment of services that SoundShare works with, but the others (Spotify and Deezer) can be accessed through the ‘Open in SoundShare’ option. That opens the SoundShare iOS app and immediately starts playback of the song with one of those services if you are logged into them through SoundShare.

We have started to see some interesting iMessage apps a month into the iMessage App Store that take advantage of platform. SoundShare is one of my favorites so far because it removes the friction of sharing music. I can send a nicely formatted link to a song without thinking about whether the person on the other end of my message has the correct service to play it.

SoundShare is iPhone-only and can be downloaded for free on the App Store.


‘Spoken Editions’ Section Makes Official Debut on iTunes

Roger Fingas, writing for AppleInsider:

Following a false start in September, Apple on Monday launched an expected "Spoken Editions" section on the iTunes Store, letting people hear audio versions of written content from online publishers.

The section currently includes articles from over 40 sources, such as Reuters, Wired, IGN, Jezebel, Playboy, and the Huffington Post. People can also access the material from Apple's dedicated Podcasts app.

I like this idea, and could see myself subscribing to some Spoken Editions when it expands to other publications, particularly those in Australia. I listened to a few Spoken Edition articles, and whilst the recording quality was generally quite good, I was a little surprised to hear some obvious pronunciation errors and general reading mistakes which hadn't been edited out.

The Spoken Editions are featured on the front page of the Podcasts section of the US iTunes Store, but they are also accessible via this link (which will also work even if you are outside the US).

Permalink

Apple Releases iTunes 12.4 and OS X 10.11.5

Apple released iTunes 12.4 today with various design enhancements. iTunes 12.4 brings the sidebar back to the left side of the app when you are navigating your library of media, whether that’s music, movies, TV shows, apps, podcasts, or audiobooks. The sidebar is hidden when you navigate Apple Music, the App Store, and the iTunes Store.

Apple has also redesigned the media picker that sits just above the sidebar. Previously the picker consisted of a row of icons representing each media type and could be edited to include only the media types you wanted to show. The new media picker is a dropdown menu that like its predecessor is editable, and adds the name of each type of media next to its icon. Music is the one media type that cannot be removed from the media picker. iTunes 12.4 also includes simplified menus.

It is not clear from the release notes whether iTunes 12.4 includes fixes related to a recently-reported bug that deleted music files from iTunes in rare circumstances that Apple has been unable to reproduce.

Today’s updates also include a minor revision to OS X. Version 10.11.5 of OS X “improves the stability, compatibility and security” and addresses a handful of enterprise-related issues.