Tag Archive for ‘iTunes’

Apple Merges Gift Card Offerings ➝

There will no longer be a differentiation between Apple Store gift cards and gift cards that are used for iTunes, App Store, and iCloud purchases. Going forward, all Apple gift cards can be used to purchase items through any of their marketplaces.

➝ Source: apple.com

The Streaming Model for Music Doesn’t Work for Artists When They Do Not Earn Live Performance Income ➝

Nick Heer:

There has never been a better time to support musicians directly. The next Bandcamp fee waiver day is June 5, and many artists sell merch and records on the web. You can still buy albums on iTunes, too, in the way your great aunt told you stories about.

I’ve purchased about a half-dozen albums over the past couple of months between physical CDs and iTunes purchases, which is much more than I typically do. If you’re able to support your favorite musicians right now, I would encourage you to do so.

➝ Source: pxlnv.com

Unencrypted iCloud Backups ➝

Joseph Menn, reporting for Reuters:

Apple Inc dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company’s iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations, six sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The reasoning behind why Apple dropped plans to encrypt iCloud backups might be questionable. But the reality is that iCloud backups are not encrypted. It’s pretty pathetic that a company that has pitched itself as a privacy-focused option continues to have such a major hole in the system.

If you care about your privacy, it might be a good idea to consider backing up your iOS devices locally with iTunes or Finder instead of through iCloud. This will let you have a bit more control over your data and give you the option to actually encrypt backups.

And to be clear, you don’t have to connect your device with a cable each time you perform a backup. An often forgotten feature of iOS is the ability to sync/backup with iTunes or Finder over WiFi.

➝ Source: reuters.com

The End of iTunes on Windows XP, Vista, and Original Apple TV ➝

Apple:

Starting May 25, Apple will introduce security changes that prevent older Windows PCs from using the iTunes Store. If you have Windows XP or Vista PC, your computer is no longer supported by Microsoft, and you’re not able to use the latest version of iTunes.

You can continue to use previous versions of iTunes on your Windows PC without support from Apple. However, you won’t be able to make new purchases from the iTunes Store or redownload previous purchases on that computer. […]

Also beginning May 25, security changes will prevent Apple TV (1st generation) from using the iTunes Store. This device is an obsolete Apple product and will not be updated to support these security changes.

I have Snow Leopard installed on an external hard drive that I’ve connected to an old iMac. The version of iTunes on that drive is still compatible with Requiem, which let’s me remove the DRM from movies and TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store. From there, I can transfer the DRM-free video files into Plex — my preferred media playback app.

But I suspect this will no longer be possible when Apple flips the switch on May 25. And once again, I’ll be stuck watching newly purchased iTunes content in Apple’s apps.

(Via The Loop.)

Deleting iOS Apps Stored by iTunes ➝

Glenn Fleishman, writing for Macworld:

When Apple updated iTunes to version 12.7, it overhauled the iOS/iTunes interaction. We ran a guide, “iTunes 12.7: How to cope with the abrupt changes,” which answered most of your questions. But one thing I noted in passing continues to come up: several readers have asked if they can really, really dump the iOS application files that iTunes retained after the upgrade.

You don’t need these. Really. You don’t. iTunes will never rely on them to sync back to your iOS device, and your Mac can’t do anything with them. Delete them. Go ahead.

This tip freed up 36GB of storage on my Mac Mini. And if you’ve been downloading iOS apps through iTunes, you might be able to reclaim a similar amount of storage on your machine. Glenn goes on to explain how to turn on content caching on your Mac, allowing you to more quickly download operating system and app updates on all the devices in your home.

The Apple TV’s Value Proposition

John Gruber, on Apple’s cultural insularity and how it affects the Apple TV:

Earlier this week I wrote about my vague concern about Apple’s insular culture. Apple TV is the product line where I think that might really be a problem. Apple charges a significant premium over the average product in PCs, tablets, and phones. It works for them in those markets. That’s what Apple does and has always done: they make superior, premium products for people willing to pay for them.

But with Apple TV, I’m hearing from a lot of people who are in the Apple ecosystem — people who own MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones — who just don’t want to spend $200 for an Apple TV when they can get a Roku or Fire TV for a lot less.

John mentions iTunes as the primary selling point for the Apple TV, but I don’t see it that way and I don’t think Apple does either. When the default behavior of the remote’s home button was changed late last year, that was a clear signal about the device’s primary function — it’s all about the TV App.

With the introduction of the fourth-generation Apple TV, Tim Cook proudly proclaimed that “the future of TV is apps.” But that all changed when they released the TV App alongside tvOS 10.1. Apps were still an important part of their strategy, but it was secondary to streaming media.

The TV App offers the best experience because it bundles all (or most) of your streaming services into a single, unified interface. That’s what the Apple TV is all about. It’s a huge disappointment that Netflix isn’t supported, but even if only two of your streaming services work well with the TV App, you’re still better off using it than not.

Is the TV App alone worth the additional cost of purchasing an Apple TV over the competition? Probably not. Especially since the Apple TV is so much more expensive than the competition. AirPlay, iTunes, and Apple Music helps, but not enough.

In the lead up to Apple’s September event, when it was widely rumored that Apple would be introducing a 4K-capable Apple TV, I whole-heartedly expected Apple to drop the price of the fourth-generation Apple TV to $99. This would have fit with the pattern that Apple has exhibited over the past several years — replace the existing product at the same price point and lower the price of “last year’s model”.

If Apple announced Apple TV 4K, starting at $149, and lowered the price of the fourth-generation Apple TV down to $99, I think it would be an easier sell for most people. And I don’t think there would be as many Apple TV users looking to switch to Roku or Fire TV. Most consumers still don’t have 4K-capable televisions and “last year’s model” at $99 would be just fine for them. But of course, that isn’t what Apple chose to do.

In most of Apple’s markets, the difference between their experience — iPhone, MacBook, iPad — and the competition is vast. But on a device that spends most of its time streaming content from another company, it’s harder to see the value in spending so much more on an Apple product. The TV App, iTunes, AirPlay, and Apple Music aren’t enough to justify the additional cost for a lot of users. If Apple wants to remain a major player in this race, they have to do something soon.

From my perspective, Apple has a handful of options:

  • Start selling the Apple TV with a bundled game controller.
  • Hire (or acquire) a game development company to build titles that are exclusive to tvOS.
  • Push hard for third-party developers to build top-tier games for the platform.
  • Lower the fourth-generation Apple TV’s price to something that’s more competitive in the current market. $99 is my suggestion, but the lower they go, the better.

The best case scenario is for Apple to do all of these things at the same time, but I’m not convinced they’ll do any of them. Apple should be well aware of the problems with their offering and the announcement of the Apple TV 4K was their opportunity to address them. They didn’t. I just hope they have something incredible coming to platform soon that will position the Apple TV as more than just the expensive option.

I’ve had an Apple TV connected to the first HDMI input on my television for a decade and I’ve owned every model ever released. I don’t want to see one of my favorite products die a slow death because Apple wasn’t willing to put in the time to make it the most compelling option. The Apple TV can be the best streaming box available, even at its current price, but Apple needs to do more to make that happen.

‘Apple Podcasts’ ➝

Jason Snell, on Apple rebranding the iTunes Podcasts Directory to “Apple Podcasts”:

Looking at the larger picture, though, I have to assume that this is one part of a long, inexorable de-branding of iTunes. It proved to be a brand that was capable of having all sorts of non-tune-related things stuffed inside of it, but it was always an awkward fit and at some point it needed to be addressed.

The bigger question is what happens on the desktop, especially the Mac. Will the iTunes app finally be replaced? I discussed the long, painful history of iTunes with Allen Pike on the Úll Radio podcast this week in Ireland, and it couldn’t have been more clear to both of us that Apple needs to rethink the entire thing. But the question is, does Apple have the will to allocate the resources to create new Music, TV, and Podcast apps for macOS?

The end of iTunes is inevitable, but why is it taking Apple so long to begin the process of unbundling its features into standalone apps?

This type of question seems to be cropping up a lot lately.

Moving to Plex

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have been wondering why I installed Snow Leopard — an operating system that’s over five years old — on my iMac over the weekend. It wasn’t for nostalgia or even to breathe new life into an aging machine, it’s all part of my plan to move my Mac mini’s media hosting setup from iTunes to Plex. As it turns out, there are some interesting tricks you can do with iTunes media on the unsupported OS.

It started last Thursday, when I decided to revisit Plex. The app seems to be the standard for cool guy media hosting these days, but in my previous testing I didn’t like it. I had a terrible time navigating the application’s preferences and couldn’t understand how to find the features I was looking for. Now I’m not sure if there have been major updates to the app since then, but for whatever reason, Plex has clicked for me — big time.

I’ve already laid the groundwork to going all-in on Plex. I have the server app installed on my Mac mini, with all of my media files indexed, and I’ve installed the client apps on my Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. I’ve tried out several of the app’s plugins and have settled into using the HGTV and Food Network channels to fill a gap in our cable-less entertainment offerings. I’ve even integrated Watch Later into my life with a Workflow that uses the feature’s secret email address to add videos to my queue.

There’s just two more hurdles to overcome before I can close iTunes on my Mac mini for good. The first requires a hardware upgrade and the second will just take time.

We have two televisions in our apartment, one in the living and one in the bedroom. Each of them has an Apple TV connected, but the bedroom has the previous-generation, which doesn’t support Plex. My strategy has always been to upgrade the living room Apple TV when a new model is released and retire the old one into the bedroom. That way we’d always have the latest and greatest on our primary TV and the previous-generation in the bedroom.

With my newfound interest in Plex, though, this upgrade cycle might have to be disrupted. I would prefer to have the same television experience in the living room as I do in the bedroom — using the exact same apps and remote. I’ve been able to justify waiting for Apple to release their next Apple TV because there wasn’t anything we had access to in the living room that we couldn’t get in the bedroom. But because of Plex, that’s no longer the case.

I don’t really want to spend $149 on an Apple TV that’s over a year old, but Plex is a huge draw. And finally retiring our old Logitech Harmony is nothing to scoff at. I expect I’ll end up biting the bullet and buying another Apple TV, but I’ll probably wait until closer to the holidays when I might find one at a discount.

I’ve already invested a great deal of time toward the second hurdle and it’s the reason I installed Snow Leopard on my iMac. I’ve been so happy with Plex that I’ve gone through the trouble of installing a five-year-old operating system just so I can use Requiem. This brilliant piece of software hasn’t been updated since 2012, but on older versions of iTunes — I’m using 10.6.3 — it’s capable of making perfect, DRM-free versions of your purchased movies and TV shows by exploiting a flaw in the copy protection mechanism.

The process involves downloading my purchased media through iTunes, quitting the app, launching Requiem, waiting for it to churn through the files, and moving them to my Plex folder on my Mac mini. I’ve been doing this dance since Saturday night and I’ve successfully transferred sixty-six movies and four television seasons. At the time of this writing, I still have seventeen TV seasons to go, but I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I do think it’s important to note that I’m not using Requiem for piracy purposes and wouldn’t condone anyone else doing so. I just want to exercise my right to fair use by watching the content I’ve paid for on the player of my choosing. And having all of my iTunes purchased content and ripped DVDs in one place is definitely worth the effort.

Now I can use Requiem to strip the DRM from my iTunes purchases in the same way I’d use Handbrake to rip DVDs. As long as Apple doesn’t shut off access to the iTunes Music Store on these older versions of iTunes, I’ll be able to use these tools to merge my physical and digital media into a single, unified library and host it all with Plex.

The biggest benefit to all of this is that my media is now completely disassociated from any specific platform or vendor. It can be viewed wherever, whenever, and however I want. I’m using Plex currently, but without my files being laden with copy protection, I can freely move to any other player or platform and not have to worry about incompatibilities. It may have taken me a dozen hours to convert the media from their original format, but this kind of freedom is definitely worth the effort.