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Apple Daily: Free on iTunes, Apple Pay and Photo IDs, Photos for iCloud.com

Apple hasn’t apparently turned its back on free stuff, after all, even though it seemed a little iffy after the disappearance of the free iTunes Single of the Week. In other news, a Missouri lawmaker wants users to produce photos IDs every time they use Apple Pay and similar services in his state, and Apple introduced some simple but useful tools for its Photos for iCloud.com app.

Apple Introduces ‘Free on iTunes’ Section

For a few days there, it looks as though the free U2 album kerfuffle had soured Apple on the idea of free products forever, but a new “Free on iTunes” section of iTunes shows that’s far from the case. Many longtime users were initially sad to hear about the sudden disappearance of the “iTunes Single of the Week,” but, if anything, this replacement — which includes songs as well as TV shows — makes the experience even better.

Sorry, international users — at least for now, the page only works for customers in the United States. But if you’re a resident of Apple’s home country, you’ll be able to sample free episodes from SyFy’s 12 Monkeys, MTV’s Eye Candy, and others. More interested in music? Check out the offerings from bands like Jauz. Purity Ring, and Asking Alexandria.

Apple hasn’t revealed a schedule for the new service, but it’s likely that the Cupertino company will update the new section every week, judging from its own traditions.


Missouri Lawmaker Wants to Require Photo IDs with Apple Pay, Similar Services

You’d think that Apple would have already sufficiently demonstrated that using your fingerprint for Apple Pay is “identification” enough, but at least one Missouri lawmaker (via AP) is having none of it. If Democratic Rep. Joshua Peters of St. Louis has his way, in fact, Missourians would be required to show their IDs to clerks when using Apple Pay (and any other mobile payment service, for that matter).

It’s actually more complicated than that. Not only would our hypothetical Missourian have to show her driver’s license or similar documentation, but the clerks would also have to write down the ID number of the person making the purchase and keep it in their records. If they don’t, they’re entirely accountable for fraudulent transactions.

There’s a couple of flaws here in that it’s already uncommon for clerks to check ID cards for normal credit card purchases, and most mobile payment systems have some kind of enhanced security wall (such as Apple Pay’s Touch ID) that keeps crooks from having a field day with spending. What’s more, as 9to5Mac points out, it’s far easier to fake an ID than a fingerprint.

The retailers themselves don’t seem terribly concerned. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal this morning, suppliers of point-of-sale systems saw a massive bump in interest following the release of Apple Pay in October. Brendan Lauber, an executive at Harbortouch, said that only 22 percent of the company’s customers had mobile payment receptors installed prior to the release of iOS 8; following the launch of Apple Pay, 68 percent asked for systems that support mobile transactions.

“It’s like night and day,” said Lauber.


Photos for iCloud Updated with New Features

The Photos app for iCloud.com got a little better this weekend, as Apple upgraded the service to allow users to send photos from their iCloud library to anyone via e-mail. In addition, you can now zoom in on photos in the iCloud Photo Library itself (via iFun.de).

The actual pace of Apple’s updates for its iCloud Photos app might leave a little to be desired, but at least the iPhone maker has started a trend of packing worthwhile features into each patch. Last November, for instance, Apple enabled users to upload their own photos to the site from their computers. According to some supposedly inside sources, the reason for the relatively few updates pertaining to iCloud as a whole lies in a culture of excessive fragmentation within Apple’s walls.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Apple Daily: Apple Watch Companion App Details, iTunes Dumps Single of the Week

Thanks to some clever work from a developer who combed through the iOS 8.2 beta files, we now have some more information on what we can expect from the Apple Watch and how it will interact with our iPhones. In addition, Apple has apparently stopped offering its free “Single of the Week” on iTunes and it’s found a way to discourage abusers of the EU’s 14-day refund policy.

Apple Watch Companion App Yields New Details About Device

When word dropped that the latest iOS 8.2 beta contained references to an Apple Watch companion app, it seemed as though we might have to wait a few more weeks to see what the app involves. Not so, thanks to a new report from 9to5Mac based on code compiled by Irish developer Steven Troughton-Smith.

The report shows that, as expected, the Apple Watch “Companion” app will serve as a hub for both settings for the watch itself and for the apps it runs. (You might recall that the first apps for the device will need to rely on an iPhone 5 or above for many functions, although that’s expected to change in the future.)

The Apple Watch has a definite focus on fitness, and accordingly, the findings reveal that the device can be set to remind you to stand up at various intervals every hour and to let you know when you’ve reached goals for actions such as moving or standing. Reports are also available for personal milestones and weekly activities.

Apple also uses the centuries-old horology term “complications” to describe various functions on the watch’s face that have little or nothing to do with the actual time (and let’s admit it, the name just begs for abuse from Apple’s critics). Some “complications” include weather, stock quotes, and information on when the sun rises and sets.

The report is useful for confirming some hitherto fuzzy information about the device. It proves, for instance, that the Apple Watch will possess enough storage to let you play songs from the device itself, and that it won’t allow Apple Pay payments to be made with the device unless it’s in contact with skin.

9to5Mac’s report is chock-full of such tidbits, so be sure to check out the full thing here.


iTunes Ceases to Offer Free “Single of the Week”

According to a new report from Business Insider, Apple has apparently stopped offering the free iTunes “Single of the Week” that it’s offered every week since 2004. It’s tempting to think it’s a passive aggressive move on the company’s part in response to the backlash surrounding its gift of U2′s latest album.

The confirmation on file is a bit sketchy. Essentially, an Apple forum user named Bob Foss claims he contacted Apple to learn why the latest single wasn’t listed, and he was told by a representative that Apple decided to discontinue the practice. Foss has some good reasons as to why this is such a bad thing:

“Seems they don’t want people browsing the Store anymore. I told them that the free single each week got me to the Store and I usually bought a few songs. Now, there’s less reason to go. They’ve stopped the free single in other countries too.”

We’ll just have to take Foss’ word for it for now in the absence of any official statement from Apple, but it’s true that the tracks are no longer listed. It’s also true that Apple’s annual “12 Days of Christmas” special and its associated gifts of free music and apps was missing in action last year, which seems to indicate that Apple’s sick of giving away free stuff even for the holidays. What’s next, the removal of the free app of the week?


Apple Instates Safety Net Against EU’s 14-Day Refund Policy

The EU now has an initially attractive law that lets customers get a refund for any product as long as they request it within 14 days, but some of the implications of the law apparently weren’t thought out too well. If someone buys an app on the App Store and then decides they want a refund, for instance, they can get their money back and keep the app since it doesn’t magically disappear from their iPhone or iPad after the refund. You may no longer get updates, but that doesn’t matter for many, many apps.

Naturally this sets up fertile ground for abuse, and iDownloadBlog recounts the story of one person who was using it as a trial system or sorts, gaining back at least in refunds after spending around .

Now the user’s account is flagged, and he sees this message whenever he tries to download an app: “I acknowledge that if I download this app within fourteen days of tapping ‘Buy’, I will no longer be eligible to cancel this purchase.”

It’s quite legal, too. According to an exception in the UK’s version of the law, “You cannot cancel your order for the supply of digital content if the delivery has started upon your request and acknowledgement that you thereby lose your cancellation right.” The one gray area is that there’s no clear way to know from the material given how Apple decides an account has been abusing its open refund privileges.

Apple (and presumably the developers) will continue to lose some money as a result of the kinks in the law, no doubt, but the exception should weed out the worst of the offenders.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Apple Expands Social Media Presence With New iTunes Tumblr Site

Happen to miss the great pop culture moments of 2014? Never fear; Apple’s got you covered. The catch here is that its social media department’s chosen to do so on Tumblr, where the company’s created a page for iTunes celebrating the “best” from this year’s music, TV, and books. It’s but the latest move in Apple’s increasing forays into the most popular outlets in social media.

The site looks and feels a little like skimming through iTunes itself, but mostly what’s on display here is a collection of GIFs and other images that are designed to be liked, reblogged to other Tumblr users, or shared on secondary social media platforms like Facebook. It’s a comprehensive list, and Apple’s display includes selections for everything from Guardians of the Galaxy to Nicki Minaj and Gone Girl.

Apple’s iTunes Tumblr page follows on the heels of the creation of its new Instagram account several days ago, which has already attracted around 67,000 followers in a very short time. Last year Apple CEO Tim Cook himself joined the ranks of Twitter, and earlier in the year Apple started directly advertising on Tumblr to draw attention to the iPhone 5c.

Oddly enough, Apple still lacks an official Twitter account, but it’s possible that may change in the next few weeks at this rate. There’s a chance this sudden rush to social media is the work of Musa Tariq, the former director of Nike’s social media department, whom Apple hired back in August. As MacRumors notes, Tariq also once worked with new Apple retail chief Angela Arendts while both were working at BlackBerry.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Morning Report: Apple’s Best of 2014, Change is In the Air, Holiday iTunes Radio

Best of 2014

Apple may be shutting down the App Store for the holidays in two weeks, but Cupertino is using that time to celebrate the best of the year. Our Monday Morning Report has the details on some of the content making Apple’s Best of 2014 list, a look at Cupertino’s new iPad Air 2 commercial, and how to get some free, ad-supported holiday music streamed right to your device. Don’t be a Scooge, click and read on!

Apple Honors Best iTunes, App Store Content of 2014

There’s less than a month before 2014 becomes the past, but Apple is gearing up for the new year by commemorating the iTunes Store apps, music, movies, TV shows, and books worthy of being awarded Cupertino’s highest honor.

“Exhilarating, innovative, surprising — this year’s standouts reminded us of just how extraordinary apps and games can be. Discover our favorites and explore 2014′s chart-toppers,” the special Best of 2014 section of the App Store reads, with similar highlights posted in the Mac App Store and iTunes Store as well.

Among the handpicked 2014 titles for the U.S. are iPhone App of the Year Elevate – Brain Training, iPad App of the Year Pixelmator, and iPhone Game of the Year Threes! on the App Store, Notability and Tomb Raider for App & Game of the Year on the Mac App Store, Guardians of the Galaxy for Best Blockbuster Movie, Fargo for TV Show of the Year, Taylor Swift’s 1989 for Best Music Album, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr for Best Fiction Book.

Each category also has a pair of runner-ups selected, along with an assortment of other highlighted apps, music, TV shows, and books worthy of consideration. Apple has also posted year-end charts for most downloaded and top-grossing iOS apps, including Facebook Messenger for top free iPhone app and YouTube for top free iPad app.

Change is In the Air with Apple’s Latest iPad Commercial

The iPad Air 2 is the star of the show in Apple’s newest commercial, which hit YouTube on Sunday. The spot shows a variety of ways Cupertino’s slimmest tablet is being used in all walks of the life, as the screen gradually shrinks to a tiny sliver to demonstrate just how thin the device actually is.

“Change is in the Air. From the studio to the classroom, the field to the garage, iPad Air 2 is helping people discover new and better ways to do the things they love. Imagine what you’ll do with it,” reads the description of the one-minute ad.

The commercial is also accompanied by a new iPad Air 2 section of the Apple website, which breaks out “just a few of the hundreds of thousands of apps waiting for you in the App Store” featured in the new ad.

iTunes Radio Fires Up 10 Holiday-Themed Stations

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and Apple is celebrating with 10 new iTunes Radio stations offering a variety of holiday-themed music. According to MacRumors, the new stations are Children’s Christmas Holiday Sing-Along, Country Holiday, Classical Holiday, Holiday Classics, Holiday Hits, Latin Holiday, Rockin’ Holiday, Soulful Holiday, Swingin’ Holiday, and The Sounds of Christmas. As always, the stations can be called up using iTunes on Mac or PC, or from the Music app on iOS devices, and iTunes Match subscribers have the added benefit of listening free of the occasional advertisements free users have to endure.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



iTunes Trailers Will Host the Trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on Friday

Following news that the upcoming trailer for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens would only be shown before movies in a select group of 30 theaters on the evening of Friday, Nov. 28, today word hit that the trailer will be available on iTunes Movie Trailers as well on the same day. The trailer is said to be 88 seconds long.

That’s a massive turnaround considering the exclusivity of the original arrangement, but it’s apparently legit. The official Star Wars Twitter account tweeted the news this afternoon, and the Twitter account for iTunes Trailers confirmed it shortly after with a tweet of its own. It’s also a bold move for Apple, which up until now hasn’t really used iTunes Trailers for exclusive announcements.

It’s currently unknown if this sort of thing was planned all along, or if the parties involved offered it as an alternative method of viewing the trailer in the wake of protests from fans on social media over the theater screenings. What is certain, however, is that you should be able to watch the trailer for J.J. Abrams’ next film on both the iTunes Movie Trailers app and on Apple’s dedicated website for the service.

Abrams has already finished all filming for the film, although it won’t hit theaters until December 18, 2015.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


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