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Apple Reverses Position on iOS 8 Calculator Widgets, Lets PCalc Stay on iTunes

As we mentioned this morning, Apple attracted some unwanted attention yesterday when it informed James Thompson, the developer behind calculator PCalc, that he’d have to remove the app’s iOS 8 widget if he expected the popular app to remain on the app store. Supporters of the app rallied in favor of Thompson not long after, and in the face of such an overwhelming response, the Cupertino company called Thompson personally to announce that it had reversed its decision.

A report from TechCrunch claims that Apple hadn’t anticipated that the Notification Center widgets could be used in the way Thompson was using them. The initial notice apparently claimed that calculations could be entered into the widget but the widget couldn’t perform the calculations itself, which essentially nulls the point of a widget for an app like PCalc.

Originally, Thompson was given two to three weeks to redesign the .99 app before Apple pulled it. The notice was particularly disheartening since Thompson noted that PCalc was featured at the time in the App Store’s “Great Apps for iOS 8″ section, where it was singled out for being a great “Notification Center Widget.”

But Thompson immediately reported the “extremely disappointing news” to his followers on Twitter, who expressed their support in droves and no doubt directed a few choice words at Apple itself. And so Thompson’s app is back just a day later, and most importantly, it sets a precedent that paves the way for more calculator Notification Center widgets to come.

Will such an approach always work for developers trying to get their other widgets approved? Likely not. But it at least shows that Apple is prepared to quickly reverse its stance about key aspects of its operating systems under the right conditions.

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


WWDC 2013: Apple Details New Pandora-Like “iTunes Radio”

Move over, Pandora–Apple’s moving in. Apple announced its long-anticipated iTunes Radio for streaming music this morning (previously known as “iRadio” when mentioned along with its associated rumors), and you’ll be able to find it in iOS 7′s version of the Music app.

Essentially, if you know how to use Pandora, you know how to use iTunes Radio. The service works much the same, as it allows you to generate stations based on the artists you prefer and also lets you share your tastes over social networks. As with Pandora, you’ll also find preset stations.

Apple said that iTunes Radio will be accessible through the Music app in iOS 7, through a future version of iTunes, and through Apple TV. Somewhat predictably, the free version will be supported by ads, while the subscription based service (powered by iTunes Match) will have no ads. iTunes Match’s subscription currently is priced at .99 a year.

To the disappointment of several people in the audience, Apple announced that it’ll only be available in the U.S. at first.


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iTunes 11.0.3 Update Brings Redesigned Miniplayer, Improved Songs View

You kind of have to admire the timing. While most of the tech world is focused on the ramifications of Google’s I/O yesterday, Apple followed up its perfectly timed 50 billion app downloads milestone with today’s minor but notable update for iTunes. New features include a pleasing new interface for the miniplayer and additional support for multi disc albums. It doesn’t reverse many of the unpopular design shifts made with 11.0, but it’s good to see an update that adds some cool new features without adding unnecessary bloat.

The most visible new changes are those made to the miniplayer, which now allows displays the cover artwork for the album you’re playing to the left of the minimalist interface, which now includes a progress bar. Is that’s not enough album cover goodness for you, you can also expand the miniplayer to display a larger version of the cover art, along with an adjustable progress bar towards the bottom.

We were also pleased to see that the update heralds the return of the expandable playlist for the miniplayer that went missing in action with iTunes 11, along with the new ability to search through your entire iTunes library through the miniplayer.

The update also brings with it the ability to play multi-disc albums as one album, ridding some of us of the need to make specialized playlists when we wanted to listen to a full album spread across multiple CDs. Another addition includes the ability to see all your individual songs with the album artwork (accessible through the “View” options in the menu bar), as well as a welcome sorting option to keep videos from playing when you have your entire library on shuffle.

It’s a patch that mainly focused on aesthetics, then, and one that might reveal yet another example of Jony Ive’s work in overturning the some of the design decisions of predecessor Scott Forrestal.

Follow this article author, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Microsoft’s Pleas for Windows 8 Version of iTunes Fall on Deaf Ears

Windows 8 Start menuMicrosoft has been pretty good at throwing its formidable weight around to get key applications on Windows 8, but not surprisingly, it’s finding resistance from the folks in Cupertino.

CNN Money is reporting that Microsoft has been pushing Apple for a Windows 8-native edition of iTunes, which currently only runs in traditional Desktop mode on the company’s Metro-style software — and not at all on the tablet-centric Windows RT.

“You shouldn’t expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon,” laments Windows Division CFO Tami Reller. “ITunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It’s not for lack of trying.”

While Apple has grudgingly carried over iTunes, Safari, QuickTime and even iCloud to the Windows platform, the company has largely ignored Windows 8, which debuted six months ago and claims to have sold 100 million licenses during that time.

Thus far, the sole exception is a recent OS X Mountain Lion update which added Windows 8 compatibility to Boot Camp — but that’s for running Microsoft’s OS on Apple’s hardware, not for Apple software on Windows computers.

Windows RT owners are the ones suffering most from Apple’s neglect — they can’t install iTunes at all since it requires Intel hardware, which means a traditional desktop or laptop computer or more expensive Windows Pro tablet.

However, even that is a less than ideal experience, since iTunes doesn’t currently take advantage of the native Windows 8 experience, instead running as a window inside the classic Desktop view.

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



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