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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.


Morning Report: Eddy Cue’s Apple Pay Spree, Yosemite Wi-Fi, Guardians on iTunes

Apple Pay on KTLA

It’s good to be the king, and when it comes to mobile payments, Apple executive Eddy Cue is the lord of the manor after spearheading Apple Pay. Our Tuesday Morning Report follows Cue around Santa Monica presumably spending corporate cash, while AT&T Mobile Share Value customers get another data bump, and Wi-Fi issues continue for OS X Yosemite users.

News Crew Goes on Apple Pay Shopping Spree with Eddy Cue

AppleInsider reported Monday that Apple senior vice-president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue recently went on an Apple Pay-fueled shopping spree ahead of the holiday season for the benefit of a television audience in Los Angeles.

From buying a snack at Panera Bread to purchasing an iPad at an Apple retail store, Cue spent his way around town using nothing more than a gold iPhone 6 Plus, all in front of the cameras of a KTLA 5 news crew that gleefully documented the proceedings in Santa Monica. Along the way, Cue helped newscaster Rich DeMuro pick up sunglasses at Bloomingdale’s and two dolls from the movie Frozen at the Disney Store as early Christmas gifts. (Hope his family wasn’t watching!)

The roughly two-and-a-half minute segment of KTLA’s The Tech Report didn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know about Apple Pay, but showed audiences what to expect from the experience, such as the need to sign for purchases above a certain amount, a security holdover from the era of plastic debit and credit cards.

OS X Yosemite Wi-Fi Issues Persist After 10.10.1 Update

MacRumors today reported that Monday’s public release of the OS X Yosemite 10.10.1 update doesn’t appear to have completely squashed Wi-Fi connectivity issues experienced by early adopters. A growing number of Mac users posting to Apple’s support forums continue to complain about “significantly slow” connections, while others are unable to connect at all.

The reported issues don’t appear to have a common hardware denominator, with MacRumors forum members claiming the latest iMac with 5K Retina Display model is also affected, even with the latest Time Capsule unit. The only temporary relief found thus far seems to come from switching connections to 2.4GHz, running routers in “Access Point” mode, or using a script to restart Yosemite’s Wi-Fi Monitor.

AT&T Bumps 10GB Mobile Share Value Customers to 15GB

AT&T announced Monday that Mobile Share Value customers on the carrier’s 10GB data plan will now have the option to bump that amount to 15G — but that generous offer will only be available for a short time. Starting today, new or existing Mobile Share Value customers can select 15GB for the same price (0 per month, plus device fees) as 10GB by visiting the AT&T website or using the company’s official mobile app. Although the promotional offer is for a limited time, the actual data bump will remain on accounts that claim it, at least until any changes are made in the future. AT&T is also offering a 30GB plan for only per month more for a limited time.

Guardians Hits iTunes Early

Talk about a stealth release! Marvel’s hit sci-fi/action/comedy Guardians of the Galaxy has been one of the year’s biggest theatrical hits, but it wasn’t supposed to arrive in a consumer-ownable format for a few more weeks. That changed, however, with today’s early release of the movie on iTunes. There’s no need to wait — if you’re one of the movie’s millions of fans and can’t get enough talking raccoon action, you can download and watch the HD version now for .99. If you want to hold out for the DVD, Blu-Ray, of digital SD version, however, you’ll have to wait until December 9.

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


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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