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Don’t Like the U2 Album? Apple Is Providing a Way to Delete It from your iTunes Library

Apple has finally admitted that the U2 free album debacle was wrong. They have set up a web page where you can ask to have the album removed from your iTunes library.


I’m glad Apple has realized that they made a mistake, and have decided to offer a way to get rid of it if you don’t want it.

I find it interesting that this issue is so polarizing. A lot of my fellow tech journalists see it as a non-issue, but I tend to think that the customer is always right. I’ve gotten enough emails from readers that show that the majority of people had no clue about this promotion until they saw the music in their iTunes libraries, or on their iOS devices. Tech journalists tend to forget that the vast majority of people don’t follow the news that we do. And, as I pointed out here, lots of people don’t get promotional emails from the iTunes Store, so weren’t alerted by Apple about this either.

I Wonder How Much Money Google Makes from This

Let’s say you’re searching for a web site that you don’t use regularly, or haven’t bookmarked. In Safari on OS X, you type the name into the search/address bar, then press Return. Since there’s no bookmark, Safari won’t auto-complete the domain with .com, and you’ll end up in a Google search.

So what Google does now is show ads that look like search results. Here’s an example: I wanted to go to Audible UK, which isn’t bookmarked, so I typed “audible” in Safari.


The top hit is an ad – because Audible runs ads with Google – and, while it’s clearly marked with an Ad icon, it has more than just one URL: it also lists a few sub-sections. Anyone typing “audible” as I did is likely to just click on the first result. And Google gets a cut.

Google’s ads didn’t used to look like this; they didn’t look like search results with nothing more than a small icon in front of the URLs. They were clearly different, so as not to make users think that they weren’t ads.

But now, they mimic standard search results exactly. My guess is part of the reason is to get people to click the ads instead of the search results, when companies have ad campaigns running. It’s pretty sleazy, when you think about it. I think ads should be different, and have more than just a small icon as a reminder.

This Is How Big the iPhone 6 Is Compared to the iPhone 5s

No, I don’t have an iPhone 6 yet; I won’t have one until Friday. But I do have a case for my iPhone 6. Here’s the iPhone 5s, in my current case, which is about the same thickness, next to the iPhone 6 case:

2014-09-15 15.52.36.jpg

I like the larger size. I have large hands, and it’s actually more comfortable than the smaller iPhone 5s. I’ve felt for a while that the iPhone was just a bit too small for my hands, so I’m looking forward to getting the iPhone 6.

Apple Sells 4 Million iPhones in First Day of Pre-Orders

We knew that the iPhone 6 was popular, because it was so difficult to get an order in. Apple has announced that the company sold more than four million phones on its first day of availability.

I’ve ordered an iPhone 6, and it scheduled for delivery on Friday. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

I remember last year, with the iPhone 5s, I ordered one on the first day as well. When the UPS guy came to my door, I signed for the package, and asked him if he had lots of them. “A truck full,” he said, looking a bit flustered at how many little packages he had to deliver that day.

Apple Treads Dangerous Path with Auto-Delivered Free Content Like the U2 Album

Readers of this blog are certainly aware that Apple, last week, gave 500 million people free copies of the latest U2 album (though only about 2 million people have downloaded it). Rather than send out redeem codes for the album, allowing customers to add it to their iTunes library if they so desired, Apple simply added it to everyone’s iTunes account. Depending on the settings you have in iTunes and on your iOS device, the album may have auto-downloaded, or may appear as a purchase in the cloud. While you can hide this U2 album, you cannot delete it; it is yours forever.

Apple’s assumption that 500 million people were actually interested in this album quickly proved erroneous. Many people were annoyed to discover this album on their devices, and others were worried that someone had hacked their iTunes Store accounts, purchasing this album without their awareness. Still others don’t even know who U2 is.

(Great joke seen on Twitter: Apple added a U2 maps app to my iPhone without asking me; all the streets have no names.)

Apple is treading a dangerous path with this sort of operation. The iTunes Store has long offered free content: there has been a free single of the week since the store opened; there are free TV episodes, just about every week; there are free apps, free books, and more. But iTunes Store customers were always free to choose whether or not they wanted to download this content. Never before has Apple pushed this content to customers.

Many people have written that the anger over this is misplaced (here’s one article by Peter Cohen on iMore); that Apple just wanted to give people a lagniappe, and that no one should be angry about free stuff. But this ignores the fact that a person’s iTunes library is a representation of their personality, of their musical tastes. Just like I wouldn’t be happy to find a Justin Bieber album in my iTunes library, I can understand that many people aren’t delighted that they now own a U2 record.

The biggest issue, in my opinion, is whether or not this is a one-off marketing event or whether Apple is testing the waters, planning to use this procedure in the future. Can you imagine if Apple pushed a new single to you every week, because either they are using it as a marketing tool (Apple reportedly paid U2 $100 million for this album) or because an artist has paid Apple to get them to push their content? This would eventually become quite confusing for iTunes Store customers; you would have to spend a lot of time hiding the content you no longer want to see in your iTunes library. And what if Apple started pushing apps to their customers, because they were paid to do so? This would be no different from the pre-bundled apps that Android users find filling up their smartphones.

Apple’s communication about this was clearly inefficient. Many people were worried that their iTunes Store accounts were hacked; Apple only sent out an email to customers about 48 hours after the album was released; This is enough time for people who don’t follow tech news to be worried about their bank accounts. And I think only those customers who have settings to receive email even got this message. (I have multiple iTunes Store accounts, and only got the email once. Only one of my accounts is set up to get Apple’s iTunes Store emails.)

If Apple were to start pushing free content regularly, they would be well-advised to make this an op-in option. But even then, people might simply forget they accepted this option, and be surprised when they see certain content in their iTunes libraries.

I think Apple made a mistake here. I understand why; they wanted this to be the largest album release in history, so it counts as though 500 million people actually own the album. But in their hubris, they annoyed a lot of customers. Given the recent security issues around iCloud accounts, Apple should avoid doing anything that makes people suspicious. Apple has always been a company one can trust, and this shouldn’t change just because of some misguided marketing choices.

Graham Johnson’s Monumental Work on Schubert’s Lieder to Be Released Soon

Update: I first posted this in June, and the publication date has slipped back several times. Right now, it shows a release date of September 15, or tomorrow, so maybe we’ll see this set next week.

Graham Johnson, the pianist behind Hyperion Record’s monumental series of Schubert’s complete lieder, is known for having a lot to say about these songs. His liner notes to the original releases of the series are rich and full of insight. Unfortunately, the current box set doesn’t come with those notes, but just a book of the lyrics to the songs.

But Johnson has been hard at work for several years, writing the definitive work on Schubert’s lieder, and this book is ready for publication. Published by Yale University Press, Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs (, Amazon UK) is a 3-volume, 3,000 page set, and will be released soon. (It’s been delayed, and seems to be available on August 15.) At $300, or £200, it’s a big investment, but it will be worth the money. I saw one of the volumes during a visit to Hyperion Records in June, and the books are massive and well designed.

Here’s what the publisher has to say:

This three-volume boxed set is the definitive work on Franz Schubert’s vocal music with piano. A richly illustrated encyclopedia, these substantial volumes contain more than seven hundred song commentaries with parallel text and translations (by Richard Wigmore), detailed annotations on the songs’ poetic sources, and biographies of one hundred and twenty poets, as well as general articles on accompaniment, tonality, transcriptions, singers, and more. Compiled by Graham Johnson—celebrated accompanist, author, and the first pianist ever to record all of Schubert’s songs and part-songs—this sumptuous work is a must for performers, scholars, and all lovers of Schubert lieder.

If you’re a lover of Schubert’s lieder, you’ll want to get this, in spite of its somewhat high price; it’s more expensive than getting the CDs in the budget box set from Hyperion (, Amazon UK). But having read Johnson’s liner notes to the original CDs, I can only imagine how much more interesting this larger set of books will be. I’ll be spending a lot of time with these books.

Watch Graham Johnson discuss the book:

Tim Cook: Apple Watch Will Have Onboard Storage

When Apple presented the Apple Watch last week, there was no mention made of any usable onboard storage. The watch will have to have some storage for apps, but nothing during the presentation suggested that you would be able to store anything else.

In Tim Cook’s interview with Charlie Rose, however, Cook said that you would be able to listen to music when running, using Bluetooth headphones, without having your iPhone in your pocket. So the device will have some onboard storage. My guess is it will have 2 GB, like the iPod shuffle, which will allow you to store apps, and a bit of music. I can’t expect much more, because of the size of the watch, and you wouldn’t want to listen to too much music, because the device will only have a tiny battery…

Watch Tim Cook Interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show

Tim Cook gave a long interview to Charlie Rose. If you don’t have access to this in your country, via Hulu, here’s Tim Cook on the Charlie Rose show via YouTube:

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