A few months ago, I pondered why there are so few albums with digital booklets on the iTunes Store. I had discovered at the time that Apple imposes their own page format, which is not that of CD booklets, adding an extra step in the production process for record labels.
Well I found out something else recently: why record labels don’t add digital booklets to older releases. The answer is interesting; it’s because they can’t. Apple won’t let them. If a label has uploaded an album to the iTunes Store and wants to add a digital booklet later, the only way they can do this is to delete the original, and create a new album listing with a new SKU. And if they do this, then purchasers will no longer be able to re-download music listed under the old SKU.
It’s kind of foolish; it should be drop-dead simple to add something to an album on the iTunes Store, but Apple’s system is so rigid that it’s impossible. So if you wonder why your favorite label hasn’t added digital booklets to older releases, you now know why.
Posted: 10/25/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPod & iTunes, music Tags: classical music, digital music, iTunes, iTunes Store, music | 6 Comments »
While Apple presented a new iPhone, and new iPods yesterday, they certainly were in no hurry to announce that a feature that the company introduced with fanfare two years ago has been slated for its demise. Ping, Apple’s “musical social network” is shutting down on September 30. If you are not logged into your iTunes Store account, and click on the Ping button at the top of the iTunes Store window, you’ll see this:
All I can say is, it’s about time. I found Ping lacking when it started out, and it never changed much, but it is interesting to look at why Ping is a failure.
The closing of Ping will have one advantage: we’ll no longer ask ourselves how long until Apple shuts it down.
Posted: 9/13/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPod & iTunes Tags: Apple, iTunes, iTunes Store, Ping | No Comments »
I got an e-mail the other day from someone I’m in touch with regularly at a classical music label. He had bought some music from the iTunes Store, and found that a couple of the tracks were truncated. They were the correct length and size, but the music cut off before the ends of the tracks. In his case, these were tracks downloaded automatically. He had bought the music on his iPhone, and had iTunes on his PC set to automatically download his purchases.
I came across a similar problem yesterday. I bought some music from the iTunes Store, and one of the tracks cuts off after about 4:15 (the entire track is 12:59). Here’s how it looks:
This is similar to what my friend reported, but in my case these weren’t automatic downloads; these were regular downloads. Curiously, when I went to my Purchased list, the album in question doesn’t show up, even though the order is in my order history. I’ve contacted iTunes Store support to get another download, but I’m curious if other users have been seeing this problem. If so, post a comment below.
Update: My problem got fixed when a friendly iTunes Store representative put my purchases back in my download queue. (Interestingly, they don’t ask you to re-download from the Purchased list.) But I’ve heard from many other people who have had this problem, one of whom e-mailed me today saying that Apple is now asking for a lot of network information, such as his ISP and the type of connection he has (DSL, dial up (!!!), cable, etc.)
Update: since I first posted this article, I’ve heard from a number of people who are getting truncated downloads when they download tracks from iCloud. These are matched tracks, apparently, not tracks that were uploaded, and this seems to be happening fairly often. I downloaded 53 tracks yesterday, and 4 of them were truncated; that’s 7% of them, or 1 in 14. Re-downloading them results in good tracks, so this is clearly a server issue. If you have downloaded truncated tracks from iTunes Match, post something in the comments.
Update 2: Doug Adams wrote an AppleScript that can detect truncated tracks.
Posted: 7/30/2012 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: digital music, iTunes, iTunes Store | 20 Comments »
It may not look like it, but the iTunes Store is simply a bunch of web pages rendered in the iTunes application. Using WebKit, the HTML rendering framework that is used by Safari, Mail and many other Mac applications, iTunes displays the iTunes Store in its application simply by displaying its web pages.
These web pages have standard URLs, but you can’t save bookmarks in the iTunes application. You can, however, copy links to any iTunes Store pages by right-clicking on an item, then selecting Copy Link. For example, here’s a link to the forthcoming season of Breaking Bad: http://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/breaking-bad-season-5/id533936970 You can see that this is a standard web URL. If you click on the link, you’ll be taken to a web page in your browser, which will either display in your browser or launch the iTunes Store to the appropriate page. (It’s not clear why some URLs open the iTunes Store and others don’t.) If you want, you can save this URL as a bookmark in your web browser, or you can send it to a friend.
By the way, let me mention an excellent Safari extension: NoMoreiTunes prevents Safari from redirecting to the iTunes Store, so if you click on a link or paste a URL into Safari’s address bar, you can view the content in the browser rather than bouncing to the iTunes Store. If you decide that you do want to view a page in the iTunes Store, just click on the Open in iTunes button. This is a good way to view pages then easily save them as bookmarks.
Posted: 7/5/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPod & iTunes Tags: iTunes, iTunes Store | No Comments »
Back in 2004, the iTunes Store started adding digital booklets with certain albums. It took several years, but more and more albums come with booklets. However, in the classical music section, this is still quite rare.
I had wondered why so few classical albums come with booklets. After all, one is much more likely to want a booklet for a classical recording, with information about the work, the artists and the recording, and with texts of works that are sung. Labels already have these booklets, and for recent releases, these booklets are in digital format, so it should be easy, right?
I was talking with someone who works for a classical record label yesterday, and he explained why his label’s discs don’t come with booklets on the iTunes Store, and why most labels don’t provide booklets.
It turns out that Apple imposes a certain format on digital booklets. Their pages have to be a specific size, one that is not that of CD booklets. Here is one example:
The pages are in a 4:3 format – interestingly, the same format as the iPad, though Apple started using this format back in 2004.
Regular CD booklets, as we all know, are square. Some labels provide PDFs paginated one page at a time, and others in double-pages, as in this example, where the cover of the booklet is a single page, but each two-page spread is shown as you would see it when reading the booklet:
Here’s an interesting example. The just-released set of Beethoven symphonies by Daniel Barenboim has a cover in 4:3, but the remainder of the booklet is the CD booklet’s pages surrounded by a lot of white space:
In other words, instead of creating a booklet in 4:3 format, Decca decided to simply add the extra space needed for this one to fit. An interesting workaround, but that’s a lot of white space.
So, because of Apple’s intransigence, labels cannot provide the booklets that they already have in PDF format, that many labels provide on their own sites when they sell directly. The time and money it would take to create another layout for these booklets dissuades the labels from doing so. Because of Apple, music buyers have less access to digital booklets than they would have otherwise.
Posted: 6/21/2012 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes, music Tags: classical music, iTunes, iTunes Store, music | 10 Comments »
FileMaker today released Bento 4 for iPad, which the company touts as a tool for creating databases on an iPad which the company calls “apps.” This is all well and good, but this upgrade revealed some inconsistencies in the iTunes Store.
First, if you search for Bento on the iTunes Store, you’ll see two versions of the program. (There are two iPad versions; there is one iPhone version, because that app did not get the upgrade.) So if you don’t have Bento, you won’t know which one to buy. The older one is just “Bento,” and the newer one is “Bento 4,” a big jump from version 1, which the older one bears.
Next, when you view the older version of Bento, you’ll see that it was updated today:
But that update seems to have just done one thing: it added this dialog when you launch the app on an iPad:
All this is very confusing. I understand that FileMaker wants to get people to pay for this upgrade, and the App Store – and the Mac App Store – have no way of selling apps at upgrade prices to existing customers. In fact, talking with a developer friend, it seems that there is no way to easily remove an app from either the iTunes App Store or the Mac App Store. Apparently one has to deselect all territories for the app to be sold in to remove it from sale. (This might have something to do with users being able to re-download apps, even after a developer has stopped selling them.)
But all this is confusing for users. Let’s say you just bought Bento, and found out, today, that there’s a new version. There’s no upgrade path, so you have to pay the full price for the new app. (To be fair, it is currently on sale for $5 – half price – but you have to spot the sale price before it’s too late.) Also, having two versions of the same app leads to confusion. People may come into the App Store from an external link in an article about Bento, and buy the older version, even now. At the very end of the app’s description, you can read the following text:
Please note: New Bento 4 for iPad is now available and sold separately. Bento is also available for the iPhone and iPod touch. Search on “Bento” to learn more.
But this requires that the user click on the More link in the description, and that they read all the way to the end.
Apple needs to figure out a better way to do this. It is illogical, confusing, and, in the end, unfair for many users who will end up buying older versions of apps that have been upgraded.
Update: Apple has now removed the older version of Bento from the App Store. I assume that users of the older version will still get the upgrade to the “new-older” version, the one with the dialog in the screen shot above, alerting them to the existence of the new version. But I’ve updated mine, so I can’t check.
Posted: 6/19/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X Tags: App Store, Apple, iTunes, iTunes Store | 6 Comments »