Sony leaks reveal Apple TV and iTunes Store contracts, Sex Tape + Breaking Bad deals with Apple

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Known for publishing previously confidential documents, WikiLeaks has released a large collection of emails from last year’s widely publicized hack of Sony, notably including Apple agreements covering Sony’s Crackle Apple TV channel, video sales through iTunes, and other topics. The leaks include:

  • The terms of Apple’s agreement to add Sony’s Crackle video service to the Apple TV, notably including a 3-year term (starting December 11, 2013), Sony’s retention of 100% of advertising revenue, and a promise that Apple will permit new types of overlaid/display ads on Crackle if it becomes technically feasible and Apple OKs it. Few details were previously known about the business terms between Apple and channel providers for the Apple TV.
  • Apple’s agreements to distribute Sony videos through the iTunes Store, including the original 2007 agreement between the companies covering TV shows such as Charlie’s Angels and Who’s The Boss, term extensions and high-definition amendments, and the addition of iTunes in the Cloud (which Apple originally called “Virtual Storage Locker”).
  • Sales forecasts for Sony games sold in the App Store, as well as charts suggesting that Sony’s iPhone and iPad game revenues far surpassed the amounts made on competing platforms.

The leaks go on to describe Apple and Sony product tie-ups, including the iPad’s “character” role in the film Sex Tape, as well as Sony’s internal reaction to Apple’s “Stickers” ad featuring a Breaking Bad reference, and an apparent effort by Dreamworks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg urging Sony not to collaborate with Apple…
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Apple releases Final Cut Pro 10.2, Motion 5.2 with 3D titles, Compressor 4.2 with iTunes publishing

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Apple has pushed out an update to its suite of pro video editing tools for Mac today, including new versions of Final Cut Pro X, Motion, and Compressor.

Final Cut has been upgraded to version 10.2, which adds support for 3D titles, improved color grading and effects tools, support for additional camera formats, and GPU-accelerated processing of RAW footage from RED cameras.

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Apple defends against EU 14-day refund abuse with App Store alert for customers with excessive refunds on file

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Last week, we reported on a flaw with the EU’s new no-questions-asked 14-day refund policy that meant customers could effectively get paid apps for free, as refunding the app does not delete it from customers’ devices.

In response, Apple has adjusted its App Store purchases slightly for customers who have an excessive number of refunds on file. This means people with a track record of refunding purchase effectively lose the right to refund their purchase.

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The fundamental flaw with EU 14-day refunds: you keep the app forever

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A week ago, Apple introduced 14-day no-questions-asked refunds in the EU for iTunes Store and App Store content. This means that, without the need for a reason, any Apple customer in Europe can get their money back for (primarily) app purchases in 5-7 days time. That’s how it is described, at least.

This opens up some possibilities for abuse. For instance, if you complete a game within two weeks, then you can get your money back and end up paying nothing. As a developer, I tested this out myself. It turns out there is an even bigger problem. At least, right now, when the refund is processed, the app continues to work. You get the app for free, forever.

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Apple releases iOS 8.1.2 with fixes for bugs including ringtone issues

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Apple has released iOS 8.1.2 as an over-the-air software update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users running iOS 8. The latest release contains bug fixes for users as well as a fix for a problem regarding ringtones purchased from Apple being removed from devices. We’ll check out the software release for any significant changes or issues and update accordingly. Read more

Apple’s new ‘Change is in the Air’ ads show novel uses for the iPad Air 2

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Apple released a new iPad Air 2 campaign during Sunday football today showcasing various unique physical and software applications for the iPad Air 2.

Featuring the song “Who Needs You” by The Orwells [iTunes Store, YouTube], the ad is a departure from last year’s iPad Air which were focused on a single user.

iPad Air 2 isn’t just the thinnest and lightest iPad we’ve ever created. It’s the most powerful. From the studio to the classroom, the field to the garage, it’s helping people discover new and better ways to do the things they love. Imagine what you’ll do with it.

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New iTunes Pass credit refill service now available in United States and several other countries

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Yesterday Apple rolled out its new iTunes Pass service to Japan, allowing users to use a Passbook card to add credit to an iTunes account from an Apple Retail Store. Starting today, the offer is also available in the United States and Australia. Users in Canada, Germany, and the UK are also reporting seeing the feature, though it’s not officially listed on Apple’s website for those countries just yet.

To take advantage of this new program, you need to use the iTunes Store app on an iOS device to obtain an iTunes Pass. You can get one of these by tapping the “Redeem” button at the bottom of the home page within the app. To use the card, you can visit an Apple Retail Store and ask a specialist to help you add credit to your account. The specialist can then scan the barcode on the Passbook card to immediately add credit to your account.

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Apple’s annual Back to School promotion to start tomorrow

As we reported two weeks ago, Apple’s annual Back to School promotion will begin tomorrow, according to sources. The program will be similar to last year’s offering, which provided $100 Mac App Store gift cards alongside Mac purchases and $50 cards with iPhone and iPad purchases. Apple will be re-decorating its stores overnight with a new education theme to go along with the new promotion. Earlier today, Apple unveiled upcoming iTunes U updates for the iPad, and the timing seems like anything but a coincidence.

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Apple confirms some users experiencing iTunes Store outage

Some users may be experiencing difficulty making purchases on the iTunes Store, according to Apple’s system status page. We’ve heard mentions of issues beginning this morning, and Apple reports trouble starting around 1:30 PM EST. Game Center and FaceTime also experienced issues this afternoon, though the former may be somewhat difficult to notice.

Apple’s iMessage service has been suffering turbulence for days now, which is not reflected on the system status page as it may be limited to iOS 7 users. Apple told the WSJ it is working on a fix for its iMessage issues in a future software update and recommends a workaround in the meantime. Read more