Entire Star Wars saga headed to iTunes this Friday with tons of new bonus material, pre-orders now available

Disney announced today that the entire Star Wars saga will finally be available for digital HD download later this week, marking the first time ever that the films have been offered in this format.

As confirmed in the TV spot above and the iTunes tweet below, the entire collection will be available to purchase from the iTunes Store this Friday. Pre-orders are already up and running, with each movie coming in at $19.99 for both SD and HD versions.

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Opinion: Could the 1080p Apple TV 4 hint at a 4K Apple TV set?

Apple TV simple

The Apple TV set-top box hardware is expected to be updated this summer after 3 years since the last real refresh and a recent price drop from $99 to $69. While the last Apple TV upgrade boosted video output from 720p to 1080p, the rumored Apple TV 4 is not believed to support ultra high definition 4K video output featured on newer TV sets. Here’s why that’s no surprise and what I think it could mean for an actual Apple TV set:

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Opinion: Will Apple’s streaming music service mean I finally stop buying music?

music

I was an early adopter of digital music (you hide your surprise well). I bought my first mp3 player in 1998, some three years before the first iPod. It cost a silly amount of money and stored exactly one album at a time in its 64MB (not GB) of flash memory.

Me being me, I went through a few different generations of mp3 player before Apple completely changed the game with the iPod. Ironically, by adopting a less sophisticated technology–a hard drive in place of flash memory–Apple created a far better product. One that allowed us to carry around 80 albums at a time. I bought one the day it went on sale, having by then finished ripping all my CDs to mp3.

When the 160GB iPod came out in 2007, I again bought one immediately. That was large enough to hold my entire music collection at the time. I not only carried it everywhere with me, I also plugged it into my hifi at home and to the AUX socket of my car stereo. At which point, I started wondering why I still had a wall full of CDs …  Read more

European antitrust authorities investigating Apple’s streaming music service even before it launches

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Apple’s planned rebranding and relaunch of the Beats streaming music service has not had the easiest of rides. The launch, initially planned for earlier this year, was delayed by the departure of key execs and difficulties integrating Beats and Apple technologies. A planned $5/month price-point had to be abandoned in favor of an attempt at $7.99/month when music labels wouldn’t play ball, and that too now looks increasingly unlikely even though Google Play offered initial All Access Signups for a $7.99 locked in. And any plans to offer artist exclusives as an inducement now face competition from newly-relaunched Tidal.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher, London’s Financial Times reports that the European Commission is considering launching an antitrust investigation into the service, even before it launches. The Commission has contacted several music labels to ask what deals have been done with Apple, says the FT.

The commission, which also has contacted Apple’s music-streaming rivals, is said to be concerned that the company will use its size, relationships and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify, which depend on licenses with music companies for their catalogues.

The newspaper implies that the investigation may have been triggered by a formal complaint by an existing streaming music service …  Read more

Jay-Z’s new Tidal music service respects the artist, but rips off Spotify’s UI

Tidal-vs-Spotify-UI

In case you hadn’t heard, Jay-Z is this week launching (relaunching) the Tidal music service he recently acquired along with a lot of help from industry friends. The company is hoping its model is innovative and helps artists earn more, but its UI for the web app appears to be a shameless copy of Spotify, as you can see in the comparison screenshot: Tidal above, Spotify below. Read more

Jimmy Iovine tried to lure key Tidal artists away to Apple, but no hard feelings, says Jay Z

Jay Z Performs At O2 Arena In London

Jay Z suggested in an interview with Billboard that Jimmy Iovine had tried to lure away top-selling artists from his newly-relaunched streaming music service, Tidal, but that he wasn’t angry about it. Iovine had reputedly offered more up-front cash to Tidal artists who agreed to do a deal with Apple.

I think that’s just his competitive nature, and I don’t know if he’s looking at the bigger picture: That it’s not about me and it’s not about him; it’s about the future of the music business.

The rap and hip-hop star said that he had initially hoped to work in cooperation with Iovine, having “talked to every single service,” but had apparently been rebuffed …  Read more

Apple/Beats streaming music service has competition for exclusive releases as Jay Z relaunches Tidal

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If Apple plans to offer artist exclusives as a way to encourage sign-ups to its rebranded Beats Music streaming service, it will be facing new competition. TechCrunch reports that Tidal, the high-definition music service being relaunched later today by new owner Jay Z, is set to announce some exclusive deals with big-name artists.

Tidal is […] reportedly making a move to snag new releases by some of the biggest musicians of the moment including Kanye West, Madonna and Daft Punk […]

Tidal’s plan of attack will be to ink first-window deals with the artists, where Tidal would get first releases of tracks from big-name artists ahead of any other digital streaming services.

The artists named in the report have all been using the #tidalforall hashtag in recent tweets and Instagram posts …  Read more

Apple acquires database software makers FoundationDB to speed up cloud services

FoundationDB

Apple has reportedly acquired database company FoundationDB, according to a new report from TechCrunch. The report cites sources and notes that the company is no longer offering downloads of its main database software product after posting the following notice to its website:

Thank you for your support of FoundationDB over the last five years. We’re grateful to have shared our vision of building the best database software and we strongly value your participation in this community. We have made the decision to evolve our company mission and, as of today, we will no longer offer downloads.

As noted in the report, Apple is likely looking to improve its cloud services with the acquisition: Read more

Opinion: My cable subscription woes and the appeal of an ‘Apple Cable’ service

Apple TV HBO Now

My cable provider is pretty terrible. I don’t need to name any names because this likely applies to your cable provider as well. They are all horrible. I often experience drops on popular channels, get bonus filler channels that no one wants, and see indiscriminate additional subscription fees and charges without any real reason. This Onion article, though it is satire, doesn’t stray too far from the truth.

For a very casual TV watcher, it’s not a great experience – to put it mildly.

So the prospect of an Apple web TV service with a price tag of around $40, as the WSJ and others reported last night, is highly appealing to me if it means I can catch the few shows I watch now without the hassle of my cable subscription. I’ll still be tied to the monopolies for Internet service which isn’t terrific, but the theoretical ‘Apple Cable’ service has the potential to fix a number of problems for me.

Apple started off its March event with the announcement that HBO Now, the premium network’s new $15/month web service, will be available with 3-month exclusivity on the App Store and Apple TV at launch next month. While we’ve heard for quite some time that Apple is developing a web TV service, and the upcoming HBO Now channel seems to be the best taste of what that could offer. I’m hopeful that the potential ‘Apple Cable’ can solve my cable subscription woes. Here’s how:

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Apple unlikely to hit $7.99/month for streaming music service as labels stand firm on pricing

music

Apple appears set to abandon its plans to offer the rebranded Beats streaming music service for less than the $9.99/month charged by Spotify, Rdio and Google Play Music. Billboard reports that Apple’s attempts to use its clout to negotiate better deals with record labels have been unsuccessful.

Negotiations for Apple’s upcoming subscription service are evidence labels are standing firm on pricing. Industry sources say Apple has backed down from its effort to lower monthly pricing for its subscription service to $7.99 from $9.99.

The report says that the deals offered by the labels would have left Apple losing money if it had gone ahead with its plan to offer the service for the rumored $7.99/month …  Read more

Game developers seek Apple Watch event spotlight as major companies ready apps

Screenshot 2015-03-06 16.24.33

Hundreds of iOS developers have been working with Apple in secret Cupertino-based sessions on apps for the Apple Watch, and now we’ve learned that this list includes game developers. According to two sources, multiple “mass market, casual” game developers have been in the running to show off light games on stage during Monday’s “Spring Forward” event in San Francisco. While Apple could end up not showcasing games next week, we’re still told that they are championing the idea of light weight gaming on the Apple Watch. As one source said, “the iOS gaming ecosystem will be well represented on the Apple Watch despite [the simplicity] of the Software Development Kit (SDK)…

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