U2’s new album might be on your iOS devices right now even if you haven’t downloaded it

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Yesterday Apple and U2 announced that the band’s newest album Songs of Innocence would be given away to all 500 million iTunes customers for free. Most users likely assumed that they’d have the option of downloading the album if they wanted it, but that’s not exactly how it worked out.

In order to claim the record for “biggest album launch in history,” U2 and Apple needed every single iTunes customer to own the album, so they added it to everyone’s account as a purchase automatically. If you go into your iTunes purchase history right now, you’ll see it there. There’s another place you might see it as well, even though you weren’t expecting it…

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Apple and Disney Stores upgrading iBeacons and NFC scanners ahead of iPhone 6 launch

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Apple and longtime partner Disney this week are bolstering their stores with upgraded versions of iBeacon sensors and NFC readers, according to sources. Apple Stores have had iBeacons stationed throughout showroom floors for several months as a way to pinpoint exactly where a customer is within the store. This allows Apple to better serve customers by providing relevant sales information to their iPhones and iPads while in the store. The upgrades happening this week within Apple Stores place several new Gimbal Series 20 Proximity Beacons across stores to make location tracking within the store even more accurate.

In addition to providing relevant information for the Apple Store app, iBeacons can be useful for NFC mobile payment technologies as a form of authentication. If Apple knows where a customer is in the store to a precise degree, it can ensure that is it wirelessly connecting to the correct iPhone for mobile payments. As has been widely reported, the new iPhone 6 and upcoming Apple wearable device will include new wireless sensors (including a near field communication chipset) to conduct mobile payments with credit cards stored in an upgraded Passbook application.

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Apple’s digital stores face second outage this week across all platforms (update: resolved)

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Earlier this week, iOS users discovered that the App Store was experiencing some technical issues that caused every item for sale to become unavailable. Now, only two days later, the company’s status page indicates that the App Store on Mac and iOS, iBooks Store, and various iTunes services such as the music store and Radio, are all suffering from even more downtime.

According to the status page, the issues first cropped up around 4:30 PM and have persisted for about three hours so far. A notice on the page states that only “some users” are having difficulty accessing the store, but there’s no mention of exactly how many users could be impacted.

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Plácido Domingo to close iTunes Festival on September 30, show kicking off today with deadmau5

iTunes Festival London

Placido Domingo has been announced as the final closing act for Apple’s iTunes Festival London. Apple has also added a few more acts than what had been previously announced, to round out the lineup. This includes The Mirror Trap, Friend Within and the London Electronic Orchestra.

The month-long festival starts today at 9 PM UK time (1 PM PST), with ‘Deadmau5′ headlining Monday’s show. A full schedule can be found online at http://itunesfestival.com.

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Apple Store promoting upcoming iTunes Festival w/ pins and wristbands, music-related events

iTunes Festival London

After bringing the iTunes Festival to the US earlier this year at Austin SXSW, Apple’s annual music event in London kicking off next week has been the focus of much of the company’s attention recently. Earlier this week, Apple’s newly acquired Beats Music began promoting the iTunes Festival with a contest within the app to attend the festival.

Apple will also use its retail stores to further promote the event with iTunes Festival Pins to be worn by retail employees to “spark conversation about the event,” according to an internal document obtained by 9to5Mac. Retail employees will also receive iTunes Festival wristbands and redemption codes for music. Select Apple Stores will also host “music-related events” with local artists, according to the document. Read more

Apple promoting iTunes Festival contest within Beats Music in push for new users

Beats Music iTunes Festival

In addition to updating the iTunes Festival lineup with new acts including Ed Sheeran and deadmau5 and reviving the Apple TV channel for viewing the concert on-demand and live, Apple’s recently acquired Beats Music is now promoting the iTunes Festival with a contest to attend the music festival in London. While tickets to Apple’s annual music event are free for attendees (and very limited), the contest by Beats Music to attend the iTunes Festival covers airfare both to and from London.

The promotion of the iTunes Festival in London by Beats Music, which requires users to download and sign up for the Beats Music service, is the latest in series of moves by Apple to promote Beats since Beats Electronics and Beats Music officially joined Apple earlier this month.

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Skipping the US Customs and Border Protection queues? There’s now an app for that …

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trialling an iPhone app that allows travellers returning to the United States to bypass the normal immigration queues by entering their details into the app and getting a QR code containing their electronic approval.

You still have to show the code to a CBP officer, but you can bypass the normal queues and use a special Mobile Passport Control lane that should be significantly quicker …  Read more

Apple pushing Beats Music app via email to iTunes customers

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Apple has begun pushing the Beats Music streaming service via email to iTunes customers. The emails promote the free-to-download Beats Music app’s “Just For You” and “Tune Your Taste” features and note that Beats is now “part of the Apple family.” Apple finalized its acquisition of both Beats Music and Beats Electronics at the beginning of this month, and Apple has already begun promoting Beats Electronics via a new section on the online store and notable discounts. This email push is the second Apple promotion of the streaming app as the company has already integrated the app into the App Store’s “Apps by Apple” category. Full email below:

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Apple releases OS X Yosemite Public Beta 2 & fresh iTunes 12 beta

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Apple today released the second version of the OS X Yosemite Public Beta. The update is available via Software Update on the Mac App Store for those running the initial beta release; the first beta was released at the end of July. It appears Public Beta 2 is nearly the same build as the Developer Preview 6 (build r, up from f) released to Yosemite developers earlier this week. Apple has also released an updated version of the redesigned iTunes 12:

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Calls to Apple confirm: Apple TV promotion and upcoming iTunes Festival wipe out Store stock, still available for shipping

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The Apple TV is showing up as ‘Unavailable for pickup’ at Apple Stores across the U.S., with multiple NY Apple Stores we called saying that in-store stocks had been exhausted by demand created by the promotion offering $25 iTunes credit with every purchase, along with that generated by the upcoming London iTunes festival as well as the recent Lollapalooza livestream. Apple has been promoting the music festival as a good reason to buy the box now … 

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