Steve Jobs deposition reveals details of Apple’s contracts with record labels, requirements for DRM on music

iPod classic (four-up)

The videotaped deposition of Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs was played in court today as part of the ongoing antitrust lawsuit involving the iPod, iTunes, and digital rights management. As CNET reports, the video revealed new details of Apple’s deals with record labels and why the FairPlay DRM was created.

Jobs said in his statement that because the record labels were afraid that a store like iTunes could lead to music piracy, they required Apple to create and implement a digital rights management system—which would become the FairPlay system—in order to gain the rights to distribute music. DRM wasn’t something that Apple wanted to do, but had to do.

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Apple begins rollout of redesigned iTunes Store ahead of OS X Yosemite launch

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Apple has started rolling out a redesigned version of the iTunes Store for users running iTunes 12 less than a week ahead of what’s expected to be the launch of OS X Yosemite. The new storefront takes design cues from the iTunes and App Store home pages on iOS devices, featuring a flattened, side-scrolling carousel at the top of the page in place of the old “card”-style header. This new header can be scrolled horizontally using two fingers or even dragged around with a mouse.

Individual pages for albums, TV shows, and iOS apps have also been redesigned and now feature more iOS-like controls throughout. Download buttons have been reduced to simple outlines. Shadows and textures have been removed throughout the store, putting the content directly on a stark white or dark gray background.

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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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Mac OS X software update temporarily broken, likely due to expired SSL certificate

Apple’s SSL certificate that is responsible for verifying and authenticating connections to Apple’s Mac App Store software update servers has expired, causing the Mac App Store to issue errors like those above. Another error notification points to the swscan.apple.com server as being the issue, below.

Server-cert-error

 

A quick search shows that this SSL certificate expired yesterday May 24th at midnight.

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Apple and Shazam planning to team up for music identification feature built into iOS

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Apple and Shazam are teaming up to build a music identification feature natively into iOS, according to a Bloomberg report. The feature will allow users to find the name and artist of a song that’s playing, likely with the option to download the song from the iTunes Store or create an new iTunes Radio station.

Unlike some of Apple’s other music-releated features (such as Podcasts and iTunes U), the system will be built into the OS directly rather than require a separate download. So far there isn’t any confirmation of whether this feature will appear in iOS 8 or a later version, but with WWDC right around the corner, Apple will need to work quickly to secure the deal if the feature is to be announced with the next-gen software update.

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Apple to open local, mobile-focused stores in India to promote entry-level products

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Apple is planning to change up retail in India in a big—and small—way, according to a report by The Economic Times. According to the Times, Apple plans to open a collection of small, iOS-centric stores. The stores will be setup by local distribution partners, not by first-party retail staff. While the main focus of these locations will be on mobile devices, Apple’s other offerings will also be represented to some degree in each store.

In fact, the focus of these stores will not even be Apple’s latest devices, according to the report. Instead, these local shops will focus on the less-expensive models that Apple offers, including the iPad 2 and iPhone 4s. Macs and other products in these smaller stores will also be lower-priced models. The goal of the local establishments seems to be to place Apple’s most affordable products as close as possible potential customers—a neccessary move if Apple is to continue gaining ground in the country.

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Retail section of Apple.com updated with new design inspired by iOS 7

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Apple quietly updated the retail section of its website today with a new look that more closely resembles iOS 7. Where the previous version of these pages used content boxes, borders, textured backgrounds, and gradients, the new page instead utilizes ample whitespace and thinner typefaces.

The change is probably best illustrated on the section’s home page, where images previously constrained by content boxes now fill the entire page. On the “Learn” page, buttons with heavy gradients have been replaced by thinly-outlined, lighter versions of the previous design. Gradient-filled headers have disappeared from every page, now replaced by unadorned text.

Oddly, the “Make a Reservation” button that allowed users to quickly create a Genius Bar appointment has been removed from the site’s navigation. Appointments can only be made by navigating to the Genius Bar page and clicking a link in the first paragraph of that page’s content. The Concierge page has not been updated to the new design yet.

You’ll find a bunch of before-and-after comparisons and take our poll on the new design below:

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Apple opens official online store through Chinese e-commerce site Tmall

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Apple has launched a new online store through Tmall, a Chinese popular e-commerce site Tmall, reports the Wall Street Journal. Tmall, which is owned by the Alibaba Group, is already home to thousands of official retail outlets for other brands, such as Nike. The new storefront will not replace Apple’s own first-party store, but will instead complement it.

Like the store on Apple’s website, the Tmall store will be participating in Apple’s “Red Friday” sales event later this week. Unlike Apple’s eBay store in the United States, the Tmall site sells brand-new products rather than refurbished ones.

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Apple launches Best of 2013 page on iTunes, highlights top music, apps, books, and more

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Apple has just published its Best of 2013 page, highlighting some of the most popular music, movies, TV shows, iOS apps, ebooks, and podcasts from the past year. In the music section, Lorde’s “Royals” took the pick for Song of the Year, while Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist was named Best Album.

Gravity, the box office hit starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, was named Movie of the Year. Despite the confusion it caused when its final season was broken into two separate purchases earlier this year, Breaking Bad was Apple’s pick for Show of the Year.

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Review: Flamingo for Mac looks to improve on Messages for Mac

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Messages for Mac may support a few different chat services, but there are still a variety of features that would vastly improve the experience of messaging on the Mac. Flamingo is a new app designed to make chatting even better with a whole host of features you didn’t even realize you were missing.

Unfortunately because Apple keeps iMessage pretty locked-down, you won’t be able to use Flamingo with that. You can still use it with your Facebook, Google Hangouts (text, not video), and other XMPP-based chat services. But should you use it for those things? Keep reading for our full review.

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Apple Online Store opens in Russia, establishes direct sales in key emerging market

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Today, Apple has finally launched a version of its official online store for customers in Russia. The online store is similar in style to Apple’s online stores in other countries. Customers in Russia are now able to order iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs, accessories, and more directly from Apple to their homes. Apple is celebrating the launch by taking up Apple Russia’s homepage to announce the new store (image above)…

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