Apple Extends iTunes Movie Rental Window to 48 Hours in United States

Alongside the launch of the new Apple TV 4K, which is in the hands of customers today, Apple has quietly updated its iTunes rental policy to extend the amount of time rentals can be watched.

In a support document that was updated today, Apple says customers have 30 days to start watching a movie after it's been rented. Once a movie is started, there's an additional 48 hours to finish the movie and/or rewatch it.


Apple's new 48 hour rental policy will be a welcome change for customers who often rent content from iTunes. Prior to today, customers only had 24 hours after starting a movie to finish it in the U.S., but the 48 hour limit has long been available in other countries.

Rented movies can be watched across multiple devices and downloaded on a single device, so customers can rent a movie, download it, and then watch it over the course of the next 48 hours. Apple says that even with downloaded movies watched offline, the 48 hour timer remains.

With the introduction of the 4K Apple TV, Apple has made many 4K movies available to rent or purchase at the same price as High Definition content. 4K content can't be downloaded, however, and is only available for streaming.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: iTunes
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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Apple Highlighting 4K HDR Movies in iTunes Ahead of Apple TV 4K Launch

Ahead of the launch of the Apple TV 4K, Apple has updated its iTunes Store on Mac, iOS, and Apple TV with several sections highlighting a range of 4K HDR movies that are available to purchase or rent.

The 4K section lists dozens of movies broken down into categories like New Releases, Visually Stunning, Action & Adventure, Drama, Comedies, and more.


Quite a few new releases are available in 4K, including Wonder Woman, Baby Driver, Alien: Covenant, Logan, John Wick: Chapter 2, La La Land, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Apple first began making 4K content available for purchase late last week. Apple's 4K movies are available at the same price as HD movies, with new releases typically available for $19.99.

iTunes customers who have already purchased HD quality content can expect to see their HD films upgraded to 4K at no additional cost.

4K iTunes content will be available on the Apple TV 4K, set to launch this Friday, September 22. Pricing on the 4K Apple TV starts at $179 for 32GB of storage.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: iTunes
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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Apple Releases iTunes 12.7 With Major Changes, Including No Built-In App Store

In a day filled with surprises, Apple has shocked us once again with the release of iTunes 12.7, which entirely revamps the iTunes App. The new iTunes is designed to focus solely on music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks, which means there is no built-in App Store.


The App Store has been entirely eliminated in iTunes 12.7, as has the ringtones section of iTunes. Internet Radio is now part of Music, and iTunes U has been folded into Podcasts, as Apple announced in late August.


Apps can now only be downloaded on an iOS device using an iOS device, and the same goes for ringtones. In addition to the removal of the App Store, today's update adds support for syncing iOS 11 devices and includes support for new Apple Music features that allow you to follow friends and see what they're listening to.
The new iTunes focuses on music, movies, TV shows, and audiobooks. It adds support for syncing iOS 11 devices and includes new features for--

Apple Music. Now discover music with friends. Members can create profiles and follow each other to see music they are listening to and any playlists they've shared.

Podcasts. iTunes U collections are now part of the Apple Podcasts family. Search and explore free educational content produced by leading schools, universities, museums, and cultural institutions all in one place.

If you previously used iTunes to sync apps or ringtones on your iOS device, use the new App Store or Sounds Settings on iOS to redownload them without your Mac.
The new iTunes 12.7 update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store through the Software Update mechanism. The update is available for all iTunes users at no cost.

Tag: iTunes

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Apple Accepting Donations for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Apple has added banners to its United States website and iTunes Store in an effort to encourage its customers to donate to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.


Similar to past relief efforts, users can choose to donate $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $200, and Apple will transfer 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Red Cross, which is providing relief efforts for people in the path of Hurricane Harvey. All donations will be processed as normal iTunes purchases through a connected Apple ID.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about the donations early this morning, as rescue workers in Houston and other parts of southeast Texas attempt to help residents trapped in their homes by "catastrophic flooding." Harvey made landfall late Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, which is expected to stay in the region over the next few days.


Apple is known to create donation pages across its various storefronts in the wake of natural disasters. In the past, Apple has collected Red Cross relief funds for the British Columbia Wildfire, Hurricane Matthew, the 2016 Louisiana floods, the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and many more.


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Hollywood Pushing for iTunes to Sell Major Films Just Weeks After They Debut in Theaters

Despite the objections of some cinema chains, the largest Hollywood studios are considering pushing ahead with a plan to offer digital rentals of films just weeks after they appear in theaters, according to Bloomberg.


The report, citing people familiar with the matter, claims Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. remain in talks with potential distributors such as Apple and Comcast on ways to push ahead with the project even without theater chains.

A deal with Apple, which reportedly could happen as soon as early next year, means iTunes could supposedly offer major films as early as 17 days after their theatrical debut for about $50, or four to six weeks from release for $30.

That timeframe would be significantly shorter than the current average of three months between a major film's theatrical release and availability in DVD and digital formats, but it would also cost viewers more than an $8 or $9 movie ticket.

The revenue from the premium video on demand, or PVOD, product would help offset a continuing decline in DVD sales, which were down 10 percent in the first half of 2017, according to research firm The Digital Entertainment Group.

Disney, which plans to remove its movies from Netflix and launch its own streaming service by 2019, reportedly isn't interested in the PVOD talks.

Bloomberg first reported on the discussions in December, when it claimed 21st Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. were all seeking deals with Apple to create a $25 to $50 premium movie download product.


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A Ten-Minute Silent Song Is Soaring Up the iTunes Charts

For some vehicles, when an iPhone is plugged into the car's USB port music playback begins automatically, and it always starts in alphabetical order at the top of the user's iTunes library. Because of this, many users will hear the same song, usually beginning with an "A," over and over again each time they plug their iPhone into their car. This week, a potential solution to that problem has been soaring up the iTunes charts in the form of a ten-minute silent song called "A a a a a Very Good Song" [Direct Link].

Created by Samir Mezrahi, the song allows users a full nine minutes and fifty-eight seconds to find the song they actually want to hear after connecting their iPhone to their car through USB. Mezrahi is charging $0.99 for each download of the music-less track, although Apple Music subscribers can simply add the song into their library for free.


A a a a a Very Good Song launched on iTunes on Wednesday, August 9, and as of the writing of this article it sits at #46 on iTunes' Top Songs chart. The song has climbed 21 spots in under a day, when Engadget reported that it was at #67 early on August 10. If it continues to climb, the song will surpass artists like Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and Miley Cyrus.

For any CarPlay users, or for those who connect to their vehicle through Bluetooth, the automatic iTunes playback phenomenon is not as much of an issue. For those who do face the problem, it's been discovered within a wide array of different brands and car systems. As one Redditor pointed out, for users who don't have an Apple Music subscription and who would prefer not to pay $0.99 for a ten-minute silent track, they can also make a silent recording of their own and add it to iTunes.

Tag: iTunes

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HomePod Firmware Possibly Reveals Apple Watch With LTE and 4K Apple TV With HDR10 and Dolby Vision

iOS developer Guilherme Rambo‏ has discovered a reference to a 4K HDR display mode in the HomePod's firmware, lending credence to rumors of Apple testing a fifth-generation Apple TV capable of streaming 4K resolution video.


HomePod doesn't have a display, and iOS devices lack the resolution for native 4K playback, so the discovery likely pertains to the Apple TV.

Rambo also discovered strings kCADisplayModeDolby and kCADisplayModeHDR10, suggesting that a 4K Apple TV could support both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 color formats for high-dynamic-range video.


Apple has also listed select movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes purchase history, at least in Canada and the United Kingdom. The content is still only playable in standard definition or HD, which varies from 720p to 1080p, but Apple could be preparing to offer iTunes content in 4K HDR for its new Apple TV.

Another developer Jeffrey Grossman‏ also spotted a possible reference to an Apple Watch with LTE support. The string, which refers to GizmoPreservingeSIM, lends credence to a report yesterday that claimed Apple Watch Series 3 models will feature cellular connectivity for use without a paired iPhone.


The relevant bit of that string is the mention of a SIM, as the Apple Watch Series 3 would presumably have an embedded SIM card if it had cellular connectivity. Another string mentions GizmoRadioBundleIdentifier, which could refer to the Apple Watch Series 3's cellular radio, reportedly to be supplied by Intel.

For those unaware, in 2015, The New York Times reported the Apple Watch was codenamed Gizmo internally.
Inside Apple, members of the team that worked on the watch product, code-named Gizmo, say it was a difficult engineering challenge.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving


Last week, Apple seeded an over-the-air firmware file for the HomePod, revealing that it will run a slightly modified version of iOS. The pre-release software is said to correspond with iOS 11.0.2, and it contains references to several unreleased features that would normally be redacted before a public release.


The firmware contains a payload that can be unpacked into a filesystem using a few developer tools, giving anyone skilled enough the ability to search through thousands of strings in the software using Terminal commands and disassembly apps like Hopper. For the past eight days, that's exactly what's happened.

Since the HomePod firmware is based on a full iOS stack, many discoveries have been made not only about the smart speaker, but also potentially about the so-called iPhone 8, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

Thanks to the HomePod firmware, we know that that the iPhone 8's front camera may record 4K video at 60 FPS, and that its infrared facial recognition capabilities may work with Apple Pay. The firmware also revealed a glyph of an iPhone 8 with a full-front display with a notch at the top for the earpiece and sensors.

As for the HomePod itself, it's been discovered that the smart speaker's multi-color LED waveform visible when interacting with Siri measures in at 272×340 pixels. HomePod also appears to have 1GB of RAM, and some of the speaker's sound effects were found buried in the firmware.

HomePod doesn't launch until December, so the firmware was likely released by accident, under the identifier AudioAccessory1,1.


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Apple’s Services Revenue Up 22% in 3Q 2017, Sets a New All-Time Quarterly Record

Revenue from Apple's Services category, which includes Apple Music, Apple Pay, AppleCare, iTunes, iCloud, and the App Store, grew an impressive 22 percent year over year according to Apple's third quarter earnings results, reaching a new all-time high.

In 3Q 2017, Services brought in $7.3 billion, up from $6 billion in the year-ago quarter.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company's Services category is the size of a Fortune 100 company, a milestone Apple hit "sooner than expected."

Apple often attributes much of the growth of its Services category to the App Store, and that continues to be the case this quarter. According to Apple CFO Luca Maestri, App Store revenue was up, as was Apple Music revenue and revenue from iCloud services. Apple has now reached 185 million paid subscriptions across all services, an increase of nearly 20 million over the course of the last 90 days.

iOS 11 will bring a whole new App Store experience, splitting out Games and Apps into separate tabs and introducing a new section that allows Apple to better highlight the wide variety of apps that are available in the App Store, offering up a range of editorial picks to improve app discovery.


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Apple Listing Select Movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes Purchase History

MacRumors reader Tomas Jackson has discovered that Apple is listing select movies as 4K and HDR in iTunes purchase history.


In a discussion topic on the MacRumors forums, Jackson shared a screenshot of his iTunes purchase history with the 2016 film Passengers listed as "4K, HDR" in brackets. However, he said iTunes only presents the option to download the movie in HD quality, which is either 720p or 1080p depending on the content.


Another reader mentioned that the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is also listed as 4K and HDR. MacRumors rented the film to check, and we can confirm the film indeed has "4K, HDR" next to it in our iTunes purchase history. Nevertheless, iTunes lists the movie's video quality as 720p.

Not all movies are listed as 4K and HDR yet, and content is still in SD or HD for now, but this discovery may foreshadow what's to come.


In February, Bloomberg reported Apple was testing a new, fifth-generation Apple TV capable of streaming 4K video, adding that it may be released as soon as this year. The report also said the new Apple TV, allegedly codenamed "J105" internally, would display more vivid colors, suggesting HDR support.

A month later, developer Firi Games provided MacRumors with evidence of a device identified as "AppleTV6,2" and running "tvOS 11.0" connecting to its arcade game Phoenix HD for Apple TV in its logs. The IP address fell within a range linked to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California.

The current Apple TV has a model identifier of AppleTV5,3, and Apple TV6,2 does not correspond with any released model.

It's conceivable that Apple could launch 4K content in iTunes alongside a new Apple TV with support for up to 4K video output and HDR, or high dynamic range, which allows for sharper colors and lighting. The current, fourth-generation Apple TV has a maximum 1080p video output, and no support for HDR.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tags: 4K, HDR
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Apple Releases iTunes 12.6.2 With Minor App and Performance Improvements

Alongside the release of macOS Sierra 10.12.6, which came after a two month beta testing period, Apple has introduced a new version of iTunes, iTunes 12.6.2.

iTunes 12.6.2 is a minor update, with Apple's release notes saying only that it introduces minor app and performance improvements.

Today's iTunes update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free using the Software Update function.

iTunes 12.6.2 follows iTunes 12.6.1, another minor update that was released back in May.

Tag: iTunes

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