Posts Tagged ‘itunes’

iTunes ate my podcasts

iTunes is fixed now (11.1.3) but somewhere in-between it broke and deleted all of my podcast downloads as well as the subscriptions. It has been over four months that I’ve gone without listening to podcasts and I can’t say that I miss it hugely. Audiobooks (on phone, in gym particularly), Spotify and Rdio have taken its place. 

This means a lot to me – I always thought that podcasting could be big business. Maybe its just niche business?

Apple engineering needs to QA this stuff. It’s not hard. There should be test harnesses. Heck, just testing the damn upgrade. 

In other news, the up arrow key seems dodgy again on my Macbook Air. It is still only 11 months old and this is the second time its happening. I will have to find time to walk into an Apple Store to get an immediate replacement (something we can’t do in Malaysia/Singapore obviously).

Overall feeling on the Apple experience in these terms: relatively negative. Am I going to give up their stuff? No. There’s a more positive post on Apple coming soon.

Apple launches iTunes store… finally!

I’ve wanted the iTunes store for over four years. Today Apple finally brings the iTunes store to Asia. All hail all of us sitting in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and more. Indonesia which is big in mobile however, is missing from the list.

For music, I’m not particularly excited. I’m using Spotify (first experience) and Rdio and don’t plan to buy music again. This means that iTunes Match doesn’t particularly excite me either (don’t forget that many Malaysian telcos are now charging you for your data — free 3GB with a plan, and the rest is either slow or you pay).

What looks interesting for me though? Movies. This is something I still have not solved yet, and using torrents always makes me feel dead guilty (which is why I always end up buying DVDs later, and never watching them – see my tv/movie consumption in 2011). The ability to buy or rent shows seems really interesting to me.

This probably means that I’ll end up getting an Apple TV in the near future. They don’t seem to be available in the Malaysia or Singapore stores yet… Metered bandwidth for DSL soon? I sincerely hope not…

Prices in the Malaysian store still suggest things in US dollars. Then again, everything including apps are in USD.

I have two iTunes accounts (one Malaysian, one US). With this announcement, I can finally think about merging everything into one account. Totally stoked at the upcoming simplicity :)

Unexcited by Apple Music event announcements

Today I installed iTunes 10. Apple has stopped requiring you to reboot your computer the moment you get an iTunes upgrade – I consider this a plus point. Its now sporting a new logo, and things look a little more polished in the application.

iTunes PingNoticing no Ping, which seemed to be all the rage in the morning, I wondered what the cause might be. Quite clearly, you don’t get in on Ping, Apple’s new social network, if they don’t run an iTunes Music Store in your country! The moment I made the change to my US-based iTunes account, all seemed to be OK, and I could start playing around with Ping.

Then it became clearer why they didn’t want me to use Ping. “Each time you purchase, review, rate or like music on the iTunes Store, it will appear here” (so it said on my profile). At the moment, Ping does not fit my use case – I rip audio CDs that I purchase, and they have information within iTunes thanks to the CDDB database it syncs with. I have never purchased music from the iTunes Music Store, because I cannot be bothered with using a foreign credit card or looking for iTunes gift certificates.

Does this in any way hamper last.fm/AudioScrobbler? Probably a little, considering Ping is built-into iTunes. Plus you can follow your favourite artistes ;-) Does this mean people will quit last.fm for Ping? I find it highly unlikely. But last.fm is probably on their toes now, since there’s some overlap – concert recommendations, etc. Ping also is run within iTunes, you can’t use a web browser. There does not seem to be any API either.

Then, people got excited with Apple’s new Apple TV. I didn’t. Its not international. OK, not international enough. I can still buy the old Apple TV from the Malaysian or Singaporean Apple Store. The new ones seem to be available for sale in Australia, UK, the US, and probably a few other countries where you can rent/buy movies from the store.

The iPod Touch? Some good changes, but the camera isn’t all that hip. Good enough for FaceTime. Speaking of FaceTime, it is apparently based on open standards. Steve Jobs said something like it will be open. When will Apple release some information about how others can independently implement FaceTime? Or inter-operate with FaceTime?

Game Center looks interesting. Social gaming is going to be big (also, big in iOS4.1). The new iPhone 4′s don’t have iOS4.1 yet, but when the update comes (next week?), you will get Game Center too. And the iPod touch should be fast – sporting an A4 chip. Apple has successfully made devices do multiple things (iPod touch: music player, game machine, video conferencing tool, etc.). Would I buy one? I’m still too smitten with my iPad, so much so I haven’t used my 1st generation iPod Touch since April 2010!

The new iPod Nano looks cool. Its a pity they’ve removed the camera. And the shuffle, well, its a shuffle – I’ve never owned one.

So the Apple Music event turned out to mostly be a bummer, unless you live in a country where the iTunes Music Store is available.

Apple opens up Podcasts, iTunes U in Malaysia

I just noticed this: Apple now not only sells you apps in the AppStore in Malaysia, but you can also download podcasts and iTunes U content, using your Malaysian iTunes Store account. This is a big change, considering the directory was not available, this time last year. I believe this change is mostly international, across all iTunes stores.

Incidentally, you can now also buy iPad apps in the AppStore (yet, you cannot get an iPad from Apple or any of their authorised resellers; people are generally price gouging you now with their parallel imports). So what do you get in the Malaysian AppStore today?

  1. Apps: iPhone, iPad
  2. Podcasts
  3. iTunes U podcasts

So what’s missing? Music, Movies, TV Shows, and Audiobooks. I guess that’s stuff we should look forward to, in the future.

This could be big for podcasters in Malaysia/Singapore. Audio, video content can go into the directories. We’re getting faster Internet. And there are a lot of iOS-devices out there, which now may have yet another reason to use iTunes (and maybe purchase apps at the same time). Kudos Apple, we’ve waited long enough.

What do American digital content sellers have against the rest of the world?

I live in the “rest of the world”. I do not reside in the USA. Why is it I cannot get content that I’m willing to pay for?

As a preamble to this, you might want to read an article in The Economist: Cupertino’s cold warriors: What has Apple got against eastern Europe?.

The iTunes store is a major pain point. I can buy Apple hardware in Malaysia, be it iPhone’s, iPod’s, Macs, and more. But when I visit the iTunes store, I can only purchase apps for the iPhone (the iPad store opened recently). Why can’t I purchase music/movies, legally? So you’ll say why not visit Amazon’s MP3 store. Bam, I can’t make a purchase there either.

The iPad’s come with iBooks. Its a fabulous book reading application. I cannot purchase books from the iBook store, but I can purchase ePub formatted books, say, from O’Reilly’s Safari bookstore. What about the Kindle – its available in quite many locations, but only where AT&T is present – so some rather “odd” countries show up in the availability lists. Why can’t I purchase books, legally?

I’ve been a long-time subscriber to audible. Audiobooks mean I don’t have to take a trip out to the bookstore. Chances are, I might get audiobooks cheaper than the dead-tree versions available in Malaysia. Today I got an email from Audible, telling me there’s a book I might be interested in. True enough, I was interested in The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World. Who couldn’t be, after listening to the most amazing The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal?

Of course, I get greeted with the magical message:


Download The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World | David Kirkpatrick | The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World Audio Book unabridged | Audible Audiobooks | Audible.com

That basically reads:

We’re sorry. Due to publishing rights restrictions, we are not authorized to sell this item in the country where you live.

Sorry David Kirkpatrick, I tried to give you some money, but apparently, you’ve decided to shaft the rest of the world.

Sadly, this situation is not much different in a first world country like Australia. Sure you get the iTunes Music Store (you are paying a premium, in comparison to exchange rates), and eventually the iPad becomes available for sale, but its always behind the US. So its not an isolated third-world 1Malaysia problem. Of course not – Singaporeans still suffer from the lack of the iTunes Music Store, and they’ve been a first world, industrialised nation, since 1996.

When will American content sellers realise that the Internet lacks boundaries?

When will they realise that limiting based on geolocation (Android marketplace) or credit cards (iTunes store) is so 20th century? Incidentally, there’s a petition out there for Google: Enable paid apps for all countries on the Android Market!. Its okay Google, you’re not the only retarded one here – the BlackBerry AppWorld is no better; PayPal is available in Malaysia, but you can’t buy apps either.

You push globalisation to the core, yet you refuse to embrace it.

Give us the content that we want to pay for. It doesn’t matter where we are located. Really.

The iPad: Early-experience notes

I was initially unsure if I would like to buy an iPad when asked many a time, and my usual response was “let’s see it first”. Then I saw it. It didn’t take a couple of minutes of playing with it, and looking at it, that I decided that I must get it. A week later, the Apple Store still gets queues in the morning (when I went there was no queue – a pre-requisite for me even entering the store), and they’re all out of 16GB models. In fact, the 32GB models are hard to come by. So I got a 64GB model – oops! Here are my early-experience notes:

  1. I like the form factor. Its a bit heavy (try holding it on left hand, typing with right hand for long periods of time). Brushed aluminium on the back, and it seems like my MacBook Pro – I doubt its going to get scratched easily. The screen is like an iPhone/iPod Touch’s, and it smudges similarly – not too badly. I doubt its going to scratch easily, which is probably why Apple can’t be bothered with screen protectors.
  2. Speed. The A4 processor is totally amazing! Scrolling is easy, changing from an app to another is snappy, I’m totally amazed.
  3. The battery life is totally amazing. A4 processors in an iPhone in the future might help. But I also think there’s a huge battery here. One thing to remember – there’s a special 10W USB Power Adapter to charge the iPad. So even when you grab the Apple World Travel Kit, you don’t get a compatible adapter. The standard iPod/iPhone one only outputs 0.15A of power, while the iPad one gives it 0.45A. They may even be the same size, but they’re not the same. In fact, when you pick up 3rd party power adapters that have USB chargers… you’ll find its not rated high enough for the iPad.
  4. Activation process is interesting. The device will not work until you connect it to your computer. It has to be running iTunes 9.1 (so I had to reboot my laptop to get this going). It was simple. Of course I have a Malaysian iTunes account, and for this to work, I needed a US iTunes account. No iPad Apps unless you have a US account. No credit card that has a US-based start, so I can’t buy apps yet. I consider this to be a major fail and think Apple should stop limiting folk to regions – its retarded. I’ll have to go buy lots of gift cards soon…
  5. Typing on the touch screen is surprisingly easy. Portrait mode – check. Landscape mode – check.
  6. I don’t know what the WiFi troubles are all about (just yet). I am currently travelling and using an Airport Express. I hope when I get back home, it “just works” with my current access points.
  7. iBook only gets installed the first time you connect to the AppStore. Winnie the Pooh is the story of choice – why? The interface reminds me very much of Delicious Library. The management of this is via iTunes.
  8. Standard iPhone apps work. They don’t necessarily look pretty – sitting in the middle and all that. People are going to want to get their apps working on this platform, fast.
  9. It has a pretty good speaker. It comes with no headphones, so if you don’t want to be annoying, spend USD$29 and get yourself a pair from Apple.
  10. The screen has an interesting wallpaper. It looks like the iPad had been scratched. Tsk tsk.
  11. I bought a dock. The keyboard dock isn’t available for sale yet. But it can already work with a Bluetooth keyboard. I’m excited to try this working, so I can type fast on my iPad.
  12. The guy at the Apple Store told me he returned his Apple-made iPad case. To make matters worse, the store was out of stock. So I bought an Incase one. With a zip (the other one had a retarded design). I have no complaints here.
  13. Watching YouTube videos are nice. I highly recommend giving it a try. In fact, watching videos are quite pleasant on this large screen. Its about the size you get in an airplane…
  14. The accelerometer is very active. There exists a screen rotation lock – totally useful when you’re lying in bed and reading.
  15. I tried out the Maps application. Interesting. There should be a digital compass. No assisted-GPS or using the nearest cell to find you, but I tried to find my location and it was pretty accurate just based on what must have been the IP address. I’m not complaining. Maps would be good for this kind of device, and my model does not have an A-GPS, but I don’t really think I’ll be needing it.
  16. This is not a netbook replacement. You just can’t access your media that easily. In fact, iTunes is such a horrendous way to manage all this. I’d have preferred if I could drag & drop things onto my iPad. Not all media will get on your iPad easily, quite naturally. Mac users are probably used to Perian, but such an application does not exist for the iPhone/iPad. I presume converting lots of media to a format that is capable for the iPad/iPhone.

Applications

  1. I’ve had an iPod Touch for years (I bought the first generation when it was announced, from the same Apple Store in San Francisco that I got this iPad years ago). I’ve never downloaded this many apps, or felt like paying for stuff, until owning the iPad. Colour me impressed.
  2. iPad apps cost a lot of money. NetNewsWire which might be free on the Mac desktop, come free on the iPhone, unless you get the Premium edition for $4.99, costs a mere $9.99 on the iPad! Instapaper has a free version for the iPhone, a Pro version for $4.99, and on the iPad it costs the same. Time charges you for every issue you buy – why? I’d rather read the dead tree edition at airports.
  3. The Bloomberg application (which I use on Symbian S60, BlackBerry, iPod Touch, and now iPad) is truly a thing of beauty. If you’re a finance geek, love the stock markets, and spend some time on it, you’ll want an iPad just for it. Charts, etc. are totally amazing at that size. And the touch interface is totally rocking.
  4. I am a bit disappointed that the Remote iPhone app from Apple to control Keynote does not work as an iPad native app. I would love to use my iPad as a clicker, compared to my iPod touch. Why? I can see my speaker notes, etc. on a larger screen. It becomes totally useful. Remember, I don’t want to give a presentation on my iPad – I still want to use my laptop; I just want to be able to walk around and use the iPad as a large clicker and see things on my screen. I have yet to purchase Pages or Keynote yet, I wonder if I’ll ever purchase Numbers? All $9.99 a pop.
  5. I played around with Adobe Ideas. Nice.
  6. Evernote is a must have application. It “just works”. I think its much better than the Notes application that Apple bundles.
  7. Don’t bother buying an iPad without an iTunes account. You’ll want to be buying apps to make it useful/interesting.
  8. Its funny they did not embed a PDF reader. You have to download (mostly buy) one.
  9. Having two copies of apps is stupid. For example, I have Wikipanion for iPad and Wikipanion for iPhone/iPod Touch. One is the regular, nice size, and one is about half the size (aka iPhone size).

Games? I’m the last to judge. I don’t play games. ‘Nuff said.

Developers? Go get your app in there during the land rush grab. I wonder if these premium prices on apps will last, or if its just a fad. Are people willing to spend a lot more on apps here? The iPhone AppStore is basically killed by $0.99-1.99 apps. Its hard to break out of those price points unless you’re uniquely providing value. On the iPad? For the near future, you can do whatever it is you want, and people are bound to play with it as the initial hype is there. Once it becomes more commonplace, I expect apps to get cheaper, and more free apps to become more high quality.

What will I use it for? So far, I’m browsing lots of stuff in Safari. I’m writing notes in Evernote. I’m checking out a lot of apps (Marvel is neat, some news apps, Twitter apps, etc.). The Bloomberg application just rocks. I’ve not seen much of this “just work” with the cloud – I can imagine Apple is working on this. Maybe I’ll finally purchase a .Mac account. Copy/Paste isn’t as seamless, in my opinion. Multitasking would make it a whole lot more useful – but then again, me switching apps at the moment is almost instantaneous, so it already feels like I’m multitasking.

Will I get the 3G version? Nope. First off, this whole micro-SIM will be a big issue for me (no provider in Malaysia supports it). Next, where do I use this – probably mostly at home, in a hotel room, or on a plane. What about a cafe? Well, I’ll carry around my portable 3G WiFi device and all will be well. What if you’re on a train/bus? The 3G connection will probably be unreliable as the cells switch, I would get pretty annoyed with connection drops. Besides, I don’t use data when roaming, so another minus for the 3G edition.

What’s missing? I’d like to grab the Camera Connector. Maybe someone will make a 3rd party GPS. Could be useful for mapping nuts, especially since it won’t be an A-GPS. I’m still contemplating spending USD$29 on the dock connector to VGA adapter. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a presentation using my iPad. I’d much rather use the Keynote Remote… if they make an iPad version.

Is this replacing my Sony Reader PRS-505? I’m not sure. One’s e-ink. One isn’t. I haven’t read on the iPad long enough to know if its going to annoy me or not (in iBooks, that is). Reading in Safari is very comfortable.


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