Some Deception with the iTunes Store and Apple Music

I’d written many times about how the iTunes Store and Apple Music were separated by a brick wall, making it hard to go from one to the other when looking at a specific artist or album. It seems that Apple has changed this recently, and now, when you find an album in the iTunes Store, you can hop to Apple Music to listen to it by clicking Listen Now.

It’s interesting that Apple is willing to cannibalize sales in exchange for streams – and I wonder if the record labels are cool with this – but at least now, when you click or tap a link to the iTunes Store, and you really just want to stream an album, you don’t have to manually search for that album.

But not all music sold in the iTunes Store is available on Apple Music; there are labels and artists that will not stream their music. Here’s one example:

Finley

None of Hyperion Records’ music is on Apple Music, but iTunes suggests that you can listen to it by clicking the Listen Now button. Since the music is not available for streaming, you get a dialogue telling you that the music is not available in your country, not that it’s not available to stream anywhere.

If you are not logged into Apple Music, the behavior is slightly different. If you were to start a free trial after viewing this album, you would get to Apple Music, then find out that the album in question is not available to stream, in spite of the Listen Now button suggesting that this is possible.

So, Apple isn’t being honest; I’m shocked, shocked! What’s more worrisome, however, is the fact that they’re sending people to stream music instead of buying it, most likely against what record companies want, and they’re saying that music is available for streaming when that is not the case. To be fair, the percentage of tracks that are on the iTunes Store and not on Apple Music is quite low, but still; Apple knows who they are, and shouldn’t display this dialog.

Apple Is Getting Out of the Printing Business

Apple has been selling photo prints and books through the Photos (previously iPhoto) app for many years. But the company is exiting this business in the fall.

Photo prints

I guess you could ask, why was Apple still in the print business at all? Sure, in the early days, it was probably somewhat lucrative, since it was so easy to order prints directly from within the app. But there is so much competition that there’s little point to Apple being involved in this. And Apple certainly didn’t do this printing themselves; they outsourced it to a company whose core business this is.

There are a number of Mac apps that can work as extensions to Photos that offer this service, and clicking the left-hand button above takes you to the Mac App Store to check them out. And there are hundreds, even thousands of companies offering prints online.

The advantage of using the Photos app, or an extension, is that you can organize projects from within the app, making it very simple. If you install one of these extensions, you can access it from the File > Create menu when viewing a photo album.

Updating macOS in VMware Fusion Leads to Apple ID Reset

I use VMware Fusion to run a few virtual machines; I have one for Windows 10, another for the current version of macOS, and another when there is a beta version of the new operating system. I don’t use these often, but I do need them for testing from time to time.

This morning, I noticed that I hadn’t yet updated my macOS virtual machine to High Sierra, so I downloaded the latest installer and updated it. Around the time the update finished – I wasn’t in front of my Mac – I got an alert on my iPhone that my Apple ID was locked for security reasons. I proceeded to unlock it, but I had to reset the password. And, of course, sign in again on every one of my devices, often in multiple apps or settings, create new app-specific passwords for certain apps, and so in. It takes a couple of hours to do this.

Apple id

Now this happened to me a few weeks ago, when I installed the macOS Mojave beta in a virtual machine. I thought there might be a connection between that installation and the reset, but I couldn’t be sure. Now I am.

It seems that the virtual machine is somehow doing something that Apple interprets as a security risk; perhaps it tries to sign in too many times to my iCloud account, and Apple blocks it. This is good security, but since I have two-factor authentication on that account, I would expect that I first receive an alert or email that a device is trying to sign into my Apple ID. I see this every time I use, say, a new browser to use one of Apple’s services, or when I get a new Apple device. But for some reason, the virtual machine is not prompting the same type of alert.

Am I alone in seeing this? Is anyone else having this issue? If not, it would be interesting to find out what is causing this for my account. I’ve contacted Apple support, and they are escalating this, but it will take a few days to get an answer.

This is Why Apple News Sucks

I have rarely used Apple News, but with its inclusion in macOS Mojave, I have been checking it out recently. But it sucks. Here’s what I see today:

Apple news sucks

In what world what a story about extra-gooey-cheesy breakfast sandwiches be the top story? Is this a flawed algorithm that is pushing this story as the leader? I don’t follow the “food” topic, so I don’t see how this story even gets in my feed.

But look at the rest of the stories in the For You section; not one of them is in any way serious or important; maybe the Barnes & Noble story, if you’re an investor or publisher, but the rest of the top stories – travel, movies, etc. – how can anyone take Apple’s algorithm seriously?

Given how the news has been weaponized, and how important it is, Apple simply has to do better than this.

Apple, AirPlay, and “Tap-to-Radar”

Tap to radarI was listening to music last night, streaming from my iPhone to my HomePods. At one point, the audio started glitching, and when I looked at my iPhone, I saw this dialog. I was quite confused, and before I could do anything, it went away.

There are several problems with this dialog. First, I happen to know what a “radar” is; it’s the term used for a bug report in Apple’s developer bug reporting system. But most users won’t know what this means. I was not running a beta version of iOS on my phone, and I don’t use the same Apple ID for my personal data as I do for my developer account, so there’s no reason why anything using the term “radar” should display on my iPhone.

Second, why is this being shown to normal users? Is it some debug code that was forgotten when iOS 11.4 shipped?

Finally, it went away before I could even react; I was curious to see what would happen if I tapped Tap-to-Radar.

Perhaps it’s just another case of Apple not cleaning up the code in their OS releases. Has anyone else seen this, perhaps when using a beta version of iOS?