Apple Releases iTunes 12.5.3

newitunes122logoApple today released iTunes 12.5.3, which is available for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan users.

iTunes 12.5.3’s changelog lists the same stability and performance improvements as iTunes 12.5.2, including a fix for an issue where albums may play in an unexpected order. A second fix resolves a problem that prevented lyrics from appearing while listening to Beats 1.

iTunes 12.5.3 can be downloaded immediately from the iTunes download page, and it should also be rolling out through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.

iTunes 12.5.3 has been released just four days after iTunes 12.5.2, and just over six weeks after iTunes 12.5.1 was released with a revamped Apple Music design.

iTunes 12.5.3 has the same update changelog as iTunes 12.5.2 released last week, so what’s new in today’s update remains unclear.

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Apple releases iTunes 12.4 with interface and navigation changes

In addition to releasing software updates across iOS, Mac, and watchOS, Apple today has released an update to iTunes. The update brings iTunes to version 12.4 and includes the design tweaks that were initially rumored earlier this month.

iTunes 12.4 introduces a variety of interface tweaks that Apple says make it easier to navigate the app and switch between different kinds of content. First off, there’s a new media picker that allows users to quickly switch between Music, Movies, TV shows, and more.

Perhaps most notably, there’s a persistent sidebar reminiscent of the old days of iTunes. This interface tweak makes it easier to switch between different categories of content, such as recently added, artists, albums, songs, and genres, Apple says.

The new sidebar also makes it easier to build and adjust Playlists, allowing you to easily drag and drop songs into Playlists. You can also edit the sidebar to show only your preferred views.

As expected, the Menus interface has also been simplified. You can use the View menu to customize your Library or to act on specific items now.

A refreshed version of iTunes has been in the pipeline since Eddy Cue teased it in February of this year, and while this isn’t the major overhaul many people have been hoping for, it’s better than nothing.

You can update to the latest version of iTunes by selecting the “Check for updates” option in the Menu bar. At this point it’s unclear if the update fixes the bug that was causing personal music files to be deleted.

Now enjoy all of your music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and more in a simpler design.

Navigation. Now you can use Back and Forward buttons as you navigate between your Library, Apple Music, iTunes Store, and more.

Media Picker. Easily switch between Music, Movies, TV shows and more–and Edit to choose just the items you want.

Library and Playlists. Use Sidebar to view your Library in new ways. Drag and drop songs to easily add them to Playlists. And Edit Sidebar to show only your favorite views.

Menus. Menus in iTunes are now simpler and easier to use. Use the View menu to customize your Library or try context menus to act on specific items.

Apple lets German customers add iTunes purchases to phone bills

Apple brings carrier billing for app purchases to Germany.

You may soon be able to make purchases in the iTunes store without a credit or debit card.

Apple has been working with a phone carrier in Germany on an agreement that would let people pay for items as part of their phone bills. Users’ phone numbers, rather than credit cards or bank account numbers, will be used to make purchases that will show up on the next bill.

A rep for O2/Telefónica told TechCrunch that the carrier has been working with Apple on this type of billing. The option got a soft launch across Germany and will be available to all O2 customers early next month.

Billing through the phone carrier will include all purchases in iTunes, Apple Music, the App Store and iBooks, TechCrunch reported. The publication spotted the new purchasing option in Germany when a blogger there reported seeing the change on her Apple account.

Since Apple’s launch of the iTunes Store in 2003, Apple users could only make purchases using a credit, debit or gift card.

Apple is not commenting on carrier billing in Germany and there is no word on whether the company is working with service providers in other markets.

As TechCrunch points out, Apple may be looking for other ways to make products more accessible, especially in developing countries where credit and debit cards are not so common.

Home Sharing taken out of iOS 8.4, confounding users.

Did Apple remove Home Sharing from iOS so you'd have to try Apple Music?

If you’ve upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8.4 in order to take advantage of the insanely great Apple Music, you won’t be able to use Home Sharing to play the iTunes music from your Mac via your iOS device any more.

Several fans took to the Apple discussion pages to note that Home Sharing is no longer accessible on their mobile devices, killing their media setups.

“Before today,” writes forum user ddrucker, “I could bring up the entire library on my iPhone/iPad and play it through my earphones.”

He goes on to say that the update removes a key feature of his setup, but notes that Apple TV still can access the Home Sharing from his Mac.

“They better not remove this feature from that,” he continues, “or there wouldn’t be any point in owning it (here in Canada, most of all of those other icons are useless).”

Home Sharing came to iTunes in 2011, adding the ability to stream music that you have sitting on your Mac to any other Apple device in the house on the same network. It’s a great way to let everyone on your Wi-Fi listen to all of your carefully managed music files without having to physically copy them to their devices.

Home Sharing still works Mac to Mac, and Mac to Apple TV, but it looks like Apple decided that they would really like you to perhaps opt for the Apple Music family plan on your mobile device. That or they just forgot. Ahem.

It’s bugging a lot of Apple fans, though.

“When I had 8.3 installed on my iPhone 5s,” writes Apple Discussion user ktownman, “I could wander around the house and listen to my iTunes library via my Bluetooth headphones and life was good…This is upsetting!!!”

Vibrant new iPod colors revealed in iTunes update.

apple-ipod-itunes-leaked-colors

You may have written off the iPod as something Apple doesn’t care to breathe new life into by this point, but the iPod is exactly what appears to be getting an update. Alongside the release of iTunes 12.2 to support Apple Music, some users quickly discovered that images of the iPod family within the app feature new, unreleased colors.

The new colors appear to be a very royal blue, champagne gold (that dare I say leans on the side of beige) and hot pink. The images of these iPods sporting their new colors only show themselves when a user plugs in a new iPod to set it up for the first time, so they’re not easy to find.

The iPod has yet to receive any love from Apple’s gold movement, which started with the iPhone 5S in 2013. The iPad and MacBook have since offered the color option. Royal blue and hot pink are totally new though; the expansion of colors is probably one way Apple is trying to milk what’s left of the iPod’s appeal.

ipod-new-colors

As discovered by AppleInsider, the three new colors are likely coming to the entire iPod lineup, rather than just to specific models as the first image might suggest.

Maybe if Apple decides to release these new colors for the iPod, they’ll come alongside some internal upgrades well, since the insides haven’t gotten any attention since 2012 with the iPhone 5’s A5 chip. The iPod touch also features a 4-inch display unlike the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

How to Create an Apple ID for iTunes without Credit Card

Some apps, Google Earth for example, are available as free downloads in the iTunes Apps store but you need a UK or US based Apple ID to install them on to your iPad or Phone. Similarly, some iBooks and podcasts have geo restrictions and may only be available to iTunes users who are logged in with an Apple ID for one of the available countries.

The workaround is simple. You can create multiple Apple IDs – like one for UK and another one for US Apps Store – and easily switch between them inside iTunes. So if you are signed-in from India, you can switch to the US store, login with your US based Apple ID and download the app that is otherwise not available in the Indian Apps Store.

Apple ID for US iTunes Store

There’s however a problem. When you create a new Apple ID, iTunes will require you to enter your credit card and the billing address of your card should be in that country. In other words, you need a US based credit card or PayPal account to create a Apple ID for the US iTunes Store. Apple will not let you create an Apple ID without entering valid payment information (see screenshot above).

That said, you can take an alternate not-so-obvious route in iTunes to create an Apple ID for any country without requiring a credit card. Here’s how:

Create Apple ID in iTunes without your Credit Card

  1. Launch the iTunes software on your computer and sign-out of your existing Apple ID. Choose Store in the menu and select Sign-out.
  2. Next scroll to the bottom of the iTunes page, click Change Country and select one from the list for which you need an Apple ID. Alternatively, you may click the country’s flag to switch to the iTunes store of another region.
  3. Now open the Apps Store inside iTunes, select any app that is free and click the Getbutton to download that App.
  4. iTunes will now prompt you to enter your Apple ID and password. Do not enter your existing Apple ID. Instead, click the Create Apple ID button, agree to the terms & conditions, enter your email address &amp password and minimum age.
  5. Proceed to the Payments screen and here you’ll see a new option that says NONE (see screenshot below). Select the None option, enter a dummy postal address and submit to create your new Apple ID that will be valid in the iTunes store of that country.

If you have kids at home, you can use this trick to create a separate Apple ID for the iPads, one that is not associated with your credit card and so they’ll never be able to make any accidental purchases.

Create Apple ID without Credit Card

An Easier Way to Create a New Apple ID

If you need another Apple ID but do not intend to use it with the iTunes store for download apps, there’s an easier way. Go to icloud.com, click the Create Apple IDlink and choose a different country from the dropdown. Your Apple ID will be created instantly but if you decide to use it for downloading iTunes content later, you’d still need to supply the credit card.

You Cannot Create An Apple ID Because You Do Not Meet The Minimum Age Requirement

You need to be at least 13+ years old to create an Apple ID inside iTunes. However, if you enter an incorrect date, iTunes will refuse to create your Apple ID and no matter how many times you try the process, you will keep getting an error saying “you cannot create an Apple ID because you do not meet the minimum age requirements.”

This is most like a caching related bug in the iTune software but can be easily. Open Preferences inside iTunes, switch to the Advanced tab and choose Reset Cache. Quit iTunes and launch the Safari browser. Go to Preferences and under Privacy, choose the option “Remove all Website date” to clear the cache.

Siri lets you relive your audio misadventures.

Want to see all the songs you've found via Siri or iTunes Radio? Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

iOS 8 includes Shazam — a magical technology that gives your iPhone the power to listen to a song and tell you what it is. In the car, at a movie theater, or even at a crowded bar, you can just ask Siri, “What song is playing?” or hold your home button for a few seconds, and your iPhone will use Shazam tech to tell you exactly what song is in your environment. You can also (surprise) buy the song you just recognized via a little button in the results screen.

But what if you want to buy it later? Or remember what song was playing at the bar last night when that cute girl gave you her number? You can easily do just that with a quick trip to iTunes on your iPhone.

Tap the icon for the iTunes Store and you’ll see the familiar set of featured albums and New Music. Tap on the little menu button in the upper right (it looks like a bulleted list with three lines) and you’ll access your Wish List, Siri, Radio, and Previews screen.

Screengrab: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

To see what you’ve had Siri recognize for you, simply tap on the Siri tab at the top of the page. Your iPhone will list out all the songs you wanted to know more about, along with a handy button to buy the song to the right of the song title. Super useful!

If you’re trying to remember what songs were playing for you on iTunes Radio, simply tap on the Radio tab at the top of the same page and you’ll get a list of all the songs played on any of your iCloud-connected devices via iTunes Radio.

Now you can relive all your audio adventures with a quick tap or two, and even contribute to your music collection with a buy in the iTunes Store. How convenient!