U2 and Apple crank marketing debacle up to 11


Apple delivers U2's Songs of Innocence to millions of iTunes users, but not everybody's buying the hype. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web
Apple delivers U2's Songs of Innocence to millions of iTunes users, but not everybody's buying the hype. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web

Thousands of angry iPhone users have found an album they weren’t looking for: U2’s Songs of Innocence.

Instead of making the band’s mediocre new album an opt-in freebie, Apple jammed it down the throats of a half-billion iTunes Store customers, enraging some of the company’s most loyal fans. Whether they wanted the album or not, it’s now showing up as “purchased” in individuals’ iTunes libraries on their computers and phones.

When Tim Cook trotted out the Irish rockers for a limp finale to Tuesday’s big Apple Watch announcement, he called giving away the band’s new record “the largest album release of all time” — but now it looks like one of the dumbest.

Here’s proof iTunes Radio isn’t the underdog you think it is


iTunes Radio quickly became known as an underdog after its release last fall, with Apple facing an uphill battle against established services like Spotify and Pandora. In today’s video, we take an in-depth look at iTunes Radio, its features, its future — and why it deserves your attention.

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Brian Eno brings iOS app holograms to new vinyl record release



Drop the needle on avant-garde musician Brian Eno’s latest album release (on vinyl, of course), and you’ll hear all sorts of future-retro electronic sounds composed to stir your emotions in sometimes unpredictable ways.

Aim your iPhone at the very same vinyl record, and if you’ve installed the app made for the purpose, you’ll see a whole different scene, a 3D hologram-like cityscape that rises up from the spinning platter. Check out the video (below) for a sneak peek.

As streaming surges, record stores turn the indie knob up to 11

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Video might have killed the radio star, but streaming hasn't killed the record store. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Stroll into your local record store and you won’t find the dusty-floored wasteland of empty bins you might imagine. Chances are you’ll see something that’s more vibrant, relevant and vital than before.

Like the nerdy know-it-alls at specialty wine stores and comic book shops, today’s typical employee at an indie record store is still a tastemaking wizard — just turned up to 11. Staff picks bear the unerring zeal of the true believer, and staffers are more focused on uncovering stuff that you’ll never find on a Walmart CD shelf.

“Since there’s been a turn to Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes, we sell way more vinyl,” said Jim Haynes, assistant manager at San Francisco’s Aquarius Records. “We’re at about 75 percent vinyl to 20 percent CD and a smattering of cassettes. People are turning to an even more seemingly obsolete medium.”

Predictions of the end of physical media are as played-out as those reports about the death of rock ‘n’ roll, with everyone and their mother proclaiming that Spotify and other streaming services have killed the local record store. That fear-mongering sounds smart and might even contain a kernel of truth, but the reality is much different.

iRing lets you rock mad beats using only your hands

Photo: Jim Merithew, Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Sliding two distinctive iRings between my middle and ring fingers on each hand and then conducting the bouncy electronic beat coming out of my iPad mini and into my big fat headphones made me feel less like a conductor and more like an awkward boxer, punching at a touchscreen.

Once I relaxed into it, though, the music started to flow and my hands began to dance; this is one cool iOS music-making peripheral.

The iRing is made for making music, but the potential here is stunning: Imagine a video game controlled with your hands, a webpage that scrolls at a speed you define with your fingers, or an e-book that turns pages with a swipe through the air. This is a truly innovative new product.