Apple acquires app discovery startup Chomp

According to TechCrunch, Apple has just acquired Chomp, an app search and discovery tool for iPhone, iPad, and Android. They say that the product team will be integrated into Apple’s corporate structure, colloquially known as an “acqui-hire”. The team will eventually be tasked with revamping the iTunes App Store and recommendations engine, both of which are in dire need of refreshment with over 500,000 apps available. Furthermore, TechCrunch was told that current deals will continue until integration is complete, at which point search for Android apps and Chomp’s standalone search clients will be pulled.

Source: TechCrunch

iTunes Match to offer streaming of music, now available to developers

Apple has been rolling-out iCloud features to OS X and iOS developers over the past few months, and the latest addition to the mix comes in Apple’s music in the cloud feature, iTunes Match. When iTunes Match was initially announced, it was clear that it would scan your library, and offer high quality (256kps DRM-free mp3s) re-downloads for tracks in the iTunes database and uploaded non-iTunes tracks (at uploaded quality). As of today, it is now confirmed that all of these files will also be streamable once scanned/uploaded.

MacRumor’s relays the official word:

iTunes Match stores your complete music library in iCloud, allowing you to enjoy your collection anywhere, anytime, on any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or computer.

This is great news for those that have become accustomed to pure streaming options like Rdio and Spotify. Much like the latter, you will be able to stream your more obscure tracks that are not available via iTunes as well. This means that your whole music library will be accessible via any connected iOS device at $24.99/year. This is a far cry from Spotify’s similar offering at $9.99/month. [Edit: It is important to point out that unlike Rdio and Spotify, Apple doesn't offer a catalog subscription option though, so any available music is purely previously purchased/acquired tracks.]

Insanely Great Mac provides a nice overview of the iTunes Match service in video form:

Also, on iOS:

Even the most staunch iTunes/Apple detractors will have a hard time arguing with this offering. iTunes Match is set to launch this Fall alongside iCloud and will offer unlimited downloads and streaming of all music (up to 25,000 songs) in your personal library for $24.99/year.

Source: MacRumorsInsanely Great Mac | Further reading: TechCrunch

Apple drops TV rentals from iTunes offerings

TV rentals were introduced with the launch of the second generation Apple TV, but they have unceremoniously disappeared. Apple is no longer offering a rental option for TV shows on any of their devices. The only available option has now reverted to the traditional iTunes offering of single episodes and “Season Passes.”

This is a big disappointing for many. Movies are still available as rentals on a studio-by-studio basis, but TV is where rentals make the most sense. TV tends to be more disposable, once you have seen an episode you are unlikely to re-watch, except for your absolute favorite series. Movies, traditionally in DVD form, are thought of as an addition to a “collection.”

Apple begs to differ on this point though. AllThingsD reports that Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr says, “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows. iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.” Similarly, FOX responded saying, “It became clear that content ownership is a more attractive long-term value proposition both for iTunes customers and for our business.”

This is fine, but less options is less options, and it is certainly unfortunate. Rentals make a lot of sense, but part of the problem with Apple’s execution has been the download and watch approach. iTunes in the cloud is a nice feature, but for many, a streaming option for all content would be ideal.

Source: AllThingsD

iCloud enters beta, pricing details emerge as television is included

Yesterday was a big day for Apple’s forthcoming iCould service. Details emerged regarding premium tier pricing and a group of initial beta testers now have access to the web-based offering of the service.

The new web apps are getting a fair amount of praise from those who are lucky enough have access to them. Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find My iPhone and iWork are the 5 currently available options after logging into the service. The apps with desktop counterpart appear to work and act in very familiar ways to their full-fledged siblings.

MacRumors managed to dig up a video showing the the iCloud web experience in action:

iCloud pricing tiers

Apple has also revealed that in addition to the free service, there will be additional paid tiers for the iCloud service. 5GB of storage is included for free with every account, but for those that require more, the pricing is as follows:

  • 10GB additional storage, $20/year
  • 20GB additional storage, $40/year
  • 50GB additional storage, $100/year
It is important to note that any iTunes purchases and photos will not count towards your storage allotment on iCloud, so 5GB will be enough for most.

With the latest Apple TV firmware rollout, iCloud services have been introduced to Apple’s set-top box and brought TV shows into the mix. Redownloading of previously purchased shows is now available through the “Purchased” tab in both the iTunes desktop app and iTunes iOS app on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. This feature essentially makes the difference between the video collection on your computer and purchase history through iTunes a little more indistinguishable.

Beyond that, the Apple TV now allows for buying and viewing of television shows baked directly into the experience, something that was only available in the past through the iTunes desktop application via home sharing. John Gruber has indicated that this seems to be rolling out on a series by series basis, so hold out hope if there are any holes in your catalog that prevent viewing on the ATV.

The public launch for iCloud is slated for sometime this Fall and is likely to coincide with the release of iOS 5 and the next iPhone.

[Additional reporting by Jonathan Downin]

Source: MacRumors9to5Mac - Daring Fireball