Apple’s Ping Service Closes Down Today

The iTunes Ping service has closed.  More commonly referred simply as Ping, was Apple’s attempt at a social media service integrated with the iTunes Store.  Ping was available in iTunes for Mac and Windows PCs.
Users were greeted with a simple message in iTunes stating that the service has closed.  Ping was a service that allowed iTunes users share and discover new music and old favorites.  It was also intended as a way for artists to connect with their fans and offer updates on what they were doing and when they would be touring.
Ping turned out to be one of Apple’s rare disasters with low adoption and usage rates.  It was also widely held that Apple had originally intended to have iTunes integrate with social media giant Facebook, but a deal could not be reached between Apple and Facebook.  The cost of the licensing agreement for the interface to Facebook was rumored to be the cause of the disagreement.
iTunes Ping was launched on September 1, 2010.

A Note About Apple TV (Generation 1) Content

Apple released the first Apple TV set top box in 2007 calling it a ‘hobby’ device and wanted to see what customers would do with it.  I’ve recently upgraded to a new iOS powered Apple TV third generation to watch TV shows and movies on my living room TV.

My first generation Apple TV is now connected the TV in my girl’s room.  They don’t have a cable box so this gives them a way to watch TV shows and movies that my wife and I can monitor.  But the first generation Apple TV was released in a time before 1080p and there is lots of HD content in the iTunes Store now.

I recently ran into a problem where a late episode of Discovery’s Mythbusters.  Regardless of what I tried, the episode wouldn’t sync.  Naturally, I ran to Google.com and started searching for answers.

I couldn’t find any.

Then I realized that the episode was only showing an “HD” icon, and not the “HD SD” icon.  SD being “standard definition,” the 720p version of the show that the original Apple TV can play.  And there was my light bulb moment.  When I purchased the episode, I purchased the HD version to watch on my MacBook Pro or my living room third generation Apple TV.  I needed the SD version so my kids could watch it in their room.  Aha!

Once I downloaded the SD version of the shows, the episodes synced up to the first generation Apple TV normally.

So the lesson that I learned here is when you are purchasing HD content and you plan to use it on a first generation Apple TV make sure you go back and download the SD version of the show or movie if it doesn’t automatically download.

To learn more about the Apple TV, in all it’s versions, check out the Apple TV Wikipedia page.

Apple Rolls Out iOS 5.1 for Current iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Models

Earlier today, while unveiling the new revolutionary iPad with Retina display and the third generation AppleTV, Apple released iOS 5.1.

The new iOS update can be used to upgrade the following iOS devices:

  • iPad 2, iPad 1
  • iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS
  • iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation
A separate update will be released to upgrade the software in the second generation AppleTV which also runs iOS 5.

To receive the update on your iOS 5 device, go to: Settings > General > Software Update.  If you prefer to update your iDevice the ‘old fashioned’ way, or haven’t yet installed iOS 5, connect your handset to your computer running iTunes 10.6, also released today, and sync your device.  Then select your iDevice from the iTunes source pane and click the “Check for Updates” button in the pane on the right.

Apple Introduces the New AppleTV with Support for 1080p Video [U]

Along side the third generation iPad, Apple introduced the third generation AppleTV.  The “tiny entertainment powerhouse” as it is referred to by Apple, now supports 1080p videos downloaded from the iTunes Store for playback on your 1080p television and had a new, streamlined user interface.

The third generation AppleTV retains the same $99 price point.  AppleTV’s tentpole features include: video playback from iTunes Store purchase, Netflix,  YouTube and major league baseball streaming video (subscriptions maybe required), AirPlay, iCloud support, iTunes Match, and Photo Stream.

Owners of the second generation AppleTV will gain access to the new user interface and software features by way of a free iOS software update.

For more details or to order the new AppleTV, visit the Apple website.

Update

The new AppleTV will go on sale next Friday, March 16, at the same time the new iPad goes on sale.  Unlike the new iPad, Apple does not appear to be taking pre-orders for the new AppleTV and the website is still showing a 1-2 week lead time.

iTunes 10.6 Released for Mac OS X and Windows PCs

Today, along side the massive iOS software updates, Apple released iTunes 10.6 for Mac OS X and Windows PCs.

iTunes 10.6 adds support for devices running iOS 5.1, and high definition 1080p videos purchased from the iTunes Store.  Apple also included enhancements to the iTunes Match features of iCloud that was launched last year.

You can download iTunes 10.6 either by using the Apple Software Update application on your computer or download the installer from the iTunes website.

Jobs Wins Grammy Trustees Award

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has awarded Apple co-founder Steve Jobs this year’s Grammy Trustees Award posthumously.  Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the late Jobs.

“Steve was a visionary, a mentor, and a very close friend,” Cue said. “I had the incredible honor of working with him for the last 15 years. Accepting this award means so much to me, because music meant so much to him.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOV-TJdLZ-4]

[Via AppleInsider.com…]

Apple Hosting Education Media Event Thursday

Earlier this week, Apple sent out invitations to an invitation only special event relating to education from Apple in New York City, also known as “The Big Apple.”

The event will be held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum at 10:00am.  It has been rumored that Eddy Cue, Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software, will be involved in the event, however, there has been no confirmation from Apple on this point.  You’ll recall that the iTunes Store, the App Store, the iBookstore, the iCloud and iAd services are all under Mr. Cue’s supervision.

The speculation is that with an education focus, Apple is gearing up to make an announcement around electronic text books, iTunes U, and the iPad for all sorts of educational opportunities.

As a parent, and an active member in my children’s school community, I personally, would love to see advancements in the area of text books and supplemental content.  Year after year, my children’s backpacks are loaded up with hard and soft cover books, library books, and binders of notebooks.  Lugging all of that back and forth to school every day can’t be good for their backs.  I think a little Apple ingenuity is just what the educational market needs.

[Via Barron’s Tech Trader Daily…]

iTunes 10.5.2 Update Released

Earlier today, Apple released the iTunes 10.5.2 update for Mac OS X and Windows PCs.  The 16MB or update addresses iTunes Music match and audio distortion on certain CDs.

“iTunes 10.5.2 includes several improvements for iTunes Match and fixes an audio distortion problem when playing or importing certain CDs.”

iTunes 10.5.2 is available now via the Software Update control panel or via direct download from the Apple website.

Infinity Blade 2 1.0.1 Update Released [UPDATED]

Chair, the Epic game studio that brought us Infinity Blade and now Infinity Blade 2 has released Infinity Blade 2 1.0.1.  The update is designed to fix a start up crashing issue that customers, including myself, have been experiencing on the iPad 1 and iPhone 4.

The game was released back on Wednesday.  Infinity Blade 2 is a universal game, meaning that you will be able to run the game on both your iPhone/iPod touch and iPad/iPad 2 without having to pay for it again.

Infinity Blade 2 sells for $6.99 via the iTunes Store.  The 1.0.1 Infinity Blade 2 update is free to people who have already purchased the game already.

UPDATE
After installing the 1.0.1 update on my iPad 1, I’m still having trouble running Infinity Blade 2.  Epic Games is working on on a fix.  After installing the update, make sure that you reboot your iPad before trying to play the game.  I’ve been able to get a little further into the game before it crashes, but I don’t get to see the introductory cut scene movie.

Apple Releases iTunes 10.4.1 Update

With all the fun and excitement that we’ve been experiencing here on the east coast (earthquakes, hurricanes, and power outages) you may not have seen that Apple has released a maintenance updates to iTunes 10.

The maintenance update to iTunes 10.4.1 fixes issues with things like the addition of artwork, unresponsiveness when purchasing HD movies, issues launching iTunes after waking your Mac, VoiceOver support, and issues between iTunes and some third-party keyboards with multimedia controls.

The 12MB update is available now via the Apple Software Update control panel.