In what can be seen by some as yet another move by the content industry against internet freedom (we’re probably all familiar with the intense debate around SOPA/ACTA), Apple has removed all possibility for its users to download music files using applications from its iOS App Store. Basically, all the apps that allowed users to download music, some of them even very popular apps, have been removed from the store. A strange detail is that even the apps which allowed users to download music from a third party have been removed. Well, the consolation would be that even if they’re not available on the App Store anymore, these apps are still safely installed on almost each user’s system, right? Wrong. Previously installed apps which allow music downloading may not be functional very soon. Some developers have reported that Apple has asked them to remove all music downloading functionalities from their app if they want to continue their business relationship.
In the extreme, this can be interpreted as a serious move within the copyright war, meant to prevent and cripple any piracy attempt (since we’re also discussing about preventing even third-party downloaders). In a more mild tone, but not necessarily more pleasant, it can be interpreted as Apple trying to eliminate all potential competition for its iTunes Store and iRadio. Even so, basically forbidding the competition and taking away most users’ possibilities to download (mostly) free music is still not cool for almost every user.
A search for “music download” in the iOS App Store returns now a single result: an invitation for the searching user to try out the new iTunes Radio (pictured above). Upon insisting, the search will display some other results, but only for streaming apps such as Spotify, which can play some music but lack any downloading facilities. This change has gotten a lot of users into a fit over their sudden lack of options for downloading the music files they were used to.
The list of apps eliminated includes everything that was able to download music and sound files from sites such as Youtube and Soundcloud, even if many of them previously appeared in the App Store’s “Top Charted” section. A search for music download, before this change occurred, would return a screen rich with results, that looked like this (pictured below).
Our guess is that either Apple anticipates a greater return from promoting its iTunes product, or it will receive this greater return or compensation from the content industry itself, willing to pay their way into preventing piracy at all costs. Either way, it’s hard to imagine the figures it must take for a company such as Apple risking a drop in its popularity over something like this. The true Apple and Mac fans are holding their horses for now and patiently waiting for what the company will offer in exchange for the apps it eliminated, but less loyal voices have stirred the internet with extreme discontent.
We’re obviously all Apple fans here and don’t mean to over-criticize this move, but it’s pretty obvious that there are a lot of Mac users out there upset over this. Whether they will be compensated any time soon with a similar music downloading functionality like the one they’ve lost, it remains to be seen with the launch of the new iOS 8. It’s rumored that the changes which the new OS will bring to the App Store include an “Explore” feature to increase the rate of new discoveries, an improved search algorithm, app bundles and many more exciting quirks. Apple has been able to deal with such situations of user discontent with pretty much grace before (remember the discontinuing of the popular iPad 2, for example?), so we have our hopes up.