I spotted something a bit odd in my music folder on the iPhone this morning.
No I'm not embarrassed about having They Might Be Giants on my iPhone, nor Tricks Upon Travellers. I am concerned that the 'free to iTunes customers' U2 album has appeared in my music folder overnight. I've never purchased a U2 album, ever, I'm not a fan, they have done a few good songs but not enough to make me spend hard cash on anything they have produced.
So why has it suddenly appeared in my music folder? Well as it is 'free to iTunes customers' and because apparently U2 played at the Apple iPhone6 love-in on Tuesday it seems that Apple have decided to give all their iTunes customers a quick way to download the album right from their music library.
Just like something you have chosen to purchase previously but not yet downloaded to your device tap on the album in your music folder and there it is sitting in the cloud waiting to be downloaded.
Great some people might say, I don't need to actually open iTunes and search for U2 to download this. I mean actually having to open an app and search for something is so time consuming isn't it? If you do decide to go to iTunes you don't even need to search for it as U2 is emblazoned at the top of the page.
The worrying thing here, for me at least, is that Apple are showing that they have control of a large chunk of the music market and the associated revenue. At the touch of very few buttons they can seemingly put any band on to every iDevice that plays music, with the one click download and no need to enter a password just use a fingerprint, they could engineer downloads of music and ultimately have an element of control over the charts.
Another more worrying scenario is, what if I'm on holiday and have my iTunes settings to automatically download new music? Not a problem, because I'm on holiday and won't be buying anything that I have to download because of the data roaming charges...
So how long before there is something in the press about someone getting hit with data charges because Apple have added this album to their music library while they were on holiday and it downloaded automatically using a load of cellular data? I'm sure that Apple won't pay the charges for the data, relying on a clause in the 50+ pages of terms & conditions that we all read when installing and updating stuff. After all it will be the consumers fault for actually using the tools provided by Apple.
We are slowly getting conditioned to in app purchases, so this is the next step for Apple maybe? Find a band you want to support because you want them to play at your product launch, staff party or maybe because the son or daughter of one of the Apple leadership team* is in the band and then offer to put a link to their latest release on every connected iDevice that plays music and is connected to an iTunes account.
Whatever, I don't mind Apple promoting stuff to me, I've become very good at ignoring adverts, I do mind that they have effectively added U2 to my music library.
Update, it seems that actually stopping the U2 album from displaying in your music library involves some serious changes to your settings and even then it will still exist in the background, See this piece on Gigaom https://gigaom.com/2014/09/10/u2-on-my-phone/
Welcome to the future my friends, a future where you no longer control the device that you pay good money to own.
*that doesn't make it sound like a cult at all does it?