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iPad User: You Can Buy Beatles Extras But Not Play Them

In the past, Apple touted its iTunes LP format for a richer experience than plain audio, similar in concept to the extras found on DVD movies. The release of the Beatles oeuvre on Tuesday was another chance to highlight the format. However, some customers discovered that while they can purchase the content on an iOS devices such as an iPad or iPhone, these mobile players don’t yet support the playing of iTunes LP content.

Apple offers developers templates, a development guide and user interface guidance for iTunes LP and Extras content.

iTunes LP and iTunes Extras are interactive experiences created to accompany music and movies. iTunes LP lets listeners hear an album and view lyrics, liner notes, band photos, performance videos, and more. With iTunes Extras, viewers can see cast interviews, exclusive clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and photo galleries along with a movie.

At the same time, this rich content can only be played on a desktop computer (Mac and Windows) or on an Apple TV. And to make matters a bit confusing, you can purchase the package of content on the iOS device.

Here’s a bit from a support note on the format:

Titles with iTunes LP and iTunes Extras may be purchased from the iTunes Store with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The primary content for an album or movie will download directly to the device; the iTunes LP or iTunes Extras will download to iTunes on your computer when you choose Store > Check for Available Downloads. This requires iTunes 9.0 or later.

The songs or featured movies can be viewed directly on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, but iTunes LP or iTunes Extras can only be viewed from within iTunes on an authorized computer. In order to view the complete iTunes LP or iTunes Extras, transfer the song or movie from your device to your iTunes library on the computer that contains the downloaded iTunes LP or iTunes Extras.

So, you can only play LP and Extras from within iTunes on a Mac, Windows or Apple TV system.

This situation created confusion (and frustration) for some. One customer described the problems on the Mac OS X Talk list. He bought the set in iTunes and then synced it to his iPad, where he received several error messages, including one that said that the iPad wasn’t authorized. Of course, it was. It just didn’t know how to handle correctly the LP and Extras content.

Turns out, the Mini Documentaries were actually installed – even though iTunes told me they weren’t – they were installed into the Videos app, not under “Movies”, but under “Music Videos” tab on the iPad.   However, the “Live at … ” is nowhere to be found.

I then tried manually dragging the “Live at…”  vid onto my iPad in iTunes, but that didn’t work.

When I select my iPad in iTunes and examine its contents, the “Live at ..” vid is definitely not showing up under Music nor under Movies.

I then thought it might be possible to download the “Live at…” directly onto the iPad via the store – and that the store would know I’d already purchased the item.

That didn’t work because you have to click to buy/install the entire collection – you can’t select the vid independently.

The primary problem is that the iPad isn’t the platform to view these pieces. The secondary problem appears to be that Apple didn’t program iTunes to tell customers what was up in a way that they could understand.