Apple releases ban-Bono tool after customers complain of free music

Not every iPhone, iPad and Mac owner wanted to hear U2's new album, Songs of Innocence

U2 on iTunes

U2 on iTunes

Apple today provided a tool to customers who want to delete the free U2 album, Songs of Innocence, that the company automatically downloaded to their iPhones and other devices.

The tool, available from an Apple URL, removes the album from a user's iCloud account.

After last week's introduction of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch -- a news conference where U2 closed the event with a live performance -- Apple made Songs of Innocence free to every customer who had an iCloud account. That's essentially every iOS and OS X device owner.

Some immediately flipped out over the free album, either because they didn't care for U2, because the album was consuming storage space on their already-crammed iPhones, iPads or Macs, or simply on principle. They didn't want Apple to force-feed something to their hardware without their express permission.

Rapper and record producer Tyler, the Creator -- the stage name for 34-year-old Tyler Okonma -- really didn't care for the freebie.

"GET OFF MY F****** PHONE. YOU COULDNT COME UP WITH AN ACTUAL MARKETING IDEA? F*** @U2 I DONT WANT YOU. F*** BONO. I DIDNT ASK FOR YOU IM MAD," Okonma tweeted last Friday.

Apple distributed the album using iCloud, its sync and storage service, so only those who had enabled "Automatic Downloads" for "Music" found that the tracks had actually downloaded to local storage on their devices. (In iOS, that's available under "Settings" and then "iTunes & App Store.")

Free U2 album

On this iPhone, Songs of Innocence has not actually been downloaded to the smartphone's local storage, but would when the album is played.

If there are small cloud icons next to each track, the album is still in iCloud, has not yet been downloaded to the device, and will not be until the songs are played.

Apple customers got even angrier when they found out that they could not delete Songs of Innocence from their devices, prompting numerous websites and publications, including CNET, to spell out instructions for deleting it from local storage, then hiding it from view to prevent it reappearing.

The album-removal tool offered a faster way to banish the band; if the songs have already been downloaded to local storage, they must still be manually deleted, however.

U2 front man Bono didn't address the controversy directly in a Sept. 9 post to the group's website, but may have been prescient. "And for the people out there who have no interest in checking us out, look at it this way ... the blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail," he wrote.

Bono -- the stage name of 54-year-old Paul Hewson -- also made it clear that while the album was free, it really wasn't free. "To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of our iPod commercial, [Apple] bought it as a gift to give to all their music customers," Hewson wrote. "Free, but paid for."

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