iPhone and iPad Security

Yes: That U2 Album Means Apple Can Send Data To Your iPhone

Christian Cawley 14-09-2014

U2 is one of the world’s biggest rock groups, and their latest album just ended up on your iPhone or iPad for free. Great deal, right?


Not for everyone.

Remarkable as it may seem, the people who bought the 130 million U2 albums and the owners of the currently active 300 million iPhones don’t necessarily converge. Tribalism still rules in the music industry, and a lot of people don’t seem particularly happy that the Irish group’s latest album “Songs of Innocence” was rolled out to devices around the world with no active participation in the click-and-download process.

Just what is going on here? Can Apple now do what it wants with your iPhone or iPad? Just who do U2 think they are (or, if you’re under 15, just who are U2?), and how on earth will you delete “Songs of Innocence” so that you can use those megabytes for long players you actually want to listen to?

U2 At The iPhone 6/Apple Watch Launch

Apple’s collaboration with U2 shouldn’t have been such a surprise, as the two have got together before. In 2004, Apple released a U2 edition of the iPod (finished with the same color scheme as the group’s album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” and accompanied with a popular advert An Apple (Ad) A Day: Top Ten Commercials You’re Likely To Remember Apple is a company that you either love or hate; there's very little middle ground. This is because you either buy into the company and its culture or reject it outright. Seeing as I don't... Read More ) which came with a discount voucher to persuade buyers to buy the group’s back catalog.

In fact, U2’s involvement with the launch had been leaked a few days before the September 10th event (as early as the 3rd), but it wasn’t until the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 range of devices had been unveiled Apple's Big Event: iPhone 6, Watch & New Wireless Payment System Finally, the rumours are confirmed: two new larger iPhones and a smart timepiece known simply as the Apple Watch are on the way. Read More that members Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton (U2 has had the same lineup for 35 years) were introduced to the crowd.


Seems fair enough, if a little forced. At this stage, only those present and watching intently online had quite grasped what was going on. Apple was actually giving away an album in an act of naïve generosity that would forever change exactly how we look at the technology giant and its most successful product.

“Songs of Innocence” was suddenly appearing on people’s iPhones and iPads, in a worldwide act of synchronicity that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Hollywood movie about cybernetic takeovers.

In the UK, much of the excitement in the USA was missed. Instead of going to bed with a present, most of us woke up in a very bad mood upon discovering the album on our iDevices, while on Twitter, things started to get unpleasant.

How Twitter Reacted To Free U2 Album

“Hey I got a free U2 album!”


This might have been the reaction to such a giveaway in the 1990s, but these days, with the passing of time, U2’s general slow pace when it comes to recording an album and going on tour, coupled with the fact that they’re basically not known among younger fans… well, one gets the feeling that the Apple execs were a lot more excited by this than a lot of their customers.









It’s the beauty of social networking that people can react so quickly to something. Big companies like Apple do pay attention to what is being said, especially after a product launch!

Right now, it is too early to say what Apple will do to deal with the fallout which has threatened to overshadow a mixed product launch, but you can act now to remove “Songs of Innocence”… sort of.

Your Turn: Remove The U2 Album From Your iPhone

U2 is hugely popular, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to their album or even like them. It’s your iPhone or iPad, and the media you enjoy on it is your choice.

“Songs of Innocence” takes up over 100MB of space. You might want this storage for photos or tracks by artists you really appreciate.

However, a word of note: there is no way to delete the album from your collection. You can remove it from your iOS device, but thanks to Apple, you’ll always have a U2 album in your library.


Removing the album from your iPhone or iPad requires that you delete each track manually, so open up Music, find the album, and swipe each track right to left, then tap Delete. After deletion, the tracks will be in the cloud should you wish to listen to them.


As they’re in the cloud, you’ll easily find “Songs of Innocence” when browsing your device. The best tactic here is to hide it, so open Settings > iTunes and toggle Show All Music off. You should also scroll down to the Automatic Downloads section and disable Music to stop tracks in your iCloud syncing to your device automatically.

You’ll still be stuck with “Songs of Innocence”, but you won’t see it.

How Do You Feel About Your iPhone Being Sent Music You Don’t Want?

Clearly, there was an opportunity here to team up two elements of the 40+ entertainment market and put them together on a stage and in your pocket. Who cares whether the album is good or not? It’s U2, a huge international rock and roll brand.

Forget that for a big portion of music buyers, U2 are no longer relevant (not an unkindness, a reality), that they creatively peaked in the early 1990s, and that they’ve been riding on the back of “Joshua Tree” and “Rattle and Hum” ever since. In that respect, they’re no different to, say, Bon Jovi.

Instead, forget about who is involved, ignore the band, the album and the company. We’ll spin it like this:

“Microsoft sends free copy of Bon Jovi’s new album to every Xbox One.”

Or perhaps…

“Corporate giant sends free copy of self-absorbed rock album to its most popular device.”

There is a feeling of discomfort that Apple is prepared to do this so readily. This time it’s an album, but next time you might be forced to download (let’s call it a “forcedown”) a movie you don’t like or even have a moral reason not to own a copy of.

It might even be private data removed from your device.

How do you feel about Apple and U2’s collaboration? What would you say to them? Are you happy to have the contents of your phone or tablet modified without notification? Use the comments box to share your thoughts.


Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. daryl
    April 4, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    oh, and the cover was very wonky as well... feelings of pole puffing running through my head. I do not like U2's arrogance.

  2. daryl
    April 4, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    If I wanted U2 Id get U2...
    It made me turn red for the time it took to figure out what was going on...
    I did not appreciate it at all.
    Ruined the last hour of my night...
    I wonder if they would mind me peeing on them? I consider it an honor to piss on people... so should they!

  3. Ivor Harris
    February 20, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Unbelievable no way do i want any remote access to my device.

  4. Anonymous
    January 1, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Very bothered by it. I am a Christian and a Pastor. There were some album covers and music I certainly found offensive. It kept playing and I had no idea how to delete or disable. The "songs of innocence" cover was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had to google how to delete. Finally! However I am seriously considering moving back to Android.

    Praying for this nation

  5. Anonymous
    December 29, 2014 at 10:16 pm
  6. B Phillips
    November 25, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I was debating whether to get the new iPhone 6 or and Android....thanks to the intrusive, presumptuous invasion of my phone....not to mention the insult to my faith of the two men on the cover, I will never buy Apple again. What gives you the right to insinuate your product into my private---oops, not anymore---then personal life?

  7. Anonymous
    November 15, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    *and you know what cancer did...

  8. Anonymous
    November 15, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    sticky gum in your hair? what kind of gift is that?
    nobody should want stuff like that!!!
    better yet, put the sticky gum on the cloud, so even if you take it off by shaving your head, it comes right back!!
    that is what cancer does, and you what cancer did...

  9. Tom
    November 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I was just woken up by U2 an hour ago when I didn't even know it was on my phone, I did a little research to find out about this absolute crap idea by apple and now I'm even happier about the galaxy s5 I have coming in the mail.

  10. Robert Willey
    October 10, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I wasn't a fan of U2 in the Nintys and and am still not. I don't like having to be under Apple's thumb by having to have an ITunes account in order to use my phone. Some posters are saying "hey you got something for free. What are you complaining about?" It the idea that any entity can install anything on my phone without my consent. An album this time, maybe the preachings of some religion for which I have no affinity or something worse next time. I paid good money for this phone. Who owns this phone anyway, me or Apple? I guess I know the answer to that one. When my contract is up I'm changing to Samsung.

  11. Eric
    September 17, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Apple calls it a gift. I call it Spam. It's an unsolicited advertisement for a band's back catalog and concerts. It's SPAM... Apple is now one of those scummy companies on the same level as Nigerian Princes and penis extension snake oil sales people.

  12. KT
    September 16, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I'm seeing more and more "people will like what we tell them to like" from the big companies, and I don't like it.

  13. Christian C
    September 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Happily, Apple has realised that having Songs of Innocence in your collection isn't ideal for everyone, and have now released a removal tool:


  14. Norman Astrin
    September 16, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Ever since I received Apple Radio with last upgrade I kept hearing a song which I downloaded for free. I have to stop and turn it off. I don't wish to hear music on my device. I rarely watch videos. I wish to have some control over what is occurring. I avoid iTunes because of this. Please ask before gifting me. I may however plug the device in to hear you tube. But I wish to be able to turn it off if I don't wish to hear it.

  15. suza
    September 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Bill Gates is deciding what my children should learn in school, and Apple is deciding what I should have on my phone. welcome to Metropolis. Welcome to the few ruling the many. Welcome to the end of individuality.

  16. David
    September 15, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I wonder if this was specific to iOS 7 only though. I see the album available to download from my iCloud on iPad running iOS 7, but don't show up on my iPhone 4 running iOS 6.

  17. Shannon
    September 15, 2014 at 12:24 am

    I already had the option to have my iCloud music turned off so I didn't even know it was there. I don't think this is as big of a deal as people are making it. It's just another album in my list of purchases that i've decided I don't actually want on my phone. It's annoying, period, that you can't delete things from your cloud like that, but it's not like Apple invaded privacy. All they did was credit an album to everyone's account. idk I'm just not bothered by it.

  18. Yasi
    September 14, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    My automatic download was off and ,I still got album on my device ,though it's on ICloud ,I am furious, it's Creepy and Bad for Apple.

  19. Jim
    September 14, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I wonder... was it Apple that insisted on it being on every iphone or U2 as part of their terms and conditions? Anyhow, owning or carrying an iphone or any other connected device makes you the potential subject of unbridled contact or, worse, manipulation by anyone with the money or means to bother you. This is nothing... deal with it or advocate for legislation.

  20. Dylan
    September 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    You know that if you turn of automatic downloads, like why would anyone want that on anyway?, it don't "magically" add the album to your iPhone. No one is "hacking your phone" its simply a feature that you as a user have enabled.

    • Anonymous
      September 17, 2014 at 5:03 am

      No that's not true because I have mine off and I still received the album

  21. c. wEEMS
    September 14, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I do not choose to have stuff of any kind downloaded to my I phone 5c automatically by anyone. Sounds too much like government meddling to me. I WILL CHOOSE WHAT I WANT TO BE ON MY PHONE, THANK YOU.

    • T Holmes
      September 14, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Except for all the apps you don't wish to have, but Which Apple insists resides on your iPhone, like it or not.

    • Dean Wormer
      September 16, 2014 at 4:58 am

      Last time I checked, Apple isn't the government.

  22. Ben S
    September 14, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I think the best thing to do on Apple's part would have been to simply offer it for free on iTunes.

    Want the album? Great, it's on the house. Don't like, know of, or care about U2? You don't have to download it and "taint" your collection.

    Free stuff is awesome, but in the age of crapware and toolbars, getting stuff pushed to you for "free" is questionable.

    • CJ
      September 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Well said sir. Well said!

    • brad
      September 15, 2014 at 1:18 am

      Time for an ever important Good Old Games shout out.

      You still get free games with a free sign up as well as anniversary specials.

      Free on gog is free. On apple free doesn't seem to understand free.

      Apple is turning more and more into the South Park Parody episode with the Human Centipede.

  23. Mark H
    September 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I'm not angry or mad, but the fact that you can't remove the album completely (from iCloud) is annoying.
    Better yet, a notification upon launching "Music" app with a bit of description and two choices ("accept & download" or "refuse") would have been the best solution in my opinion.