Wednesday 5 January 2011

Lack of captions/subtitles on iTunes

Over Christmas I downloaded an app for my iPhone called The 12 Days of Christmas, which promised a free download for 12 days from Boxing Day onwards.

Great! Huh?


OK, so there have been some good free music tracks but there has also been three unsubtitled TV shows/movies that are useless to me!

I don't understand what the deal with Apple and iTunes and its lack of subtitles. I mean, it's an American company. I thought that it was even more compulsory to be disability aware in the USA than it is here... no?

I have actually written to the iTunes peeps about this several times but have had no reply, which is not surprising but is frustrating.

Google searches tell me that there are ways to now embed your own subtitles into things, but I don't understand how this works and my head starts spinning like it used to do in maths GCSE whenever I look into it.

And the thing is, if the general public are able to do this – technophobe me excluded – then why can't a massive corporation like Apple full of technical experts sort this out?

It frustrates me when companies think they are doing OK in terms of making their services great for people with disabilities and are not open to improvement or change. I'm not saying this is true of Apple, but iTunes is eight years old this year and as far as I'm aware subtitles have been around a whole lot longer so I do wonder why it hasn't done anything yet.

My latest search revealed there was one new release subtitled movie on iTunes – Knight & Day with Tom Cruise in it – and that is it!

Why is it possible to subtitle this one and none of the others?

Apple is missing out on a huge market here. I mean my lack of ability to make conversation in cars and on any form of transport means I often look to my phone for a way of passing the time. If I could download subtitled stuff for it, well I'd spend a whole lot more money and I'm pretty sure a lot of other people would too.

I’ve hit a brick wall with this. I do not know where to go to get answers, or even if there are any. Why aren’t movies subtitled on iTunes? Is it because it’s too expensive?

And that is what I’m going to find out!


Anonymous said...


Apple is a hardware/software company, they don't make the movies and are not responsible for the lack of CC movies in iTunes. If would be unfair to blame Apple when Apple fulfilled their responsibility to support subtitles AND closed caption on all of their products, including the latest Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone. It is the movie studios like Paramount, Dreamworks, etc. who failed to include captioning in their iTune content. We would be unreasonable to hold Apple accountable when they have in fact held their side of the deal by ensuring their technology supports CC.

I understand your frustration, Netflix, on the other hand, have very poor CC technology that is inconsistant and very lacking. For example oh my Wii or laptop, there is support for subtitles while on my Bluray player Netflix does not support it. On top of that you can't even search for movies with CC within Netflix. We blame Netflix for their lack of this technology however, again, they are not responsible for the movie content submitted to them by the studios.

Lets not mix technology makers with content makers they're completely seperate.

Anonymous said...

You need to complain to the movie companies, not Apple.

Anonymous said...

I do applaud Apple for supporting the capability to provide them in the first place. Whilst it is true that Apple are not 'to blame' so to speak for the lack of captions/subtitles it would be nice if we could see some kind of evidence that they encouraged the content providers, reminded them that providing subtitles/captioning will increase their audience.

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