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Forget the iPhone 6 and iWatch, U2 wants to give you new album on iTunes for free

Apple launch events are normally about getting people to part with their cash rather than giving things away for free. So as not to buck this trend too much, the not entirely inexpensive Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were announced but there was also something of a treat for fans of Irish rockers U2.

As well as performing at the launch event in Cupertino, Bono and bandmates gave away their new album, Songs of Innocence, free of charge to all iTunes Store users.

This is not the first time U2 has teamed up with Apple. The band was also involved in the launch of early iPod, offering official endorsement to a special edition of the music player.

But this is a much larger scale collaboration. Giving away the eleven-track album to more than half a billion people is a big, headline grabbing gesture - and regardless of your opinion of U2 musically, it's something that's hard to ignore. The album is available for the next five weeks in 119 countries.

Read more: When are the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus going on sale, and where can you buy them? (opens in new tab)

Can't be bothered to go and hunt it down? Apple has already done the hard work for you. Just fire up the Music app on your iOS device, head to the Albums tab and you'll find the album ready and waiting for you.

Songs of Innocence can also be accessed via iTunes for Mac and PC - tracks can be streamed or downloaded - and it can be streamed through iTunes Radio and Beats Music from 10 September.

Frontman Bono gushed: "From the very beginning U2 have always wanted our music to reach as many people as possible, the clue is in our name I suppose—so today is kind of mind-blowing to us. The most personal album we’ve written could be shared with half a billion people... by hitting send.

"If only songwriting was that easy. It's exciting and humbling to think that people who don't know U2 or listen to rock music for that matter might check us out. Working with Apple is always a blast. They only want to do things that haven't been done before - that's a thrill to be part of."

If you missed all the action last night, check out our liveblog (opens in new tab) for up-to-date commentary, analysis and photos as the iPhone 6 and iWatch launched in real-time.

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