Apple CEO Tim Cook, The Edge and Bono. U2 releases new long awaited album to over 500 million iTunes subscribers around the world.Irish Voice

Appple's unveiling of its new iPhone 6 and a new series of groundbreaking watches was historic for another reason as well – U2 dropped its new, much talked about album as a free download on iTunes, giving access to the Irish band’s release to over 500 million iTunes subscribers around the world.

U2 was on hand at Apple’s unveiling in Cupertino, California to play a new single from the album, Songs of Innocence, and shared light-hearted banter with Apple CEO Tim Cook afterwards.

“How do we get [the album] to as many people as possible?” Bono asked Cook. “I do believe you have half a billion iTunes subscribers. Could you get this to them?”

Cook was only too happy to comply, telling those in the audience and the billions watching the live stream around the world that Songs of Innocence would be available as a free download to all iTunes subscribers until October 13.

“We’re not kidding. That just happened,” Cook said. Every iTunes customer gets this album for free. It’s the largest album release of all time!”

The free download, Cook urged, will only be free until next month “so if you aren’t an iTunes customer today, become one.”

The unveiling, Cook said, “is incredible for us and incredible for all our customers.”

Bono described Songs of Innocence as U2’s “most personal album to date.” It had been plagued by rumors for several months about if and when it would be released, but word leaked out a few days ago on various Apple blogs that the band would be in Cupertino on Tuesday to make a major announcement.

A new U2 world tour is expected to follow.