Apple usually gets in the Christmas spirit every year and gives away iOS apps, music, films and books over the twelve days following Christmas Day. The 12 Days of Christmas promotion has run every year in the UK since 2008 and both the UK and US from last year, renamed 12 Days of Gifts. Apple was expected to continue this tradition this Christmas, but we're afraid to say that Apple has cancelled 12 Days of Christmas this year.

Perhaps what has changed is the fact that there are so many free apps available on the App Store. Over the years more and more developers have found that the only way to achieve any kind of interest on the App Store is to give away their apps for free, and rely on the advertising associated with those apps. It's certainly more common to find a free app these days than one that needs to be paid for upfront.

There is also the fact that Apple recently changed the label for these 'Free' apps to 'Get' so as not to mislead people who may then find that there are costs associated with downloading certain elements in the app.

As for music, Apple recently encountered a lot of criticism for giving away U2’s latest album. No doubt someone at Apple though that this would indicate that giving away music wasn’t appreciated. Although they perhaps missed the point - people objected to having not been given a choice. The U2 album arrived in their iCloud account uninvited. In the past the 12 Days of Christmas gifts were always available to download, but only if you chose to.

Complete guide to the iPhone/iPad Music app

Another thing that changed this year was the arrival of Angela Ahrendts, the new retail head of Apple. It’s possible that she was behind Apple’s decision not to discount any Macs, iPads or iPhones for Black Friday, something the company had done in the past. Perhaps this new strategy was also an influence on Apple’s decision not to give away anything for the 12 Days of Christmas.

Whatever Apple’s reason, there is no giveaway this year. However, that doesn’t mean there are no freebees to be had. Check out out best free apps articles below:

Best Free iPhone apps

Best Free iPad apps

What is Apple's 12 Days of Christmas/12 days of Gifts?

The 12 Days of Christmas/12 Days of Gifts promotion usually runs from Boxing Day, 26 December until 6 January - with each gift only available for 24 hours.

Previous 12 Days of Christmas giveaways have included feature length movies, short films, music videos, episodes of popular TV shows, apps including games, books and more. See also: Best free iPhone apps

The promotion is accompanied by a dedicated app for iOS, which reveals the new gift each day and provides a direct link to that gift for you to download for free.

However, Apple usually updates and rereleases that dedicated app at the beginning of December, so when it came to mid December 2014 with no sign of the app, we began to doubt whether Apple was planning to run the promotion this year.

A reliable source confirmed to Macworld on Christmas Eve that Apple is not running its 12 Days of Christmas promotion this year, which may not come as a surprise considering that it was Christmas Eve and there is still no sign of the app.

Apple skipped the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year, too, which was perhaps the first clue that things would be different with the Christmas promotion in 2014. Don't forget, though, that Apple instead ran a brilliant (RED) campaign over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period, and raised an incredible $20 million for the charity towards the fight against AIDS.

96 best iPad & iPhone games | How to send an app as a gift in iOS 8

What did Apple give away last year?

26 December – Day one of the 2013 twelve days of Christmas giveaway started with a live Justin Timberlake track.

 27 December – the free download was an episode of BBC's Africa wildlife show.

28 December – the third day of Christmas saw Apple give away an The Ice Princess, a book by Camilla Lackberg.

29 December – The kids app, Toca House, was the 12 days of Christmas giveaway on the fourth day of Christmas 2013. See also: Best iOS apps for kids

30 December- Apple gave away the Home Alone movie!

31 December - Apple's free 12 Days of Christmas giveaway continued with a New Year's Eve mix by Avicii.

1 January – Apple gave away Rayman Jungle Run.

2 January – Apple's free 12 Days of Christmas giveaway continued with a book: Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon.

3 January – Apple's download on January 3 was a collection of six live Tom Odell tracks.

4 January – The giveaway on the 10th day of Christmas Despicable Me: Minion Madness

5 January – On the 11th day of Christmas Apple gave to me: Mr Crab game by Illusion Labs.

6 January - Apple's free 12 Days of Gifts giveaway for Christmas 2013 concluded with a collection of Rolling Stones tracks recorded live in Hyde Park.  

Read next: Best iPad board games for Christmas 2014