Spotify: Friend Or Foe?

Spotify knows what time of day users listen to certain songs, and in many cases their location, so programmers can infer what they are probably doing—studying, exercising, driving to work. Brian Whitman, an Echo Nest co-founder, told me that programmers also hope to learn more about listeners by factoring in data such as “what the weather is like, what your relationship status is now on Facebook.” (In 2011, Facebook entered into a partnership with Spotify.) He added, “We’ve cracked the nut as far as knowing as much about the music as we possibly can automatically, and we see the next frontier as knowing as much as we possibly can about the listener.”

John Seabrook's article on Spotify for The New Yorker is a good one. A lot of interesting details about the company's CEO, Daniel Ek, and the way they make deals with labels.

I remember trying Spotify many years ago with a fake UK account and telling my girlfriend that it was incredible and the future of music was going to be streaming. In the years I've spent jumping between music streaming services, I've kept an eye on Spotify and their marketing efforts, which the article doesn't mention (all my friends in Italy know what Spotify is; my mom uses it).

I've recently started using Spotify again as my main streaming service because of its solid iPad app and new Family accounts. I am, however, excited to see what Apple does with Beats Music. I don't know if the entire music industry will embrace streaming eventually, but the future is definitely interesting.


FastFeed – Multi-Tab Enhancement for Tumblr/Instagram/500px [Sponsor]

FastFeed is a series of iOS apps that brings the power of multi-tab management to Tumblr, Instagram, and 500px.

FastFeed's versatile tab bar is designed to be unobtrusive, but it's highly versatile and customizable: it sits at the bottom of the screen, it can be auto-hidden when you scroll, and it lets you open new feed links in new tabs so you can easily switch between them. In FastFeed for Instagram, you can have multiple tabs for user profiles and a location; in FastFeed for Tumblr, you can open the dashboard and user pages as multiple tab bars so you don't have to constantly navigate back and forth.

Tab control gestures are supported by the FastFeed apps, and, when you tap an active tab, you'll see a handy menu to close the current tab, close all other tabs, or view tab history. You can switch between grid and flow layouts with a gesture, and smart paging is supported in flow mode.

And for each service, FastFeed comes with unique features: you can explore photos on a map in Instagram; you can search for photos by keyword or tag in 500px; and you can post any type of content in FastFeed for Tumblr.

The three FastFeed apps are available for free on the App Store, and you can find out more here.

Our thanks to FastFeed for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Apple Debuts Two New iPhone 6 Adverts Featuring Gaming and Continuity

Overnight Apple released two new adverts for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. One, called 'Gamers', features the new iOS game Vain Glory and the other, 'Reservations', demoes the ability to make and receive phone calls on an iPhone, iPad or Mac with Continuity's Phone Relay feature.

These new iPhone 6 adverts continue to be narrated by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake and are the fifth and sixth adverts in the series. Previous iPhone 6 adverts included Duo, Health, Cameras and Huge.

We've embedded the adverts below, but you can also view them in YouTube (Gamers and Reservations).

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#Homescreen by betaworks

Interesting new app experiment by betaworks: #Homescreen gets the latest screenshot from your library and, assuming that's a Home screen image, it shares it at a public URL and even recognizes apps in it. You can then tap on app icons to view their description, or you can go to the website's homepage to view other people's Home screens and view the Top Apps found in #Homescreen screenshots.

Home Screens are the most popular section of our MacStories Weekly newsletter, and I'm constantly asked by readers to share my Home screen and show them which apps I'm using. People love to look at Home screens to discover apps, and it makes sense for betaworks – a company that's highly invested in analytics to improve their products – to come up with something like this.

Via TechCrunch, here's the blog post about Betaworks' Home screen research with some fascinating data about Twitter apps:

Twitter related apps are on 85.5 percent of homescreens. Given that the sample was based on Twitter users there’s sample bias to the Twitter number, but despite that there are some interesting conclusions to draw out of the data. Seventy-nine percent have one Twitter app on their homescreen, 6.5 percent have 2 or more and 14 percent have none — presumably these users use Twitter via the browser or an app not on the homescreen. Vine is on 12 percent of people’s homescreens, which is impressive. But Twitter’s client app is only on 37% of homescreens and third-party clients are on a whopping 55 percent of devices, with one client, Tweetbot, making up a full 49.5 percent of the sampled homescreens. It’s remarkable that a non-Twitter owned client has more market share than Twitter’s client. It’s a byproduct of the early adopter sample bias, but I think it points to the fact these users — myself included — prefer using a different, and more advanced, workflow for Twitter.


Winding Down Tweet Library and Watermark

Manton Reece on ending development for Tweet Library and Watermark:

Last week, Twitter announced that they’ve expanded their search index to include the full history of tweets going back to 2006. I was thrilled by this upgrade to the Twitter service. That the search was so limited for so long was the primary reason I built Tweet Library and Watermark to begin with. Unfortunately, this functionality is only for the official Twitter apps. It will not be made available to third-party developers.

It’s time for me to wind down development on my Twitter-related apps. I’ll continue to sell Tweet Library through the end of 2014, then remove it from the App Store. Watermark will also shut down at that time. Because all the tweets stored in Watermark are public tweets (by design it never supported DMs or protected accounts), I will attempt to make the entire Watermark database archive of millions of tweets available publicly. Existing customers can also sync tweets and collections to Dropbox for personal archiving.

Tweet Library was a great way to browse the Twitter archive on iOS, but the new Twitter search makes it less important. It's good to see that Manton is planning to preserve the archives, though.


Apple Launches (RED) App Store Promotion, Donating Proceeds to Fight AIDS

Update: Apple has confirmed the campaign with an official press release and webpage. The campaign, called Apps for (RED), will feature 25 apps and all proceeds from November 24 to December 7 will go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS. Apps for (RED) is the first global App Store campaign for this cause, and developers have created RED-inspired content for it.

“Apple is a proud supporter of (RED) because we believe the gift of life is the most important gift anyone can give,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “For eight years, our customers have been helping fight AIDS in Africa by funding life-saving treatments which are having a profoundly positive impact. This year we are launching our biggest fundraising push yet with the participation of Apple’s retail and online stores, and some of the brightest minds in the App Store are lending their talents to the effort as well.”

In addition to Apps for (RED), Apple will donate a portion of sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday from retail and online stores. More details are available at Apple’s new (RED) website.

Original post follows below with updated list of apps.

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iTunes Connect Shutting Down December 22 to December 29

In an email sent to iBooks publishers last night, Apple confirmed that iTunes Connect will shut down for a week from December 22 through December 29. While the email has been sent to registered iBooks Store publishers, Apple's annual iTunes Connect holiday shutdown will also affect iOS and OS X developers, who during that time won't be able to access iTunes Connect.

From the email:

From Monday, December 22, through Monday, December 29, 2014, iTunes Connect, iTunes Producer, and iTunes Connect for iOS will be unavailable.

During this time, you will not be able to access iTunes Connect, submit new books or book updates, or make price changes. You can schedule a book release or price changes to take place between December 22 and December 29. Just make sure that your changes are scheduled, submitted, and approved by December 18, to ensure your book remains available during this busy period.

For users, this means that no new apps, updates, or price changes will be available during the week. Developers who wish to release new apps and updates or price changes to apps or In-App Purchases will have to do so before the iTunes Connect shutdown.

Currently, Apple has only shared the 2014 iTunes Connect holiday shutdown dates with iBooks publishers; a developer update should be posted on the company's Developer News page soon.

Longtime Indies on the iOS App Store

Last week, I asked on Twitter for examples of individual developers who have been making and maintaining iOS apps for the past five years.

I was thinking about the App Store market for indie developers, and I was particularly interested in knowing for how long a single person can keep working on the same app. Is it because the same app makes for a good business even after several years? Is this commitment related to respecting an existing user base or scratching your own itch? Is it a combination of all of the above?

Note that I asked for individual developers and apps that are still maintained – not small teams of multiple people, and not apps that were released five years ago and never updated. I'm fully aware of the fact that no developer is an island and that, in the indie iOS development community, developers tend to help each other out and collaborate. And in no way I asked that to imply that teams of two or more developers “have it easier” or that it's “better” to be a single person who makes apps. I think it's pretty clear that I have the utmost respect for larger companies and smaller indie shops that create apps for the iOS App Store. I was simply curious: how many individual developers make an app and stick to it? Who are they?

I received a lot of responses, which were extremely interesting and contained a lot of great examples. So after coming up with a way to collect all those tweets, I created a workflow that uses the Twitter oEmbed API in Editorial to compile those links in a list of embedded tweets you can find below. If you're reading this through an RSS reader, you may want to switch to the website for the correct visualization.

This is obviously a small sample based on an informal poll of the people who follow me on Twitter, and it's not indicative of the financial viability of the App Store market for indies. I don't know how these apps are doing or if it's worth updating them from a financial perspective. But still, if you ever wanted to know what are some examples of individual developers who created apps 5/4 years ago and still maintain them today, you can find some tweets below.

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