Dave Wiskus has written about the process of posting a song to Apple Music's Connect area as an independent musician. Wiskus is in the unique position of being an iOS designer who plays in a band, and I find his perspective fascinating and helpful:
But the worst offense of all is this: I can see no way to invite people to follow us on Connect. I can share the link. I can even tweet about it. Yet there’s no way to know how many followers we have, encourage people to follow us, or directly engage with anyone who hasn’t already purchased a song from us on iTunes. That feels broken. Somehow people were able to comment, which is great, but it makes me sad that I feel no sense of… well, connection. And I really, really want that connection.
It seems like there's room for plenty of improvements in Connect. As Wiskus notes, this feels fundamentally better than Ping, but the social features are lacking right now. Also: go check out Wiskus' band, Airplane Mode, on Apple Music. Their demo is really good.
This week, the Connected crew is reunited to talk about Stephen’s trip to space, Federico’s iOS 9 review, and Apple Music.
On this week's Connected, I shared some of my initial thoughts on Apple Music and talked about my plans for iOS 9 coverage later this year. It's a good one. You can listen here.
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- Tap Forms Organizer: An easy to use, yet very powerful database application for Mac, iOS and Apple Watch.
Each music service has its own implementation of likes and tuning, and Apple Music is not different. Jim Dalrymple talked to Apple about the “love” button in Apple Music and shared his findings:
When you play a radio song, you will notice a heart—this is the like button. If you tap the heart, indicating you like that song, it does absolutely nothing to “tune” that station. Since the stations are human curated, there is no need for a tuning algorithm.
Tapping the heart does affect “For You,” the section of Apple Music that’s custom built with playlists, albums and songs tailored to your individual tastes. For You also takes into account music you add to your library and full plays you listen to. Skips aren’t really taken into account, because there are so many reasons you may skip a song—maybe you’re just not in the mood for it right now.
The post also includes details on how tuning works for stations you create yourself, and how you can downvote recommendations in For You.
Jony Ive's promotion to Chief Design Officer at Apple, first announced in a profile of Ive by Stephen Fry in late May, came into effect yesterday. Alongside Ive's promotion, and also telegraphed in Stephen Fry's article, Alan Dye and Richard Howarth also assumed their respective new roles yesterday as Vice President of User Interface Design and Vice President of Industrial Design.
All three promotions were made official yesterday with an update to Apple's Leadership page. You can read the updated profile pages for Jony Ive, Alan Dye and Richard Howarth.
In Stephen Fry's article from May, he asked Ive why he gave up control to Dye and Howarth:
When I catch up with Ive alone, I ask him why he has seemingly relinquished the two departments that had been so successfully under his control. “Well, I’m still in charge of both,” he says, “I am called Chief Design Officer. Having Alan and Richard in place frees me up from some of the administrative and management work which isn’t … which isn’t …”
“Which isn’t what you were put on this planet to do?”
“Exactly. Those two are as good as it gets. Richard was lead on the iPhone from the start. He saw it all the way through from prototypes to the first model we released. Alan has a genius for human interface design. So much of the Apple Watch’s operating system came from him. With those two in place I can …”
I wrote about the Musixmatch widget last year, noting how its integration with the iOS media player and Notification Center was "too good to pass up":
Here's how it works: start playing a song in Apple's Music app, open Notification Center, and Musixmatch will show you synced lyrics that follow the song you're listening to. If you're used to the traditional Musixmatch experience (in the iOS app or one of their desktop integrations, such as Spotify), you'll recognize the service's display of lyrics and timeliness – only as a widget on iOS.
I was listening to some playlists on Apple Music today and, to my surprise, the widget is already compatible with any song streamed from the service without an update required. Simply install Musixmatch, put its widget in Notification Center, and play a song in the new Music app. Musixmatch will match the song with its large database of officially licensed song lyrics, and upon opening Notification Center you'll have to wait a second for the lyrics to load and be displayed in real time alongside the currently playing song. No setup, no search or music ID required.
If you care about song lyrics like I do, this is a great user experience, especially because it works out of the box. I wonder if Apple will eventually add built-in lyrics to Apple Music, but, until that time, the Musixmatch widget is a handy addition to the service.
Writing for NME, Al Horner makes a good point about Zane Lowe's debut on Beats 1:
You'd have been forgiven for thinking the almost violently enthusiastic Zane would return to the air a different DJ - same energy but maybe, now he's broadcasting to more than 100 countries, a little tamer in his music selection. That fear was put to bed almost instantly: this introductory show, which let's face it, given the notoriety around Apple, had probably tens of thousands of listeners tuning in to see what all the fuss is about, kicked off with Manchester newcomers Spring King. Who? Exactly. The message was loud and clear: the New Zealander might have moved to Los Angeles to take up a position at the biggest tech firm on God's green Silicon Valley, but he's lost none of his commitment to new music, predominantly from the UK, with five of his first 10 songs back in the booth by British artists.
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today upheld 2-1 the 2013 verdict that found Apple and major publishing companies conspired to fix e-book prices.
As noted by Fortune, Apple's argument that the Department of Justice was misguided to target Apple when Amazon was dominant didn't convince the majority:
That argument, however, appears to have carried little sway with Judge Livingston who argued that Apple and the publishers could not rationalize their behavior on the grounds they were challenging Amazon:
“Plainly, competition is not served by permitting a market entrant to eliminate price competition as a condition of entry, and it is cold comfort to consumers that they gained a new ebook retailer at the expense of passing control over all ebook prices to a cartel of book publishers,” Livingston wrote.
There's no doubt that this is a complicated issue, fraught with many valid but opposing arguments. Ultimately though, I can't help but agree with the end result and this section was particularly persuasive to me, from page 98 of Judge Livingston's judgement (courtesy of The Wall Street Journal):
Because of the long‐term threat to competition, the Sherman Act does not authorize horizontal price conspiracies as a form of marketplace vigilantism to eliminate perceived “ruinous competition” or other “competitive evils.” Indeed, the attempt to justify a conspiracy to raise prices “on the basis of the potential threat that competition poses . . . is nothing less than a frontal assault on the basic policy of the Sherman Act.” And it is particularly ironic that the “terms” that Apple was able to insist upon by organizing a cartel of Publisher Defendants to move against Amazon — namely, the elimination of retail price competition — accomplished the precise opposite of what new entrants to concentrated markets are ordinarily supposed to provide. In short, Apple and the dissent err first in equating a symptom (a single‐retailer market) with a disease (a lack of competition), and then err again by prescribing the disease itself as the cure.
Apple could still appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but it is not a certainty that the Supreme Court would agree to hear the case. In response to today's ruling an Apple spokesperson issued this statement to Fortune:
“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and this ruling does nothing to change the facts. We are disappointed the Court does not recognize the innovation and choice the iBooks Store brought for consumers. While we want to put this behind us, the case is about principles and values. We know we did nothing wrong back in 2010 and are assessing next steps.”
Like many others today, I started the three-month free trial of Apple Music. I'm curious to check out Apple's streaming service combined with curation, Beats 1, and Connect features, and I've been eagerly anticipating this product for quite some time. I've been listening to music via streaming services since I found a way to start using Spotify in 2009, so when a big player like Apple enters this market, I pay attention.1
Good-looking new site by Apple detailing some of Beats 1's upcoming features with previews and video teasers. Something I didn't know: you can swipe on the 'On Air' bar to see a schedule of what's coming up. More details on anchors and the July lineup are available here.