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.
- Squarespace: Build it Beautiful. Use code WORLD for 10% off
- 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.
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.
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.
Rolling Stone has published an interview with Trent Reznor on Apple Music, Beats 1, and streaming services for artists and fans. It's a good one:
I think it’s going to be an interesting experiment. But it’s one that we’re going into uncompromised, and that’s what I’m really proud of. I like that a company that is as successful and big and powerful and wide-reaching as Apple would have the faith in our artistic vision that we collectively have to try something that’s not going out with, “Well, we wish we would have done this,” but, “This is really what we think is the coolest thing we could do is.” And I mean it’s certainly been worth my time taking time off from Nine Inch Nails to focus on trying to make this experience great.
And on curation:
When you hear the word “curation,” which is being thrown about by pretty much everyone, there is a difference between saying, “Here’s a ton of playlists that we’ve done,” and a sense of quality that comes from, say, Amoeba [Records] where I walk in there and look at the staff recommendations. [With Amoeba] I can tell that somebody – a collection of people whose lives revolve around music – spent a lot of time curating that list. And when I walk into the reggae section, which I don’t know that much about but I’m interested in the dub section, I can see that people have curated and presented that stuff in ways that make it a more exciting starting point for me to get into and it weeds out stuff that’s more difficult.
Also earlier today, Apple released the latest version of OS X. Andrew Cunningham details a welcome change:
The first change in OS X 10.10.4 is to “networking reliability,” which is likely a reference to the replacement of discoveryd, a new-but-flaky DNS service introduced in Yosemite. It has been replaced with what appears to be mDNSresponder, the service that handled discoveryd's tasks in previous versions of OS X.
According to Apple, iCloud Photo Library in the Photos app should be more responsive now, too.