Posts in Linked

Dave Wiskus on Apple Music’s Connect for Artists

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. Their demo is really good.


Connected: It’s Not a Feature; It’s a Feeling

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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How to Use “Likes” in Apple Music

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.


Zane Lowe’s Return to Radio

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.


Apple Conspired with Book Publishers, Appeals Court Confirms

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.”


Trent Reznor on Apple Music

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.


Apple Releases OS X 10.10.4

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.


Apple Watch and the Killer App Crisis

Smart take by Ken Segall on Apple Watch:

Well, here’s the stark reality: The Apple Watch has no killer app. And it will never have a killer app.

But anyone who hinges the success of the device on the idea of a killer app is living far, far in the past.

If you need any proof, just look at the iPhone. We can all agree it started one of the biggest technology revolutions of our time. So … what’s the killer app?

This is exactly how I look at the iPad, too. I have a feeling Apple Watch will follow the same path – especially after watchOS 2.