Posts in Linked

Beats Music’s First 100 Days

Yinka Adegoke, writing for Billboard:

Two of music's most successful brand marketers, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, are in the hot seat as label sources grouse that the first 100 days of the duo's subscription streaming service, Beats Music, has been a disappointment and soon will face competition on the mobile platform when Sprint begins bundling Spotify with its “Framily” plans.

According to Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers, the company is doing fine and the problem has been converting iOS users to paid subscriptions.

I still believe that the human curation Beats is doing for music recommendations offers great value, but the service needs to be available internationally and on more platforms. Spotify is available in several countries outside the United States, has desktop and mobile apps, and, more importantly, it has mindshare after years of existence. For some people, Spotify is synonym of “legal music streaming” (when I was using Rdio, I would always introduce it to my friends as “an app like Spotify”).

If Beats Music doesn't want to offer a free plan, they should aim at people willing to pay for streaming services through new software, international rollouts, and exclusives. Last week, they released an update to their iPhone app with better social integrations and App Store subscriptions. iTunes will undoubtedly make it easier to subscribe to Beats Music, and I'm hoping that the company will find a way to grow its userbase quickly without compromising on the original vision.

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Apple Tries to Clean Up Its Carbon-Spewing Ways With New Data Centers

It’s an unusual trip in that its point is to give a reporter exposure to the way Apple works, a departure from the company’s usual maniacal secrecy. But when it comes to the environment, Apple consciously carves out an exception to its standard opacity. Part of the motive, of course, is generating a halo effect from good works. But Apple also hopes to inspire other companies and organizations to embark on similar ecologically helpful enterprises. Though it may not have always been the case, Apple has a good Earth Day story to tell.

Here’s that story: Apple is close to its goal of powering all its facilities 100 percent by renewable energy. Its corporate campuses and data centers are now at 94 percent renewable and rising. (In 2010 it was 35 percent.) The next step is to extend the efforts to its retail stores.

A fascinating insight into Apple’s environmental efforts from Stephen Levy at Wired, who was given the opportunity to tour an Apple solar plant and data center in Nevada with Apple’s senior vice president of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson. It’s no surprise that the tour given to Levy is a good news story for Apple, but equally interesting are the things that Jackson notes Apple has yet to achieve – in particular converting their retail stores to renewable energy (which is this year’s goal).

Also interesting (but not surprising), Levy was allowed to report on anything he saw, except “the manufacturer of the servers” in the Reno data center.

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Sloppy Swiping

Josh Ginter on apps that implement sloppy swiping through loose gestures that can be activated anywhere on the screen:

Stretching your thumbs to the topmost corner or having to swipe from off screen to go back is not natural in any way. Mobile phone users often find themselves in situations where the precision of pressing a specific button is both inefficient and aggravating. Swiping from off the screen can also be aggravating, especially when using the iPhone with your right hand when on the move. I actually find inaccuracies with swiping from off the screen to be more annoying than having to button-mash to go back a menu.

I'm a fan of the system-wide Back gesture introduced with iOS 7, but I prefer apps (like Unread and Facebook Paper) that don't force you to swipe exactly from the edge of the screen. I find that kind of gesture implementation comfortable, friendly, and natural.

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Directional: Espresso Game Recap

This week Federico and Myke catch up on a bunch of follow up and listener mail, before discussing some upcoming games that have caught their interest over the last few weeks, like Tomodachi Life, Mario Kart 8, Below and Severed.

A fun episode of Directional in which we catch up on some recent game announcements; don't miss the links in the show notes, and especially the Tomodachi Life video. Get the episode here.

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The Prompt: The Problem And The Solution

This week, Stephen, Federico and Myke re-visit Carousel, Greg Christie’s departure from Apple and CarPlay. Then, Federico buys a shirt on the air and leads a discussion about boredom with apps, tinkering with setups and feature creep in apps and services.

This week on The Prompt, we discuss a topic that I've been thinking about for a long time: can software become boring? Why do we always want “more” and “new” from apps? How can developers balance the tension between simplicity and feature additions? To be continued, for sure.

Get the episode here.

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What Fruit Is Left Hanging For iOS In Education?

There are very legitimate uses of IAP that make sense from both a developer and customer standpoint, but it’s not usable in education deployments. When my art teacher saw Paper by FiftyThree, she immediately wanted it. The problem is that it’s a free app and you can unlock needed extras by using IAP. If you are using either Managed Distribution or redeemable spreadsheets from the VPP store, there is simply no way to deploy these upgrades using MDM or Apple Configurator. I’ve e-mailed a couple of developers asking them to release paid versions of their apps as education editions, but haven’t had much luck.

Bradley Chambers provides seven great suggestions about how Apple could improve the functionality and usability of iOS in the educational field. What makes them particularly interesting is that these suggestions from Chambers have clearly come out of his experience of deploying iOS in an education setting. As a result, I was oblivious to a lot of the issues that he raises, and his suggestions make a lot of sense.

Hopefully Apple has been listening to people like Chambers who are on the front line of deploying iOS devices in educational settings and have some improvements to announce at WWDC in a few weeks time. And I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I really hope Chambers’ final suggestion became a reality.

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Editorial 1.1 Teaser

In post published yesterday on the Editorial forums, developer Ole Zorn shared more details on Editorial 1.1, announcing some features he's been working on for the update, such as the ui module, which will allow users to create custom interfaces inside Editorial:

It's not just a module, there's also an integrated visual editor for setting things up without code, and in Editorial there's also a way to build UIs around workflows, without having to write Python at all (though you can also mix and match). Before you get the wrong idea: This is in no way a complete wrapper around UIKit or some kind of Cocoa bridge, so you won't be able to do a all the things you could do in a native app, but it provides a (hopefully) easy-to-use and pythonic way to create UIs that look and feel “at home” on iOS, and it's possible do some relatively advanced stuff with custom drawing and touch handling.

For Editorial, I tend to think of this as a “plugin” interface that allows the creation of workflows that are nearly indistinguishable from native features. Obviously, this won't be for everyone, and there will definitely be a learning curve, but given what I've seen this community come up with, I'm pretty confident that it will enable some people to really push the limits of iOS text automation (and others to reap the rewards via shared workflows).

I can't stress this enough – the new module fundamentally reinvents the way you can build visual workflows in Editorial, and I can't wait to share more about the workflows I've been working on.

Make sure to check out Ole's post for screenshots of Editorial 1.1 on the iPad and iPhone.

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Apple Is Not Here To Entertain You

Jason Snell offers a great take on the tech press' obsession with an Apple iWatch:

So in the end, why do we want Apple to make an iWatch? Because it’s fun to see new products from Apple. Because we want to try one out and see if we like it. Because we like to buy new gadgets. Because we want to complain about how Apple got it wrong. Or because we’re residents of the financial sector and see everything in the context of growth, like a predator that can’t see the prey standing still right in front of it.

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