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Deezer’s New HomePod Integration Supports Hi-Res Audio Playback

Source: Deezer.

Source: Deezer.

Late last year, music fans gained the ability to switch their default music service on the HomePod. Pandora was the first to offer the option last November and has now been joined by Deezer in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the US.

Similar to other services, Deezer’s HomePod voice control functionality lets subscribers play albums, specific tracks and artists, as well as playlists using Siri. However, the most notable feature of Deezer’s HomePod integration announced by the company today is that its HiFi subscribers will be able to listen to hi-res audio using Apple’s smart speaker. Deezer’s Flow feature, which plays an endless playlist of subscribers’ favorite music, is also available.

The HomePod mini isn’t the best choice for hi-res audio playback, but this integration is an excellent option for Deezer users who have the original HomePod. As the only major streaming service without a hi-res alternative and with the original HomePod discontinued and rumors of a ‘new HiFi tier’ of Apple Music circulating, it will be interesting to see what Apple does in this area.


CARROT Weather 5.2 Revamps Layout Customization and Adds New Sections and Data

When CARROT Weather 5 was released in January, it became one of the most highly-customizable apps available on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. With that came a level of complexity that required a bit of a learning curve. With a bit of experimentation and the progressive unlocking of customizations, though, I thought version 5’s layout features were manageable. However, with the update released today, developer Brian Mueller has overhauled CARROT Weather’s layout functionality making it easier to get started and faster to build a personalized weather dashboard than ever before.

The Layout section of CARROT Weather's settings is where you choose from layout templates and add individual data components called Sections.

The Layout section of CARROT Weather’s settings is where you choose from layout templates and add individual data components called Sections.

The app’s settings include a new group of related items: Layout, Display, and App Icon, the first two of which are new. Layout replaces Customization and is divided into preset layouts and sections that can be added to the app’s main view. Layout presets, like Odin, Siren, and Chronos, are a great place to start when planning your CARROT Weather layout. You can preview any that you aren’t using, which takes your data settings and applies it to the new preset, so you can see how it would look. From the preview, you can tap ‘Set’ to begin using the new theme or ‘Cancel’ to return to the app’s Layout settings to make more adjustments.

The settings for each section now includes previews of what that section will look like before you add it to your layout.

The settings for each section now includes previews of what that section will look like before you add it to your layout.

The Sections part of Layout is where you pick and customize the individual data components for your layout. The big change here is that at the top of each section’s individual settings is a preview of what it will look like based on the options you’ve chosen. It’s a big improvement because it eliminates the guessing about what each change will look like before you add the section. Together with the Layout previews, the new Sections picker short-circuits the trial and error loop of version 5.0, making it much faster to design the perfect weather dashboard.

CARROT Weather 5.2 includes new Maps and Alerts sections.

CARROT Weather 5.2 includes new Maps and Alerts sections.

CARROT Weather has added a couple of new sections too. The first, which is exclusive to Premium Ultra subscribers, is a Weather Maps section that allows you to add weather radar to your dashboard. You can add multiple layers of data to the map, pick from three different sizes and zoom levels, and choose a handful of additional style and appearance settings, all of which are previewed for you at the top of the screen. There’s also a new alerts section that can be added to notify you of severe weather and other unusual conditions, as well as new tide data available in certain existing sections. Finally, you can adjust the text size and pick among multiple font choices in the new Display section of the app’s settings.

When CARROT Weather 5.0 came out, I spent some time coming up with a layout that I liked, and I never touched it again. It’s not like I spent hours trying every possible combination to come up with something that I liked, but there was enough trial and error involved that I didn’t feel like testing out anything else after that initial setup. With the new layout system, that has changed. Tweaking the size of sections and their layout is much faster with the new previews, making experimenting easier. As a result, I’ve tweaked my hourly view a little, added a Map section, and modified the data reported by a couple of other sections. The changes weren’t drastic, but it’s even better now, which I love. If you haven’t played with CARROT Weather’s customization options in a while, now is definitely the time to do so.

CARROT Weather is available as a free update on the App Store and offers multiple subscription tiers for its more advanced, data-rich features.


AppStories, Episode 216 – Substack, Email, and Data Portability

This week on AppStories, we explore the popularity of Substack among writers leaving big media companies, rethink our email workflows after leaving Hey, and consider data portability and the tradeoffs of proprietary app systems.

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Epic Versus Apple: The MacStories Overview

Later today, Epic Games and Apple will square off in a high-stakes trial in US federal district court that’s nominally about money. However, if that were all that was at stake, the claims each company has made against the other would likely have been resolved by now. Companies the size of Apple and Epic settle because it’s rarely in their interest to have a judge make decisions for them. However, this trial is different.

There’s more to these disputes than Epic’s allegation that Apple violated antitrust laws and Apple’s claims that Epic violated its developer agreement. Underlying it all is the way the dispute was precipitated by Epic. The Fortnite creator’s actions don’t necessarily absolve Apple of antitrust violations, but Epic’s calculated orchestration of events leading to the dispute have not gone unnoticed by the judge presiding over the case and may influence the trial’s outcome. Coupled with Epic’s efforts to get regulators around the world to take up its cause and its very public crusade against the way Apple operates the App Store, it’s not surprising that the claims haven’t settled. Instead, the parties will begin today with opening arguments in front of US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who the parties have agreed will decide the dispute instead of a jury.

Regardless of your opinion of the way Apple runs the App Store or Epic’s litigation tactics, the thing to keep in mind as the trial starts is that the judge is being asked to settle a legal dispute, not set policy. Both companies have made specific claims against the other, which by definition means the judge’s ruling will likely be narrower in scope than it would be in an antitrust case brought by the US government. Nor is any remedy imposed by the judge likely to be as broad as government regulation of the App Store might be someday.

Still, that doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t high; they are. An adverse ruling against Apple could significantly change the way the company operates the App Store and would likely trigger more antitrust lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny in the future. As a result, I thought it would be useful to dig in and take a closer look at some of the parties’ arguments and the context in which this dispute arose to provide a better sense of what to expect from the trial, which is expected to run about three weeks, and what the outcome might be.

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Inoreader: Take Back Control of Your News Feed [Sponsor]

Inoreader is the premier service for RSS power users. Not only does Inoreader let you fine-tune your RSS experience, but its capabilities extend well beyond RSS to monitoring email newsletters, Twitter, Facebook pages, and webpages that don’t even have an RSS feed. Stop visiting a long list of bookmarks every day and let Inoreader deliver the Internet to you through its web app, recently-redesigned mobile apps, and third-party apps that integrate with Inoreader too.

At its core, Inoreader is a highly configurable RSS service that makes it easy to import all the feeds you subscribe to using OPML. The service offers extensive search functionality to help you find new feeds and search your existing collection too. It even recommends new feeds based on your existing ones and helps you trim your list based on inactive or dead feeds.

However, RSS is only part of the Inoreader story. The service offers a unique email address that you can use to subscribe to email newsletters, so you can enjoy them just like RSS feeds and declutter your inbox. Inoreader can also monitor complex Twitter searches, so you never miss the latest about your favorite topics. You can even monitor changes on webpages that don’t have RSS feeds and Facebook pages, pushing the latest updates to Inoreader’s central hub. Most recently, Inoreader added an audio player that allows you to use it for audio content like podcasts too.

Inoreader’s service works on the web, its own iOS and Android apps, and with a long list of third-party RSS clients that have integrated with it. Inoreader is free to try, so you’ve got nothing to lose by going there now and signing up, and until June 3rd, MacStories readers can upgrade to a Pro plan for 20% off for the first year using the code MACSTRY1 at checkout. So go there today, and take back control of your news feed with Inoreader.

Our thanks to Inoreader for sponsoring MacStories this week.


MacStories Unwind: iOS 14.5, 1Blocker, a New Thread HomeKit Accessory, and Earning Results

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Sponsored by: Honeybadger – Your Secret Weapon for Exception, Uptime, and Cron Monitoring

This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • Monthly Log
    • John on two tentpole features the Mac and iPad need
    • Federico updates his desk setup with a new keyboard
  • MacStories Weekly
    • Muse
    • A SoundSource Tip
    • Federico explains how to migrate thousands of email messages
    • A 1Blocker giveaway

AppStories

Unwind



Spotify Rolling Out Redesigned ‘Your Library’ Page for Mobile Apps

As announced by Spotify earlier today, the company is rolling out a redesigned ‘Your Library’ page in its iOS and Android apps that should make it easier to browse your music collection and podcast episodes with a new grid view, better filters and sorting options, and more. From the Spotify Newsroom:

Your collection of music and podcasts is a representation of you—and it’s something deeply personal. But with 5,000+ hours of content released globally every day on Spotify and hundreds of those saved in Your Library, we know it’s crucial to be able to quickly find what you’re looking for, jump back into your latest discovery, or rediscover a beloved track you saved years ago.

Starting today, we are rolling out a new version of Your Library to all Spotify mobile users. Now, you’ll have a more streamlined way to easily explore your collection and find your saved music and podcasts faster. Your Library’s updated design and added features will enable you to spend less time looking for content and organizing your collection, and more time rediscovering the music and podcasts you’ve loved over the years. And as always, keep adding even more content for a library that grows alongside you into the future.

I’m particularly intrigued by grid view and the new filters to switch between music and podcasts. I’m also curious to see if this new design applies to the iPad app (which continues to pale in comparison to Apple Music’s solid iPad client) or not.

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Apple Q2 2021 Results - $89.58 Billion Revenue

Apple has just published its financial results for Q2 2021. The company posted revenue of $89.58 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“This quarter reflects both the enduring ways our products have helped our users meet this moment in their own lives, as well as the optimism consumers seem to feel about better days ahead for all of us,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Apple is in a period of sweeping innovation across our product lineup, and we’re keeping focus on how we can help our teams and the communities where we work emerge from this pandemic into a better world. That certainly begins with products like the all-new iMac and iPad Pro, but it extends to efforts like the 8 gigawatts of new clean energy we’ll help bring onto the grid and our $430 billion investment in the United States over the next 5 years.”

Apple Beats Expectations

As reported by CNBC, Apple beat Wall Street expectations:

Apple reported a blowout quarter on Wednesday, announcing companywide sales up 54% higher than last year, and significantly stronger profits than Wall Street expected.

Apple stock rose over 4% in extended trading.

Graphical Visualization

After the break, we’ve compiled a graphical visualization of Apple’s Q2 2021 financial results.

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