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Posts tagged with "Apple Music"

Shazam Crosses 1 Billion Songs Recognized from Control Center

Today, Shazam surpassed 1 billion songs recognized using its Music Recognition control available in iOS and iPadOS’s Control Center. That’s a huge number, especially considering that the feature was first added in iOS and iPadOS 14.2 less than a year ago.

The Music Recognition control can be added to Control Center from the Settings app. When tapped, the feature creates a digital fingerprint of the audio and sends it over the Internet for matching against Shazam’s database of songs, securely and privately making a match without sending the actual audio. In addition to recognizing songs playing around you, the feature can recognize songs played in any app and even while you’re wearing AirPods.

According to Apple, the ten most Shazamed songs from Control Center are:

  1. “Talking To The Moon” - Bruno Mars
  2. “Astronaut In The Ocean” - Masked Wolf
  3. “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” - Lil Nas X
  4. “Beggin” - Måneskin
  5. “Another Love” - Tom Odell
  6. “Runaway” - AURORA
  7. “Dick” - StarBoi3 Feat. Doja Cat
  8. “Arcade” - Duncan Laurence
  9. “Stay” - The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber
  10. “drivers license” - Olivia Rodrigo

Earlier this summer, the Shazam app crossed 1 billion daily songs recognized and a lifetime total of over 50 billion. With the release of iOS and iPadOS 15, developers will be able to incorporate song recognition into their own apps using ShazamKit, which will undoubtedly accelerate the number of songs recognized even further.

Viewing recently recognized songs from Control Center.

Viewing recently recognized songs from Control Center.

The Music Recognition control doesn’t save songs it recognizes to the Shazam app, which I wish it did, but when iOS and iPadOS 15 are released, users will be able to touch and hold the control to reveal a list of recently-recognized songs. Selecting a song from the list opens it in the Shazam app. Alternately, you can swipe left on an entry to delete it.

I’ve used Shazam since long before it was acquired by Apple, and the Music Recognition control has become one of my most-used Control Center features since it launched. Whether I’m out somewhere and hear a song I like or watching a TV show with an interesting soundtrack, quickly swiping down to access Control Center has become an ingrained habit at this point.


Billie Eilish and Apple Music Promote Spatial Audio with Short Film

Apple and Billie Eilish have collaborated on a video visualizing Spatial Audio, the Dolby Atmos-powered audio technology designed to create an immersive listening experience for music fans. Eilish recently released her album Happier Than Ever, which is available on Apple Music in Spatial Audio and Lossless.

The video begins with Eilish singing Getting Older a cappella in front of a vanity mirror, transitions into a performance of GOLDWING. As Eilish sings, mirrors multiply her reflection, creating a visual metaphor for Spatial Audio.

An audio feature like Spatial Audio isn’t an easy thing to illustrate with video. However, Eilish’s short film hits the nail on the head by capturing the feel of the feature in a beautifully cinematic way that isn’t technical. As a fan of Eilish’s work, I also love her short but captivating performance.


Apple Music to Livestream Sold-Out Atlanta Listening Event for Kanye West’s Next Album, DONDA

In a Beats Studio Buds ad that aired tonight during Game 6 of the NBA finals, it was revealed and later confirmed by Def Jam Recordings that Apple Music will be live-streaming a listening event for Kanye West’s highly anticipated album DONDA. The sold-out event, which is being held at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, will be streamed Thursday, July 22nd at 8 pm Eastern, the day before the album officially drops.

The ad for Beats Studio Buds features American track star Sha’Carri Richardson, the sprinter who was poised to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games before testing positive for marijuana use. As Richardson gets set to start a race, No Child Left Behind, a track from Kanye West’s upcoming album plays in the background. Rumors of DONDA’s release have been swirling for days, so the Friday release is not a shock to his fans.

Apple Music has participated in some livestream events in the past, such as the live premiere of Billie Eilish’s documentary ‘The World’s A Little Blurry,’ but such events have been few and far between. It’s good to see Apple Music getting involved with big events like this. With the pieces in place to stream audio or video, there’s a lot Apple could do to get involved in live performances too.


Troubles with HomePod’s audioOS Beta

I’ve been running all of Apple’s betas, with the sole exception being watchOS 8. So far, the experience has been good. There are bugs, apps have crashed, and devices have restarted spontaneously here and there, but I haven’t been significantly slowed down on my iPhone, iPad, or Mac. In fact, I’m doing things like editing AppStories in Logic on Monterey, which isn’t the type of thing I’ve ever been able to do this early in a macOS beta.

However, audioOS, the OS that controls HomePods, has been as rough as Apple’s other OSes have been solid. I’ve been running the HomePod beta since the very beginning, and it’s been nothing but trouble. I haven’t seen overheating, which some users have reported, but I’ve had trouble with AirPlay and getting my HomePods, especially the minis, to stay connected to the Internet. So, when I heard that beta 3 was out and adds lossless streaming, I set out to update my HomePods right away.

My pair of original HomePods took a few tries, but I eventually got them updated using the Home app. The HomePod minis were more stubborn. The one in my office refused to connect to the Internet, so I couldn’t update it. I factory reset it not long ago, and I considered doing that again, but instead, I unplugged and replugged it, hoping that a restart would get it back on WiFi. I couldn’t tell if it had finished restarting, so I gave it a tap, which is when this started to play:

My HomePod was giving me Troubles alright.

My HomePod was giving me Troubles alright.

Yes, U2’s Songs of Innocence, the album that was given away to 500 million people with an iCloud account in 2014 that, as Russ Frushtick discovered and wrote about for New York Magazine, lives in an odd limbo in so many people’s music libraries around the world. Frushtick was frustrated because the album played automatically when he connected his iPhone to CarPlay. Was something similar at play here?

The odds that it was random chance certainly seemed too far-fetched to be a coincidence. With nearly 19,000 songs ripped, purchased, and added to my music library for well over a decade, I felt like I was being trolled by my HomePod mini as Bono belted out The Troubles. Even the title of the song felt like an elaborate troll.

I had to know, so I unplugged the HomePod mini a second time and then plugged it back in again. I waited a couple of minutes, tapped the top, and:

Not even the next song on the album.

Not even the next song on the album.

I couldn’t help but laugh. I also couldn’t help but wonder: Was I finger tapping Bono or Tim when I reached out to tap my HomePod mini?

Is that you in there Tim?

Is that you in there Tim?

Such is #betalife. The happy ending to the story is that after some more fiddling around, I managed to get my HomePod mini working again, playing my complete Music library, which is all I really care about.

All's well that ends well.

All’s well that ends well.

I’ve always thought the uproar over Songs of Innocence was a little overblown, but then again, I’m a U2 fan, even if that album isn’t anywhere near the top of my favorites. At least with The Troubles out of the way, I can see if I can stream some lossless Doja Cat now.


Shazam Passes 1 Billion Monthly Songs Recognized for a Lifetime Total of More Than 50 Billion

WWDC saw the introduction of ShazamKit, a new framework that will allow third-party developers to incorporate the song recognition service into their own apps. Less than a week later, Apple has said that the service has surpassed 1 billion songs recognized per month for a total of over 50 billion Shazams since the service launched.

“Shazam is synonymous with magic,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, “both for the fans getting a song recognition almost instantly, and for the artists being discovered. With 1 billion recognitions a month, Shazam is one of the most popular music apps in the world. Today’s milestones show not only people’s love for Shazam, but also the ever-growing appetite for music discovery around the world.”

To put the 1 billion per month figure into context, Shazam, which was founded as a text messaging service in 2002, took 10 years to reach its first billion songs recognized. The recognition rate has been steadily increasing since then for a lifetime total of over 50 billion songs matched.

This fall, when Apple’s updated OSes are released, the monthly rate of Shazam matches is poised to accelerate further as developers begin adding ShazamKit to their apps. The new song matching framework was announced last week at WWDC and will allow developers to add functionality to their apps to recognize songs and report information to users like the song’s name, the artist, genre, and other details.

I’ve used Shazam since it debuted when the App Store launched, and I’m intrigued to see what developers will do with it. For example, I could see it becoming a convenient way to add artists I’m following in Marcos Tanaka’s app MusicHarbor. With a wealth of third-party music apps already available on the App Store, I expect we’ll see many innovative uses of the new framework soon.


Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Record Label Pages

Ethan Millman, writing for Rolling Stone, reports that Apple has added around 400 music label pages to Apple Music. Label pages began showing up in Music late in April with the release of iOS and iPadOS 14.5 as Federico covered in in his overview. However, with the introduction of Spatial Audio and lossless streaming, Millman had a chance to talk to Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s co-head of Artist Relations and radio host, about why the company is emphasizing record labels.

According to Lowe:

“We want to highlight labels that are really hyper-focused on building great quality. The labels we’re partnering with here are the ones where I want to search for their logo on the back of the record and would buy music unheard because I trust that,” Lowe says. “That to me is really the culture that we’re trying to represent from a label point of view here. In a way, this is an opportunity for us to reestablish the concept of a label as something more than just a bank. To look at the label system again as more than just a distribution model or an investment model, but actually as a place where music, art and culture is fostered in a really deliberate and very thoughtful way.”

Listener affinity for record labels is just one aspect of music that has largely fallen by the wayside in the streaming era. It will be interesting to see if Apple Music can rekindle interest in labels as an indicator of quality and curation. There’s more Apple could do to expand music credits, but it’s good to see the company take a step in this direction with labels.


You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2021 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2021 RSS feed.

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Eddy Cue On Why Spatial Audio Is a Game-Changer

Billboard’s Micah Singleton interviewed Apple executive Eddy Cue about this week’s update to Apple Music, which added Spatial Audio, a surround sound technology based on Dolby Atmos, and lossless streaming. In the interview, Cue explains why Apple is enthusiastic about Spatial Audio and emphasizing it more than lossless streaming:

…when you listen for the first time and you see what’s possible with Dolby Atmos with music, it’s a true game-changer. And so, when we listened to it for the first time, we realized this is a big, big deal. It makes you feel like you’re onstage, standing right next to the singer, it makes you feel like you might be to the left of the drummer, to the right of the guitarist. It creates this experience that, almost in some ways, you’ve never really had, unless you’re lucky enough to be really close to somebody playing music.

Although the number of Spatial Audio tracks numbers in the thousands compared to Apple Music’s catalog of 75 million songs, Cue expects it to gain momentum over time. To that end, Cue explains that Apple is evangelizing Spatial Audio:

So we went after the labels and are going to the artists and educating them on it. There’s a lot of work to be done because we have, obviously, tens of millions of songs. This is not a simple “take-the-file that you have in stereo, processes through this software application and out comes Dolby Atmos.” This requires somebody who’s a sound engineer, and the artist to sit back and listen, and really make the right calls and what the right things to do are. It’s a process that takes time, but it’s worth it.

I’ve had the chance to try both Spatial Audio on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max and lossless streaming over my home stereo system. Lossless sounds excellent on my dedicated surround-sound system, but I think Apple is taking the right approach by emphasizing Spatial Audio over lossless. As good as lossless streaming sounds, the difference is small by comparison to Spatial Audio. Also, lossless is anchored to my living room, whereas I can enjoy Spatial Audio anywhere.

I was an early adopter of DVD-Audio and SACD, which also offer a surround-sound music experience, but neither format really caught on. I think Spatial Audio could be different, though. First of all, the format isn’t an add-on cost to an Apple Music subscription. When you couple that with the popularity of Apple’s products and the competitiveness of the music streaming industry, I think the format has a fighting chance at gaining a foothold where others have stumbled.


You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2021 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2021 RSS feed.

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Apple Begins Streaming Spatial Audio and Lossless Tracks on Apple Music

Yesterday, not long after Apple’s opening WWDC keynote, the company activated Spatial Audio and lossless playback for Apple Music. The company followed up with a press release in which Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s co-head of Artist Relations and radio host, explains the new feature and how he feels Spatial Audio will affect music.

First announced last month, spatial audio is a new audio feature that will initially be available on a couple of thousands of Apple Music tracks, providing a surround sound experience for music fans. The technology is based on Dolby Atmos, which is also used by Amazon Music and Tidal.

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Apple Support Document Clarifies Lossless Streaming Details

In June, Apple Music will offer the option of streaming in CD-quality and high-resolution lossless formats. There was initial confusion about which Apple devices will support lossless streaming, but the company has clarified things with a support document.

The new support document confirms what was announced earlier this week. Lossless is supported by iPhones, iPads, and Macs using their built-in speakers and wired headphones, receivers, and powered speakers. Lossless audio will stream to AirPods, AirPods Max, and Beats wireless headphones, but it won’t be lossless because they rely on Bluetooth, which is inherently lossy.

Regarding the Lightning to 3.5 mm cable for the AirPods Max, Apple’s support document says:

The Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable was designed to allow AirPods Max to connect to analog sources for listening to movies and music. AirPods Max can be connected to devices playing Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless recordings with exceptional audio quality. However, given the analog to digital conversion in the cable, the playback will not be completely lossless.

It’s also worth noting that Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm adapter that can be used to connect wired headphones to devices only supports up to 24-bit/48 kHz lossless audio. A digital-to-analog converter is necessary for 24-bit/192 kHz playback.

Apple says HomePods and HomePod minis will be updated and an unspecified date in the future to support lossless playback, but they don’t currently support it.

It wasn’t clear initially which Apple TVs will support lossless streaming. Apple’s support document suggests that it’s only the Apple TV 4K, connected to a receiver via HDMI, leaving Apple TV HD owners out of luck. Moreover, the Apple TV 4K only supports lossless playback at 24-bit/48 kHz. However, the wording of the support document leaves the possibility that a future update may make Hi-Res Lossless available.

Finally, only Apple Music content supports lossless streaming. iTunes Store content and Apple Music’s broadcast radio, Apple Music 1, other live radio content, and music videos will not stream losslessly.