MusicHarbor by Marcos Tanaka has single-handedly kept me on top of my favorite music artists since I first learned about it from Federico. Tanaka has been updating the app regularly, refining the UI and adding handy new features. With the release of iOS and iPadOS 14, MusicHarbor has a brand new look and several widgets.
Posts tagged with "Apple Music"
Today during an event in which Apple revealed new Apple Watch and iPad models, the company also had some big services news to share: to increase adoption of the company’s growing slate of services, a new Apple One bundle will be launching soon to bring together multiple paid services at a discounted price.
Although Apple One doesn’t carry an official release date yet besides simply ‘fall,’ Apple did detail the breakdown of pricing and included services across three different Apple One tiers:
- Individual: Includes Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, and 50 GB of iCloud storage for an individual at $14.95/month, a savings of $6/month.
- Family: Also includes Apple Music, TV+, and Arcade, but with 200 GB of iCloud storage and Family Sharing for all services, at $19.95/month for savings of $8/month.
- Premier: This is the big bundle, including Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, News+, the newly announced Fitness+, as well as 2 TB of iCloud storage for $29.95/month, a savings of $25/month.
The Individual and Family tiers of Apple One will be launching in over 100 countries to reach the widest number of users possible. Premier, however, since it includes services like News+ which are only available in limited territories, will only be available in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia at launch.
When Apple One launches, users will be able to try any of the three tiers with a 30-day free trial for services that they aren’t already paying for. It’s also worth noting that according to Apple’s website, Fitness+ likely won’t be available until after Apple One debuts, since it carries a launch window of ‘Late 2020’ while Apple One is ‘Coming this fall.’
Apple One’s tiered structure makes a lot of sense, and the savings seem pretty enticing, especially for the Premier plan. As someone who already subscribes to every Apple service, Premier will be a no-brainer to me as I’ll gain Fitness+ and a higher iCloud storage plan for less than the $38/month I’m paying right now.
Today Apple announced an expansion and rebranding for Apple Music’s radio efforts. The flagship worldwide radio station Beats 1 is being renamed Apple Music 1 while retaining the same content as before.
Joining Apple Music 1 in Apple’s lineup of global radio stations will be two new stations: Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country. The former is dedicated to well-known and well-loved songs from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s, while the latter highlights modern and classic country music.
Like Apple Music 1’s roster of hosts and presenters, which includes Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Brooke Reese, Apple’s two new stations will have daily on-air hosts as well. For Apple Music Hits this includes Jayde Donovan, Estelle, Lowkey, and more; Apple Music Country will be hosted by Kelleigh Bannen, Ty Bentli, and Bree, among others.
One of the unique strengths of Apple Music 1, besides its strong team of hosts, is the periodic shows by artists such as Billie Eilish, Elton John, and Frank Ocean. Apple has assembled just as impressive an assortment of shows for its new stations. Per Apple’s press release, Apple Music Hits will feature exclusive shows from “Backstreet Boys, Ciara, Mark Hoppus, Huey Lewis, Alanis Morissette, Snoop Dogg, Meghan Trainor, Shania Twain, and more.” For Apple Music Country the list of shows is even longer, featuring:
Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, BRELAND, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Morgan Evans, Florida Georgia Line, Pat Green, Willie Jones, Chrissy Metz, Midland, Rissi Palmer, The Shires, Carrie Underwood, and Morgan Wallen, alongside exclusive shows from legendary producers and songwriters like Dave Cobb, Jesse Frasure, and Luke Laird, and journalist Hunter Kelly.
Apple Music hasn’t changed its radio product much over the years, so today’s announcements represent a significant move for the company. While I still wish the Music app provided better tools for informing me when a new radio show I may be interested in is coming up, such as push notifications as a show’s starting, perhaps today’s moves are just the beginning. Now that the content side of radio has been enhanced, perhaps this fall’s updated Music app will offer improvements to the software side of the radio experience.
It’s been less than a year since Apple launched its first public beta of the Apple Music web player, which after several months came out of beta earlier this year and resides at music.apple.com. On the heels of an updated Music app in this fall’s releases of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and more, the company isn’t delaying keeping its web player in-sync with the app versions. A new public beta of Apple Music for web can be accessed now at beta.music.apple.com, sporting a design to match the changes seen in the forthcoming macOS 11 and iPadOS 14, and a new Listen Now page that replaces the prior For You option.
The design refresh doesn’t bring major changes, just aesthetic tweaks to elements like the sidebar. Listen Now represents the most substantial update, but it still works similarly to the former For You page. It contains collections of recommended albums and playlists based on your listening activity, alongside Apple Music’s algorithmic playlists like New Music Mix and Chill Mix. You’ll also find Recently Played, New Releases from artists in your Library, and a new prominent section called Top Picks. After using Listen Now in the OS betas for the last couple months, I’ve grown to prefer it over For You, despite there being relatively few differences between the two. Having Top Picks front and center, for example, is a better choice for me than For You’s placement of the algorithmic playlists up top, since I rarely listen to those.
It’s great to see that Apple Music’s web player will be updated on the same cycle as its apps. Apple’s history with iterating its web apps isn’t great (iCloud.com, anyone?), but to better compete against Spotify, which has a first-class web player, a more intentional approach for Apple Music is needed.
Following the debut of Apple’s MusicKit API, which enables third parties to build apps and web experiences that directly integrate with Apple Music, 2019 was a big year for third-party Apple Music clients on the App Store. We’ve written about several of these apps, but the earliest and highest profile debut of the year was Soor, a meticulously designed client that distinguishes itself with a fully customizable Home view for displaying only the content sections you care about – choosing from things like Recently Added, Playlists, Recently Played, New Releases, For You, and more. Federico reviewed the launch version of Soor and found a lot to like about its unique approach, but he ultimately was disappointed by the absence of certain functionality that’s readily available in Apple’s first-party Music app.
In the nearly 18 months since launch, Soor has improved in significant ways. I adore the throwback Cover Flow-inspired playback screen, where you can smoothly swipe through a horizontal row of artwork, and time-synced lyrics are now available via a tight Musixmatch integration. There are still certain functions you’ll need to pop into Apple’s Music app for, sometimes due to Apple Music API limitations that Soor’s developer can do nothing about, and other times because the app simply doesn’t offer certain features yet – AirPlay 2, for example, is still unsupported. Overall though, for my uses at least, Soor covers enough core Apple Music functionality that there’s very little I need the first-party client for. The biggest absent feature on my wishlist is an iPad app, which I’m glad to see is on the roadmap, especially since iPadOS 14 will soon offer a much-improved first-party Music app.
Soor’s improvements have made it a truly compelling alternative to the first-party Music app, and today’s 2.0 update continues that trend by offering two big new features: magic mixes and release alerts. The latter is a nice addition, but the real pillar of this update is magic mixes.
Today Apple Music has joined a unified effort in the music industry to raise awareness about the injustice of racism and show support for Black communities around the world. Black Out Tuesday is being observed in different ways by different organizations, but Apple Music’s approach involves a full-page takeover of the For You and Browse sections in the app, which currently feature a message of solidarity and a single option: Listen Together. Selecting this will begin playing a special radio stream celebrating Black artists.
On Tuesday, June 2nd, Apple Music will observe Black Out Tuesday. We will use this day to reflect and plan actions to support Black artists, Black creators, and Black communities. #TheShowMustBePaused #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/xkvn31DpYc
— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) June 2, 2020
Apple Music users will still be able to access their full Library today, as well as use the search option to discover new music. But for the remainder of the day, the standard recommendations from Apple’s staff, algorithmic playlists, and any other radio content including normal Beats 1 programming will all be unavailable.
For as long as I can remember being interested in music as more than a mere source of background audio, but as an art form, I’ve been interested in the people who make music – the artists and their craft. Back when I used to buy CDs at my favorite record store in Viterbo, my hometown, I would peruse each album’s liner notes to not only read official lyrics and check out the artwork and/or exclusive photographs contained inside the booklet, but also to read the credits so I could know more about who arranged or mixed a particular track. Beyond the feeling of owning a tangible piece of music, there was something about reading through an album’s credits that served as a simple, yet effective reminder: that people – engineers, instrumentalists, vocalists, producers – created the art I enjoyed.
In today’s world of endless, a la carte streaming catalogs, we’ve reduced all of this to a cold technological term: metadata. Our music listening behaviors have shifted and evolved with time; when we browse Apple Music or Spotify, we’re inclined to simply search for a song or an album and hit play before we return to another app or game on our phones. A streaming service isn’t necessarily a place where we want to spend time learning more about music: it’s just a convenient, neatly designed delivery mechanism. The intentionality of sitting down to enjoy an artist’s creation has been lost to the allure of content and effortless consumption. Don’t get me wrong: I love the comfort of music streaming services, and I’m a happy Apple Music subscriber; but this is also why, for well over a year now, I’ve been rebuilding a personal music collection I can enjoy with a completely offline high-res music player.
Whether by design or as a byproduct of our new habits, metadata and credits don’t play a big role in modern music streaming services. We’re frustrated when a service gets the title of a song wrong or reports the incorrect track sequence in an album, but we don’t consider the fact that there’s a world of context and additional information hidden behind the songs and albums we listen to every day. That context is entirely invisible to us because it’s not mass-market enough for a music streaming service. There have been small updates on this front lately1, but by and large, credits and additional track information are still very much ignored by the streaming industry. And if you ask me, that’s a shame.
This is why I instantly fell in love with MusicSmart, the latest utility by Marcos Antonio Tanaka, developer of MusicHarbor (another favorite music app of mine). MusicSmart, which is a $1.99 paid upfront utility, revolves around a single feature: showing you credits and additional details for albums and songs available in your local music library or Apple Music’s online catalog.
Mitchel Broussard at MacRumors reports on a new Apple Music feature that’s been spotted rolling out to a limited set of users:
Apple today is rolling out a new feature to Apple Music users, prominently displaying new albums, EPs, and videos from their favorite artists at the top of the Library tab in iOS.
The new feature first appears as a splash page in Apple Music on iOS, telling users that they can “see new music from artists you like.” This will let you get updates about new releases from artists you listen to, with notifications appearing above your library of albums and playlists.
Apple Music has long offered push notifications for new releases from artists you enjoy, but for me and everyone else I know, those are wildly inconsistent. Because of that, I’ve grown to depend on the excellent app MusicHarbor instead, which is much more trustworthy.
I like the idea of seeing new releases right inside the Library tab, but will wait and see whether they prove reliable or not. Based on my prior experience with Apple Music notifications, I wouldn’t be surprised to see banners for new albums show up even after I’ve saved those albums to my library. I’d happily be proven wrong, though, so here’s hoping this new method of music updates means Apple has also paid attention to the engine running the feature.
It doesn’t happen often, but Apple Music is rolling out a new algorithmic playlist today to join the existing Favorites Mix, Chill Mix, New Music Mix, and Friends Mix. Per Igor Bonifacic at Engadget:
Apple is trying something new to keep people’s spirits up during the coronavirus pandemic. In Apple Music, it’s introducing a new algorithmic playlist called the Get Up! Mix that the company says is full of “happy-making, smile-finding, sing-alonging music.” With the help of human editors, it will update the playlist each week with new songs. Think: Discovery Weekly, but with a focus on playing tunes that will encourage good vibes – though there’s the promise of discovering new music as well.
The idea behind the Get Up! Mix is exactly what I would want in a new weekly playlist. Though I’m not in love with the name, I’ve always wanted a positive, upbeat playlist containing both tracks I’m familiar with and a few I’m not. A quick glance over my first Get Up! Mix shows that this is exactly what Apple’s going for. I’ve only rarely listened to the other weekly playlists Apple Music offers, but I think things are going to be different with this latest addition.
The new playlist is still rolling out, so you may not see it in your For You tab just yet. According to the app, the Get Up! Mix will be updated every Sunday, which is when the Chill Mix was formerly updated; the Chill Mix’s weekly schedule now moves to Saturdays.