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Posts tagged with "itunes"

SoundShare Adds an iMessage App

SoundShare is designed to bring music lovers together regardless of the streaming services they use. I reviewed SoundShare back in May when it launched a big update and since then, Matt Abras has continued to refine and improve the app with a series of updates.

Today, SoundShare released an update that includes a great iMessage app. From SoundShare’s iMessage app, you can pick a song from among the iTunes Top 100 list or search for something else using the search bar at the top of the iMessage drawer. Tapping a song adds album art, the title, and artist to a message ready to send with or without a comment.

What makes SoundShare’s iMessage app so handy is that when your recipient taps on the album art, it opens full screen with options to open the song in iTunes, Apple Music, YouTube, or the SoundShare app. This isn’t the full compliment of services that SoundShare works with, but the others (Spotify and Deezer) can be accessed through the ‘Open in SoundShare’ option. That opens the SoundShare iOS app and immediately starts playback of the song with one of those services if you are logged into them through SoundShare.

We have started to see some interesting iMessage apps a month into the iMessage App Store that take advantage of platform. SoundShare is one of my favorites so far because it removes the friction of sharing music. I can send a nicely formatted link to a song without thinking about whether the person on the other end of my message has the correct service to play it.

SoundShare is iPhone-only and can be downloaded for free on the App Store.

‘Spoken Editions’ Section Makes Official Debut on iTunes

Roger Fingas, writing for AppleInsider:

Following a false start in September, Apple on Monday launched an expected "Spoken Editions" section on the iTunes Store, letting people hear audio versions of written content from online publishers.

The section currently includes articles from over 40 sources, such as Reuters, Wired, IGN, Jezebel, Playboy, and the Huffington Post. People can also access the material from Apple's dedicated Podcasts app.

I like this idea, and could see myself subscribing to some Spoken Editions when it expands to other publications, particularly those in Australia. I listened to a few Spoken Edition articles, and whilst the recording quality was generally quite good, I was a little surprised to hear some obvious pronunciation errors and general reading mistakes which hadn't been edited out.

The Spoken Editions are featured on the front page of the Podcasts section of the US iTunes Store, but they are also accessible via this link (which will also work even if you are outside the US).


Apple Releases iTunes 12.4 and OS X 10.11.5

Apple released iTunes 12.4 today with various design enhancements. iTunes 12.4 brings the sidebar back to the left side of the app when you are navigating your library of media, whether that’s music, movies, TV shows, apps, podcasts, or audiobooks. The sidebar is hidden when you navigate Apple Music, the App Store, and the iTunes Store.

Apple has also redesigned the media picker that sits just above the sidebar. Previously the picker consisted of a row of icons representing each media type and could be edited to include only the media types you wanted to show. The new media picker is a dropdown menu that like its predecessor is editable, and adds the name of each type of media next to its icon. Music is the one media type that cannot be removed from the media picker. iTunes 12.4 also includes simplified menus.

It is not clear from the release notes whether iTunes 12.4 includes fixes related to a recently-reported bug that deleted music files from iTunes in rare circumstances that Apple has been unable to reproduce.

Today’s updates also include a minor revision to OS X. Version 10.11.5 of OS X “improves the stability, compatibility and security” and addresses a handful of enterprise-related issues.

iTunes 12’s New Interface

I find iTunes 12 to be one of the most confusing UIs Apple has ever shipped (it's up there with the Health app for iOS 8). I don't listen to all my music in iTunes, but I like to think that I'm not completely ignorant about the app either. I use it for iTunes Match, I am a regular iTunes Radio listener, and, of course, I have a huge library of apps in it. Lately, I've even been using it to listen to podcasts because I wanted to try iCloud sync.

I don't understand most of the changes that went into the iTunes 12 interface: from the lack of a sidebar to the new tabs for navigation and separation of media types and iTunes Store, I feel completely lost using the new iTunes.

Thankfully, Agen G. N. Schmitz has a good overview of the changes over at TidBITS. He calls the iTunes interface “cleaned-up”, but when I read stuff like this…

Sidebar purists (such as myself) might be a little cheesed off by the starkness of the My Music view, but you can easily return to the sidebar by clicking the Playlists text button placed in the top middle of each media type view. This selection is sticky, so if you choose to view Playlists in Music, and then head over to view the Movies media type, you’ll return to Playlists once you select Music again. However, the iTunes Store view (available in all the media types, save for Tones and Internet Radio) trumps this stickiness. If you select iTunes Store while in Movies and then choose the Music media type, you’ll find yourself still in the iTunes Store — only switched to the Music section.

…I'm baffled by Apple's choices. This used to be simple: there was a sidebar with a Store button and you clicked the button and then you changed sections in the Store. Now, you have to account for “stickiness”.

I look at the screenshots of the new iTunes, I try to use the app, and I don't know what's going on. Maybe I'm the problem because I'm not “committed” to learning iTunes enough – but that's not supposed to happen with good interface design.


Apple Updates iTunes Connect App for iOS 7

Following OS X, iTunes, and Podcasts for iOS, Apple released a long overdue update to the iTunes Connect app today, bringing a new iOS 7 design and wider support for media sold on the iTunes Store.

If you're a developer or content creator, you can now enjoy a redesigned app (nothing special, but nice icon) and view stats for music, movies, and TV shows available on iTunes.

iTunes Connect 3.0 is available on the App Store.


Tuning into the Curious Design Decisions of iTunes Radio

Last week, I listened to Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds to Mars talk about his hometown of Los Angeles. He talked about, and then played, the songs that remind him of the City of Angels and other songs that have inspired him as a musical artist. It was great to listen to, not just as a big fan of Thirty Seconds to Mars but as someone who has just spent over two months living, studying, and working in Los Angeles.

So where did I listen to Leto and these songs? iTunes Radio.

Read more

Apple Adds NPR News Channel To iTunes Radio

Apple's iTunes Radio has gained a news channel today with the addition of NPR, as first reported by re/code and confirmed on NPR's All Tech Considered blog.

Digital streams of Morning Edition, All Things Considered and hourly newscasts will be available on a new 24-hour streaming NPR channel on iTunes Radio.

"What you hear today is just the start of what's to come," said Zach Brand, NPR's vice president of digital media. Later this spring, the channel will expand to include streams of our member stations from across the country.

iTunes Radio, launched alongside iOS 7 in September, allows users to listen to free, ad-supported streams of songs that are automatically suggested by the service or collected in stations curated by music experts and artists. The new channel, available for streaming on iTunes Radio for iOS 7 devices and computers running iTunes, marks an important milestone for Apple in diversifying the offer of its iTunes Radio service, thus far focused on promoting music content with direct integration with the iTunes Store for purchases -- iTunes Radio is built into Apple's Music and iTunes apps, which have buttons to quickly purchase a song from a stream.

NPR will offer both pre-programmed and live shows; at the moment, it's displayed as a station in iTunes Radio next to music stations created by customers or curated by Apple. Since the launch in September, Apple has been trying various experiments with iTunes Radio for music content: the company regularly hosts "First Play" stations with previews of upcoming albums from popular artists, and it recently launched a special station with audio streams of iTunes Festival at SXSW.

Apple is believed to be considering a dedicated app for iTunes Radio in a future version of iOS, which could give the company more flexibility for separating user-made stations and curated sections, or music content from news, interviews, and other audio content. Currently, the entire iTunes Radio service lives in a dedicated page of the existing Music app for iOS.

Apple's expansion of iTunes Radio could also be particularly interesting for CarPlay, the company's initiative to bring iOS apps and services to car infotainment systems with a dedicated interface and iPhone integration. In initial demos, Apple showed how CarPlay could stream songs off iTunes Radio through an iPhone, but news channels and other audio content could easily fit into the same vision with the unified iTunes Radio service.

NPR's new iTunes Radio channel is available here.