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Posts tagged with "music"

Apple Debuts New Music Video Streaming Service Called Apple Music TV

This morning Apple debuted a new video streaming service dedicated to music called Apple Music TV. According to an announcement sent by Apple to Variety, the free service will stream:

exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests.

The service, which is available through Apple’s Music and TV apps, is currently US-only.

To kick things off, Apple Music TV is streaming the top 100 videos streamed on Apple Music. According to Variety, the service plans to debut new videos every Friday:

It will also have two exclusive video premieres on Friday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT, Joji’s “777” and Saint Jhn’s “Gorgeous”; the channel will premiere new videos every Friday at that time.

Apple also told Variety that there will be an all-day Bruce Springsteen takeover of the service on October 22nd to celebrate the release of Springsteen’s latest album, which will includes videos and an interview with Apple Music 1 DJ Zane Lowe.

Variety says there is no word from Apple about whether the service will include documentaries like the recently-announced film by Billie Eilish, which is coming early next year.

Music videos have long felt like an afterthought to Apple. As Federico asked in his iOS and iPadOS 14 review:

The question remains though: is there more Apple could do to surface Apple Music’s catalog of non-music material, such as radio stations, interviews, and music videos?

With so much music video content available, it’s terrific to see Apple giving it a dedicated place inside both the Music and TV apps.


Soor Offers Beautiful, Customizable Widgets for Apple Music

The formula is tried and true: Apple makes quality software that nonetheless leaves a lot of room for third-party developers to build something more powerful and better tailored for specific needs. In iOS 14, the built-in Music widget is a great example of this. I really like Music’s widget, which shows your recently played albums and playlists so you can quickly get some music going; it offers valuable utility. But if I’m frank, there’s a whole lot more that could have been done with widgets for Music.

That’s where Soor comes in. The third-party client for Apple Music that I recently covered offers not one, not two, but three different widgets to satisfy your music needs. And within those three widgets there’s a lot of customization to help account for a wide assortment of user preferences and desires. Every widget is powerful and also just as beautiful as what Apple’s team built, matching the full Soor app’s identity as a whole.

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Apple Rebrands Beats 1 as Apple Music 1, Launches New Global Radio Stations with Fresh Hosts and Shows

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.


Apple Music for Web Debuts New Beta Version with Fresh Design and ‘Listen Now’

The new Apple Music web beta.

The new Apple Music web beta.

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.

Anyone can access the beta version of Apple Music’s web player at beta.music.apple.com, while the previous version is still accessible at music.apple.com.


Soor 2 Review: Magic Mixes and Release Alerts Elevate the Beautiful Apple Music Client

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.

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A GoodLinks Read and Listen Later Shortcut and Custom Action

When I reviewed GoodLinks, I knew its unique combination of Shortcuts integration and custom in-app actions that rely on URL schemes had the potential to sit at the center of powerful, automated workflows. My hunch was correct.

When I tried GoodLinks for the first time, I began thinking of ways to integrate it into the research I do for MacStories and Club MacStories. Michael LaPorta’s thoughts, however, immediately turned to music.

LaPorta has built a ton of music-related shortcuts that you can find on his website. After reading my review of GoodLinks, he set out to create a shortcut to allow him to save music reviews and related reviews to read and listen to later. Here’s how LaPorta explains it:

So here’s the concept: GoodLinks can grab music reviews and store them to read or access later. When grabbing the music reviews you can customize the information associated with the review. You can use this customized info to also grab the album and add it to your Music library. Once you have the review (along with its customized info) saved in GoodLinks and the album saved in Music, you can use GoodLinks as a read-and-listen-to-it-later app that can be accessed via Shortcuts in a variety of contexts.

LaPorta didn’t stop there, though. He also added a way to handle upcoming releases and begin listening to an album from inside its review in GoodLinks using the app’s custom action builder.

I highly recommend giving LaPorta’s shortcut and GoodLinks action a try. These are precisely the sort of automations that the new breed of read-it-later apps like GoodLinks make possible.

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Apple Highlights the Music of WWDC, Including Federico Viticci’s MusicBot

Today as part of the Discover section of Apple’s Developer app, the company shared three playlists and interviews with developers about the role music plays in their lives. Among the interviews is one with Federico, who was asked about MusicBot, the Apple Music shortcut that he created, and shared on MacStories, last December.

Sam Rosenthal, the developer behind the excellent Apple Arcade game Where Cards Fall, was interviewed too. He explains how his love of music informs his company’s approach to game development:

“A lot of the bands that I really loved… They didn’t stick with one sound,” he said. Rosenthal has carried that philosophy into his work: “Every time we make something, it should be different from the last. It should surprise people.”

In addition to interviews with developers, Apple shared three playlists: WWDC20 Power Up, WWDC20 Coding Energy, and WWDC20 Coding Focus.

With WWDC forced to be held remotely due to the pandemic and other troubles in the world, I really appreciate the sentiment shared by Federico at the conclusion of Apple’s story:

“Music transcends our differences and has the power to unite us,” Viticci said. “To make us feel connected no matter what’s going on in the world.”

Be sure to check out the playlists above, I’ve only had a chance to scroll through them so far, but they look like excellent collections to enjoy as you catch up on the latest WWDC developments.

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Apple Music Honors Black Out Tuesday with Awareness Efforts, Alternate Programming

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.

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.