Boyle-Sorkin teamup will be centerpiece film, said to 'defy expectations'
The forthcoming major-studio Steve Jobs biography movie, simply entitled Steve Jobs, will get an early debut at the New York Film Festival on October 3, a week ahead of its October 9 national debut. The film has been given the prestigious "centerpiece" slot on the evening, with the film festival's director, Kent Jones, saying the movie is taking an "unconventional approach" to tell the story of the mercurial Apple co-founder.
Themes of music, fitness, travel highlight devices ease of use
Apple has now added three new TV spots to its collection of ads for the Apple Watch, each with an emphasis on showing what apps look like on the device, and each with a theme: music apps, travel apps, and fitness apps. The commercials showcase mostly third-party programs, and showcase the amount of clear, useful information that can be gleaned on the small screen. Shazam, Yelp, and Nike+ Running are among the apps featured.
Users report Windows 10 upgrade files starting to download to systems
Microsoft is allegedly preparing for tomorrow's launch of Windows 10, by preloading the operating system on computers that have been booked in for the upgrade. According to WinBeta, users that have already reserved their free upgrade from Windows 7 or later will start to see the files being preloaded ahead of a release after midnight tonight. The report also warns upgraders they can also expect to download a day one patch for Windows 10, weighing in at over 1GB in size.
Numbers during free trial mean little, conversion rate yet to be seen
In only its first month, some 10 million people have signed on to give the subscription-based Apple Music a try during its three-month free trial period, according to music industry sources that allegedly reflect a figure given to them by Apple itself. While the number doesn't mean much during the free trial period, if one assumed that the number of users trying it out will grow over the summer, established rivals may have reason to worry.
Apple well aware of issues, blending of Apple Music and iTunes Match at issue
We reported last week on fellow Mac journalist Jim Dalrymple's particularly bad issues with iTunes 12.2 and later on the Mac, centered around the arrival of Apple Music and Apple's attempts to blend the paid service's ability to store songs for later streaming or offline use with some customers' existing or previous iTunes Match libraries, which appears to cause much confusion, ranging from mislabelled entries in the iTunes library to missing songs in some cases.
Pebble Time firmware update includes new settings for vibration, brightness
A firmware update for the Pebble Time is available to install, with version 3.2 adding more settings and fixes to the device. Among the additions are intensity and time-out duration options for the backlight, adjustable font sizes for certain areas of the operating system, adjustable vibration strength for various alert-related functions, and a Dismiss All action for notifications. The smartwatch can be updated via the Pebble Time app's support menu.
Too busy enjoying Apple Music streaming on my iPod touch
In this early season of presidential candidate pronouncements, its refreshing to see someone not running for office who can crazy with the best of them. On this week's MacNN Podcast We celebrate 10 years of podcasts along with Apple, as well as the new, updated iPod touch. We then proceed, like all good parties, to trash some things -- in this case, iTunes and Neil Young's crazy (high) horse. Show notes after the jump.
Discover Weekly generates playlists every Monday based on user listening habits
Spotify will be providing its users personalized playlists on a regular basis, to try and combat the human-curated playlists offered by Apple Music and Google Play Music All Access. Discover Weekly aims to create a highly customized "mixtape" for each subscriber, based on the user's previous listening habits combined with songs listened to by other users with similar tastes in genres, artists, and songs.
Bluetooth headphones, light bulb, guitar add-on offered on MacNN Deals
Every day, alongside our regular Daily Deals post, we are showcasing some of the sales available on our own MacNN Deals page. Today's collection of sales are all for Bluetooth-equipped devices with very different uses, including an adjustable light bulb, headphones for fitness enthusiasts, and an add-on for a guitar that gives you more ways to make music.
Apple's not done the very best of jobs with iTunes
The smart money said if anything were going to go wrong, it would be Beats 1: something live is automatically the most likely to fall over in some way. If someone had already taken that bet, you'd settle for guessing that massive demand would overload the streaming servers. Yet instead, the bit of the Music app and Apple Music launch that caused problems -- and continues to cause them -- is good old iTunes for OS X. We've had iTunes for nearly 15 years, and every thing else in Apple Music for a fortnight but it's iTunes for the Mac that has fallen down and can't seem to get up.
Complains about stream quality, but retains music on download stores
Increasingly erratic Canadian rock legend Neil Young has announced that he is planning to remove his music from all streaming services, including Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify due to "the worst sound quality available in the history of broadcasting," despite the fact that Apple Music and Spotify both stream at 256kbps AAC, and Tidal in a 1.4mbps lossless format. Young also appears to have forgotten about vinyl, AM/FM radio, cassette and 8-track.
Even lapsed former subscribers saw issues with cover art, metadata
[Update -- not all problems are fixed] A problem in the new iTunes 12.2 update -- which including a substantial behind-the-scenes change to the database part of the program to accommodate the new Apple Music features, and which caused confusion in metadata and album art in song files -- has allegedly been fixed in a new update, bringing the program to version 12.2.1. The update, now available through the Mac App Store, is also said to correct a problem where uploaded DRM-free music in users' iCloud Music Libraries had been replaced with DRM-enabled Apple Music versions.
Music videos in Facebook feed still being negotiated
Facebook is not planning to launch its own streaming music service in the coming months, a company representative has confirmed. The social network has spoken out about a recent report claiming it was working to offer its users an on-demand music service, and though it has outright denied offering anything similar to Spotify, there are still rumors that Facebook will be doing something music-related in the future.
Xbox Music for iOS, Android can stream music from OneDrive storage
Microsoft has updated both of its Xbox Music apps for iOS and Android, increasing the app's integration with the OneDrive cloud storage service. The latest update allows users to be able to stream their own music collection stored on OneDrive directly to their device, in a similar way to music locker services, with the functionality being added to the app without the need to have a subscription to the Xbox Music Pass.
Standard, lossless plans offer 50 percent discount for extra users in group
Tidal, the artist-owned music streaming service, is attempting to increase its user numbers by introducing a family plan for the first time, something main competitors Apple Music and Spotify already offer to subscribers. The new family plans will provide a lower cost of service to users that club together under the same account, with both the standard and lossless audio tiers offering similar plan discounts.
The Beats 1 that just can't go wrong today
Time once again for another episode of The MacNN Podcast, this time episode 22! Since it was quite a notable week, this week's chat between Editor Charles, Managing Editor Mike, and staffers Michelle, Bradley, and Sanjiv is pretty jam-packed. The big story of the week was the launch of Apple Music, and we spend time on both the good and bad of that, but we talk about a lot more as well. Show notes after the jump.
Program will be bi-weekly, focus on West Coast rap and hip-hop
Following the decision to release his first album The Chronic as an Apple Music exclusive, untitled Apple executive Dr. Dre will debut a new bi-weekly radio show on Beats 1 on Saturday, July 4, entitled "The Pharmacy," focusing on West Coast urban music and other tracks of interest to Dre. The first episode will debut at 6PM ET, and joins a host of other shows hosted by prominent musicians.
Spotify, Rdio, Deezer all pull Prince songs from services
The battle for musicians to receive payment for their music from streaming services has resulted in an unusual move by one artist. Prince has started to request that all streaming services pulls his back catalog of tracks from their collections, with Spotify being one of the first to remove the singer's music, though according to a report, the struggling Tidal will apparently continue streaming Prince's songs to subscribers.
Scrabbling around for reasons to diss the service
It's not compulsory to like anything, and the world would be a dull place if everybody thought the same way. Plus, there are criticisms you can make of Apple Music's launch, its various limitations, and how iTunes 12 is still complex, some of which we delved into earlier today. Only Apple Music is getting a bad press primarily for being good, and for doing what you'd expect a streaming music service to do. It has honestly been criticized for being fun. Damn those Apple people, how dare they make something fun? Don't they know music is serious?
Our music library just got a whole lot bigger
It's been called over-complicated, it's been called confusing, but it's also been called the place where you keep all your music by nearly everyone in the civilized world. That last has now changed: it's the place you get to almost all the music ever created in the history of the world, and then some. Okay, maybe no,t but we had -- hang on, let's check -- 9,692 songs yesterday and today we have (counts on fingers) 30,000,000, give or take the Beatles. The new iTunes 12.2 for Mac brings some minor changes, and one massive one with the introduction of Apple Music to OS X.
The MacNN staff look at today's massive litany of releases by Apple
It's that time again -- Apple has hit us all with a flood of releases, and leading the pack are Apple Music and Beats 1. Join Managing Editor Mike, MacNN Editor Charles, and writer William for a discussion of all the hits, misses, and we discuss if we should keep the wheel in the sky turning for what's on tap, or if Apple's new offering is little more than a rainbow in the dark.
The downward spiral of the music business, a 5K iMac giveaway, and more
Episode 21 of The MacNN Podcast is now available! Join us for a very speedy hour as we talk about a great new contest where you can win a 5K Retina 27-inch iMac, the licensing kerfuffle with Apple Music that features a happy ending, more troubles for MacKeeper, the plaudits and perils of e-publishing, the trauma of having to send in a Mac for repair, and our picks for App(s) of the Week! Show notes after the jump.
Virtual locker included with paid Apple Music, to expand to 100,000 songs
Through confirmations, now-deleted posts, and a series of tweets, Apple has revealed that iOS 8.4 will be released tomorrow, June 30, at 8AM PT (11AM ET), and SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has clarified how iTunes Match and the paid Apple Music subscription service will work together. In addition, Senior Director of Apple Music (and former Beats CEO) Ian C. Rogers revealed that with the arrival of iOS 9, the cloud music locker both services share will expand to hold 100,000 or more songs.
Makes album exclusive, 'first time it has felt right' for streaming
Pop star Taylor Swift has relented in her mini-dispute with Apple over licensing fees (which will now be paid during the three-month free trial of the subscription Apple Music service) and is offering her hit album 1989 for streaming for the first time, in an exclusive for the forthcoming service, which launches June 30. In a series of tweets, Swift announced that it was simply "the first time it's felt right in my gut" to offer the album for streaming.
New always-on radio station will be free, debuts June 30
As the countdown progresses towards the launch of iOS 8.4 and the arrival of new features and services for Apple's Music app, the company has invested in a billboard to promote one of the principle free new features: the Beats 1 radio station, which will be free of charge to all users of iTunes. A new, gigantic billboard for the service is now live in Time Square in New York City, host Zane Lowe tweeted.
Relax into two hours of music with this medatative puzzle
We've discovered lately that there are more and more meditation puzzle games popping up in the App Store, and we couldn't be happier. These friendly, low- and no-stress games are designed to help you unwind, rather than stress you out or overstimulate you. We checked out a new title, Harmony 3, the third in a line of games that offer zen-style visual puzzles working in tandem with relaxing music.
Apple will pay rates comparable to Beats Music for free trial period
The New York Times reports that while Apple has opted to pay rights holders for music used during the company's extended three-month free trial of its subscription streaming service -- bucking standard industry practice -- the rate is smaller than the revenue-based percentage song owners will get once listeners subscribe to the service, which will cost $10 per month or $15 per month for a "family" membership that allows up to six individual accounts.
Pressure mostly came from labels and community, not artists
Contrary to what media reports would have you believe, Apple's recent reversal on the previous (and industry-standard) policy not to pay rights holders during the 90-day free trial period was a case of the company responding more to concerns from indie labels and its own user community rather than any band-wagoning open letters, sources tell MacNN. New reports say that Apple, having changed both that and other more minor terms in its standard contract, is now signing up independent record labels and artists at a furious pace as the June 30 debut of Apple Music looms.
Google adds free option to music streaming service before Apple Music launch
Google is attempting to increase its user numbers for its Google Play Music service, barely a week before Apple is scheduled to launch its own streaming music service. A free version of the service is now available in the United States, one that matches Spotify by providing periodic advertising during music playback, though unlike the main Google Play Music All Access subscription, it doesn't provide a high level of customizable music playback options.
Rights holders will receive per-stream fees during trial period
Reversing course after an outcry from artists, Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has announced on Twitter that the company will, in fact, pay rights holders -- which generally includes the artist -- during the forthcoming Apple Music subscription service's three-month free trial period. Apple's original agreement had said that no royalties would be paid while customers enjoyed the trial, prompting protests from indie and small labels as well as artists.
Misunderstandings, free trial, terms threaten to derail diversity of sources
While major publishers and record labels are on board with Apple's planned streaming service Apple Music and article aggregator News, independent music labels and news-oriented publishers -- who last week complained about being left out of such announcements -- now say that the terms Apple is offering contain problematic clauses or conditions. For music labels, the three-month free trial is the issue; for news publishers, it's Apple's requirement to opt out.
Sixth developer beta comes less than a week following previous release
On Tuesday, Apple made available for registered OS X public beta testers the same sixth beta of 10.10.4 released on Monday to developers. The build, 14E36b, came less than a week after the fifth beta, which debuted at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) -- suggesting that the update could be nearing release.
Spotify Taste Rewind suggests songs from previous decades
Spotify is trying to get its users to discover older songs they may like, by launching a promotional site. Taste Rewind allows users to select three artists from a list that they have recently played on Spotify, reports VentureBeat, with the site then providing playlists of songs the user may enjoy from each decade between the '60s and the 2000s. While a neat software toy that may help introduce younger listeners to older tracks they could enjoy, the results do not apparently cover the entirety of Spotify's catalog, and can come up with some odd suggestions. For example, a test using Nicki Minaj, Skrillex, and Ellie Goulding brought up a playlist for the '60s headed up by Leonard Cohen.
Problematic device adds wireless streaming to existing stereos, speakers
Sometimes a simple idea spawns a helpful device for consumers. From making everyday tasks easier to sharing experiences with others, a small thought can blossom into a must have gadget. The Rocki is a device that likely spawned from a small idea like "sharing music" or "music streaming," taking to crowdfunding to build a pocket-sized unit to add wireless functionality to existing stereos and powered speakers. But does this $49 stream-enabling device turn the idea into something great, or does it buckle under the weight of possibilities? Find out in our review.
Simple solution for music, audio, even photos and movies
We've written some Pointers entries previously about iTunes -- frequently, in fact -- and that's mainly because in addition to be a vast program that does a lot of different things -- on top of the syncing and the playlisting and the jukeboxing and the app or media purchasing and the podcast listening and the movie watching and now the Apple Music subscribing -- it also has a fair few features under the hood that tend to get underused when they are even known about. Today, you'll uncover another one.
Apple Music $15 family plan pressures competitors to drop prices, improve services
The launch of Apple Music may be beneficial to subscribers of some other streaming music services by increasing competition, with at least one service examining its pricing strategy. Major competitor Spotify is said to be looking into potentially making changes to what it charges its own subscribers for a family plan, in order to counter the relatively low family account pricing Apple revealed yesterday at WWDC.
Apple to update iOS, iTunes ahead of Apple Music launch, iOS 9 release
Because Apple Music, the company's just-announced subscription music service, will be out on June 30, Apple has noted that it will deliver an update to both iTunes on the Mac and iOS 8.4 (which contains the new Music app) sometime before that date so that early adopters will be able to try the three-month free trial or sign up as desired. The Music app will also function as it currently does without using the subscription options, but with a new UI that's more minimalistic.
Revamps Beats Music, iTunes Radio in new unified effort
Apple on Monday fulfilled expectations by debuting its Apple Music re-branding, which takes in iTunes on iOS, the former Beats Music, and iTunes Radio in a new effort to capture the wave of subscription-based streaming music services. Intended to both steal users from existing streaming services as well as expand the market generally, Apple has invested in a number of prominent musical and industry figures as well as a new emphasis on human curation of music in its efforts.
Pint-sized portable turntable promises not to bleed your bank account dry
If you're a music hipster, chances are you've already got a record player. However, if you're just getting into vinyl music, you might not be ready to drop hundreds of dollars on a record player for a hobby you're only just getting into. That's why we're here to tell you about the Crosley Cruiser portable turntable, a budget-and space-friendly alternative for budding music collectors.
Desktop Tidal apps include Ticketmaster concert ticket sales
Tidal, the artist-owned music streaming service, has brought out desktop apps for its subscribers to listen to music from their computers, to complement its existing mobile app collection. At the same time, the service is trying to push its way to a wider and younger audience, by offering students based in the United States with a hefty discount, cutting the subscription cost in half and bringing the lower tier down in line with competitor Spotify's own student discount.
Era of iPods, streaming music do not eliminate CDs entirely just yet
Today's Pointers column is inspired by a lamentation from a veteran Mac user of our acquaintance who expressed some regret over the upgrade to iTunes 12 (he had jumped several versions in finally doing the upgrade). Among the other changes the recent version had introduced, he was convinced that Apple had removed the ability to burn music CDs, which he still found useful. In case others are laboring under this misconception, this column will show you that yes, CD music burning is still doable in iTunes 12.1 in 2015.
Feature-packed DJ app allows professional mixing of music
DJs have been mixing their magic on turntables and large, expensive basement studio setups for decades at this point, bringing us incredible mashups and original songs. However, there's no reason that DJs should be chained to heavy, expensive equipment when a perfectly viable resource sits within their hands. Today we checked out Edjing Pro, a professional DJ mixing tool for the iPad and iPhone.
Windows Phone music service spreads to other platforms
MixRadio, originally called Nokia Music and owned by Line, has exited its beta testing and is now available to download on iOS and Android. Previously available only on Windows Phone and already available in 31 markets, the cross-platform music streaming service has managed to retain the majority of its features during the porting process, including free personalized playlists.
Videos sourced from major producers, integrated into Spotify playlists
Spotify is expanding its service from purely streaming music into other areas, the company revealed at a press launch. Among other updates, Spotify is going to be bringing its long-rumored video service to its users, and following Deezer's recent addition to its own service, it will give listeners the chance to catch up on podcasts, with Spotify slowly turning itself into a one-stop shop for streaming content.
More than a dozen years with the maligned music player
I can see me doing this now, ripping a track off a CD of mine for the very first time. I was in my living room, it was Orinoco Flow by Enya, and I was ripping it onto my PowerBook G3. Can't quite tell you when it was, can't even be sure that iTunes existed then, but I remember how peculiarly, deliciously weird it felt having that music continue playing after I took the CD out.
App integration will allow Spotify users to earn Starbucks rewards
Starbucks employees will be able to have more control over in-store music provided by Spotify, the two companies have revealed. A multi-year deal struck between the coffee chain and the music streaming service will also do more than provide music, with it opening up the Starbucks loyalty program to allow Spotify subscribers to increase their rewards balance and eventually earn free drinks.
Users can choose to be updated on artist activity, comment on posts
Sources familiar with plans for Apple's new streaming music service, supposedly now to be called "Apple Music," have revealed that the service will have a deep social networking aspect for artists, but will not be the same as Apple's previous attempt at fusing social and music together, dubbed "Ping." Artists will have their own page that can be used for posting samples, concert and tour information, photos, and other messages that fans can comment on and "like."
Intuitive music app lets users create great songs, regardless of prior skill
We're not sure if Apple ever assumed that the iPhone and iPad would ever become legitimate musical instruments, but it's become apparent over the last couple years that there are many artists who are successfully producing music on their favorite iDevices. This is largely due to the complex-yet-intuitive apps that allow users to create viable songs with just a little practice. We checked out one such app, NodeBeat, an ingenious music-creation app.
Amazon adds Prime Stations to Echo wireless speaker
Amazon has updated the Echo portable wireless speaker to work with Prime Stations. An email sent to Prime subscribers owning the device advises that the Alexa digital assistant can be commanded to play a personalized ad-free station from Prime Music. The verbal command "Alexa, play the Bruno Mars Prime Station" will start streaming the relevant station through the speaker, with "Alexa, thumbs up/thumbs down" rating the track for further personalization, and "Alexa, what song is this?" to receive more track details.
Appeals court sides with Pandora over songwriter royalty rate payments
An appeals court has upheld a ruling from last year concerning royalty rates paid by Pandora to songwriters. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with an earlier ruling, which set the rate the music streaming service pays to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to 1.85 percent of Pandora's revenue, with no changes made to the figure.