Tags ‘music’

Sonos to officially support Apple Music starting tomorrow

sonos-play-5-lead-16-9

After launching in public beta last December, Sonos has revealed that it will officially add support for Apple Music to its connected speaker lineup tomorrow, February 10th. We had an opportunity to go hands-on with Sonos support for Apple Music when the beta was announced last year and noted that in some cases, using Apple Music through the Sonos Controller app is better than Apple’s own app.

“We’re big fans of Sonos,” Apple senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue said to BuzzFeed. “We’ve been looking forward to this.” When asked why Sonos didn’t support Apple Music from the start, especially considering it supported Beats Music, Cue explained that it took some time to get it right. “It’s important to get the integration right the first time out,” Cue said. “Apple has a high bar for this stuff; So does Sonos. Apple Music isn’t even 6 months old yet, so this really did not take much time at all.”

In the Sonos Controller app, Apple Music is organized by For You, New, Radio, and My Music, just like in iTunes or the iOS Music app. The app even supports streaming Apple’s Beats 1 station, as well as other featured stations or stations you create.

For those who aren’t entirely familiar with Sonos, the company offers a ranger of connected speakers that offer the opportunity to set up a whole-home speaker system. Sonos offers a Play:1 speaker for $199, a Play:3 for $299, as well as a more recent Play:5 for $500. We had the opportunity to go hands-on with the Play:5 speaker last year and praised the speaker’s combination of a sleek design and premium sound.

In addition to support for Apple Music, Sonos supports Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, and more. Again, Apple Music support will be live tomorrow. Read our hands-on with Apple Music support for Sonos here.

Apple Music in Sonos

Apple Music in Sonos

Apple Music On Sonos Available Tomorrow

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Sonos announced today that Apple Music will be available on Sonos systems worldwide starting Wednesday, Feb. 10. Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes.

Apple Music on Sonos was tested by hundreds of thousands of listeners through a successful beta program that started in early December. To stream Apple Music on Sonos, customers simply select “Add Music Services” from any Sonos controller app, scroll down to the Apple Music icon, and login.

“The feedback from Apple Music members on Sonos during the beta period has been great,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Sonos plus Apple Music provides an amazing listening experience at home – and we’re excited to offer it to all Sonos customers starting tomorrow.”

“This partnership has been an excellent example of two companies that truly care about music coming together to deliver a great listening experience,” said John MacFarlane, Sonos chief executive officer. “Working with Apple gives us the opportunity to share Apple Music throughout people’s homes in a way that’s easy, intuitive, and sounds great.”

Apple Music is all the ways you love music, all in one place, with the expertise of world-class music experts who have programmed playlists for any moment. Curation is at the core of every element of Apple Music, from the handcrafted radio stations and Beats 1, to the suggestions in For You and top albums and songs in New. A Sonos station on Apple Music, curated by artists in collaboration with Sonos, is also launching tomorrow. New users can sign up for a free, three-month trail membership of Apple Music.

About Sonos

Founded in 2002, SonosŽ creates the leading smart speaker system. Once a tech start-up populated with nerdy engineers and brilliant designers who love music, Sonos has grown into a global music brand dedicated to transforming the experience of listening out loud to music in the home. Its family of wireless smart speakers and home audio products make it easy for everyone to listen to the music they love in every room of their home. To hear their favorites, discover new music, and appreciate it all with the highest sound quality.

Sonos is doing it all over the world – in more than 60 countries, with dozens of streaming music providers, through thousands of retailers, and in millions of homes. With a constant investment in software and services, Sonos is improving the experience customers have with music in the home for years after they buy it. Sonos is changing the way people listen to music – one home at a time.

Sonos, Inc. is a privately held company, headquartered in Santa Barbara, California with additional offices in Boston and Seattle, as well as in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and China.

Š 2004-2016 by Sonos Inc. All rights reserved.

Sonos and all Sonos product names and slogans are registered trademarks of Sonos, Inc.


Filed under: Apple Music Tagged: Apple Music, Music, Sonos, speakers

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Chance Miller

February 9th

Apple

Mac

Remember The Canterbury is The Expanse’s Version Of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

This is so awesome: musician Chris Kiley, who’s written songs about a bunch of geeky things has put together an Expanse inspired song that’s basically the belter’s equivalent of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

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February 7th

Uncategorized

Watch Daft Punk’s Aerodynamic Played Using Just Code

To anyone who ever tells you that programming isn’t creative, show them this. In this video, Sébastien Rannou recreates the whole of Daft Punk’s Aerodynamic using just a hundred or so lines of code. And it sounds pretty damn great.

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Jamie Condliffe

February 5th

Uncategorized

Multiple complaints of failed searches in Apple Music in iOS app

apple-music-search

If searching for Apple Music content in the iOS Music app isn’t working for you, it’s not just you. Multiple users on Apple’s support forum are reporting the issue, with Twitter users joining the complaints. The problem appears to have begun late last night.

It’s not a universal issue, as it’s working fine for some people. Apple hasn’t yet acknowledged any problem on its system status page, but it’s not unusual for issues to exist for some time before showing up there.

Reboots aren’t curing it, so if you’re experiencing the problem there doesn’t appear anything you can do about it except wait for Apple to solve the problem, or switch to iTunes on the Mac where searches are working normally.

Some users are already unhappy with Apple’s decision to take its free ad-supported iTunes Radio stations off the air on Friday.

Via MacRumors


Filed under: Apple Music Tagged: Apple Music, Apple Music search, iOS Music app, Music, Music app

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Ben Lovejoy

February 1st

Apple

Mac

Apple updates Logic Pro X & MainStage 3 Mac apps with performance improvements, new features

logic-pro-x-mixer-03

Following its onslaught of music updates this morning, Apple this evening has rolled out updates to two more of its Mac audio apps. First is Logic Pro X, which has been bumped to version 10.2.1 with this evening’s update. Next is MainStage 3, which is now at version 3.2.3 thanks to its most recent update. Both apps have received a handful of new features, under-the-hood changes, and performance improvements with their respective updates.

Logic Pro X now supports a new multithreading threading feature that significantly improves performance when processing multiple live channels. Previewing Apple Loops and performing region edits is also much quicker. 30 plug-ins have also been updated and redesigned to support Retina displays and improve usability. There are a variety of other performance and usability enhancements, as well, which can all be seen in the changelog below:

What’s New in Version 10.2.1

This update contains numerous fixes and enhancements including:

• New multi-threading feature improves performance when processing multiple live channels • Faster playback responsiveness when previewing Apple Loops and performing region edits • Flex Pitch editing can be performed within the Tracks area using a Piano Roll interface • A collection of 30 plug-ins have been redesigned to add Retina support and improve usability • Numerous improvements to Alchemy including Apple Loops support and 11 new spectral effects • Improved reliability when downloading additional content • Additional content can be downloaded directly from the Sound Library and Apple Loops browsers • Drum Machine Designer supports drag and drop of multiple audio files • The Step Editor can automatically create lanes to display all MIDI events in a region • New export option allows you to create stems from multiple selected tracks • Improved VoiceOver support

Next, MainStage 3 has been updated with its own share of enhancements. Like Logic Pro, 27 plugins have been enhanced with Retina display support and improved usability. Alchemy has also been significantly enhanced with 11 new spectral effects and Apple Loops support. Again, a handful of other performances and usability improvements have also been made with version 3.2.3 of MainStage. You can view them all in the changelog below:

What’s New in Version 3.2.3

This update contains numerous fixes and enhancements including:

• A collection of 27 plug-ins have been redesigned to add Retina support and improve usability • Numerous improvements to Alchemy including Apple Loops support and 11 new spectral effects • Alchemy supports 3rd party Expressive MIDI Controllers including products from Roli and Roger Linn Design • Allows faster changing of your I/O device with large concert files • Clicking on an instrument layer in the workspace now selects the corresponding channel strip • Improved VoiceOver support

Logic Pro X and MainStage 3 are both available on the Mac App Store. Earlier today, Apple released a GarageBand iOS updat with iPad Pro optimization, as well as new Music Memos app for songwriters and an update to Logic Remote with iPad Pro enhancements and iPhone support.

Filed under: Mac Tagged: Apple, Apps, Logic Pro X, Mac, MainStage 3, Music, Updates

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Chance Miller

January 21st

Apple

Mac

iRig Keys Review: A mini MIDI Piano Keyboard for iPhone and iPad with big music potential

irigkeysmini_lifestyle_android

The iRig Keys Mini is an electronic MIDI music keyboard that connects to iPhone and iPad with a Lightning cable. Although it isn’t regularly advertised, iPhones and iPads have had great support for MIDI input instruments and other devices for a long time. Since iOS 4 in fact, Apple gave the developers the ability to interact with MIDI peripherals. Simultaneously, the App Store has bloomed a wide ecosystem of sophisticated music creation and audio production apps. This makes for a perfect storm of capability and functionality: not only are MIDI accessories possible, they can really be used to make music on iPhone and iPad.

Read on for my full review of the iRig Keys Mini piano keyboard for iOS ($79.99).

First off, it’s important to note that the iRig product is made to work with iPhone and iPad, it’s an official MFI accessory. Often, musicians connect MIDI devices to iPad by using a kind of hack — plugging in a USB MIDI device with the iPad USB Camera Connector. This works surprisingly well for a number of accessories but it isn’t official or as elegant as a true MFI MIDI keyboard.

The iRig is not an unofficial oddity. It has a MFI sticker on the packaging. Setting up the iRig with an iOS device is extremely simple — you just plug it in. The iRig itself is compatible with multiple computing accessories, so the I/O connector on the hardware is actually a mini-USB port. There’s a mini-USB to Lightning adapter bundled in the box, as well as a normal USB and mini-USB connector for using the iRig with a laptop.

irig_keys_mini_front

 

For iPhone and iPad connectivity, it’s as simple as plug and play. There’s no setup at all once you put the cable in both ends. The iRig is powered by the source device, which is very convenient for people like me who don’t want to manage yet another accessory with a rechargeable battery. The octave buttons illuminate with a red glow to confirm the device is getting power.

Although this review is focused on using MIDI with iOS, I did briefly test Mac compatibility. Plugging in the keyboard with the USB adapter automatically brought up a ‘Device Installing’ notification on OS X. After a few seconds, the iRig keyboard was ready to use.

IMG_1505

iPad Pro and iRig Keys Mini are the perfect match, size-wise.

As a piece of hardware, the accessory is well-built. It’s made of plastic but feels sturdy; you can sling it into a bag without much worry. It’s almost identical in width to the iPad Pro, so symmetry of the size is nice to look at on a desk. The accessory houses 15 white and 10 black piano keys, obviously setup in their normal pairings. Above the row of keys is a header bar containing volume options, octave switches and the iRig logo. My biggest complaint with the way this thing looks is the size of logo: it dominates the fascia and screams too much. I would greatly prefer if iRig scaled the logo way smaller or, even better, removed it completely. The product would be very elegant with a pure white faceplate.

Standalone, just plugging the keyboard into an iOS device is useless of course. You can change octave and see the red indicator lights flash, that’s about it. (By the way, the keyboard will alert you when you are reaching the ends of the sound spectrum and should consider adjusting the current octave in use through the illumination.) Crucially, the keyboard makes no sound without the brains of an app powering it: you need MIDI-aware software to actually do something with it.

IMG_0053

iRig has made its own apps to use with the keyboard; iGrandPiano and SampleTank. These can be used with the touchscreen only of course but come into their own in collaboration with the physical accessory. The Grand Piano really does sound like a piano, with high quality effects and reverb. I’m not a real musician but I have a lot of fun playing the piano through the iRig.

You can adjust octave and volume settings straight from the keyboard, so your hands don’t have to rejuggle between the iPad screen and the piano keys. The app also features a recorder and metronome to keep in time with the beat. After creating a masterpiece, the app can save out the file as an audio clip or MIDI file. This means you can import the raw MIDI notes into another app, perhaps on the Mac, for more serious editing or stitching into a larger composition.

IMG_0054

SampleTank uses a piano input interface to abstract over a myriad of different instruments from drum kits to organs to woodwind instruments. It also supports an autoplay feature, so you can let the app play a constant repeating rhythm whilst you jam out using the iRig. The volume and octave settings of the app are independent to the keyboard, enabling some simple compositions.

The recommended apps aren’t perfect and have some minor niggles throughout: adjusting the knobs in iGrandPiano is a frustrating affair. The real beauty of the iRig hardware, however, is that it isn’t limited to the apps IK Multimedia have created. You can use it with any MIDI app. There’s a lot on the App Store but arguably the best comes for free from Apple: GarageBand. The iRig works flawlessly with Apple’s music app. As well as interoperating with the keyboards, you can play the drums, sample and strings, as well as control the plethora of smart instruments GarageBand includes.

IMG_0056

GarageBand also allows true music composition to take place, due to the ability to edit and compose tracks together. It’s a lot more comfortable using a physical hardware instead of the touchscreen to make tunes, in the same way that a physical typing keyboard is better to write documents than a soft on-screen keyboard. The biggest feature GarageBand has to enhance the iRig, though, is the ability to use GarageBand in the background. This works with MIDI instruments too. I have started casually playing tunes whilst watching Twitter or reading Safari on the iPad Pro. You can see the red ‘Recording’ banner in the screenshot above. To enable this feature, switch on the ‘Run in Background’ option in the GarageBand settings. It even works with the iPad ‘asleep’ and locked! The app receives the input from the keyboard and the notes keeps playing.

Sadly, a problem that plagues all three apps is the lack of iPad Pro support. All of the apps are upscaled from their 9.7 inch iPad counterparts, so look ugly and don’t take advantage of the additional screen real estate. Apple has demoed an iPad Pro optimized version of GarageBand at its events, but the app has yet to surface in the App Store. Hopefully, iRig also has software updates in the pipeline for its software.

In terms of issues, I have very few complaints. The shortcut function keys inscribed into the keyboard are nonsensical to me; without looking at the manual you wouldn’t know how to activate the VEL, KNOB or RESET functions.

Very occasionally, the keyboard would just stop working … inexplicably. Pressing keys did nothing. I couldn’t work out if this was a problem with the accessory, the app I was using or the iOS system. When this happened, I unplugged it from the iPad and replugged and the issue went away immediately. Still, it happened so infrequently, it isn’t really a problem. My guess is it software related, so perhaps future iOS versions will nail the stability for good. In general, I would also suggest that the product is slightly too expensive for what it is. Once you start hitting the $100 mark I would start to expect a more premium finish of the product.

I can’t say how much fun this product is. I don’t have any real instruments at home and having something reasonably portable to bash music on is hilarious. I’m now on the search for a good soundboard app that works with MIDI keyboards. For more professional use, it works great although maybe you should consider spending a bit more on the full-size version. Also, I really wish that iPad Pro GarageBand update would come out though with editing panes and instruments visible on screen at the same time. That will take this product to the next level.

The iRig Keys Mini costs $79. Its big brother sibling, the full size 37-key version, is available for $149. Find out more information on the IK Multimedia website.


Filed under: Apple Music, iOS, iOS Devices, Mac, Reviews, Tech Industry Tagged: GarageBand, iPad Pro, irig mid, keys, MFi, MIDI keyboard, Music

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Benjamin Mayo

January 20th

Apple

Mac

iRig Keys Review: A mini MIDI Piano Keyboard for iPhone and iPad with big music potential

irigkeysmini_lifestyle_android

The iRig Keys Mini is an electronic MIDI music keyboard that connects to iPhone and iPad with a Lightning cable. Although it isn’t regularly advertised, iPhones and iPads have had great support for MIDI input instruments and other devices for a long time. Since iOS 4 in fact, Apple gave the developers the ability to interact with MIDI peripherals. Simultaneously, the App Store has bloomed a wide ecosystem of sophisticated music creation and audio production apps. This makes for a perfect storm of capability and functionality: not only are MIDI accessories possible, they can really be used to make music on iPhone and iPad.

Read on for my full review of the iRig Keys Mini piano keyboard for iOS ($79.99).

First off, it’s important to note that the iRig product is made to work with iPhone and iPad, it’s an official MFI accessory. Often, musicians connect MIDI devices to iPad by using a kind of hack — plugging in a USB MIDI device with the iPad USB Camera Connector. This works surprisingly well for a number of accessories but it isn’t official or as elegant as a true MFI MIDI keyboard.

The iRig is not an unofficial oddity. It has a MFI sticker on the packaging. Setting up the iRig with an iOS device is extremely simple — you just plug it in. The iRig itself is compatible with multiple computing accessories, so the I/O connector on the hardware is actually a mini-USB port. There’s a mini-USB to Lightning adapter bundled in the box, as well as a normal USB and mini-USB connector for using the iRig with a laptop.

irig_keys_mini_front

 

For iPhone and iPad connectivity, it’s as simple as plug and play. There’s no setup at all once you put the cable in both ends. The iRig is powered by the source device, which is very convenient for people like me who don’t want to manage yet another accessory with a rechargeable battery. The octave buttons illuminate with a red glow to confirm the device is getting power.

Although this review is focused on using MIDI with iOS, I did briefly test Mac compatibility. Plugging in the keyboard with the USB adapter automatically brought up a ‘Device Installing’ notification on OS X. After a few seconds, the iRig keyboard was ready to use.

IMG_1505

iPad Pro and iRig Keys Mini are the perfect match, size-wise.

As a piece of hardware, the accessory is well-built. It’s made of plastic but feels sturdy; you can sling it into a bag without much worry. It’s almost identical in width to the iPad Pro, so symmetry of the size is nice to look at on a desk. The accessory houses 15 white and 10 black piano keys, obviously setup in their normal pairings. Above the row of keys is a header bar containing volume options, octave switches and the iRig logo. My biggest complaint with the way this thing looks is the size of logo: it dominates the fascia and screams too much. I would greatly prefer if iRig scaled the logo way smaller or, even better, removed it completely. The product would be very elegant with a pure white faceplate.

Standalone, just plugging the keyboard into an iOS device is useless of course. You can change octave and see the red indicator lights flash, that’s about it. (By the way, the keyboard will alert you when you are reaching the ends of the sound spectrum and should consider adjusting the current octave in use through the illumination.) Crucially, the keyboard makes no sound without the brains of an app powering it: you need MIDI-aware software to actually do something with it.

IMG_0053

iRig has made its own apps to use with the keyboard; iGrandPiano and SampleTank. These can be used with the touchscreen only of course but come into their own in collaboration with the physical accessory. The Grand Piano really does sound like a piano, with high quality effects and reverb. I’m not a real musician but I have a lot of fun playing the piano through the iRig.

You can adjust octave and volume settings straight from the keyboard, so your hands don’t have to rejuggle between the iPad screen and the piano keys. The app also features a recorder and metronome to keep in time with the beat. After creating a masterpiece, the app can save out the file as an audio clip or MIDI file. This means you can import the raw MIDI notes into another app, perhaps on the Mac, for more serious editing or stitching into a larger composition.

IMG_0054

SampleTank uses a piano input interface to abstract over a myriad of different instruments from drum kits to organs to woodwind instruments. It also supports an autoplay feature, so you can let the app play a constant repeating rhythm whilst you jam out using the iRig. The volume and octave settings of the app are independent to the keyboard, enabling some simple compositions.

The recommended apps aren’t perfect and have some minor niggles throughout: adjusting the knobs in iGrandPiano is a frustrating affair. The real beauty of the iRig hardware, however, is that it isn’t limited to the apps IK Multimedia have created. You can use it with any MIDI app. There’s a lot on the App Store but arguably the best comes for free from Apple: GarageBand. The iRig works flawlessly with Apple’s music app. As well as interoperating with the keyboards, you can play the drums, sample and strings, as well as control the plethora of smart instruments GarageBand includes.

IMG_0056

GarageBand also allows true music composition to take place, due to the ability to edit and compose tracks together. It’s a lot more comfortable using a physical hardware instead of the touchscreen to make tunes, in the same way that a physical typing keyboard is better to write documents than a soft on-screen keyboard. The biggest feature GarageBand has to enhance the iRig, though, is the ability to use GarageBand in the background. This works with MIDI instruments too. I have started casually playing tunes whilst watching Twitter or reading Safari on the iPad Pro. You can see the red ‘Recording’ banner in the screenshot above. To enable this feature, switch on the ‘Run in Background’ option in the GarageBand settings. It even works with the iPad ‘asleep’ and locked! The app receives the input from the keyboard and the notes keeps playing.

Sadly, a problem that plagues all three apps is the lack of iPad Pro support. All of the apps are upscaled from their 9.7 inch iPad counterparts, so look ugly and don’t take advantage of the additional screen real estate. Apple has demoed an iPad Pro optimized version of GarageBand at its events, but the app has yet to surface in the App Store. Hopefully, iRig also has software updates in the pipeline for its software.

In terms of issues, I have very few complaints. The shortcut function keys inscribed into the keyboard are nonsensical to me; without looking at the manual you wouldn’t know how to activate the VEL, KNOB or RESET functions.

Very occasionally, the keyboard would just stop working … inexplicably. Pressing keys did nothing. I couldn’t work out if this was a problem with the accessory, the app I was using or the iOS system. When this happened, I unplugged it from the iPad and replugged and the issue went away immediately. Still, it happened so infrequently, it isn’t really a problem. My guess is it software related, so perhaps future iOS versions will nail the stability for good. In general, I would also suggest that the product is slightly too expensive for what it is. Once you start hitting the $100 mark I would start to expect a more premium finish of the product.

I can’t say how much fun this product is. I don’t have any real instruments at home and having something reasonably portable to bash music on is hilarious. I’m now on the search for a good soundboard app that works with MIDI keyboards. For more professional use, it works great although maybe you should consider spending a bit more on the full-size version. Also, I really wish that iPad Pro GarageBand update would come out though with editing panes and instruments visible on screen at the same time. That will take this product to the next level.

The iRig Keys Mini costs $79. Its big brother sibling, the full size 37-key version, is available for $149. Find out more information on the IK Multimedia website.


Filed under: Apple Music, iOS, iOS Devices, Mac, Reviews, Tech Industry Tagged: GarageBand, iPad Pro, irig mid, keys, MFi, MIDI keyboard, Music

Continue reading more about iOS Devices, Tech Industry, and iOS at 9to5Mac.

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Benjamin Mayo

January 20th

Apple

Mac

Starbucks app now lets you save Spotify playlists you hear playing in its stores

Starbucks-Spotify

For me, coffee at Starbucks is secondary to the great music you discover courtesy of your twenty-something barista’s Spotify DJ skills. The good news is you can now easily save those Spotify playlists for listening later through an update to the Starbucks iPhone app today.

As a continuation of the partnership with Spotify that Starbucks first announced back in May of last year, today the company is rolling out an update to its mobile apps that will let users view and save Spotify playlists they hear playing in its stores.

In addition to saving Spotify playlists through the Starbucks apps, users will be able to “influence future Starbucks playlists” by liking songs from within the playlists they save. The company’s press release notes that the app will show users new playlists in rotation at Starbucks locations, “as well as Starbucks most popular music from the past 20 years on Spotify.” And the integration will be available to both free and paid Spotify subscribers.

This latest integration with Spotify is available at around 7,500 Starbucks locations across the US and follows an announcement last May that saw Starbucks employees get free access to Spotify Premium accounts for playing in-store music. At the time, we noted that Apple had long been a partner with Starbucks, offering free app content and music through iTunes. Starbucks continues to offer some content from Apple, but it remains to be seen if the companies plan to phase out iTunes freebies as Spotify features land for more users of the Starbucks apps.

And the Spotify integration won’t end with today’s roll out. The company will soon feature artists each week through the Starbucks app that will include links back to music on Spotify. Perhaps iTunes content will finally get the boot when that feature ultimately launches.

You can check out the new Spotify integrations in the updated Starbucks iOS app where available now.

What’s New in Version 3.4

The Sound of Starbucks
Now, you can discover music playing in participating U.S. Starbucks stores*, save songs to a playlist on Spotify and take the music with you when you leave. Location services must be enabled to use this feature.**

*This functionality and in-store overhead music experience provided by Starbucks.
**Continued use of GPS running in the background can decrease battery life.

Thank you for all of you feedback!


Filed under: Apple Music, Apps Tagged: Apple Music, free, integration, iPhone, iTunes, Music, playlists, save, Spotify, Starbucks, update

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Jordan Kahn

January 19th

Apple

Mac

Do you listen to Beats 1? Here’s what Apple can do to improve its radio station & encourage more people to tune in

3D Touch Beats 1

Apple continues to talk high praise of Apple Music, most recently leaking that the service has 10 million paying subscribers, but it has remained somewhat quiet about its Beats 1 online 24/7 radio station. Beats 1 launched to much fanfare with Zane Lowe leading the effort, and while it seems to be doing decently, it isn’t a sensation in the music business yet. It’s especially timely to talk about Beats 1 now that Apple has retired the iTunes Radio ad-supported stations, leaving Beats 1 as the only way to get free streaming music from Apple. I’m intrigued by the uptake of the station — there’s a poll to find out how often you tune in below the break — as it seems Beats 1 has an awareness issue.

I tend to like the music that is played but I just forget to tune in. I think Beats 1 is good but Apple needs to support it better within iOS and iTunes to make it stickier. Here are some suggestions …

Use the poll above to give your input on Beats 1 usage. Even in the best case, I think it is pretty evident that Beats 1 could use some more features. At a high level, Beats 1 feels like an analog station. What follows are some ideas to make it more modern and approachable plus my thoughts on how Apple could make Beats 1 better in general.

At the top of my list of wants is some kind of push notifications or alerts system for Beats 1 shows. The station is meant to be worldwide and always-on but the only way to know what’s coming up is to check the schedule on the Beats 1 pages. Apple should add a feature to iOS so you can subscribe to hosts or particular shows, alerting you to when those shows goes live. For instance, I want to be alerted every time Zane Lowe goes live. Another example: I really like the chart show where the host recaps the top songs at the moment and gives some commentary. I have no idea when it’s on though and a push notifications feature would help me tune in to listen.

FullSizeRender

Going further, Apple has this Connect social networking feature where you can already follow artists that you want to learn more about. Beats 1 regularly features some fantastic interviews with musicians. If I explicitly follow them on Apple Music Connect, I want to know if they are on the air. There’s no affordance for that stuff today. Connect may not have set the world on fire as a social network, but at least try to make it better and more integrated with the rest of Apple Music and avoid yet another Ping.

You know the Handoff app shortcut spot on the lock screen? Apple could add a way to permanently set a shortcut app there. This would benefit all iOS users really as you could just put your favorite or most-used software in the slot for quick access, but it would personally help me get to Beats 1 more often. It’s a chore to drill-down from the Home screen into the tabs of the Music app just to start some music in the morning. Putting it on the lock screen makes it eminently more instinctive to start listening. The latest iPhones add 3D Touch shortcuts, but lock screen access would reach all devices. Even as I sit here writing this article, I want some background music playing but I can’t be bothered to navigate to Beats 1 …

Apple Music Beats 1 3D Touch

Apple is competing against traditional radio and right now Beats 1 is slower. With a home radio, you press the power button and music starts playing. Apple has to get closer to that ease of use for it to be more compelling. It’s a modern electronic digital device — there are even opportunities to be smarter, like only showing my Music app shortcuts when I plug in headphones or connect to Bluetooth speakers. Apple started some of this with iOS 9’s Proactive shortcuts, but it should be expanded to be more explicit and less hit-and-miss.

I have even considered whether Apple should break out Beats 1 into a dedicated app. Right now, it’s stuck beneath a tab inside the Music app but thinking about it, it doesn’t really fit in. It’s free form radio with few user controls. The other Apple Music ‘Radio Stations’ are really dressed-up playlists, as you can skip tracks and thumbs up songs you like. If Beats 1 was a separate app, I honestly think I would use it more. I would at least remember that it exists.

I’m generally resistant to Home screen stock app creep but in this case, it seems justified. Maybe it would be an optional download from the App Store or a default app that you can uninstall. It would contain the live streaming service as well as UI to access information about the schedule and past broadcasts for replay. I think when Apple inevitably expands the initiative to include more stations (to use the obvious name, ‘Beats 2’), breaking the service out into a dedicated app makes a lot of sense to streamline the experience. It would also make the Music app less confusing: it could refine the UI with less features to worry about accommodating into one screen.

Moreover, there are some obvious low-hanging fruit opportunities to improve listener interaction with Beats 1. You could have some voting options for the Best Of roundups or add a facility for listener shoutouts directly from the Beats 1 app. Right now, this interaction happens over Twitter but the @Beats1 account only has ~300,000 followers, so it’s not a huge attention driver. Beats 1 includes a Mixtape segment where you can submit songs: there is the space to do these recommendations right within Music. Currently, Beats hosts ask for user participation by sending in iMessages to a special iCloud address. That feels antiquated. Ultimately, these features would drive engagement and increase the Beats 1 audience.

Beats 1 has a lot of shows with famous hosts, but do people know they are on air?

Beats 1 has a lot of shows with famous hosts, but do people know when they are on air?

There’s always marketing to fall back on too. There is a lot of advertising for Apple Music as a service but Beats 1 is generally left alone. I think the idea of a freely available 24/7 radio station is a very compelling idea for prospective iOS customers. Apple should feature it more prominently in its TV commercials as a way to sell iPhones and iPads. When I casually mention Beats 1 to friends or family, they almost universally don’t know it exists. There is an obvious need for more awareness that the radio station exists.

Aside from traditional media marketing, there could also be hooks in the iTunes Store to push Beats 1. Contextually, people who go to listen to an artist usually like following their work and want to hear more of them. This enables some opportunities for Apple to do tasteful in-app marketing.  For instance, searching in iTunes or the Music app for music featuring Drake or Dre would show banners promoting their respective shows on Beats 1. In one tap, you could add a calendar reminder so you remember to tune in when they are on next.

Although this will help drive people to Beats 1, I got the idea from the Proactive suggestions. It is marketing but it isn’t really that intrusive or forced in your face. The Music app already includes ‘Related’ suggestions for other albums to buy — this is the same concept but applied to live radio. Naturally, Apple could include a settings toggle to disable the recommendations feature for people who don’t want it.

Finally, you can never beat having more content available for people to listen to. We did a poll a few weeks ago about new stations, and there is clearly demand for diversification into new areas like sports and news coverage … as well as people wanting more specialized music channels for certain genres. Although Beats 1 is advertised as a 24/7 station, it isn’t really true. The schedule is set up on a 12 hour basis, so for the other 12 hours it plays a recording of the last 12 hours.

This is frustrating for me, being based in the UK. If I listen in the afternoon and in the following morning, I am likely to hear the same shows repeated. Apple has done well in getting a huge roster of well-known talent on board with shows (including famous names like Elton John and Pharrell Williams) but they need to fulfil their promise of it being a truly ‘always-on’ station.

In summary, Beats 1 as a concept is great. I was skeptical back when Apple running a 7-day radio station was just a rumor. It was a pretty crazy move, but I think they’ve proven it’s a valid idea. It needs some work on the software side and the production side to make it really shine and motivate users to come back and listen on a regular basis. Let us know your thoughts about Beats 1 in the comments below …


Filed under: Apple Music, iOS, iOS Devices, Tech Industry Tagged: Apple Music, Beats, Beats 1, Music, radio station, zane lowe

For more information about iOS Devices, Tech Industry, and iOS continue reading at 9to5Mac.

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Do you listen to Beats 1? Here’s what Apple can do to improve its radio station & encourage more people to tune in

3D Touch Beats 1

Apple continues to talk high praise of Apple Music, most recently leaking that the service has 10 million paying subscribers, but it has remained somewhat quiet about its Beats 1 online 24/7 radio station. Beats 1 launched to much fanfare with Zane Lowe leading the effort, and while it seems to be doing decently, it isn’t a sensation in the music business yet. It’s especially timely to talk about Beats 1 now that Apple has retired the iTunes Radio ad-supported stations, leaving Beats 1 as the only way to get free streaming music from Apple. I’m intrigued by the uptake of the station — there’s a poll to find out how often you tune in below the break — as it seems Beats 1 has an awareness issue.

I tend to like the music that is played but I just forget to tune in. I think Beats 1 is good but Apple needs to support it better within iOS and iTunes to make it stickier. Here are some suggestions …

Use the poll above to give your input on Beats 1 usage. Even in the best case, I think it is pretty evident that Beats 1 could use some more features. At a high level, Beats 1 feels like an analog station. What follows are some ideas to make it more modern and approachable plus my thoughts on how Apple could make Beats 1 better in general.

At the top of my list of wants is some kind of push notifications or alerts system for Beats 1 shows. The station is meant to be worldwide and always-on but the only way to know what’s coming up is to check the schedule on the Beats 1 pages. Apple should add a feature to iOS so you can subscribe to hosts or particular shows, alerting you to when those shows goes live. For instance, I want to be alerted every time Zane Lowe goes live. Another example: I really like the chart show where the host recaps the top songs at the moment and gives some commentary. I have no idea when it’s on though and a push notifications feature would help me tune in to listen.

FullSizeRender

Going further, Apple has this Connect social networking feature where you can already follow artists that you want to learn more about. Beats 1 regularly features some fantastic interviews with musicians. If I explicitly follow them on Apple Music Connect, I want to know if they are on the air. There’s no affordance for that stuff today. Connect may not have set the world on fire as a social network, but at least try to make it better and more integrated with the rest of Apple Music and avoid yet another Ping.

You know the Handoff app shortcut spot on the lock screen? Apple could add a way to permanently set a shortcut app there. This would benefit all iOS users really as you could just put your favorite or most-used software in the slot for quick access, but it would personally help me get to Beats 1 more often. It’s a chore to drill-down from the Home screen into the tabs of the Music app just to start some music in the morning. Putting it on the lock screen makes it eminently more instinctive to start listening. The latest iPhones add 3D Touch shortcuts, but lock screen access would reach all devices. Even as I sit here writing this article, I want some background music playing but I can’t be bothered to navigate to Beats 1 …

Apple Music Beats 1 3D Touch

Apple is competing against traditional radio and right now Beats 1 is slower. With a home radio, you press the power button and music starts playing. Apple has to get closer to that ease of use for it to be more compelling. It’s a modern electronic digital device — there are even opportunities to be smarter, like only showing my Music app shortcuts when I plug in headphones or connect to Bluetooth speakers. Apple started some of this with iOS 9’s Proactive shortcuts, but it should be expanded to be more explicit and less hit-and-miss.

I have even considered whether Apple should break out Beats 1 into a dedicated app. Right now, it’s stuck beneath a tab inside the Music app but thinking about it, it doesn’t really fit in. It’s free form radio with few user controls. The other Apple Music ‘Radio Stations’ are really dressed-up playlists, as you can skip tracks and thumbs up songs you like. If Beats 1 was a separate app, I honestly think I would use it more. I would at least remember that it exists.

I’m generally resistant to Home screen stock app creep but in this case, it seems justified. Maybe it would be an optional download from the App Store or a default app that you can uninstall. It would contain the live streaming service as well as UI to access information about the schedule and past broadcasts for replay. I think when Apple inevitably expands the initiative to include more stations (to use the obvious name, ‘Beats 2’), breaking the service out into a dedicated app makes a lot of sense to streamline the experience. It would also make the Music app less confusing: it could refine the UI with less features to worry about accommodating into one screen.

Moreover, there are some obvious low-hanging fruit opportunities to improve listener interaction with Beats 1. You could have some voting options for the Best Of roundups or add a facility for listener shoutouts directly from the Beats 1 app. Right now, this interaction happens over Twitter but the @Beats1 account only has ~300,000 followers, so it’s not a huge attention driver. Beats 1 includes a Mixtape segment where you can submit songs: there is the space to do these recommendations right within Music. Currently, Beats hosts ask for user participation by sending in iMessages to a special iCloud address. That feels antiquated. Ultimately, these features would drive engagement and increase the Beats 1 audience.

Beats 1 has a lot of shows with famous hosts, but do people know they are on air?

Beats 1 has a lot of shows with famous hosts, but do people know when they are on air?

There’s always marketing to fall back on too. There is a lot of advertising for Apple Music as a service but Beats 1 is generally left alone. I think the idea of a freely available 24/7 radio station is a very compelling idea for prospective iOS customers. Apple should feature it more prominently in its TV commercials as a way to sell iPhones and iPads. When I casually mention Beats 1 to friends or family, they almost universally don’t know it exists. There is an obvious need for more awareness that the radio station exists.

Aside from traditional media marketing, there could also be hooks in the iTunes Store to push Beats 1. Contextually, people who go to listen to an artist usually like following their work and want to hear more of them. This enables some opportunities for Apple to do tasteful in-app marketing.  For instance, searching in iTunes or the Music app for music featuring Drake or Dre would show banners promoting their respective shows on Beats 1. In one tap, you could add a calendar reminder so you remember to tune in when they are on next.

Although this will help drive people to Beats 1, I got the idea from the Proactive suggestions. It is marketing but it isn’t really that intrusive or forced in your face. The Music app already includes ‘Related’ suggestions for other albums to buy — this is the same concept but applied to live radio. Naturally, Apple could include a settings toggle to disable the recommendations feature for people who don’t want it.

Finally, you can never beat having more content available for people to listen to. We did a poll a few weeks ago about new stations, and there is clearly demand for diversification into new areas like sports and news coverage … as well as people wanting more specialized music channels for certain genres. Although Beats 1 is advertised as a 24/7 station, it isn’t really true. The schedule is set up on a 12 hour basis, so for the other 12 hours it plays a recording of the last 12 hours.

This is frustrating for me, being based in the UK. If I listen in the afternoon and in the following morning, I am likely to hear the same shows repeated. Apple has done well in getting a huge roster of well-known talent on board with shows (including famous names like Elton John and Pharrell Williams) but they need to fulfil their promise of it being a truly ‘always-on’ station.

In summary, Beats 1 as a concept is great. I was skeptical back when Apple running a 7-day radio station was just a rumor. It was a pretty crazy move, but I think they’ve proven it’s a valid idea. It needs some work on the software side and the production side to make it really shine and motivate users to come back and listen on a regular basis. Let us know your thoughts about Beats 1 in the comments below …


Filed under: Apple Music, iOS, iOS Devices, Tech Industry Tagged: Apple Music, Beats, Beats 1, Music, radio station, zane lowe

For more information about iOS Devices, Tech Industry, and iOS continue reading at 9to5Mac.

What do you think? Discuss "Do you listen to Beats 1? Here’s what Apple can do to improve its radio station & encourage more people to tune in" with our community.

Comments Off on Do you listen to Beats 1? Here’s what Apple can do to improve its radio station & encourage more people to tune in

Photo

Benjamin Mayo

January 19th

Apple

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February 2016
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