AirBuddy brings the same AirPods experience you have on iOS to the Mac. With AirBuddy, you can open up your AirPods case next to your Mac and see the status right away, just like it is on your iPhone or iPad. A simple click and you’re connected and playing your Mac’s audio to AirPods.
Musish has put together a web player for Apple Music. It looks pretty good.
Apple Music is now available on the Amazon Echo:
To set up Apple Music on the Echo, open the Alexa iOS app and go to the Music section of the app’s Settings. You won’t see Apple Music listed as an existing service, so tap the ‘Link New Service’ button, which will list Apple Music along with several other services.
Once you’ve logged in with your Apple Music credentials, the Apple Music Skill is enabled, which allows you to say things like ‘Alexa, play my New Music Mix on Apple Music.’ You can separately set Apple Music as your default music service, which lets you use Alexa to request music without specifying ‘on Apple Music.’
I’ve been playing with it all weekend and it works great. It doesn’t (currently) have access to your entire iCloud Music Library, so things in your personal collection aren’t available, but the millions of songs on Apple Music are all available, as are your custom playlists.
There’s a common misunderstanding among business owners that songwriters are only compensated by the purchase of their CDs, so that a business owner can freely play copyrighted music for customers. Not so, and Apple’s new trademark filing for ‘Apple Music for Business’ indicates that Apple will be entering this new business avenue for Apple music in the future as the company seeks to expand their services businesses.
Apple Music subscribers will be able to enjoy Apple Music’s 50 million songs on Echo devices. Customers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artists, and albums — or any of the playlists made by Apple Music’s editors from around the world, covering many activities and moods. […] Simply enable the Apple Music skill in the Alexa app and link your account to start listening.
I’m more excited about this than I thought I’d be.
I’ve always been intrigued by Workflow’s implementation of ‘Add to Home Screen’ – a feature that Apple kept in the transition to the Shortcuts app, and which allows users to create home screen icons to launch their favorite shortcuts. So earlier this month, I decided I wanted to learn how Shortcuts was handling the creation of home screen icons.
After a few weeks of experiments and refinements, I ended up reverse-engineering Shortcuts’ ‘Add to Home Screen’ implementation, which turns out to be an evolution of Workflow’s existing hack based on Safari and web clips.
Federico Viticci and I must have been playing around with this stuff at the same time. His implementation and solution is way better.
The Verge has a pretty good roundup of the Apple announcements today:
After a busy fall announcement season, Apple has unveiled what’s expected to be the last of its hardware refreshes this year with the introduction of a new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. All new devices are available for preorder today with a ship date of November 7th. Here’s a look at them all.
That new iPad sure looks great.
In iOS 10 Apple introduced the ability for app makers to offer alternative app icons for their apps. A few of my favorite apps have taken advantage of this. Overcast has a cool dark icon for subscribers, Carrot Weather has a huge selection to choose from, and the MLB At Bat app lets you pick your favorite team’s logo as the icon. It’s a nice way to add a little bit of customization to your device. However, not every app has taken advantage of this new feature. For example, it’s a no brainer that the NBA should copy baseball and let you put a team logo as the app icon … but, they don’t. So when it came time to move from having the MLB app on my home screen, to the NBA, I started looking into all the different ways I could maybe change-up the icon. I have no desire to jailbreak my phone and this really isn’t an app I open up all that often anyway. I check it maybe a couple times a day, at most, to see what games are on, check scores, and watch one via League Pass if it’s coming down to the wire. Because of this, I thought about just using a Siri Shortcut to act as an app launcher and being done with it, but I didn’t love how the shortcut would launch, then switch to the Shortcut app, and then launch the NBA app. Sure, it worked, but it took longer than I wanted to even for an app I only open a few times a day.
However, I realized that if there was only one slight pause and a redirect to the NBA app, without first going through Shortcuts, that would probably work just fine for what I wanted this to do. So I took a look at how Shortcuts was creating these launchers and realized they’re basically just Web Clips that when opened redirect to a Shortcuts URL scheme. Looking a little closer I saw they created these Web Clips in a pretty clever way that kept everything local on the device. Usually a Web Clip will launch Safari and hit a web site, which is slow, however, if it’s a local HTML file it doesn’t need to do anything at all. So I copied their technique.
I created a basic HTML file that redirects to the NBA url scheme, created the icon I wanted for it, turned the background black, and then added a startup image that displays the logo on a black background. That way, when I tap the icon, instead of just getting a brief white background, I get a cool all black Trail Blazer screen before being sent to the NBA app. There’s still a slight delay, but it’s passable this time, since I’m sent right to the app and not to Shortcuts first.
And it means I can have the Blazer logo on my home screen:
If anyone is interested in how I did it. Here’s the basics: I started with a simple HTML document.
<html> <head> <title>NBA</title> <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=UTF-8″> <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no, viewport-fit=cover” /> <meta name=”apple-mobile-web-app-capable” content=”yes”> <meta name=”apple-mobile-web-app-status-bar-style” content=”black”> <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;URL=’nba://'” /> <link rel=”apple-touch-icon” href=””> <link rel=”apple-touch-startup-image” href=””> </head> <body style=”background: #000;text-align: center;”> <img src=”data:image/png;base64,” width=”175″ style=”position:fixed;top:47%;left:49.2%;transform: translate(-50%, -50%);”/> </body> </html>
The meta refresh tag I set to the NBA URL scheme. I told the Web Clip to be full-screen (apple-mobile-web-app-capable). Set the status bar to black to match the background (apple-mobile-web-app-status-bar-style). (Change “black” to “default” to make it white.) And set the icon (apple-touch-icon) and the start up image (apple-touch-startup-image) to their respective images (you can find the recommended sizes via Google depending on what device you use).
Now, in the middle of the screen I wanted to show the Blazer logo. However, I didn’t want this image to be hosted on a server somewhere and slow down my little launcher. So, I recommend optimizing your image as much as possible and then converting it to Base 64. Grab that code and set it as the source for the image. I tweaked the size and positioning so that on load the start-up image and my little website thing would look the exact same.
After that I borrowed how Siri Shortcuts adds home screen apps. Convert the entire HTML page to Base 64. You’ll get a giant string representing your Web Clip. Mobile Safari won’t let you just copy and paste this into your browser, so you’ll need to link it from somewhere. I created a page that just had one link on it:
<a href=”data:text/html;base64,”>click me</a>
After the comma, I put the giant base 64 string. I tossed that on my server, opened it on my phone, and clicked it.
(I’m sure you can use something like this to do that too.)
It opened up the HTML page I created and asked if I wanted to be redirected to the NBA app. I clicked cancel, then just created the home screen app like usual (share sheet, add to home screen). I tapped the icon, it showed my startup screen, and then the NBA app opened up. Exactly like any of the Siri Shortcut apps and all without having to jailbreak my device or create a custom profile on the phone. Just a basic local HTML page turned into a web clip. I’d never do this for any app I open all the time, but this use case is just about perfect.
I share other things like this in the Apple thread from time to time.
Oh. And go Blazers.
Genius will be providing lyrics to Apple Music:
Genius has the world’s best lyrics database and now it’s available on Apple Music. Genius will provide lyrics to thousands of hit songs on the service—bringing world-class accuracy and timeliness powered by Genius’s global community of artists and fans.
Federico Viticci, has written the definitive iOS 12 review at MacStories:
After years of unabated visual and functional changes, iOS 12 is Apple’s opportunity to regroup and reassess the foundation before the next big step – with one notable exception.
There’s seventeen pages here, but it’s the most in-depth and informative review on the OS by a large margin.
Technology Forum: An open thread for the Apple event.
Apple Music has launched a new “Friends Mix” that will give you a list of 25 songs each week based on the listening habits of people you follow on the service. You can find this in the “For You” section of Apple Music. My “Friends Mix” looks basically exactly like you’d expect.
If you want my spins showing up in your mix, feel free to follow me here. It’s been a lot of punk music lately.
More than 70 new emoji characters are coming to iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac later this year in a free software update. The new emoji designs, created based on approved characters in Unicode 11.0, include even more hair options to better represent people with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, a new emoji for bald people, and new smiley faces that bring more expression to Messages with a cold face, party face, pleading face and a face with hearts.
Oh yeah, ball of yarn, score!
Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:
Apple today released iOS 11.4.1, and while most of us are already looking ahead to all the new stuff coming in iOS 12, this small update contains an important new security feature: USB Restricted Mode. Apple has added protections against the USB devices being used by law enforcement and private companies that connect over Lightning to crack an iPhone’s passcode and evade Apple’s usual encryption safeguards.
If you have an iPhone, you should install this when you get the chance.
Apple spent a lot of time this year focusing on performance improvements that make iOS run better on a wide assortment of devices. In iOS 12, even though your iPhone or iPad may not be getting a major Home screen redesign or anything similarly noticeable, one change Apple hopes you will recognize is that your device runs better than ever before.
And the new macOS features:
Apple announced a system-wide Dark Mode, a feature rumored and requested by Mac users for years. During the keynote, Apple showed off Dark Mode with apps like Mail, Messages, Maps, Calendar, and Photos. A developer API will be available so dark mode can be added to third-party apps too.
And Six Colors has a write-up of some of the smaller details that didn’t make the keynote. Once I’m able to move for more than a few minutes at a time, I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts. Looks like some nice performance updates and little additions that should make everyday use better.
Apple just won an auction for world screen rights to Songwriter, the Murray Cummings-directed documentary that shows singer Ed Sheeran as he finds the handle on writing and performing his distinctive songs. Deal is low to mid-seven figures for world rights, and Apple will make it an event release that includes a theatrical component along with release on Apple’s multiple platforms.
Apple Music has hit 40 million subscribers:
The service still has a ways to go before it surpasses Spotify, which currently has 70 million paid Premium subscribers. A report in The Wall Street Journal earlier this year suggests that Apple Music’s quicker growth rate (five percent versus Spotify’s two percent growth) could mean it surpassing the Swedish streaming service as soon as this summer, however.