Yesterday, not long after Apple’s opening WWDC keynote, the company activated Spatial Audio and lossless playback for Apple Music. The company followed up with a press release in which Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s co-head of Artist Relations and radio host, explains the new feature and how he feels Spatial Audio will affect music.
Apple today announced Apple Music is bringing industry-leading sound quality to subscribers with the addition of Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos. Spatial Audio gives artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multidimensional sound and clarity. Apple Music subscribers will also be able to listen to more than 75 million songs in Lossless Audio — the way the artists created them in the studio. These new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost.
I loved this essay on Ted Lasso from Catherynne M. Valente:
Ted Lasso is like if Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, Coach Taylor, Leslie Knope, and David Tennant’s Doctor all got together and had a big strange baby. It is a completely formulaic premise that turns around and refuses to follow the formula. It’s wholesome without being boring, kind without being trite, smart without being pedantic, so loving it’ll take your breath away, and gut-bustingly funny. Scripts so tight and hilarious that even one guy just saying his name and the paper he works for is not only a meme but makes you smile each and every time.
Do you know how fucking hard that is to pull off?
It is so much easier to be funny while being cynical. Everyone knows life sucks, it’s easy to get them onside by accessing that universal experience. To sneer and punch down and stand back from the world wrapped up in a sense of coolness that comes at the expense of everyone else and call that edgy. It is so much harder to stay funny while you’re being kind. In a show for adults. For cynical adults who are having a thoroughly rubbish time of it — and that was everyone in 2020. It’s nearly impossible, honestly. Even Parks and Rec constantly shit down Jerry’s neck. The Good Place was full of demons to balance out the philosophy with that kind of humor.
Ted Lasso is just a guy. It’s not the afterlife, it’s not in space, it’s not in a medieval morality play, it’s not even something as high-concept as the fantasy life of JD in Scrubs. He’s just a guy, who has problems, not insignificant ones, but also maybe the secret of life, moving through a traditional comedy plot — in fact, the actual plot of Major League — and handling it like comedy characters never do because it’s easier to do a madcap plot when everyone is being stupid and not communicating and running on the rails of their particular archetypal tropes.
iOS 14.5 has been released and MacStories has a good overview:
Apple today released version 14.5 of iOS and iPadOS, a substantial update to the operating system for iPhone and iPad that debuted in September and introduced features such as Home Screen widgets, multi-column app layouts on iPad, compact UI, a redesigned Music app, and more.
Version 14.5 is the biggest – or, at the very least, most interesting – update to iOS and iPadOS we’ve seen in the 14.0 release cycle to date. That’s not to say previous iterations of iOS and iPadOS 14 were low on new features and refinements – it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Perhaps the pandemic and Apple’s work-from-home setup played a role in the company spreading new iOS functionalities across multiple releases throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, but, regardless of the underlying reason, iOS and iPadOS 14 have evolved considerably since their public launch six months ago.
Watch unlock for the phone has been 👌.
John Voorhees, writing for Mac Stories:
The integration of Apple Music and News, which Apple said nothing about during its event on April 20th, is clearly just getting going, so there’s not a lot to see yet. However, it’s also the sort of integration that has the potential to differentiate Music from competitors like Spotify and give users a much-needed reason to visit News. This is a feature we may learn more about next week when iOS and iPadOS 14.5 are released to the public, and that we’ll be keeping a close eye on and as we learn more about Apple’s plans for the fall during WWDC.
John Voorhees, reviews the new version of Albums 4.0 at MacStories:
Albums 4.0 is a beautifully designed, feature-rich app with more filtering and discovery tools than any other music app I’ve tried. The app is also opinionated, favoring album playback over individual songs or playlists. It’s the sort of focused, deep approach to music that Apple’s Music app doesn’t offer because it’s designed to appeal to a wider audience.
If you’re an albums-first music fan, you’ll love Albums. However, even if you prefer singles, playlists, and jumping around the Apple Music catalog as I do, Albums is worth checking out. The app’s powerful filtering opens up brand new ways to enjoy your music collection that any music fan can appreciate.
Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:
Independent music distribution platform and tool factory UnitedMasters has raised a $50M series B round led by Apple. A16z and Alphabet are participating again in this raise. United Masters is also entering a strategic partnership with Apple alongside this investment.
If you’re unfamiliar with UnitedMasters, it’s a distribution company launched in 2017 by Steve Stoute, a former Interscope and Sony Music executive. The focus of UnitedMasters is to provide artists with a direct pipeline to data around the way that fans are interacting with their content and community, allowing them to connect more directly to offer tickets, merchandise and other commercial efforts. UnitedMasters also generally allows artists to retain control of their own masters.
Maureen Ryan, writing at Vanity Fair:
In the final month of this terrible year, I’m here to celebrate the achievements of a white man who is manifestly unqualified for his job. No, I did not expect to end up here. But then—and I am the first person to point this out—2020 has been incredibly weird and tough.
The man in question is a mustachio’ed gent named Ted Lasso, and while he may have his share of flaws and blind spots, which he would freely admit, I am here to tell you that Ted Lasso the show is just fucking delightful. It’s not only an entertaining antidote to craptacular 2020, it also provides the kind of energy and ideas we should absolutely bring into 2021. But before I explain why Ted Lasso is not just good but Important, here’s a brief explainer of what it is. I’m not going to spoil any key plot points, because I want you to watch it, and thank me later.
Great review for a great series.
Federico has launched the new version of his MusicBot Shortcut via MacStories. It includes some nifty Chorus.fm integrations to pull in our news feed as well.
The result is MusicBot 1.1, the first substantial update to the original shortcut that introduces full support for iOS 14’s compact UI and Home Screen widgets, Shazam integration, the ability to read music news and check release dates inside MusicBot, plus other fixes and enhancements.
Apple has launched Apple Music TV, a free 24-hour curated livestream of popular music videos that will also include “exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests,” according to the announcement.
Apple Music TV will be available to U.S. residents only on the Apple Music app and the Apple TV app.
Soor’s Now Playing widget is a much nicer way to find out what you’re listening to. Sticking a small widget on your Home screen or in your Today view will not only display the name of the currently playing song, but also provide artwork and let you know what music is coming up next.
Jay Peters, writing for The Verge:
Apple bought music recognition app Shazam in 2018, and now it’s integrating it into iOS in another big way — a new Music Recognition feature can identify songs playing around you as well as in apps on your phone. And it even works when you’re listening to music on your headphones.
The new feature is available as a toggle in Control Center, but it does require a developer beta of iOS 14.2 if you want to try it right now.
I use Shazam very frequently, often when watching a TV show or movie. On iOS 14 you can assign “back taps” to a Shortcut, so I assigned a double tap on the back of the phone to a Shazam Shortcut that listens and identifies the song.
MusicHarbor also offers three types of widgets: Upcoming Releases, Latest Releases, and Stats. Upcoming Releases and Latest Releases draw from the albums collected in those sections of the app. Upcoming releases come in small and medium variants, while Latest Releases also includes a large widget. Each type displays a grid of album art, album details in some cases, and release date. The small widgets simply act as launchers for MusicHarbor, while the medium and large ones will open the album tapped.
Apple Music Hits offers a full catalog of the biggest songs fans know and love from the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. The station features remarkable new shows from notable artists and hosts, connecting listeners with the stories behind the most popular songs in the world.
Apple Music Hits will be helmed by daily on-air hosts Jayde Donovan, Estelle, Lowkey, Jenn Marino, Sabi, Nicole Sky and Natalie Sky, George Stroumboulopoulos (“House of Strombo”), along with special shows from Ari Melber and others. Fans can also tune in to hear new exclusive shows from artists like Backstreet Boys, Ciara, Mark Hoppus, Huey Lewis, Alanis Morissette, Snoop Dogg, Meghan Trainor, Shania Twain, and more.
If anyone at Apple would like to give me a show, I’d take it. Just throwing that out into the universe.