Apple

Apple

Federico Viticci’s Must-Have Apps of 2019

One of my favorite features every year is Federico Viticci’s “Must-Have Apps” over at MacStories. I always end up finding something I didn’t know about and put into my workflow. This year I’ll be looking into moving my bookmarks over into Raindrop.io because the current state of native apps for Pinboard is awful.

This entire story features a collection of the 50 apps I consider my must-haves on the iPhone and iPad, organized in seven categories; whenever possible, I included links to original reviews and past coverage on MacStories.

If you’re looking for great new apps, this is a must read.

Billie Eilish Lands Massive Payday for Apple TV+ Documentary

Natalie Jarvey and Kim Masters, writing for The Hollywood Reporter:

Billie Eilish’s big 2019 is culminating as she nears a deal with Apple TV+ for a documentary that comes with a $25 million price tag, according to multiple sources.

The film, which has already been shot, was directed by R.J. Cutler and produced in collaboration with Eilish’s label, Interscope Records, for a budget that one source pegs as being between $1 million and $2 million. It is expected to follow the 17-year-old singer-songwriter in the wake of the release of her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, in March of this year. Cutler was granted deep access to Eilish’s private moments with family and behind-the-scenes of her public appearances.

Apple Announces First Ever Apple Music Awards

The inaugural Apple Music awards will take place tomorrow night. The company has designed unique awards to be presented to the winners.

Apple has designed a series of awards to celebrate the extraordinary craftsmanship integral to creating music. Each award features Apple’s custom silicon wafer suspended between a polished sheet of glass and a machined and anodized aluminum body. The wafers start as a perfect 12-inch disc of silicon with nanometer level flatness. Copper layers are deposited and patterned by ultraviolet lithography to create connections between billions of transistors. The result of this multi-month process, before it is sliced into hundreds of individual chips, is stunning and distinctive. In a symbolic gesture, the same chips which power the devices that put the world’s music at your fingertips sit at the very heart of the Apple Music Awards.

I want one.

New Releases with MusicHarbor

Federico Viticci, writing at MacStories:

For people who want to stay on top of every new music release from their favorite artists, the tools available in Apple Music alone aren’t enough. And I understand why Apple doesn’t want to invest in this aspect of the service: not everyone runs a music-focused publication or needs to know about every single release for hundreds of artists every week. Since the unfortunate demise of Record Bird – the app that encapsulated my ideal new music release discovery tool – I’ve been building a new system to stay on top of music releases, and I’d like to explain how.

It’s a blogception! I, obviously, agree with everything here and plan to take a look at this MusicHarbor app later today.

AirPods Pro First Impressions

I bought the first generation of AirPods back in 2017 and fell in love almost immediately. The ease of use and freeing sensation of having no cord attached to my pocket led them to become the most used, and most adored, pair of headphones I’d ever owned. From running errands, to cooking dinner, these became a staple of my everyday carry. With the release of the AirPods Pro, I decided to pick up two pairs for Hannah and I as an early wedding gift. I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but they’ve been improved in virtually every single way. They’re now, without a doubt, my favorite pair of headphones I’ve ever owned. It starts with the new smaller footprint. I never thought the original AirPods felt “big,” but the new ones feel like nothing in my ears. You combine this with the more snug fit from having the rubberized tips, and they feel perfectly secure walking around town or working out in the gym. The sound is improved, partially by having a better seal in the ear, and they offer a nice, fairly neutral, experience for music. The bass is pretty close to what I prefer, not too heavy. I usually like a little more high-end in the treble, but it’s surprisingly steady. If I want more clarity, I have more expensive cans I can turn to, but for most moments when I want to listen to music, or more often, a podcast, these are downright perfect and sound better than expected. (I tested the sound mostly using My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days.) The noise canceling is a nice feature, but one I don’t often find myself needing. I’m sure there will be times in noisy coffee shops or other places where I’ll find it useful, but most of the time I find it overkill, and actually a little unsettling. I’ll probably be using them most often while in Transparency Mode. This mode lets in, and slightly amplifies, just enough sound so that it feels like you have nothing in your ears, while still being able to hear whatever you’re playing. It’s perfect for when you’re in the city and want to make sure you can hear your surroundings. Or when your significant other starts talking to you while you’re listening to something around the house. It’s such a game changing feature that I don’t know if I could go back to any buds that don’t have it as an option.

I’ve had no issues with the new interaction model of squeezing the AirPod stem instead of using taps. The small “click” sound is comforting and it only took a few hours to retrain my muscle memory. The only thing I’m still not used to is the actual way you put the AirPods back in their case. It’s reversed from what I’m used to and I still mess it up. I am also a fan of the new features that came with the second generation AirPods but I hadn’t used yet, such as the always on “Hey Siri” access. It’s is surprisingly handy. Also, the new feature where you can have Siri read messages to you when they come in and immediately respond is something I didn’t know I’d want until I used it for the first time.

I have more expensive and better sounding headphones around the house. And, there are times when that’s what I am looking for and want; however, the ease of use and convenience of having a pair of wireless buds in a tiny case in my pocket is more than worth that trade-off. I already knew I loved AirPods, but adding noise cancelation, transparency mode, and a new smaller footprint has more than exceeded my expectations. This is the future I’ve been dreaming of ever since the opening scene of the underrated romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe.

Battery life has been almost exactly as advertised. The slightly larger carrying case feels negligible in my hand or pocket. The latency of connecting to and controlling the AirPods seems dramatically improved from the first generation. The cost is, well, an issue. They’re expensive and due to their size and physics will not hold the same battery charge forever. For most people, I’d recommend these if you really want noise cancelation, really prefer a rubber tip fit in your ear, and are attracted to the smaller design.

Apple Music Student Subscription Bundles Apple TV+ for Free

Benjamin Mayo, writing at 9to5Mac:

In a surprise announcement, Apple has announced its first bundle deal for Apple TV+. For subscribers to Apple Music on the student plan, $4.99 per month, Apple will giveaway Apple TV+ at no additional charge.

The news was announced on Hailee Steinfeld’s Instagram page, who stars in Dickinson. Apple TV+ launches this Friday.

Apple Announces AirPods Pro

Apple has announced new noise canceling AirPods.

Active Noise Cancellation on AirPods Pro uses two microphones combined with advanced software to continuously adapt to each individual ear and headphone fit. This removes background noise to provide a uniquely customized, superior noise-canceling experience that allows a user to focus on what they’re listening to — whether it’s a favorite song or a phone conversation.

The Future of Apple Music

Zane Lowe talked with Wired about the future of Apple Music:

There’s also the matter of how livestreams fit into the picture. After events with Shawn Mendes, French rap group PNL and Tyler the Creator, who did a live performance of his album IGOR, streamed on Apple Music the night before it came out, Lowe says “live music is definitely on the horizon” for the service. It’s all part of the team’s bid to “eventise” – his word – album launches. In the case of Tyler the Creator, “fans can tune in, then after watching it maybe you go to the album.”

When it comes to someone like Billie Eilish, who now has her own Beats 1 show, the Apple Music team realised that their pre-adds, which allow users to register their interest in an album before it’s out, had made people more invested in her March 2019 album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

The iOS 13 Bible

Federico Viticci’s incredibly detailed review of iOS 13 was released today:

Amidst a deluge of new features and design updates, iOS 13, more than its predecessors, makes clear that Apple doesn’t consider iOS just an operating system anymore: it’s the platform upon which the company can build other experiences. In a way, the modern iOS is to Apple devices what Mac OS X was to the original iPhone: a stable technological foundation, ready to be taken in new directions.

No one is writing more in-depth and helpful reviews of iOS and iPadOS these days. And I don’t say that just because there’s some really good bookmarks and screen shots in the Safari section.

Jony Ive Leaving Apple

Jony Ive, the famous designer at Apple, is leaving the company after thirty years. I thought Gruber’s take on the whole thing was pretty good:

Third: This may be good news. Ive is, to state the obvious, preternaturally talented. But in the post-Jobs era, with all of Apple design, hardware and software, under his control, we’ve seen the software design decline and the hardware go wonky. I don’t know the inside story, but it certainly seems like a good bet that MacBook keyboard fiasco we’re still in the midst of is the direct result of Jony Ive’s obsession with device thinness and minimalism. Today’s MacBooks are worse computers but more beautiful devices than the ones they replaced. Is that directly attributable to Jony Ive? With these keyboards in particular, I believe the answer is yes.

More Information About New Music App on macOS 10.15

Some more information has been uncovered about the upcoming iTunes changes answering some of the questions people had.

Jason Snell:

The Music app is basically iTunes—but with a design update that puts Apple Music at the fore. You can still see your entire music library, of course, and even buy music on the iTunes Store if you want to. As someone who uses iTunes with Apple Music every day, I’m okay with this change. And if you click on the Songs view in the Library section of the sidebar, you will get your classic iTunes song list back, like it never left.

Juli Clover:

Apple told Ars Technica that on Windows, there will be no changes. Those who use iTunes on a PC to manage their devices, listen to music, and make iTunes purchases will be able to continue to do so.

Adam Engst:

What about the syncing features of iTunes? macOS Catalina builds them into the Finder. Attach an iOS device to a Mac and it appears in a Finder window’s sidebar. Select it and what looks like the standard iTunes sync settings screen appears in the window. You won’t get syncing or management of iOS apps, but you’ll be able to back up, update, and restore devices from the Mac.