Technology

Technology

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.

Amazon Music Launching Lossless Streaming Tier

Amazon Music is rolling out a new lossless streaming tier.

Amazon is launching a new tier of its music service today, dubbed Amazon Music HD. It offers lossless versions of audio files for streaming or downloading at a price that aggressively undercuts Tidal, the main competition for this kind of audio. Amazon will charge $14.99 a month for the HD tier, or $12.99 if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. Tidal’s Hi-Fi plan costs $19.99 monthly. The new plan was rumored a few months ago.

YouTube Music Cracks Down on Rampant Chart Manipulation

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

YouTube will no longer allow paid views and advertising to influence its YouTube Music Charts, the company announced this morning. Instead, it will calculate its rankings based only on view counts coming from organic plays. In addition, it’s changing its methodology for reporting on 24-hour record debuts to also only count views from organic sources, including direct links to the video, search results, Watch Next and Trending — but not video advertising.

Spotify Acquires SoundBetter

TechCrunch:

Spotify today took another step in its efforts to build out services for artists to help diversify itself away from a business model predicated on paying music streaming royalties to labels: it has acquired SoundBetter, a music production marketplace for artists, producers, and musicians to connect on specific projects; and for people who are looking to distribute music tracks to those who want to license them.

Why Music Isn’t a Top-Two Category on Patreon (Yet)

I found this conversation between Wyatt Jenkins, SVP of product at Patreon, and Cherie Hu of the Water & Music podcast absolutely fascinating:

So what Patreon is is a membership platform. And what that means as a patron, as someone who is a fan of a musician, is you are a part of that tribe. You have an inside view, you get the merch first, you get to understand what songs are coming out later, you can have creative input — those are all the kinds of things that happen in a membership that’s fundamentally different than a subscription. Back to what we’re trying to define here: we are defining membership on the web as a way to deliver really unique value to fans.

They do a deep dive into the music industry, where it’s going, and how musicians could better use platforms like Patreon to build meaningful connections with fans.

Disney Announces $12.99 Bundle for Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+

Julia Alexander, writing for The Verge:

Disney will offer a bundle package of its three streaming services — Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ — for $12.99 a month starting on November 12th, the company announced today. […]

The streaming services is likely to be available through “Amazon, Apple, and other distributors,” according to Iger. Disney has not finalized any deals with the aforementioned companies, but told investors “we feel it’s important for us to achieve scale quickly, and we think it’s going to be an important part of that. They’re all interested in distributing the product.”

Etsy Is Acquiring Reverb

Dami Lee, writing at The Verge:

Etsy, the e-commerce platform for handmade goods, is acquiring music gear marketplace Reverb for $275 million in cash. The site, which sells new, used, and vintage musical instruments and accessories, will continue to operate as a standalone business.

My Frantic Life as a Cab-Dodging, Tip-Chasing Food App Deliveryman

Andy Newman, writing at The New York Times:

On my first DoorDash shift, a lunch run in Brooklyn, I learned about the company’s interesting tipping policy.

DoorDash offers a guaranteed minimum for each job. For my first order, the guarantee was $6.85 and the customer, a woman in Boerum Hill who answered the door in a colorful bathrobe, tipped $3 via the app. But I still received only $6.85.

Here’s how it works: If the woman in the bathrobe had tipped zero, DoorDash would have paid me the whole $6.85. Because she tipped $3, DoorDash kicked in only $3.85. She was saving DoorDash $3, not tipping me.

Pre-Saving Albums Can Allow Labels to Track Users on Spotify

Billboard:

Users who “pre-save” an upcoming release to their Spotify accounts may be sharing more personal data with the act’s label than they realize.

To pre-save music, which adds a release to a user’s library as soon as it comes out, Spotify users click through and approve permissions that give the label far more account access than the streaming giant normally grants them — enough to track what they listen to, change what artists they follow and potentially even control their music streaming remotely.

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.

Spotify Says They Overpaid Songwriters and Publishers in 2018

Tim Ingham, writing at Music Business Worldwide:

Because of this additional complexity, Spotify has now calculated that, retrospectively, according to the CRB decision, many music publishers actually owe it money for 2018, due to an overpayment based on the prior rates. And guess what? It wants that money back.

Spotify told the publishers the news this week and, as you can imagine, these companies – already up in arms over Spotify’s CRB appeal – are fuming about it.

One senior figure in the music publishing industry told MBW: “Spotify is clawing back millions of dollars from publishers in the US based on the new CRB rates that favor the DSPs, while appealing the [wider CRB decision]. This puts some music publishers in a negative position. It’s unbelievable.”

Lyrics Site Accuses Google of Lifting Its Content

The Wall Street Journal:

Genius Media Group Inc. depends on Google’s search engine to send music lovers to its website stocked with hard-to-decipher lyrics to hip-hop songs and other pop hits.

Now Genius says its traffic is dropping because, for the past several years, Google has been publishing lyrics on its own platform, with some of them lifted directly from the music site. […]

Starting around 2016, Genius said, the company made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics’ apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song.

When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words “Red Handed.”

Spotify’s Mood Related Data Lets Advertisers Target by Listeners Emotional State

Liz Pelly, writing for The Baffler:

[A] more careful look into Spotify’s history shows that the decision to define audiences by their moods was part of a strategic push to grow Spotify’s advertising business in the years leading up to its IPO—and today, Spotify’s enormous access to mood-based data is a pillar of its value to brands and advertisers, allowing them to target ads on Spotify by moods and emotions. Further, since 2016, Spotify has shared this mood data directly with the world’s biggest marketing and advertising firms.

This creeps me out.

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.

Playdate: The New Handheld Video Game System

Panic, a company known for their Mac and iOS software, has announced the Playdate, a new handheld video game system:

Playdate is both very familiar, and totally new. It’s yellow, and fits perfectly in a pocket. It has a black-and-white screen with high reflectivity, a crystal-clear image, and no backlight. And of course, it has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C, and a headphone jack. But it also has a crank. Yes, a crank: a cute, rotating analog controller that flips out from the side.

It also includes a full season of original games, at no extra charge, delivered each week to the system — games in all sorts of genres that are all hopefully surprises.

This looks adorable. Panic is a Portland based company that has their office not that far from where I live; I walk by their customizable sign all the time. The company is also one of the main reasons I started using a Mac after discovering their editor Coda, which was basically revolutionary to me at the time. This little video game system looks like a whole lot of fun and I wish them the best of luck.

Spotify’s Postal Address Insanity

Josh Centers, writing at TidBITS:

Apparently, Spotify requires address verification to try to ensure that all family members are in the same household, so presumably, those addresses need to be entered identically. Did my wife type out the word “bypass” in our address, or did she use an abbreviation? Did she put our box number on the first or second line? Wanting to make sure I got it right, I asked her to check the address format on her account.

Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS?

Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler, writing at Motherboard:

In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians.

The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.

AI-Produced Music Raises Copyright Questions

Dani Deahl, writing at The Verge:

AI is capable of making music, but does that make AI an artist? As AI begins to reshape how music is made, our legal systems are going to be confronted with some messy questions regarding authorship. Do AI algorithms create their own work, or is it the humans behind them? What happens if AI software trained solely on Beyoncé creates a track that sounds just like her? “I won’t mince words,” says Jonathan Bailey, CTO of iZotope. “This is a total legal clusterfuck.”

I’m filing this article in the “things I wasn’t even thinking about earlier but now can’t stop” folder.

YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant

Mark Bergen, writing for Bloomberg:

Wojcicki and her deputies know this. In recent years, scores of people inside YouTube and Google, its owner, raised concerns about the mass of false, incendiary and toxic content that the world’s largest video site surfaced and spread. One employee wanted to flag troubling videos, which fell just short of the hate speech rules, and stop recommending them to viewers. Another wanted to track these videos in a spreadsheet to chart their popularity. A third, fretful of the spread of “alt-right” video bloggers, created an internal vertical that showed just how popular they were. Each time they got the same basic response: Don’t rock the boat.

Zane Lowe on Why Apple Music Is ‘In the Storytelling Business’

Zane Lowe sat down with Music Business Worldwide to talk about Apple Music and various other topics:

Well the artist, first and foremost, has to create an environment which offers a 360 degree creative experience for fans before we even think about how to collaborate with that [and] help them build their story.

An artist like Billie Eilish thinks in sounds, she thinks in colors, she thinks in visuals, she thinks in collaborations, she thinks in all kinds of different forms of creativity. When you’re dealing with an artist like that, it opens all these other areas that you can help build things around.