MacStories Reviews Albums 4.0

Apps

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.

How Pandora Won Its Royalty Battle But Lost the War to Spotify

Pandora

 Tyler Hayes, writing for Vice:

For a few years in the late 2000s, Pandora was the on-demand DJ for tens of millions of people, creating the soundtrack to college dorm room parties, quiet coffee shops, busy kitchens, and family get-togethers. The days of building massive MP3 music collections through file-sharing was receding quickly into the past, and instead the shared experience of radio was making a comeback via the clever algorithmic matchmaking of Pandora’s endlessly customizable stations based on individual taste. Today it’s a feature we take for granted across every music service, even if Pandora’s implementation still seems like it was the best. Pandora itself, however, can feel like an afterthought. Betamax to Spotify’s VHS, or maybe more accurately, MySpace to on-demand streaming’s Facebook.

Turntable.fm Is Back From the Dead

Mitchell Clark, writing at The Verge:

It’s rare that apps come back from the dead, but it seems like that may be what’s happening with Turntable.fm, a site that let users create their own radio stations and DJ sets with music they curated before it got shuttered in 2013. Even rarer, it seems like there are two versions involved in the revival: the original Turntable.fm site is back up and running (with the involvement of its original founder, Billy Chasen), but there’s also Turntable.org, which will reportedly be launching in beta this April.

Soor Offers Customizable Widgets for Apple Music

iPhone

MacStories details the third party Apple Music app, Soor, and their customizable home screen widgets for iOS 14:

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. 

Shazam Getting Control Center Button

iPhone

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.

Amazon Music Gets Podcasts

amazon

The Verge:

Amazon Music now offers podcasts. The company issued an update today that brings more than 70,000 shows to the platform, including some major titles, like Serial and Pod Save America, as well as new exclusive deals like a show with DJ Khaled called The First One, where he’ll interview artists about their breakthrough hits and the stories behind them. Disgraceland, a popular show from iHeartMedia, will also become exclusive to the platform starting in February 2021.

Facebook to Launch Officially Licensed Music Videos Next Month

Facebook

Sarah Perez, writing at TechCrunch:

Facebook is preparing to launch officially licensed music videos on its social network in the U.S. next month, in a direct challenge to YouTube. In materials reviewed by TechCrunch, Facebook informed Page owners linked to artists they’ll need to toggle on a new setting to add their music videos to their page ahead of an August 1st deadline, at which point Facebook will automatically create a page of their videos if no action had been taken.

Artists will not have to manually upload their videos or even provide links, Facebook told the artist Page admins. Instead, by enabling the new setting, artists are giving Facebook permission to add music videos to their Page, where they can be discovered by fans on the Page’s Videos tab. This library will include both the artist’s own official videos and those they’re featured in, Facebook explained in its marketing materials.

MusicSmart Puts the Spotlight on Music Credits

Apps

Federico Viticci, writing at MacStories, about the new app MusicSmart:

Here’s the amazing part – the “aha” moment that brought back the same feelings I had as a kid when reading through liner notes: in the Tracks section, you can tap any of the listed songs to view detailed credits for the selected song. These go beyond the standard “written by” credits you see in Apple Music: MusicSmart lists engineers (including mixing, mastering, and assistant engineers), producers, and even the name of the label and studio where the song was mastered. But there’s more: MusicSmart can show you the names of all the artists credited for the creation of a song even if they’re not core members of a band, including backing vocalists, percussionists, keyboard players, saxophonists – you name it.

I’ve been playing around with this app for the last couple of weeks and it’s a really nice addition for those that want to dive deeper into the credits of a song. In past I’d be listening to something and often wonder who was playing one of the backing instruments, or trying to figure out if the strings were real or fake, and end up Googling around and hoping I could find the information or a photo of the album credits. This is much nicer.

Read More “MusicSmart Puts the Spotlight on Music Credits”

Patreon Lays Off 13% of Workforce

Megan Rose Dickey, writing at TechCrunch:

“It is unclear how long this economic uncertainty will last and therefore, to prepare accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with 13% of Patreon’s workforce,” a Patreon spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “This decision was not made lightly and consisted of several other factors beyond the financial ones.”

Plexamp v3

Plex have updated their music player app:

Applications should have a raison d’être. For Plexamp v3, it came down to: play music fast, don’t stop.

I’m all in on Apple Music, but still use Plex for my video library; however, I am always interested in what else is going on in the music player space.

Overcast Launches New Audio Engine

Podcast

Marco Arment has released a version of his Overcast podcast player with “Voice Boost 2,” if you are interested in the nerdy audio side of this, he’s written up a blog post explaining it:

This is about to get nerdier, but bear with me. (Yes, nerdier than ITU broadcast-loudness standards.)

Given a loudness measurement for the incoming audio, quieter podcasts need to be amplified to reach the target. But perceived loudness isn’t the peak of the incoming audio stream — it’s more of an average. Quiet-sounding audio can still have brief moments of loud peaks.

When increasing the volume of digital audio, the biggest challenge is not “clipping” during the peaks — not having any part of the signal pass above the volume ceiling of 0 dB. (It’s a negative scale. This is also why the LUFS value above, which is closely related to the decibel scale used here, is negative.)

Federico Viticci’s Must-Have Apps of 2019

Apps

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.

The Best Reverse Image Search

Technology

Aric Toler, writing at Bellingcat:

The first and most important piece of advice on this topic cannot be stressed enough: Google reverse image search isn’t very good.

As of this guide’s publication date, the undisputed leader of reverse image search is the Russian site Yandex. After Yandex, the runners-up are Microsoft’s Bing and Google. A fourth service that could also be used in investigations is TinEye, but this site specializes in intellectual property violations and looks for exact duplicates of images.

8tracks Is Shutting Down

David Porter:

8tracks has had a long run and its day in the sun. We’re sad to announce, however, that the company and its streaming service will wind down with the end of the decade, on December 31st, 2019.

We have mixed feelings as we round out this decade and the life of 8tracks. We served many listeners and DJs well, at important times in their lives, for more than a decade, introducing adventurous listeners to new artists they may never have otherwise discovered, and for that we’re proud. On the other hand, we recognize we’ve disappointed many listeners and DJs, employees, investors and partners. We all wish we’d had the opportunity to continue to innovate in the music sector and serve our community and other stakeholders well, just as we had in our earlier years.