Yesterday, Apple released a new commercial for their redesigned Apple Music as part of iOS 10. Unlike their previous Apple Music advertisements, it does not feature a famous person (like James Corden), but it does walkthrough many of the new features of the app.
The commercial starts with first looking at the features of the Music app that does not require an Apple Music subscription. Artists are laid out similar to the friends in the Contacts app with the exception of added pictures and albums are also laid out like albums in the Photos app. This is design is the same whether you pay for Apple Music or you do not.
Apple’s highly anticipated fall special event is set to start tomorrow around 10am. They will be taking the stage in San Francisco to reveal many new products. While many of the designs for their products will look familiar, they are expected to set themselves up for entire product line refreshes. Here are our expectations for their event.
Fully functional iPhone 7 rear shell design, credit: Sina
The iPhone 7 is practically guaranteed to be announced at the event on Wednesday. Rumors, leaked pictures, and specs have led us to this very moment where we know most everything about the phone. It will come in two sizes (4.7″ and 5.5″) and look similar to the iPhone 6s. The smaller 4.7″ iPhone 7 will have a single and larger rear facing camera, while the larger 5.5″ iPhone 7 Plus will have a two rear cameras. All the camera sensors will remain at 12MP, though. Both phones will have a tactile Home button that uses Force Touch to simulate the physical mechanism of a moving button. Additionally, the phones will not have the headphone jack but instead rely on Bluetooth and Lightning for audio. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will start at 32GB, be powered by the A10 processor, and have better battery capacities. In place of the headphone jack, there will be a second speaker grill which will be house an amplifier. Pre-orders are expected to begin on Friday, September 9th and the phone will either be released on Friday, September 16th or Friday, September 23rd.
Apple Watch 2
Apple Watch, credit: Apple
Leaked images and inside rumors suggest the second-generation Apple Watch will be coming at Apple’s event this week. The watch will look relatively similar to the current generation Apple Watch, except the internals will be highly upgraded. The new processor (or SoC) will be much faster and provide better battery life, the battery capacity will increase due to a thinner display, and the watch will be less dependent on the iPhone. Instead of relying on the phone to track location and speed, the watch will use the new GPS chip. It will still be dependent upon the iPhone for full functionality, though. The current Apple Watch will also be updated with the new processor and continue to be available for sale. The Apple Watch 2 is expected to be released in either September or October.
All-new Music in iOS 10 from WWDC 2016
The newest operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is also practically guaranteed to be announced. Historically, Apple announces the latest iOS at the keynote at WWDC in June and then releases it to the public in the fall. With the amount of beta versions given to developers (we are on #7 now), this shows the final version is underway and will be available to the public soon. The update brings many features to Messages; a fresh design to Music, Maps, and Photos; a new layout for widgets, the Lock screen, and Control Center; and new settings. iOS 10 will likely be released on Wednesday, September 14th.
The Apple Watch running watchOS 3 from Apple website
The third-generation operating system for the Apple Watch was announced in June at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference and is expected to come out alongside iOS 10. The update brings faster apps with Background App Refresh, new watch faces that are easier to switch, fitness for those in a wheelchair, an optimized keyboard for writing letters, and a SOS feature. The SOS feature will allow the Apple Watch to automatically call for help with local emergency services and notify friends/family that you’re in need of help. Another feature will allow you to unlock your Mac when you are in close proximity to it wearing the Apple Watch. This update will likely come out on September 14th as well.
The new tvOS has a Dark Mode so the background is no longer blinding you when watching TV before bed from Apple website
The next-generation operating system for Apple TV (4th generation) will likely be announced at tomorrow’s event. The software update brings a few features to the Apple TV like single sign-on for multiple apps that require your TV provider’s subscription credentials, a special Dark Mode (versus the current bright and all-white “Light Mode”), redesigned Music app, and more advanced search with Siri. It is expected to be released on September 14th.
The Lightning to Headphone Jack adapter to connect to the new iPhone 7, credit: Tinhte.vn
Apple is expected to reveal Lightning-powered EarPods, wireless headphones called ‘AirPods,’ and a few Lightning-powered headphones under their Beats by Dr. Dre brand. Also, there will be a new adapter for Lightning to headphone for those users who still have traditional headphones but plan to upgrade the headphone jack-less iPhone 7. These should come alongside the iPhone 7 or be available before the phone is released.
iPad Pro 2
The rumored 10.5″ iPad Pro will fit nicely between the 9.7″ (on the left) and 12.9″ (on the right), credit: Laptop Magazine
The second-generation iPad Pro is currently in development and may be announced at tomorrow’s Apple event. Unfortunately this is more want, then based on any fact. Rumors suggest an announcement in October, or more than likely, some time next year. The iPad Pro will have a faster display technology for smoother scrolling, panning and zooming. There will also be three models released all based on screen sizes: 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch with the smallest size offered as a low-cost option. The iPads will also have expanded support for the Apple Pencil.
iPad mini 5
A collection of iPad minis from Apple website
There have been no rumors for the fifth-generation iPad mini and the consensus is this tablet will be discontinued soon. It is very similar in size to the 5.5-inch iPhone Plus and lacks support for the new iPad Pro features.
Apple TV Internet Streaming Service
Apple TV concept for Internet Streaming Service
The Internet TV streaming service was expected to be announced alongside the Apple TV (4th generation) last year, but it was not ready yet. The service was rumored to be available for $30-$40 per month and come with about twenty-five channels from major networks. A year after the expected announcement date, the streaming service has not been made public and is likely a tabled idea. Perhaps we will see it in the future.
Apple may also follow their new tradition last year and jam pack all Mac updates into this special event, or have another event planned in October. Apple will announce macOS Sierra (the rebranding of OS X plus the new operating system name) alongside a refresh of their Mac lineup.
On Thursday, Apple released another commercial with Taylor Swift showing off a feature of Apple Music. This ad, which shows Swift dancing to “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by The Darkness, shows recommended playlist feature. In the ‘For You’ tab, songs, playlists, and albums are recommended to you based on what you like to listen to. Since Swift is a rocker, as we have seen with her other commercials and most recent album, the playlist ‘Friday Night Rocks!’ was suggested.
Check out the new Apple Music commercial below:
In addition, Apple recently introduced a new tier for Apple Music pricing. Currently there is $9.99/month for individuals and $14.99/month for families. Now college students can get Apple Music for 50% off while actively enrolled at a college or university. To sign up for the discount, click here.
The next major software update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is expected to be announced in a little over a month at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in California. This update, which is the tenth version of the software and likely called ‘iOS 10’, will hopefully be quite big and bring an overhaul of changes like iOS 7. Rumors for the update, however, have been quite absence and we are unsure of the details of the update. Bloombergreported one of the first iOS 10 rumors saying that the Music app will be more “intuitive” and have a refreshed design. 9to5Mac took the report a step further to check in with their inside sources to see what exactly Apple has in store.
According to multiple sources familiar with the new Music app, Apple is planning to update the app with a redesigned user interface, added features, and a reorganization of current features. First and foremost, they will make San Francisco the system-wide font throughout the Music app and all of their apps. They will change the colorful and translucent design to be more black and white with menu and tab titles being larger and bolder. Album artwork will be more prominent when listening to music, instead of how it currently only takes up half of the screen. In addition, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will make use of their 3D Touch displays with song previews and shortcuts for sharing content.
Apple is also updating a few of their tabs, with the ‘For You’ and ‘New’ tabs on the receiving end of the greatest reorganization. The ‘For You’ tab currently makes recommendations based on the music you listen to and like. It will continue to use the same algorithm for recommendations, but the layout will be simplified. The ‘New’ tab will be renamed to ‘Browse’ and should continue to show the same content. The ‘Connect’ and ‘Radio’ tab are not planned to see many updates.
In terms of new features, Apple is bringing support for lyrics integration. Song labels can automatically integrate lyrics into their songs, or users can manually do it with the Mac. Initially, only a few artists will support lyrics in their apps (like Taylor Swift and U2), but more artists will be coming soon.
The new Music app will be a part of iOS 10 with an expected announcement during the keynote at WWDC in June. Developers and public beta testers will have first access to the updated app over the summer and the public will get it in mid-September.
Earlier this week, Apple released another Apple Music commercial featuring Taylor Swift. Although this is not as comical as the last one, with Taylor Swift falling on a treadmill, this one is amount her jamming out to “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World while preparing to go out.
Apple’s other commercials, including their recently added seven Apple Watch ads, can be viewed on their YouTube page.
With the release of iTunes 12.2 earlier this month, Apple accidentally leaked new colors for the iPod lineup and potentially even revealed the release date. A new report on French blog iGen.fragrees with this release date and gives us more information about the updated iPods, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.
Typically when Apple launches a new product, they put the release date on all their marketing materials as the calendar date on the Home screen. If we look at the iPhone 6, for example, the date is Tuesday the ninth which points to Tuesday, September 9th (the day of the announcement). The leaked images of the new colors for the iPod touch show a calendar date of Tuesday the fourteenth. The only Tuesday the fourteenth coming up would be next Tuesday, July 14th. The French blog reports that this is the release date as well.
Their report shares more information about what to expect with the new iPod lineup. In addition to the new gold, electric blue and fuchsia colors for the iPod lineup, there will be specs upgrades for the iPod touch. The iPod touch, which is codenamed “n102,” will see a slightly new design with the iPod touch loop removed, an upgrade to a 64-bit processor, potentially a higher megapixel camera and more. The iPod nano and iPod shuffle are only expected to see the color refresh and hopefully, at least the nano, will use Apple Music.
Longer shipping times, especially for products that has been around for three years, indicates that something is about to change. The iPod lineup are seeing shipping times from one business day to up to ten business days. How convenient that the new iPods will be here in three business days…
At 8am PST (or 11am for those of us on the Eastern side of the United States), Apple will release its iOS 8.4 update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. This last major update to iOS 8 brings a completely revamped Music app with Apple Music, some design tweaks, bug fixes and a new Audiobooks player in iBooks.
The all-new Music app will be home to both Apple Music and music purchased from the iTunes Store. Apple Music is made up of three basic components. The first, which is the on-demand music service, allows paid subscribers to access the entire iTunes Store library of over 30 million songs for unlimited streaming. Apple gives new users a 3-month free trial with the service and then it will be $9.99/month for individuals or $14.99/month for families once the trial ends. The second component is the radio which is made up of Beats 1, the new global 24/7 radio hosted in three cities with several guest stars, and playlists listed by genre created by humans (not computer algorithms). Beats 1 starts its first broadcast an hour after iOS 8.4 launches. Finally, there’s a section called Connect that will let users follow their favorite artists and view sound clips, photos, videos and more shared by them. This section won’t be just limited to the major artists, unsigned artists can connect with their fans on here too.
The Music app also received a complete redesign with many new features and a fresh icon. It is organized into five tabs: ‘For You’, ‘New’, ‘Radio’, ‘Connect’ and ‘My Music.’ The ‘For You’ tab recommends playlists, albums and music based on your likes and the ‘New’ tab shows new music that’s also based on your likes. The ‘Radio’ and ‘Connect’ tabs, as we mentioned above, are part of Apple Music. Finally, the ‘My Music’ tab is all the music that you own, including those stored on your device and in the cloud. For new features, there’s a MiniPlayer that subtly opens up when music is played, playlists can be personalized with pictures, descriptions and names, Up Next functionality to chose which songs play next and improved Now Playing to focus on artwork of albums and the music you’re listening to.
The iOS 8.4 update can be downloaded over-the-air with the Settings app (go to: General –> Software Update –> Download & Install) or with iTunes (plug in your device and click Check for Update).
Last week, it was discovered that artists who allow their music to be played on Apple Music will not receive any royalties during the three-month free trial period for users. Many artists have come out to say they will not will be participating with Apple Music because of this reason. Taylor Swift wrote a note on her Tumblr blog to Apple explaining that their no-royalty policy can be detrimental to indie artists who work paycheck-to-paycheck until they become popular.
After this note came out, a controversy started and Apple was in the spotlight for not paying artists for the right to use their music during the free trial. Eddy Cue, an Apple executive, responded to Taylor Swift’s note on Twitter saying that they have reconsidered the no-royalty plan and have decided that “Apple Music will pay artist for streaming even during customer’s free trial period.” It is good to hear that Apple has decided to pay artists, but they didn’t specify as to how much they will pay out.
An article in the Wall Street Journal reported Apple has yet to disclose the royalty rate they will be paying out during the free trial period, only mentioning that Apple will raise it once the trial ends. The normal rate is 71.5%, which is higher than industry leaders like Spotify, but this probably will not be the rate that is paid out during the free trial. The WSJ theorized that Apple could mirror Spotify’s promotional rate of half their normal rate, which would be 35.75% for Apple.
Whatever Apple decides to do, they need to make sure they don’t come in with lowball offer or else this will turn into a PR nightmare.
The annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference started a few hours ago with a keynote from Apple CEO Tim Cook. He, along with several members of the Apple team, announced many new software products like Mac OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, watchOS 2 and more.
Mac OS X El Capitan
The next-generation operating system for Mac has arrived. This update has two major focuses: experience and performance. For changes in experience, Apple added many new features that enhance the way the Mac is used. For example, Split View allows you to work on two apps simultaneously together. Like Windows, the computer will automatically size two apps to fix next to each other in your fullscreen window space. Apple also expanded the Notes app, Mail, Safari, Photos, Maps and made Spotlight Search more like Facebook’s Graph Search. For performance, they added the Metal graphics core technology which increases the performance and graphics of apps.
Apple announced several new updates with the next-generation operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Like El Capitan, the team focused on key areas when talking about the updates. In terms of Intelligence, Siri has been updated with a new colorful user interface and more capabilities. Siri can search through your photos and videos in the Photos app to provide specific answers to requests, like searching for those pictures you took last year at WWDC. There’s a new page to the left of the Home screen (where the search bar used to be pre-iOS 7) that displays suggestions for people to talk to, apps to use, what’s nearby in terms of food, drinks, shopping and fun and what’s currently in the news. This section is also for Spotlight Search and it has expanded capabilities to return search results with videos on YouTube and Vimeo, third-party apps, measurement conversions and more.
The second key area is Enhancements and this, simply put, means that Apple has updated several of their apps with more functions. For example, the Notes app has a new toolbar that has shortcuts for formatting options, the App Switcher has a completely new user interface, the Health app can track more data points, the Maps app can provide transit directions and Apple added a new app called News, which provides magazines and news articles from several sources in an easy-to-read format.
Apple also focused on increasing performance with the iPhone. They reduced the total available space to 1.3GB in order to install iOS 9 instead of the 4.6GB needed for iOS 8. The team also increased the energy efficiency by adding an additional hour of battery time for devices running iOS 9 and a new function called Low Power Mode that will switch off many functions to add up to three additional hours of battery life (on top of the hour).
Split View on the iPad Air 2
For the final area of focus, Apple designed specific features of iOS 9 to solely work on the iPad. After nearly two years of rumors, Multitasking is finally here on the iPad. Like the iPhone, there’s a new App Switcher user interface. The iPad can use two apps simultaneously next to each other with features called Slide Over, Split View and Picture in Picture.
Comes out to developers today, public beta testers in July and the public in the Fall. All the devices that could upgrade to iOS 8 will be able to update to iOS 9 as well.
Apple Watch (watchOS 2)
Even though the Apple Watch is only a few weeks old, Apple has announced the second-generation operating system. On a side note, this means we can expect a new operating system every WWDC (so watchOS 3 in June 2016). Anyway, watchOS 2 adds a lot of new functions, like photos for the watch’s face, third-party complications, new apps can run without the need for the iPhone, support for transit directions, Siri can control HomeKit-enabled devices and more.
Comes out to developers today, the public in the Fall.
To start off talking about Apple Pay, the team went into detail about the success the payment service has seen. Apple Pay has been out since October 2014 and is now accepted in over one million locations. Several major retailers have announced they will soon be accepting the service in their stores too, like JCPenney, Forever21, Dunkin Donuts, Trader Joe’s, Best Buy and many others. With iOS 9, the Passbook app has been renamed to Wallet and there’s a new icon. Store credit and debits cards and loyalty and rewards cards will also be stored in the app. Finally, Apple announced that Apple Pay will begin its international expansion by entering the United Kingdom in July.
One More Thing…
As rumored, Apple announced their new music streaming service that will directly compete with Spotify and Rdio. This music service will allow for unlimited streaming for every song found in the iTunes Store (some of which are not found on Spotify). It will recommend playlists and albums based on the music you listen to, show you top charts, new music and more, allow you to connect to your favorite artists and view the content they share, like photos, videos and sound bites, and there’s a 24/7 global radio that is live from New York City, Los Angeles and London. The music streaming service, which is found in the all-new Music app, will be available for $9.99/month per person or $14.99/month for families of up to six people. Apple is offering a three-month free trial for those who want to test out the service.
The new Music app with streaming service comes with iOS 8.4 and is available to download on June 30th. Apple will also be releasing an app on Android in the Fall.
At the Worldwide Developer’s Conference keynote next week, Apple is expected to reveal the new music streaming service called “Apple Music” which will be a direct competition to Spotify and Rdio. There will be three main components to this service: unlimited streaming, iTunes Radio with the new Music app and Artist Activity.
Unlimited streaming, which is the first component of the new Apple Music, will allow users to listen to whatever music they want whenever they want, much like Spotify. Apple will also be matching Spotify’s monthly price of $10 and offer augmented Internet radio DJ’s. Apple will likely announce a trial period of between one to three months for users to test out the service. Many customers who have previously bought new music online have instead started to stream the same songs for a monthly subscription price. I have caught myself doing the same thing: when a new album comes out, I’ll stream it on Spotify and solely listen to it on there unless I know I need to buy the song then I go to iTunes to download it. Apple has noticed this trend so they are going to be offering unlimited streaming of music available on the iTunes Store at a price. They are preparing to cannibalize sales from the iTunes Store in favor of their new Apple Music subscription service. Why buy a $10 album that will get old after a month when you can stream the album (and many others) for $10/month?
iTunes Radio with redesigned Music app
The second component will be the completely redesigned Music app and new iTunes Radio. The app, which is currently being tested by developers and public beta testers, will debut in late June as the iOS 8.4 update. The Music app has an all-new design and is organized into three tabs: My Music, Playlists and iTunes Radio. The music in the “My Music” tab are all your songs and albums that you own, including those stored on your device and in the cloud. The second tab, “Playlists”, shows your recently added playlists on top, your Smart Playlists, like Top 25 and My Top Rated next, then your other playlists are in alphabetical order on the bottom. The final tab, “Radio”, is for the iTunes Radio. Each of these tabs have new features as well, like the Miniplayer and gestures to change tabs.
Apple’s iTunes Radio is also receiving some updates as a part of Apple Music. The new radio streaming service will have custom DJ stations run by celebrities like Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams and Drake, and there will be more Pandora-like stations. For example, I have a station on Pandora called “Classical for Studying Radio”, which plays pop songs with a Classical touch. Searching for something similar on iTunes Radio is a nightmare since several stations come up and it’s difficult to find the right one. Listeners who have a paid subscription will be able to skip an unlimited number of times and play ad-free music, while those without a subscription will have a limited number of skips and have to listen to ads, like how the service is now.
The last component of the new Apple Music is Artist Activity. This feature creates a page for artists to share their content, favorite music of other artists, share exclusive videos and show off their tour dates. Followers will use their iTunes account names to “like” and comment on posts by artists.
The new Apple Music service will be available to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV and Android users.