I have already reached the point where I can't imagine my iPhone without Apple Music. It has become much bigger than it actually is to me and feels like a door to all of the audible entertainment I could want.
This is obviously unusually positive for me, but my recent few weeks with Spotify showed that I can live with streaming and the human factor in Apple Music is not to be ignored. Beats 1 doesn't necessarily cover what I tend to like, but my tastes are vast and I have discovered some decent artists already.
The spot by St Vincent brought some other artists to my attention such as Angel Olsen (check out the video above) and The Antlers, and I have also discovered many rare demos from the likes of Roy Orbison. I don't quite know how the app is doing it, but I am finding new music all of the time and it is broadening my musical horizons.
It is still a bit of a mess in my opinion, especially the 'My Music' section, but maybe that it part of the appeal? Just maybe the chaotic and cramped interface works in a backwards way to make the app and service somehow feel bigger. Just maybe it is needed to give a sense of the vast resources the app offers and to show you that there is no end to what is available.
One aspect I don't particularly like is a hidden focus on only playing a track once. Through the radio stations you can only move forwards and when playing an album, the previously played tracks are hidden until you access it again. Discovery is great and many people, particularly those like me who believe that their music tastes have reached a static point, probably need a push, but good music deserves to be played over and over again to truly appreciate every aspect.
Apple Music will succeed purely because it is Apple, but potentially it also has the ability to make radio popular all over again. It has the potential to make money for artists (seriously not convinced of that) and it has the potential to become one of Apple's biggest successes so far. At this point I cannot imagine cancelling the service after the 3 month trial. I really can't.
I had a couple of problems getting it to work, but now that it is I can come to some early conclusions.
It's a little slow when compared to Spotify, but hopefully that can be tweaked.
It's focussed very much on streaming and not so much on the music you are collecting or saving offline.
It is horribly busy and a real pain to use. The most un-Apple app I have ever seen.
Will give it some time though to see if I get used to it. How about you?
Recently I had a need to install Windows 10 for a freelance project and the process was incredibly frustrating. I tried on a Windows tablet and then on a Windows laptop, but each time it failed dismally and after a few hours I gave up. To be fair, this is a preview and so some issues are likely to be encountered, but it brought all of the Windows pain back to me that I do not have to worry about each day thanks to my iMac.
As a last resort, I decided to try the Parellels Desktop app and install it that way, and it worked perfectly. Within an hour, I had Windows 10 on my iMac without the need to reboot every time I need to use it. That, however, was far from the biggest surprise.
Initially I thought it was the novelty of something new, but after a couple of days I realised that Window on an iMac is actually rather impressive. Could it really be that just the hardware can make such a difference? My Mac is coming up to 4 years old now, but in comparison to the other Windows devices I have tried, it is way ahead in terms of pure user experience. It also helps a lot that all of the crap ware is not installed on the preview which finally lets me see what is below the surface.
Putting Windows on decent hardware without all of the nonsense that manufacturers need to install to turn a tiny profit makes a huge difference and I am starting to see it in a much more positive light.
Of course I will not be turning away from Mac OS X any time soon, but this recent experience opened my eyes more than ever to what is wrong with Windows, and the OS itself is obviously not the problem.
I have an Evernote Premium subscription and am largely satisfied with the service, but one aspect of it has always bugged me. The interface on the desktop and mobile apps is just too busy for my liking and gets in the way of organising all of my notes. A recent update to the web view has helped, but the release of Alternote shows that Evernote can be presented in a clean and easy to use fashion.
The price is low and even though I am only on day two of the trial I am mightily impressed. All we need now is a mobile version to complete the set. If you use Evernote a lot and have a Mac, take a look at this.
A few things have happened recently that have made me wonder where Apple is going. Small things that put together suggest a change in direction and I am not sure that I like what I am seeing.
The Taylor Swift debacle which looks a little contrived to me. The main problem is that she is happy to stream her latest album on the service now because Apple offers a tiny bit more per play than other services. She seems to be coming round to the idea of streaming, no choice I guess, but the gushing over Apple and the public thanks seems a little strange.
The email that Apple sent out regarding its new News service ("If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so that you can resolve the issue, including indemnifying Apple if Apple is included in the claim.") seems a little out of touch and somewhat heavy handed.
The lack of 32GB iPhones looks like a money grab to me. There has recently been some rumours suggesting that it was for technical reasons, but I really do not buy that at all. It was profit pure and simple.
A more stringent approach to dealing with faults and in particular user damage to products. It used to be the case that Apple was renowned for going above and beyond, and to be fair it still does sometimes, but this is eroding slightly.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a fool and recognise how very large companies work, but I do wonder if Apple should not act like one of the biggest companies in the world in order to stay as one of them. The company has got in to a position where it has enough bandwidth to jump even further ahead in terms of customer service and satisfaction. It can in effect bribe customers to buy their loyalty by offering a supreme level of service which will likely do more than all of the fancy gimmicks in the world.
Apple Music is of course needed to compete with the likes of Spotify. The Apple Watch is of course... not very useful at all and the sales figures for the iPhone are extraordinary. The Mac is still growing and the business is still growing every quarter. This may only be the start, but I am starting to see some chinks appear which are not necessary at all.
Brilliant from The Joy of Tech.
I have been using Spotify for the past 2 weeks, the free trial of course, and realised very quickly that it just doesn't feel right to me. I have no qualms with the service or the performance because it is actually very impressive, but the thought that music is so disposable doesn't sit well.
Simply picking a track or an album and then playing it or saving it offline is easy, but it is also too easy to drift past music because so much is available. No longer does buying an album feel special or something that should be considered in its entirety. The temptation to jump from song to song is too much and as such the tracks themselves feel like GIFs posted on Twitter to be listened to once and then forgotten about.
I am not sure why purchasing and downloading an album from iTunes should feel any different because it is just a set of files after all, but it does. I'm not a luddite, I have embraced everything in the digital world, but maybe this is a step too far for someone of my age? Or maybe it is just that I have always been very into the music I like and tend to treasure it.
When I was 20 years old, I spent an inordinate amount of time searching for an album by the Violent Femmes called Hallowed Ground. It took months to find it and I was quite happy to pay £35 for it in a second-hand record shop. I then spent many days listening to it in the hopes that it was as good as their other albums and it was a simple experience I will not forget. Somehow it made the album feel more personal, more complete and more special. Seeing Hallowed Ground listed on Spotify as a thumbnail felt like nothing at all really.
I get that for the consumer streaming services can be a great thing, but to me it just doesn't feel like music should be delivered that way. Then again, I have no problem at all with TV shows and films being delivered digitally and actually prefer it so maybe it is just my personal preference and the importance that music holds in my life.
The same is true of watches. As you may know because I write a lot about them, I have a deep affection for watches and the reasons for this are numerous. They, to me, feels like objects that should be treasured over time and which should not be changed too often. The longer you wear a watch, the more affectionate you are likely to feel towards it.
And now here we are in a world where Apple, Pebble and the rest would like us to see watches as upgradable, potentially disposable, and objects that are merely designed to perform tasks. This goes completely against the crazy marketing Apple has used in creating the Apple Watch Edition to make them seem like real watches. You cannot on one hand suggest that an Apple Watch is something to treasure and pay for a fortune for and then on the other hand expect the customer to upgrade it in a year.
I am conflicted on this. I love reading books on my Kindle, I love watching films and TV shows on my Apple TV, but I don't like streaming music and I don't like smart watches. It would seem that one half of me is getting older and the other half is still down with the cool tech kids...
If the above image is showing an accurate view of the projected UK pricing for Apple Music (posted on Twitter by Sam Radford) then that is slightly disappointing. With apps running at £0.79 and $0.99 and iCloud at £2.99 and $3.99, I was hoping for some differentiation.
I am struggling to see what Apple Music will bring that Spotify does not, a service with sublimely quick performance, and how it is a leap forward. For me, the recommendations stuff etc is mere noise in the background because I am still a luddite who prefers to go out and found new music without the opinions of others.
Maybe it is an age thing, but what do you think?
So, what did you think of the WWDC keynote yesterday?
It was as understated as many of us expected with an emphasis on fixing things and increasing stability appearing to be the main focus for the next 12 months. Bravo!
I was, however, quite surprised at how many of the 'new' ideas are already available elsewhere.
The split screen is something I am fairly sure I have seen elsewhere...
Apple News = Flipboard.
Apple Music = Spotify or any other service that recognises that most people who are prepared to pay for music will likely not need recommendations for what to listen to. The emphasis on recommendations, 24 hour radio and the artist pages seem to miss the mark and feel like unnecessary additions.
Low Power mode = Samsung's next 'we did this before you' advert.
Apple Pay should be fun to try and so should the improved Spotlight, but besides some terrible Dad dancing on stage it was a fairly muted affair.
I don't think I mind it that way. We should take a year to breathe and use that time to decide what comes next.
It has been a while since I wrote anything of length on the site and so I thought I would address where we are in regards to how iOS and Android have developed over the past couple of years. I must say that I believe I could use either quite happily as my daily smartphone OS and not have any concerns that I was missing out on important apps or functionality. They are effectively converging as each update is released and becoming the same thing.
People complain that Apple borrows features from Android and that Google borrows features from iOS, but both companies are merely filling in the gaps because they have reached a point where both OS's are so feature-rich and usable today that incremental changes are the way to go. Complaining about such things makes little sense in a world where iOS just chugs along and where Android has a more natural feel than ever with Lollipop, and even more so with Android M.
Apple could, as has been rumoured, open up a little and reduce the amount it charges for certain services. This may open up iOS users to be able to buy Kindle books within the app and also music from a variety of competing services. It could also allow users to change the default app for certain activities and it would be nice to see this appear in iOS 9. However, I do wonder if this would move many users away from what Apple wants.
For example, if I would change the default apps on my iPhone the following would happen. Mail would become Gmail, Calendar would become miCal, Maps would become Google Maps and so on. If I had the choice, Apple's services and apps are not likely to survive in great numbers.
I am finding myself using non-Apple services for so many activities these days that the iPhone is merely the hardware that everything runs on. Dropbox is my choice for cloud storage, Kindle for eBooks, Evernote for notes, Amazon for music, Netflix for video, Carousel for photos and so on. It may be time for Apple to realise that the way to compete in a world with so much choice available is not to lock in users, but to either improve the Apple services or allow customers to use whatever they choose to.
As an iPhone user, it can feel constrictive to have to use certain Apple services, or to have to jump through hoops to use a competitor product, and one sure way to make me look closely at Android again is to make it difficult for me to do what I need to.
Apps have also reached parity. There is not one app that I would miss out on no matter which of the platforms I chose, and Apple's recent change to iOS which means that I can no longer manually add apps that are no longer on the App Store to my phone is the only real difference. This is potentially a big problem for me because I would lose access to a couple of very important apps and again that pushes me towards Android.
And then there is the hardware. Yes, I like the iPhone and find the camera, speed and everything else to be adequate, but it is far from perfect. I look at the LG G3 or G4 and do wonder if these are 2 potential devices that offer all that I need. Now that I no longer rely on iCloud for photos or anything else (because it isn't very good), I could quite happily use an Android device for my photos and have them all back up to Dropbox in the background. Another example of Apple not backing up the hardware with decent cloud services at a competitive price.
Don't get me wrong, I have no real complaints about my iPhone in terms of reliability and how it serves me every day, but now and then I stop and think about it. Is it still the best device for me or is there something better out there? It is all too easy to use the same apps in the same way every single day and to not even consider anything else, but the differences between Android and iOS are now so minimal that it makes it easier than ever before to switch platforms without blinking an eye.
The mobile world in 2015 is one of multiple cloud services, millions of apps and a diversity of media products that can cause confusion, but it is also one that should relegate the hardware to merely being able to give us access to all of it whenever we want. I have to say that the gap between iOS and Android is smaller than ever before and it will only get smaller.
More at the Apple iAd page.
David found the above at Apple's iAd page and it made me think about Tim Cook's comments even more. Why do some of you avoid Google for doing this, but believe it is OK if Apple does it? Is it simply because Apple relies on hardware for most of it's money or just because it is Google?
'Alzheimer's disease (AD), also known as Alzheimer disease, or just Alzheimer's, accounts for 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. It is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss). As the disease advances, symptoms can include: problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioural issues. As a person's condition declines, she or he often withdraws from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.' Source- Wikipedia.'
My father has always been a generously spirited man who will help those in need and never consider that this is anything other than normal behaviour. He is a much better person than I will ever be, but his simplistic view of the world has helped me to appreciate the important aspects of life that so many of us take for granted every day.
Seven years ago he started to present the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, which was not diagnosed fully until three years later, and over time his condition has deteriorated consistently. All of the expected symptoms have grown in occurrence and severity, but over the past few months we reached the point where he required full-time care away from his home.
I could write many pages about the quality of help and care available from the NHS, but suffice to say that it seems wholly unable to cope with an ever growing population of sufferers. My mother and I have had to jump through multiple hoops to get anything done and the continual, and very open, reasoning of 'we just don't have enough people available' is now raining in my ears. There is no doubt that many parts of the NHS are under-funded and that the service is being starved financially at this time, but I have some sympathy with a problem that is obviously starting to get out of hand. We are all living longer and thus some of us are losing our minds for much longer as well.
Anyway, I am writing this purely because I wanted to explain how I am feeling about my father's current state. I don't live near him, but this weekend we visited him in the care home and it was truly shocking to see how much he had deteriorated in the few weeks since I last saw him. The confusion was still there, but that was about it in the few moments that he spoke at all. He was vacant; no interaction, no understanding of what is happening around him and, well, nothing at all. Just a shell of a man who is barely existing.
As I watched his fellow patients in the home, the experience was repeated again and again. People just sat staring at nothing, eyes devoid of recognition and bodies hunched forward awkwardly waiting for nothing at all to happen. For a moment I wondered if the staff were drugging the patients, but my mother explained why this behaviour is perfectly normal in the world of the living dead.
My father died many months ago, at least in terms of his ability to recognise people and to interact on any meaningful level, and so we now wait for him to die again. By all accounts this will happen very soon and I can't say I am saddened by this.
As callous as it sounds, I can't see my father in the man who just stares into space continually. I don't mean that in a selfish emotional sense that is all about me, but in the sheer fact that he is simply not there. I watch him and the way he looks at his grandchildren and my wife, and there is nothing coming from his eyes. No warmth, no sense, nothing. It's like when they say a person can offer a presence in a house even when they are asleep.
If you have ever visited a funeral home, you feel that there is no one there. Your relative may be in front of you with their eyes shut, but it 'feels' as if you are alone. That is how it feels when I sit in front of my father and watch him just stare through me as if I do not exist. And I suppose I don't exist to him anymore.
I don't feel that I missed precious time with my father or that we, as a family, have been unaware of what has been happening to him, but I am shocked by how horrifying this particular disease is. You watch your father die little by little over time and then you reach a stage where you are waiting for him to die in the biological sense. Even worse, dying doesn't seem to be a bad thing at all for him at the moment. It is probably the best thing that could happen to him, and the thing I never wanted to happen.