In late June, it was revealed that Apple had rounded up celebrity partners to host radio shows on its Beats 1 programming schedule, including Elton John, Pharrell and Dr. Dre. Today, the company announced that Dre's show, The Pharmacy, will premiere Saturday, July 4 at 3 PM PST and will broadcast every week thereafter at the same time.
The hour-long show will be co-hosted by Dre and Eddie Francis and feature recording artists Wyann Vaughn and DJ Pooh with music from DJ Jus Incredible, according to Billboard. Apple debuted the premiere date with a trailer for the program on Twitter.
Additionally, Apple Music today exclusively debuted the new music video for Eminem's latest single, "Phenomenal", promoting the event with a tease on the service's Instagram. The 7-minute video, which is referred to as a "music film" by Apple, features cameos from actors John Malkovich and Randall Park, Dr. Dre and both the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. Previously, Eminem was the subject of the first Beats 1 guest interview with DJ Zane Lowe.
The Cupertino company has been trying to secure a wealth of exclusive content for Apple Music in hopes of luring customers to its service rather than competing music streaming services. Most recently, Pharrell's new single "Freedom" has been exclusive to the service as well as Dre's albumThe Chronic. It's likely Apple will continue to leverage its music industry contacts for future exclusives in the coming weeks and months.
In January, WayTools announced the TextBlade, a compact, collapsible keyboard for iOS devices and Macs that's quite unlike anything else that's available on the market. It replaces a full keyboard with eight large smart keys that take advantage of multilayering, giving users access to a complete set of keys and commands on a keyboard that fits into a pocket.
WayTools began accepting pre-orders for the TextBlade at that time, garnering a huge amount of interest from people who were excited about the promise of a better mobile keyboard. The company initially planned to ship in February, but as customers who pre-ordered know, the TextBlade has yet to ship, having faced unforeseen production problems that led to a series of design tweaks.
I visited WayTools in Santa Monica in March and was able to be one of the first people to see the TextBlade in person, give it a try, and watch it in action. The post that I shared of my experience garnered a huge amount of interest from MacRumors readers and other people curious about the TextBlade, and since then, I've been asked by readers on multiple occasions to share an update about what's going on behind the scenes at WayTools to cause the shipment delays.
As of today, I'm able to provide an update, following multiple conversations with WayTools' CEO Mark Knighton, where we walked through the delays and went over some of the new features that have been added to the TextBlade since January. WayTools will be publishing an in-depth blog post that goes into even more detail on the problems the company faced with production, and I'll update this post to add a direct link as soon as it's live.
Before launching pre-orders, WayTools did production runs and quality tests on the TextBlade and the parts ready to go, but transitioning from testing runs to mass production can expose unforeseen issues. With mass production, a product that might have been assembled by a small team is now put together in parts by a huge number of workers and if the production process isn't streamlined to the minutest detail, you're not always going to get a consistent product.
Back in January, we shared a video of an iPhone 6 that went into space, protected by an iPhone case constructed by Urban Armor Gear. The iPhone 6 came out unscathed, so when Urban Armor Gear offered us the chance to get our hands on a few of its cases to check out for a review, we agreed.
Urban Armor Gear's line of cases are definitely unique, with an industrial-looking armored shell and an impact resistant inner core. Cases are available for several devices, but we checked out the company's Rogue Folio for the iPad Air 2, its Rogue Folio for the iPhone 6 Plus, and its Navigator case for the iPhone 6 Plus.
We liked the lightweight, rugged protection offered by each of the cases, but we had some qualms with each of the folio cases. The Rogue Folio for the iPad works as expected, keeping the iPad safe from drops and serving as a stand that offers multiple viewing positions, but when holding the iPad with the case on, the flap is loose and hard to grip.
The same goes for the Rogue Folio for the iPhone. It offers all-around protection, leaves the buttons easy to press, and holds credit cards, but the of the folio is bulky, covers the camera, and feels downright sloppy.
The company's line of non-folio iPhone cases, which all have a different name based on color, are thin and light, and for the protection they offer, they don't add a lot of bulk to the iPhone. Ports are left open, buttons are easy to press, and a screen protector keeps the display safe. There's also a lip around the phone to prevent the display from touching a surface like a desk when facedown.
Friday July 3, 2015 6:27 AM PDT by Mitchel Broussard
After the launch of Apple Music earlier in the week, many users began searching and following their favorite artists on Apple's new social platform Connect, which aims to showcase new songs, videos, and pictures to fans of artists like Pharrell, Dr. Dre, and more, directly within the app. The process that artists have to take to create content for their fans was unknown, until today, when app developer and indie musician of the band Airplane Mode, Dave Wiskus, posted a detailed summary on his blog of the steps needed to make a post on Apple's new social platform.
Wiskus hoped that Apple's promise of Connect at WWDC meant a more level playing field between the musician and app developer worlds within the iTunes marketplace, and that "giving musicians any control at all over their brand identity on the iTunes Music Store," would create a more stress-free and inviting platform for musicians, especially independent ones. So, Wiskus and his band Airplane Mode decided to put Connect through the ringer: debuting a brand new track on the service and seeing if the fans' connection is as front-and-center as Apple intended.
The musician's first thoughts of the upload process are summed up in one word: "clunky." Wiskus found he needed the song he wanted to post to be in My Music in the iOS Music app, so for a brand-new, unreleased track, he had to sync it off his computer and then search for it on iOS. GarageBand updates for iOS and Mac released earlier this week also support uploads to Connect, but it is unclear if the format and process of using those apps was even more awkward or if Wiskus was unaware of these options. Other quirks with the upload process made it difficult to finalize details for his Connect post.
For Wiskus, the biggest personal drawback is actually the complete lack of any in-depth fan interaction for his band once the content is actually uploaded to Connect.
But the worst offense of all is this: I can see no way to invite people to follow us on Connect. I can share the link. I can even tweet about it. Yet there’s no way to know how many followers we have, encourage people to follow us, or directly engage with anyone who hasn’t already purchased a song from us on iTunes. That feels broken. Somehow people were able to comment, which is great, but it makes me sad that I feel no sense of… well, connection. And I really, really want that connection.
The indie musician makes multiple good points, especially in the lack of any in-depth social networking features on the service. Taking his band's new post as an example, Airplane Mode's post for the new song "Over It" got 7 loves and 4 comments, but the band can't determine its own follower count or the amount of people that actually interacted with the post.
Lacking as well is any interaction on a user's name or handle, which aren't clickable on iOS or Mac and PC, leaving musicians with no real way to browse their fan community in any meaningful way. But, as Wiskus notes, the service has laid the groundwork for a possibly richer version of itself in the future. "These are early days," the musician notes, "And there’s hope."
For the full story of Wiskus's experience with Connect, check out his full blog post.
Apple's new subscription-based music service launched earlier this week, and even if you've taken advantage of Apple's free three-month trial to see if it is worth your dime and time, there are a few things you may not have discovered yet about its features.
While our Getting Started guide gives an overview of how to get up and running, this article gives more details on some of the things you can do with Apple Music and how to make it work for you. If you've noticed any other features we haven't listed yet, feel free to let us know in the forums.
Add a Nickname to Your Profile
You could stick with your full Apple ID name, or change it to something that fits you better. Apple lets you add a nickname to your ID, which will be displayed on playlists and comments. Nicknames are unique, so the earlier you grab one, the better.
Open the Music app and tap on any of the main section icons in the bottom toolbar if you're not already on a main page.
Tap the silhouette profile icon in the upper left corner of the main screen.
Tap your name. Then tap the Edit button to add a nickname.
Click on the arrow next to your name, and then click on your Apple ID.
Enter a nickname in the fill-in form.
Start a Station Based on a Song or Album
You can start a new station based on a song or album in either your music library or Apple Music. Tap the three dots next to the song or album to call up additional options. Then, tap "Start Station" on iOS or "New station from artist or song" on OS X to begin listening to tracks.
Thursday July 2, 2015 8:26 AM PDT by Joe Rossignol
Beats 1 is a multi-genre radio station for iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC that plays a wide variety of songs from indie and popular artists alike, but there is currently no way to identify tracks that have already been played in realtime. To solve that problem, web apps developer Callum Jones has created an unofficial Twitter account that live tweets songs as they are played on Beats 1 Radio (via The Next Web).
Beats 1 does offer archived playlists of tracks aired during featured shows
The new Twitter account is aptly named "Beats 1 Plays" and makes a single tweet each time a track is played on Apple's live 24/7 global radio station, including the name of the song and artist with a #Beats1 hashtag. Simply follow the account on Twitter and you will no longer have to worry about missing out on what is playing while you are not tuned in.
Beats 1 does offer archived playlists of songs that aired during the radio station's featured shows anchored by DJs such as Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga and Ebro Darden. To access those playlists, open Apple Music, tap on the Radio tab, open the Beats 1 radio station, scroll down and select a featured show and tap on the Playlists tab.
Wednesday July 1, 2015 5:17 AM PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple Music made its worldwide debut in over 100 countries on June 30, with a free three-month trial available for customers to try the streaming music service. Apple requires having a valid payment method associated with your iTunes account to enable the trial, such as a credit card, and both Individual Plan and Family Plan subscriptions are set to automatically renew after the trial. For those that only want to try the Apple Music trial, learn how to turn off automatic renewal below.
How to Disable Automatic Renewal
Tap on the Account icon in the top-left corner of any tab in Apple Music.
Tap on "View Apple ID" and sign into your iTunes Store account.
Tap on "Manage" under the "Subscriptions" menu.
Tap on your Apple Music Membership, which should currently be "Active."
Toggle off "Automatic Renewal" under the "Renewal Options" menu. Confirm the action.
Turning off automatic renewal will enable you to try out Apple Music on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch without the streaming music service renewing after the free three-month trial period expires. To reenable a recurring Apple Music subscription, simply follow the steps above and toggle on automatic renewal again. Your settings will also be applied to the iTunes version of Apple Music on Mac and PC.
Olloclip is today introducing a new line of "Studio System" accessories designed to work with its existing Olloclip lenses, further enhancing the iPhone's photographic capabilities. The system, available for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, includes a Studio Case, a Finger Grip, a Kickstand, tripod mounts, and Cold-Shoe Adapters for attaching accessories like microphones and flashes to the iPhone.
A rugged protective case is the key piece of the Studio System, because it includes a built-in mounting solution that can accommodate the other Studio parts. Once the Studio Case is attached to the iPhone, an adjustable and removable Finger Grip slides onto the back of the case, fitting neatly into the rail grooves.
The Finger Grip is designed to allow for smoother, less bumpy photos and video, and it can also be used as a stand, as can an additional Kickstand. Cold-Shoe Adapters attach to the side of the case to hold equipment like microphones or flashes, and the whole system can work with tripods, grips, and handles using the two included 1/4-20 clips, with one each for landscape and portrait modes.
The olloclip Studio system combines an all-new, more-protective case design with an integrated mounting solution (patent pending) and a series of mobile photography accessories. Both the case and accessories are designed to intuitively work together the moment you pick them up. Unlike many of today's modular mobile grip systems, olloclip's Studio components work together seamlessly, so photographers can focus on quickly capturing the opportunity in front of them and not on building a rig.
Because Olloclip is entering a new product category with the Studio System, the company has decided to return to its roots - Kickstarter. Olloclip started out on Kickstarter back in 2011, and since then, demand for its accessories has grown as the iPhone has become a more popular photography choice, replacing point and shoot cameras.
The Studio System is debuting on Kickstarter, and Olloclip tells MacRumors that it made the choice to use the crowdfunding site in order to gauge customer interest and get feedback on its new accessories. For example, Olloclip will choose colors for the Studio Case based on customer feedback.
According to Olloclip, its new Studio System was designed in response to both customer and retailer demand, and it's something customers have requested for quite awhile. In the future, Olloclip plans to introduce additional accessories that can work with the new Studio System based on what customers ask for.
Olloclip is offering several different reward options for the Studio System. The most inexpensive tier includes the Studio Case and a Kickstand for $35, while the whole Studio Case and Accessory Kit are available for $60. Additional tiers include the Studio System and various Olloclip lenses.
To thank the people who support the new system in its early days, reward tiers are being offered at 30 to 40 percent off retail price. Olloclip expects to ship rewards to backers in September of 2015, at the end of the month.
Earlier today, Apple launched their much anticipated Apple Music streaming service. The iPhone app includes dedicated tabs called "For You", "New", "Radio", "Connect", and "My Music". The first two tabs offer areas for music discovery, while "Radio" provides themed stations as well as Apple's own Beats 1 Radio. Meanwhile, the last tab, "My Music" provides you with access to the rest of your existing music catalog as well as any new songs you might add from Apple Music.
The "Connect" tab, however, is a new service from Apple which is described as a place where "musicians give their fans a closer look at their work, their inspirations, and their world." Similar to a social network, it allows users to "follow" their favorite artists and see additional content.
If "Connect" doesn't interest you, MacRumors reader Eric points out a handy tip to replace the "Connect" tab with a dedicated "Playlists" tab which he describes as "much more useful".
Under Settings -> General -> Restrictions, Apple allows you to disable "Apple Music Connect" which removes the Connect tab and provides the alternate Playlist functionality.
One of the upcoming segments on Beats 1 radio is called "Requests," and it appears this broadcast will feature songs that have been requested from Beats 1 listeners around the world. According to a tweet from the Beats 1 Twitter account, users can request a song by calling in to the station.
The Apple Music Tumblr site has a page that's dedicated to requests, listing phone numbers around the world for listeners to call to request a song. In the United States, the number for making a request is 1-310-299-8756, or 1-877-720-6293 for toll free.
There are also phone numbers listed for Canada, the U.K., France, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Australia, Italy, Ireland, and New Zealand.
"Requests" will play at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and the segment will be hosted by Travis Mills, who is located in Los Angeles. Mills' show will come on following Ebro Darden, who goes live at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. It is not clear if the requests that Beats 1 is asking for will be limited to the "Requests" segment or if they'll also be played at other times on Beats 1 radio.
Beats 1 radio debuted today at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time in hundreds of countries around the world. It provides 24/7 live music and will also include news segments, interviews, and more. Beats 1 radio is part of Apple Music, which also includes a new on-demand streaming service (free for three months) and Apple Music Connect, Apple's new artist-focused social networking feature.
Tuesday June 30, 2015 8:26 AM PDT by Joe Rossignol
Today marks the official worldwide launch of Apple Music, a subscription-based streaming music service and Spotify rival for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and, later this year, Apple TV and Android.
Apple Music, arguably the company's biggest music initiative since opening the iTunes Store in 2003, requires updating to iOS 8.4 on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or downloading iTunes 12.2 for Mac and PC.
Apple Music is an all-in-one streaming music service, live global radio station and social platform for artists to connect with fans. The service costs $9.99 per month, the same price as virtually all streaming music competitors, although Apple is offering a free three-month trial period to encourage customers to try it out. Apple Music is available in over 100 countries, including the United States.
Apple Music provides unlimited streaming of almost the entire iTunes Store catalog of music without needing to purchase songs or albums individually. Instead of paying $1.29 per song download, for example, subscribers have millions of songs at their fingertips for essentially the cost of an album. A family plan through iTunes Sharing for up to six members is also available for $14.99 per month.
Built into the stock Music app on iOS 8.4 and iTunes on Mac and PC, Apple Music provides side-by-side access to both your downloaded iTunes songs and albums and streaming music library, which should prove to be a more convenient option than third-party apps such as Spotify, Google Play Music and Rdio for most Apple users. Apple succinctly describes it as "the best ways to enjoy music — all in one place."
Apple Music is largely based upon Beats Music, which Apple acquired alongside Beats Electronics for $3 billion last year. For example, the app features human curated playlists and recommendations from artists and music experts for improved personalization over algorithmically created playlists.
While customers do not own their Apple Music collection, the service offers unlimited online streaming over Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection, and the option to download songs or albums for offline playback. As long as a customer continues paying for their monthly subscription, they retain on-demand access to the iTunes Store catalog and their personal playlists.
Just like iTunes Match, Apple Music can scan your iTunes music library and upload any tracks not already included in Apple Music, making them seamlessly available to stream on all of your devices. iTunes Match will remain available as a standalone service priced at $25 per year for those who don't want to subscribe to Apple Music, but Apple Music users won't need to pay for both services.
Right now, Apple Music and iTunes Match can only handle iTunes libraries of up to 25,000 tracks (songs purchased from the iTunes Store don't count toward the limit), although Eddy Cue has said Apple is working to increase the limit to 100,000 tracks later this year as part of iOS 9.
Apple Music also works well with Siri. Just ask Siri to play any song or album from Apple Music or any playlist you have set up. Siri can also find and play songs meeting certain criteria like the top song from a certain date.
Apple has existing deals with major record labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, and has also reached agreements with over 20,000 indie labels through Beggars Group and Merlin, meaning that Apple Music should have in the range of 37 million tracks available right now. Comparatively, market leader Spotify has some 30 million tracks available.
Apple has partnered with artists to offer exclusive content through Apple Music, in an attempt to differentiate the service from competitors. The company kickstarted those efforts by making Pharrell's new single "Freedom" and Dr. Dre's album "Chronic" exclusive to Apple Music, while pop artist Taylor Swift's most recent best-selling "1989" album has landed on Apple Music before any other streaming service.
Casetify, a company that makes customizable iPhone, iPad, and MacBook cases, has also begun selling Apple Watch bands, which can be printed with any design. Available for both the 38 and 42mm Apple Watches and in two finishes, bands can be customized with photographs or artwork or ordered from Casetify's pre-designed artist collection.
Casetify's Apple Watch bands are made from polycarbonate and are closest in nature to the Apple Watch Sport bands. I've been wearing a 38mm Casetify Apple Watch band for just over a week and while it is comfortable, the material of the band is not as soft, flexible, or as thin as the fluoroelastomer the Apple Watch Sport bands are constructed from.
Bands come in two sizes, one for each watch. The 38mm band fits wrists sized 140 to 200mm, while the 42mm band fits wrists sized 150 to 210mm. The underside of each band is ridged, with the Casetify logo printed on each side.
At about an eighth of an inch thick, Casetify's bands seem to be approximately a third thicker than the Apple Watch Sport (there's maybe about a millimeter of difference between the two). That's not a huge thickness disparity, but it is noticeable when wearing the Casetify band after wearing a Sport band, especially on a small wrist.
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