iOS 9 supports ‘iPhone 6S’ Force Touch, may enhance iMessage, Keyboard & Apple Pay

force-touch

Some of iOS 9‘s more important planned enhancements include split-screen apps on iPads, a new Home app for controlling HomeKit accessories, a new system-wide UI font, a mass transit directions service for the Maps app, and major quality, performance, and security enhancements. However, multiple sources note that there will also be some smaller, but still important, tweaks to the operating system. We spotlight some of these expected changes below…

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Report: Apple in talks w/ Russian labels ahead of new music service, international iTunes Radio rollout

Apple Watch + Music

Apple Watch + Music

We’ve reported extensively on what Apple has in store for its new revamped music service that will come alongside an international expansion of iTunes Radio, and today reports from Russian publication Vedomosti (via Billboard) hint that Russia will be one market Apple is aiming to launch in soon… Read more

Apple’s new music service will reportedly feature a free trial and free song sampling

Screenshot 2015-05-08 10.50.26

A new report from Re/code today about Apple’s upcoming music streaming platform reiterated much of what we already know about the service, which is expected to debut with iOS 8.4 at WWDC. iOS 8.4 is already in the hands of developers with a revamped Music app.

As was previously known, Re/code notes that the recent hire of BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe and other BBC DJs is a plan to help bolster iTunes Radio’s curated playlist feature by manually compiling track lists instead of allowing an algorithm to make the decisions. The site also notes that iTunes Radio will be available in additional countries, which we first reported earlier this week. A few other new details were also mentioned.

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Spotify turns up the heat against Apple’s streaming music service, making fresh anti-competitive behavior claim

spotify

Spotify, which is widely believed to be behind the antitrust allegations that led to both EC and DOJ investigations into Apple, has now added a fresh complaint. The Verge reports Spotify is complaining that the 30% cut Apple takes from in-app Premium subscriptions in the iOS app amounts to an “Apple tax.”

Apple charges a 30 percent fee toward any sales through its App Store, and that includes subscription services. That means if Spotify wants to sell its premium subscription service — which usually costs $9.99 a month — through the App Store, it has to raise the price 30 percent higher to $12.99 to pull in the same revenue, while Apple can still offer Beats at a lower price. Spotify and many others in the music industry believe Apple’s App Store tax gives them an unfair advantage over the competition.

One unnamed music industry source said that Apple taking 30% was “**cking bullsh**” …  Read more

Pandora Radio adds Apple Watch app for remote music control, favoriting songs, more

Apple revealed the first look at its all-new Music app for iPhone and iPad with the first beta release of iOS 8.4 today, which brings a new look to iTunes Radio among other major changes. Pandora Radio, the similarly-modeled music streaming service that’s arguably superior to iTunes Radio in music variety and selection, released a timely update this evening adding Apple Watch support to its iPhone app ahead of the new wearable device’s release on April 24th. Pandora Radio’s WatchKit app for Apple Watch will include a glance for swiping up from the watch face to identify the song currently playing from the iPhone app.

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Report: Apple plans $10-$15 tiers for new music service, approaching artists incl. Taylor Swift for exclusives

iPhone 6 Beats Music

A new report from Bloomberg today claims that Apple is considering $10-$15 month plans for its upcoming music streaming service while the company approaches high-profile artists to get exclusive content.

The report today follows our own report last month that Apple was planning to relaunch its Beats Music streaming service at its WWDC event in June. At the time we noted that Apple was considering a $7.99 price point, but today’s report suggests Apple could go with paid tiers ranging from $9.99/month for a single user to $14.99/month for a family account. Read more

Opinion: The pros & cons of existing streaming music services & what Apple’s needs to succeed

Beats Music iTunes Festival

Apple’s upcoming music streaming service comes at an interesting time in the industry. Jay-Z recently relaunched his own streaming music service dubbed Tidal, recruiting help from other A-list artists like Rhianna, Alicia Keys, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, and Kanye West. There are existing services from Spotify, Beats, Google, and others. All of these offerings have their own pros and cons, but I’ve used them all and none of them accomplish streaming music perfectly. Apple now has the opportunity to take the best features of each service and offer its own competitive service.

Last week, Ben Lovejoy broke down exactly what Apple’s streaming music service would need for him to stop buying music. Even without Apple’s new service, I’ve already done that. Most of my music is streamed from Spotify. Rarely do I actually buy albums on iTunes, and I almost never buy physical CDs. The problem with this approach is no streaming music service gets it 100 percent right for me.

I’m hoping that Apple incorporates the best of each existing subscription music service into its own upcoming music service. What are those key points? Let’s discuss…

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Apple bolsters revamped Beats Music team with addition of BBC Radio’s Zane Lowe

Picture shows ZANE LOWE

The BBC announced today that Zane Lowe, who has worked as an award-winning Radio 1 DJ for nearly twelve years, is stepping down from his position in March and moving to California to take up a role at Apple. Lowe has long been regarded as one of the UK’s top sources for music discovery, and his show helped make many artists the stars they are today.

Lowe hasn’t publicly stated what role he’ll be filling at the Cupertino tech company, but it’s not hard to conclude that he’ll be lending his curation expertise to the big upcoming relaunch of the Beats Music streaming service. Beats Music, of course, is already staffed by music industry icons Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

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Happy Hour Podcast 001 | New iOS 9 details, Apple Watch launch, and Apple’s new Beats-based streaming service

happy-hour

Happy Hour is back and better than ever. Join us as we kick off the first episode and discuss everything you need to know about Apple’s master plan for iOS 9, a new music streaming service in the works, Apple Watch launch details, and more. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed.

Click here to subscribe on iTunes or listen to the first episode embedded above.

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Opinion: Could Apple’s integrated streaming music service decimate the competition?

Image: Forbes

Image: Forbes

When Apple enters a new business, you know it’s not going to do so in a half-hearted, small way. When it launches its Apple-branded Beats Music service later this year, it’s a no-brainer to predict that it’s going to be a big deal for the music industry. With Apple’s deep integration of Beats into its existing iOS/iTunes ecosystem exclusively revealed by Mark Gurman added into the mix, I wonder whether the unique selling points being notched up by Apple could be enough to leave existing big-name players like Spotify, Google Play and Rdio dead in the water?

That’s rather a grand idea, of course. As of last month, Spotify reached 15 million paid subscribers–up 50% in the last six months alone. Beats Music had only a little over 100,000 subscribers at the time Apple bought the company, and is rumored to have only 2-3 times as many now. But an Apple-ified Beats Music service has four things going for it …  Read more

The Next Episode: Apple’s plans for Beats-based music service revealed

CueBeats

Six months after buying the subscription music service Beats Music, Apple is actively working to launch a completely new paid streaming music service that will compete with Spotify and Rdio. Yet to be named, the new service is entirely Apple-designed, yet leverages Beats’ technologies and music content, a collaboration that has thus far led to personnel challenges and delays. Multiple sources within Apple and the music industry have provided the first in-depth details of Apple’s upcoming streaming service, which we share below.

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Beats Music’s Ian Rogers auctioning lunch in LA or Cupertino for charity

iPhone 6 Beats Music

Update 2/5: Auction just wrapped up at $3,250 just over the estimated value.

Former Beats Music CEO and current Apple employee Ian Rogers is participating in a charity fundraiser through the online auction site Charitybuzz. With the estimated value pegged at $3,000, the fundraiser has a starting bid of $600, and runs for two weeks starting today. The highest bidder will have the opportunity to meet the former Beats Music CEO in either Los Angeles (where Beats is headquartered) or Cupertino (near Apple’s campus) for a private lunch meeting. Read more