Opinion: iTunes is now so clunky the only safe solution is to nuke it from orbit

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I’ve complained before about the massive missed opportunity of Apple failing to properly integrate both owned and streamed music within iTunes. I got over that enough to use and enjoy Apple Music, and I’m confident I’ll be continuing my subscription once Apple starts charging my card, despite the raw deal we get on pricing in the UK.

But I also agreed with Variety that Apple needed to adopt the same approach for OS X as it does for iOS, splitting out the various iTunes functions into separate apps. Having now been using version 12.2 of iTunes for a month, I’m escalating this from a moderate whinge to a full-scale rant. The time has come for Apple to finally rid us of this creaking, bloated disaster of an app, and start afresh …  Read more

Opinion: In the era of Apple Music, does the iPod have a future?

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The tech sector does love its hype. Every new product is revolutionary. All new apps are ground-breaking. Everything anyone ever launched is going to change the way we do X. Almost without exception, it isn’t, they aren’t and it doesn’t.

But the iPod in 2001 definitely qualified. That simple, clever marketing slogan – “a thousand songs in your pocket” – beautifully summarised something that really was revolutionary. For the first time ever, we could carry close to a hundred albums in a device that slipped into our pocket and could go everywhere with us. Most of us listened to a lot more music in a lot more places.

It also propelled Apple along a new path. It’s no exaggeration to say that without the iPod, there would likely never have been an iPhone. The iPod revolutionized music and also transformed Apple.

But there have been a couple of recent signs that Apple no longer views the iPod as an important product …  Read more

Opinion: Seven reasons I think Apple may become a bank within the next five years

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I first speculated that Apple might one day become a bank almost a year before the launch of Apple Pay. What triggered that thought was the use of Touch ID for iTunes purchases and the depth of security involved in the secure enclave used by Apple’s fingerprint system. It was clear even then that Apple had big ambitions in the mobile payment field.

Now that Apple Pay has launched, and already proven a big success, I think the argument for Apple to make the move are even stronger. So here are seven reasons I think Apple may become a bank within the next five years …  Read more

Opinion: Beats 1 is what sets Apple Music apart from the competition

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Apple announced its streaming music service at WWDC this week after months of much anticipation. The service includes many of the features that our own Mark Gurman reported on months in advance. Earlier this year, I broke down my own thoughts on what features the service needed to have in order to convince me to switch from Spotify. Those requested features included excellent support for my previously acquired music; well-designed, cross-platform apps; exclusive content; competitive pricing; and a killer radio functionality.

In response to the requests for a killer radio functionality, Apple announced something called Beats 1. Beats 1 is a 24/7 streaming radio station that will be integrated directly into Apple Music on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Apple TV. World renowned DJ Zane Lowe will host Beats 1 from Los Angeles, Ebro Darden, a hip hop DJ, will broadcast from New York, and Julie Adenuga, a grime DJ, will host from London. This team together poses a serious threat to not only competing streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, Tidal, and Google Play Music, but also to traditional radio stations and SiriusXM.

No competitor to Apple Music has anything that even remotely resembles Beats 1. Read more

6 ways Apple Music will be better than Beats Music

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When news broke last year that Apple was in talks to acquire Beats, my initial response was concern that the subscription music service I’d only just started to love would change into something different. Then Apple actually bought Beats.

What happened next is Beats Music stopped all significant consumer-facing development completely. Apple TV gained a channel for the service as Apple started pushing the service to iOS users, but Beats Music never came to the Mac and the promised CarPlay app was never released.

When the Apple Watch debuted in April, both Beats Music and iTunes Radio were missing from the platform. That halt in Beats Music development meant that Spotify — which was already on the Mac and CarPlay — had months to grow and introduce compelling features to make it a better subscription music service.

While we won’t know how well Apple Music performs until it launches in three week, these six promised features will make it superior to Beats Music for me: Read more

Opinion: How Apple could improve three key areas of the iOS App Store [Gallery]

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The App Store has been around since iOS 2.0 (back when iOS was still called iPhone OS), and has undergone a variety of changes since it was launched. Aside from countless new features that have been added over time, the store has also seen several redesigns.

With iOS 9 set to be announced on Monday, let’s take a look at some ways Apple could simplify the App Store interface while making it more consistent with other apps and adding some much needed functionality tweaks.

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Roundtable: What we want to see at Apple’s WWDC conference next week

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We’ve already run down much of what can be expected from iOS 9, OS X 10.11 and Apple Music at the 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference, and now it’s time to run down what 9to5Mac’s editors want to see at the conference. You can find our hopes below, and stay tuned for our comprehensive roundup of what to expect at WWDC.

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Soft launch: Why the Apple Watch isn’t getting the ‘blockbuster’ debut it deserves

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It’s no secret that Apple’s launch plan for the Apple Watch hasn’t gone as well as the original iPhone and iPad launches.

Extremely limited supplies have led to long wait times for pre-orders. The lineup of choices is so complex that the company needed to give people weeks to try them on in stores before they were supposed to be available. And the confusing online-only purchase process advertised in Apple’s retail stores didn’t initially disclose that stores won’t have any units in stock on launch day. No part of the process has thrilled potential customers.

Yesterday, Apple’s SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts sent an internal video memo to employees about the Apple Watch rollout in an attempt to help answer questions and assuage concerns about the many issues plaguing the launch, not the least of which is the lack of a “blockbuster launch” at retail outlets that customers and employees alike have come to expect from Apple. Some people took the video as an admission of guilt by Ahrendts. But although she may share responsibility for some of Apple’s missteps, she isn’t solely or even largely responsible for the issues.

Here’s where I believe things fell apart during this launch…

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Opinion: I’ve seen the future of Apple’s online/offline retail experience, and it’s magic

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‘Seen’ is something of an exaggeration, but ‘had a small glimpse of’ would have made for a rather lengthy headline.

Despite the fact that I’d placed my Apple Watch order online within a few minutes of pre-orders opening, I also made a same-day appointment for a try-on. This was partly because I wanted to handle the watch right away: Apple PR does not smile on a website that consistently reports upcoming product information, so we are firmly crossed-off the list of invitees to launches. But it was also partly because I was curious how the watch would be presented by store staff.

But let me begin by backing up a step or two …  Read more

Opinion: Do we need to use the Apple Watch to know whether we want one?

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I’m a self-confessed smartwatch skeptic. Early attempts like the original Pebble just seemed to me an extremely ugly solution in search of a problem. Some of the later models, like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R (as well as the rather familiar-looking latest Pebble), overcame the ‘ugly’ part, but I still couldn’t see a reason to want one. I haven’t worn a watch for more than a decade, and smartwatches weren’t showing me any reason to change that.

Then along came the Apple Watch. It’s far and away the best smartwatch I’ve seen to date, and for someone deeply embedded into the Apple ecosystem, it would also be the most logical smartwatch to go for if I were to go for one at all. Yet I’m still not seeing a compelling user case–and as Benjamin observed in his own recent opinion piece, Apple doesn’t appear to be doing much to help me.

However, I’m not ready to join the ranks of those dismissing it, and there’s one very good reason for that …  Read more

Opinion: Why I think the Apple Watch marketing so far is mediocre

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In the run up to the Spring Forward event, many people were expecting to see a lengthy exposition of the Apple Watch, to clarify confusion and offer a clean explanation as to how this product plays an essential role in people’s lives. What transpired was not that, at all. Apple’s event was a grab-bag procession of various product announcements, from Mac to Apple TV, concluding with a review of Watch features alongside pricing and availability details.

It did not help consolidate the vision for the Watch. Apple’s messaging for this product is almost the same as it was back in September. The company has not succinctly provided a reason for the Watch’s existence.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have one. I think the Watch is a great product with a good sales trajectory ahead of it, especially the $349 Sport models. The marketing aspects are lacking, so far. The Watch does not have clearly defined themes. Apple’s attempts at promoting three ‘tentpole’ use cases have, in my view, been conveyed poorly.

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Opinion: Why I’m not the target for the new ultra-portable MacBook, but most MacBook Air owners are

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Mark Gurman nailed it, so there were few surprises for 9to5Mac readers in yesterday’s launch of Apple’s new, ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook. But one thing we didn’t know for sure then was whether the new machine would be a cut-down, entry-level MacBook or a high-spec premium one.

The answer, we now know, is neither–or both. It’s cut-down in some respects, specced-up in others. A lower-spec CPU, but more RAM and SSD storage. A lower-spec GPU, but a higher-res screen. It loses Thunderbolt, but gains USB C. Clever things done with battery space and power-efficiency, but potential gains in battery-life wiped out by the smaller, thinner form-factor.

It makes for a slightly odd positioning in the line-up …  Read more