Apple plans relaunched Beats streaming music service for WWDC, skipping March event; Apple TV still coming

iPhone 6 Beats Music

Apple won’t take the wraps off of its upcoming Beats-based music streaming service at its March 9 “Spring Forward” event, according to music industry sources briefed on the launch timeline. Instead, Apple currently plans to introduce the service, at least in beta form, at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in early June. The WWDC keynote likely takes place on Monday, June 8th, and that’s the event where the debut will occur. The new iTunes music streaming service is based on technology acquired from Beats Music, including curated playlists, cloud-based libraries, and offerings customized to the musical tastes of individual users. The service will be priced as high as $7.99 per month, which is less expensive than current $9.99 pricing for Beats Music, Spotify, and Rdio…

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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

Google Cast for audio is an AirPlay competitor for music streaming from Android, iOS & web

Google today announced Google Cast for audio, which the company says takes advantage of Chromecast tech to send audio to third-party hardware like speakers, A/V receivers, and sound bars. The feature will allow users to tap a “cast” button from within music and radio apps on Android, iOS and the web to stream audio to Google Cast enabled speakers. Read more

Rdio announces CarPlay support, 320 kbps audio, & iPhone 6/6 Plus optimizations

Rdio today announced support for CarPlay, allowing its users to listen and control content from the subscription music service using the built-in touchscreen of CarPlay-enabled vehicles.

CarPlay Support. Control Rdio playback and navigate your favorites and playlists from the built-in display in CarPlay-enabled cars.

Vehicles with CarPlay, Apple’s new feature that brings an iOS-like experience to in-dash touchscreens connected to an iPhone, first hit the road earlier this year in pricey new Ferrari models followed by an aftermarket solution from Pioneer. The service only has a handful of app partners so far, but we noted in our recent review that not all apps are playing nice with the feature yet. Apple currently lists iHeartRadio, MLB At Bat, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, CBS Radio, and its own Podcasts and Beats Music apps as supported apps.  Read more

Rdio preps revamped music streaming app with a focus on free stations

The Rdio music streaming service is preparing to release an updated version of its mobile app later today will place a new focus on its free “stations” feature as competitors like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple’s one-two punch of iTunes Radio and Beats Music crank up the pressure on the service.

Rdio claims its free music library is as much as fifteen times bigger than those of competing apps. Like other online radio services, the new Rdio will automatically create playlists and stations from that library based on a user’s music preferences. Curated stations from musicians and other celebrities will also be available, much like in iTunes Radio.

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Beats Music “Listen Now” feature starts rolling out to Shazam iOS app

Users of the Shazam iOS application have begun noticing that Shazam is testing a new “Listen Now” feature with the Apple-owned Beats Music streaming service. Like it does with iTunes Radio, Spotify, and Rdio, this feature allows a user to tag a song with Shazam and then instantly play it in Beats Music. We tested the feature this morning and it works as advertised. You’ll need a Beats Music subscription or a 14-day free trial in order to make use of the feature. With Beats now under Apple’s wing and Shazam a key partner for Siri in iOS 8, it makes sense that the trio would integrate in a fashion such as the new Listen Now button in the Shazam app. You’ll need the latest Shazam update to make use of the feature.

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How-to: Unofficial tool allows you to import iTunes and Rdio Playlists to Beats Music

findit

While Beats Music will soon be owned by Apple, the music service does not easily integrate with iTunes. For instance, there is no official Beats tool to link your iTunes library for streaming from Beats Music. However, an unofficial tool called Beats Importer is a temporary solution that seems to work well for adding iTunes and Rdio Playlists to your Beats Music library. We’ve compiled a tutorial for importing your iTunes Playlists to Beats Music, below:

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Opinion: What is Apple’s thinking in spending $3.2B on buying Beats?

beats

Apple’s apparent purchase of Beats took everyone by surprise. I must confess that my immediate reaction was to be slightly appalled. As someone whose audio tastes run more to B&O and B+W, I’ve always viewed Beats headphones as over-bassed, over-priced fashion items. But then my tastes in music admittedly differ somewhat from those of the typical Beats customer.

Even so, it’s still a little baffling at first glance. Tim Cook himself said a year ago that Apple asks two questions when considering an acquisition:

Would it help us make a great product, and would the culture fit at Apple?

My immediate answer to both would be “no,” so why would Apple spend $3.2B on a headphone manufacturer with a small sideline streaming music service … ?  Read more

Have music downloads hit their peak, with streaming taking over?

downloads

What do 1980, 1989 and 2003 have in common? They were the peak sales years for LPs, cassettes and CDs respectively. After that, a very slight resurgence in vinyl aside, it was all downhill.

Billboard magazine has an interesting piece in which they suggest that perhaps 2012 might join that list – as the year that saw peak sales for music downloads, with streaming services like Spotify, Rdio and now, of course, iTunes Radio the heir apparent …

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Quick Review: Twitter #music for iPhone, iPod touch is now playing

Twitter launched its new music discovery app Twitter #music for iPhone today.

Twitter #music takes a step toward filling the void created when everyone migrated from MySpace, which was one of the most effective music discovery tools for me until it was largely vacated.

Twitter promises to “change the way people find music, based on Twitter,” per the social network’s blog, which I believe will be widely appreciated.

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Vimeo On Demand, Apple Store, Rdio, Tumblr, Jingu, Commodore 64, Plague Inc, DataMan Pro, more

Vimeo On Demand: After launching a brand new iPhone app in November and rolling out its Tip Jar feature in September, Vimeo is today officially launching its new Vimeo On Demand ‘self-distribution service’ that allows Vimeo PRO creators to sell content directly to their audience. Vimeo said content creators will keep a 90 percent share after transactions fees and will also be able to “choose their price; select country-by-country availability; customize their page design; and offer content on Vimeo, their own website, or both.” Purchased videos will be available to users across all devices that support Vimeo. Previously, Vimeo had a preview of the service available on its website that offered a selection of movies for $5.00.

“What used to be a confusing and labor-intensive process is now open and simple with Vimeo On Demand,” said Blake Whitman, Vice President of Creative Development. “We always strive to provide our community and visitors with the best experience possible, and this opens up a new world of viewable content and support for creators. We are proud of this first phase of Vimeo On Demand, and we’re already working on another suite of creator-focused features to release in the near future.”

Rdio-iPhone-app-Mar-2013Rdio version 2.1.3: Internet radio streaming service Rdio has been updated with a refreshed UI that brings brand new album/playlist views on the iPhone, as well as larger album art, the ability to see friends who have listened recently, and much more.

– New album/playlist views on iPhone.  Shows large album art, friends who have listened recently, and more.
– Various bug fixes and UI improvements.

Tumblr version 3.3: A nice update to the Tumblr iOS app today brings a bunch of new features including a brand new camera, the ability to create photo sets right from within the app, and a few other UI enhancements and usability features:

– Brand new camera!
– Create photosets straight from the app
– Double-tap posts to like!
– Tap the avatar in your profile to change it
– Link posts: Copy or enter a URL and we’ll fetch the title!

Apple Store version 2.5: Apple’s Apple Store app for browsing the Apple online store, scheduling appointments and much more was updated today with new delivery options and an easier experience for checking if products are available for local pickup:

 – New delivery options make it even more convenient to get your Apple products.  Choose different shipping options for different items in an order.
– An even easier way to see if the product you want is available for pickup at your favorite Apple Retail Store (U.S. only).

Plague Inc. version 1.5.2: Read more