Designers mock up Apple Watch versions of popular iOS applications

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Facebook Messenger

Thinkapps’ Build Blog has published a few designer mockups showing what popular third-party applications might look like on Apple’s new smartwatch with some interesting results. The apps were created by several different designers, and you can see that each app maintains some of the branding and design you’d expect while conforming to the smaller wearable UI and its new input devices like the Digital Crown.

Above you’ll find the design for Facebook Messenger, which features a contact view made up of circular contact photos with online indicators that closely resembles the watch’s home screen. The message view sports a single reply button that presumably uses the device’s built-in dictation capability to compose a response.

Below you’ll find designs for apps like Beats Music, Skype, Uber, YouTube, and more. Keep in mind that these designs are hardly official, but represent the types of user interfaces you might see when the folks in Cupertino release the Apple Watch early next year.

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Pioneer finally brings CarPlay equipment to mass market, Spotify app update adds CarPlay support

Pioneer, CarPlay

The CarPlay situation has been murky. Since being announced in the spring, most manufacturers have been quiet on when CarPlay equipment will actually be available to purchase. Pioneer is the first company to deliver on its promise, adding CarPlay as an update to its aftermarket dashboard panels (unless you count Ferrari’s integration into its high-end Ferrari California T).

Existing Pioneer device owners may not need to purchase any extras, as the CarPlay update is free for supported devices. Aforementioned units include the AVIC-8000NEX, AVIC-7000NEX, AVIC-6000NEX, AVIC-5000NEX and the AVH-4000NEX with prices ranging from $700 to $1400.

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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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Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers to also lead iTunes Radio at Apple, according to report

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Ian Rogers, the head of Beats Music, will now also lead iTunes Radio following the Apple acquisition. Apple wants to increase collaboration between both Beats Music and iTunes Radio by having both streaming services led by Rogers. Up to now, iTunes Radio has been headed by Jeff Robin’s team, best known for creating the software that became iTunes.

The Journal says that Rogers’ leadership will increase ‘cohesion’ between the services, which currently offer a lot of app in their end-user experiences. It is still unclear whether Apple has plans to consolidate the brands.

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European Commission approves Apple’s acquisition of Beats

Iovine Cook Dr Dre Cue Beats

The European Commission has today approved Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music. The commission said that the buyout passes merger regulations. The commission concluded that Apple and Beats’ combined marketshare in both the streaming music and headphones markets is low, so an acquisition did not materially affect competition.

In headphones, the EU says that Apple/Beats exists in a global market with numerous other brands, including Bose, Sennheiser and Sony. For streaming music, companies like Spotify and Deezer offered a similar safety buffer. As the EU commission cares only for European operations, the fact that iTunes Radio and Beats Music do not currently operate in European countries also helped the deal go through smoothly.

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Spotify CEO: Apple becoming a lifestyle company in all verticals, Beats deal not primarily for streaming service

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In the weeks between the Apple-Beats acquisition first being reported as being in final talks and the two companies both officially announcing the deal, Billboard interviewed Daniel Ek, the CEO and co-founder of the streaming music giant Spotify, asking about his take on Apple becoming a subscription streaming music competitor through Beats Music.

At the time, Ek was reserved in saying too much about the proposition. “I don’t like speculating about things that haven’t happened,” Ek stated. He did, however, say that he always believed Apple would enter the streaming music space and doubled down saying Spotify is focused on “building the best possible product” while noting the service’s 40 million users with 10 million paid customers.

The Spotify CEO was interviewed last week at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference and once again asked about the Apple-Beats deal, this time with the acquisition being official: Read more

Decline of music downloads continues as on-demand streaming audio up 50 percent

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Apple’s presumed plans for an on-demand music service as part of its Beats acquisition is looking increasingly well-timed as Nielsen data shows that U.S. on-demand music consumption climbed 50.1 percent year-on-year, while music downloads fell by 12 percent in the same timeframe.

“With On-Demand streams surpassing 70 billion songs in the first six months of 2014, streaming continues to be an increasingly significant portion of the music industry,” says David Bakula, SVP Nielsen Entertainment …

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iTunes Radio streaming is now free on T-Mobile, other services also included

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T-Mobile has just announced at its “Uncarrier 5.0″ event (which apparently double as the Uncarrier 6.0 event) that all streaming music services will now be free to stream on T-Mobile, including iTunes Radio. This also applies to Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, and Spotify.

Any streaming you do will always be done over the company’s fastest available network, and won’t count towards your high-speed data limit.

Customers can visit T-Mobile’s website to request new services to be added to the “music freedom” selection. As streaming services gain votes, they will be added to the program.

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

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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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Declining iTunes sales underline need for Apple to launch a subscription music service

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Declining iTunes sales highlighted by Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty and reported by Fortune appear to underline the need for Apple to move beyond sales of music downloads and into the subscription music business. iTunes sales are down 24 percent year-on-year.

While the slack is being picked up by app sales – a trend previously noted by Asymco’s Horace Dediu – that falling blue line reflects the wider shift in consumer behaviour from purchasing downloads to subscribing to streaming services noted last year by Billboard magazine …  Read more

Algoriddim’s latest djay for iOS app unlocks over 20 million songs with Spotify

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We’ve covered Algoriddim’s djay for iOS, the popular all-in-one DJ system software, in the past including the debut of djay 2, and today djay is out with a major new feature that unlocks over 20 million songs: Spotify integration. Previously, the DJ app relied solely on songs downloaded and stored in the iPhone or iPad Music app. The latest version of djay focuses on music access and discovery and also includes set list sharing using Spotify playlists as well as more than 30 new audio effects to unlock within the app. I’ve had the opportunity to test drive the new version of djay with Spotify integration over the past week, and it’s definitely a major benefit to users of the DJ system software. Read more