It has been an eventful day for folks vested in the music industry, streaming business, and listeners alike. The day began with Queen of Pop Taylor Swift writing a public letter to Apple explaining why she isn’t putting her latest album “1989” to the impending Apple Music streaming service. And the day is closing with Apple addressing the issue and doing the right thing.
In a blog post, Swift noted that Apple’s decision to not pay labels and artists royalty for the first three months -- Apple Music will be a free trial to users -- is unfair. She said -- something which many people have nodded to since -- that three months is a long period, and it could mean a lot to indie artists.
There are only a few days until Apple Music launches, but already there is quite a backlash against the music streaming service. It's not just smaller, independent labels that are complaining about Apple's refusal to pay artists any royalties during the initial three month free trial period. Taylor Swift has added her voice to the growing number of complainants, writing an open letter to Apple in which she says she will withhold her new album 1989 from the service.
In the letter, entitled "To Apple, Love Taylor", the singer says that the company's decision not to make royalty payments is "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company". Swift is an artist who could afford to shoulder the cost of three months of not being paid by Apple, but she has chosen to make a stand and stick up for those who are less fortunate.
This week, I had opportunity to use Apple Watch, making it third of the modern smart variety that I have experienced (the others being LG Urbane and Moto 360). The differences between the platforms are quite startling and worth highlighting. They begin with diverging design ethics derived from the fruit-logo company's app-centric heritage and Google's place in the cloud.
For people who use either Android handset or iPhone, existing device really determines what watch platform you choose, if any—that is for now. Down the path you go. But where it leads is somewhere else, not the same destination. One platform is more responsive to you in varying contextual situations. The other requires more direct interaction, but gives other benefits.
For a company that generates more profits than any other ($18 billion during fiscal first quarter 2015), sits on a cash horde of nearly $200 billion, and has the gall to charge $150 for a watchband, stinginess is an unbecoming trait. Scratch that. Greediness. Putting profits before people, particularly devoted customers, when corporate advertising is all about how they matter more, is simply stupid public relations. In business, perception is everything.
So Apple's reported decision to give away music for three months, without compensating artists, is cheapskates behavior that demands criticism -- particularly about a company claiming that music means so much. Speaking to developers last week, CEO Tim Cook: "We love music, and music is such an important part of our lives and our culture". Oh yeah? If it's so important, why diminish its value? To zero. "We've had a long relationship with music at Apple". For how much longer without artists' cooperation? You don't own the content, Mr. Cook.
In the Electronic Frontier Foundation's annual Who Has Your Back report, Apple is commended for adopting a "strong stance" on user rights, transparency, and privacy. The 2015 edition of the report is the fifth to have been produced, and it rates a number of tech companies according to how they inform users about their privacy policies and how they respond to government requests for data.
Apple was awarded a full five star rating, faring better than Microsoft (three stars), Google (three stars), and Facebook (four stars). Other companies receiving a five out of five rating include Wikimedia, WordPress, and Yahoo. At the bottom of the heap are AT&T and WhatsApp who received just one star each. Despite a few disappointments, EFF is generally pleased with how tech firms have noted the renewed interest in privacy that now exists.
With less than two weeks to go until the launch of Apple Music, a report suggests that the company is having trouble enticing smaller and independent labels into signing up to take part. The problem is not necessarily that there is a lack of interest in joining Apple Music, but that the three month free trial period would generate no income for the labels.
Apple Music will make its money through monthly subscription fees, a percentage of which is then shared with record labels. During the three month free trial, Apple will make no money from the music streaming service, and will therefore have no revenue to share. While this is a cost that larger labels might be in a position to absorb, small companies say it could put them out of business.
So apparently, people are more interested in dead things than the Apple Watch, and it’s a devastating statistic.
According to a chart for Apple, from Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves, people are more interested in the iPod than the Apple Watch. No, that was not a typo, I wasn’t trying to say iPad. I meant -- iPod, the thing that’s basically been dead for years now.
The launch of Apple News looks set to upset potential publishers if initial reaction to the service's terms and conditions is anything to go by. Bloggers have complained that they have been spammed by Apple with an email inviting them to join the service. Nothing wrong with that (aside from the unsolicited correspondence), you might say, but the problem is, complainants grumble, that acceptance of terms and conditions is assumed unless individuals actively opt out.
Again, this is not entirely unusual, but one of the terms makes for interesting reading. "If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so that you can resolve the issue, including indemnifying Apple if Apple is included in the claim". But this is not the only clause that has raised the ire of bloggers.
There was a lot of Apple news to digest from WWDC last week. As well as the latest versions of OS X and iOS, we witnessed the appearance of women on stage as Apple tried to do its part for diversity. Apple would probably like us to focus on the likes of the Apple Music and Beats One launches, but really it's another announcement that should be foremost in our minds: Apple News.
On the face of it, this is a simple replacement -- perhaps even just a renaming -- for Newsstand, but it's really much more than that. The key difference here is that content will not only come from media partners, but will also be curated. Apple is now a news editor, and that's extremely dangerous.
Seven days ago, CEO of the most valuable, publicly-traded technology company on the planet unveiled a potentially category-changing online streaming service. In 15 more, you will be able to subscribe -- three months for free. Pundits wave the Spotify flag and spit out diatribes of disgust, much as they did when Apple launched iPhone eight years ago or iPad in 2010. Wrong again is their destiny. Will they ever learn?
Many of the doomsayers forget, or maybe just ignore, the fruit-logo company's success disrupting category after category. They also start out from a misguided premise: That Apple is a latecomer who cannot catch up with competitors like Spotify. How ridiculous. iTunes debuted in January 2001, iPod nine months later, and iTunes Music Store in April 2003. By longevity and reach, which includes exclusives (like The Beatles) and large catalog, Apple is the status quo. On June 30, the giant awakes, and the smidgens shake as it walks.
There is a movement calling for the encryption of all web traffic. The cause of this could be laid at Edward Snowden's door, but there's no getting away from the fact that in recent years there is an increased interest in security and privacy. To this end, Wikimedia has announced that it is now using HTTPS to encrypt all of its traffic -- including that to Wikipedia.
We've already seen the US government embrace HTTPS, and companies like Google and Facebook are making it easier to control privacy settings. Apple has hit out at companies that fail to do enough to protect users' privacy, and Wiki media is taking the extra step of also implementing HSTS, just days after Microsoft announced that this would be supported by Internet Explorer 11 under Windows 7 and 8.1.
UK consumer watchdog Which? tested a range of popular tablets and discovered that when it comes to speed, there’s only one champion, and that’s Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3.
It turns out it wasn’t only Microsoft’s slate that bested Apple’s tablets in the speed stakes. The iPad mini 3, which sells for £319 in the UK, was beaten by the Tesco Hudl 2 which costs just £99.
Apple’s recently announced streaming music service is being viewed by many as a potential Spotify killer. Spotify might have more than 20 million paying subscribers and over 75 million active users, but Apple is a force that cannot be ignored, and being late to the party means nothing.
So should Spotify be concerned about the forthcoming battle with Apple? Unquestionably. Although, if new research is to be believed, it’s Apple that should be worrying the most.
The next update to Apple’s mobile web browser Safari will include a way to block annoying ads, working similar to AdBlock Plus on desktop browsers.
After Apple released the beta version of its latest operating system, iOS 9, many users wanted to see what the new release of their favorite OS brings.
However, as with any other beta version of any program out there, iOS 9 comes with untested bugs and broken features, making it unviable for daily use.