Apple Music goes head-to-head with Spotify

Apple MusicApple Music was finally launched as a “one more thing” at the end of the company’s keynote speech at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

Apple’s eagerly awaited music streaming service will launch on 30 June, and although initially only available on Mac, iOS and Apple TV, it will also be coming to PC and Android later in the year.

Users will be given a three month free trial of the service, after which it will cost $9.99 per month or $14.99 per month for a family of up to six people. UK prices are yet to be released but it’s expected to be less than rival services.

The platform consists of three separate elements, which Apple hopes will encapsulate “All the ways you love music. All in one place”.

Apple Music favouritesFirst and foremost there’s iTunes, which you can use to search for, and listen to music you’ve downloaded, or stream from a huge library of other tracks and albums. You can also use Siri to search for or suggest music, if you want.

The app will also have it’s own radio station, Beats 1 that will be fronted by Zane Lowe and broadcast to over 100 countries around the world.

Its final dimension is a social network, known as Connect, where artists can share exclusive content with users.

It remains to be seen whether Apple’s multi-faceted music platform will be able to rival its biggest competitor, Spotify, particularly as the music streaming giant has just announced that it has doubled its paid subscribers from 10 million to 20 million in the past year. Judging by his reaction to the launch of Apple Music – an “Oh ok” via Twitter – Founder Daniel Ek doesn’t seem to think so.

Do you think Apple Music will be able to rival Spotify?

Apple unveils iOS 8

ios-8-logoYesterday Apple unveiled iOS 8 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference and was described by Tim Cook as “a giant release”.

The new software, which will be available for iPhone and iPad later in the year, includes many new features and notable improvements. Here’s a summary of the best…

Interactive notifications

With iOS 8 you’ll be able to respond to a notification without exiting the app you’re in when you receive it. If your device is locked when the notification appears, you won’t even have to unlock it to process it.

iMessage

Apple has improved its messaging service in an effort to keep up with rival WhatsApp. New features include the ability to send voice and video clips, easily create and modify group messages, and send and receive text messages across all Apple devices. Another feature, reminiscent of another rival service, Snapchat, allows you to send a voice or video clip that will self destruct at a time of your choosing.

iCloud Drive

Apple takes on Dropbox and Google Drive with iCloud Drive, which allows users to save any type of file on its remote servers and access them through any iOS device, Mac or PC. The service is free up to 5GB, which is more than Dropbox’s 2GB limit, but less than Google Drive’s allowance of 15GB. Users are also able to send email attachments of up to 5GB. It also has new simpler photo editing tools.

Siri

Improvements to Siri include Shazam song recognition and a “Hey, Siri” command, similar to “Ok Google”, which activates it whenever you’re within earshot.

Email

A range of new features in iOS mail will make it much easier to use. One major improvement is the ability to swipe down an email mid-draft to allow you to consult other content on your device and swipe it up again when you’re ready to continue.

Predictive typing

iOS 8 will include a sophisticated version of predictive typing that is context aware.

Continuity

This great new feature integrates all your Apple devices so that tasks that have been started on one device can be continued on another.

Family sharing

iOS 8 now makes it possible for up to six family members to share the same iTunes account and you can even set it up to ensure that the main account holder is asked permission before any purchases are made.

Health

Apple introduced new software called HealthKit that works with third party wearable health devices, such as Fuelbands, to share health data with your iOS device via the Health app. The app will even contact your hospital directly if it notices irregularities.

HomeKit

HomeKit is a new hub from which users can control all of their smart home equipment. The idea is to integrate them all so that a simple Siri command such as “ready for bed” would turn off lights, heating and TV, and set your alarm.

Over to you…

What are your first impressions of iOS 8?

Enhanced by Zemanta

iOS 6 Announced: Goodbye Google Maps, Hello Facebook

Apple last night announced this year’s update it’s mobile operating system – iOS 6. iOS 6

There are ‘over 200 new features’ according to the marketing fluff but a handful stand out as being significant including Apple’s new home-brewed map application, full Facebook integration to the heart of the operating system, updates to Siri making it practically self-aware, some nice tweaks to Photo Stream and a ticketing App called Passbook. 

The all new Maps app has been built from the ground up by Apple.  Now you may have been happy enough with the ubiquitous, fairly reliable Google Maps but Apple want to make it better – and further reduce their reliance on anything produced by their arch rivals Google. The map graphics are ‘vector-based’ which means you can tilt, zoom and pan around maps in a smooth and fluid way in a high resolution. Turn by turn navigation means you no longer need a separate sat nav or sat nav app and the ‘Flyover’ feature creates photo-realistic 3D views, but most likely only for major cities – and US ones to start with.  iOS6 Maps - Flyover

There’s also live traffic info (it will be interesting to see if this is available in the UK) and local search listings that include Yelp ratings, photos and deals.

Siri is updated to work on the iPad and adds features such as the ability to update your Facebook status, retrieve sports scores and make restaurant reservations. 

One new feature that’s long overdue is the integration of Facebook into the core of the main operating system.  This was added for Twitter in iOS5 but due to some corporate chest-beating Facebook was kept out until now.  You’ll soon only need to sign into Facebook once on your iPhone or iPad for all apps and web browsing and then be able to post directly to Facebook from Photos, Safari, Siri and Maps. Your Contacts and Calendar will update with your friends contact details, birthdays and events.  The birthday updates will be a relationship saver for many of us!iOS6 Facebook Integration

The main improvement to Photo Stream is that you will be able to share selected photos directly with friends and family via ‘Shared Photo Streams’.  These shared streams will automatically update on their iPhone, iPad or Macbook when you add new pics.  Imagine how jealous you could make your friends back home by instantly sharing a stream of photos from every step of your road trip across the States or as you descend the slopes in the Alps! Or perhaps you could share a stream of pics of your new baby with only interested family and friends rather than broadcasting them to all and sundry on Facebook.iOS6 - Photo Stream

Passbook is designed to let you keep tickets for events, in-store discount vouchers and boarding passes in one place. 

iOS6 Passbook

The new Passbook app is the simplest way to get all your passes in one place, such as boarding passes and baseball tickets. Passbook lets you scan your iPhone or iPod touch to use a coupon, get into a concert or check into your hotel. Passbook automatically displays your passes on your Lock Screen based on a specific time or location, so when you walk into your favorite coffee shop your loyalty card appears and you can scan it to buy a coffee or check your balance. 

There’s a whole additional bunch of iOS 6 features that are less exciting but you can read more here if you so choose.

Let us know what you think about iOS 6, the new Maps feature and the Facebook integration by leaving a comment below!

The New iPad. iLike it a lot

As many of you may know, the new iPad has been announced, and is due to be released online and in store, come the 16th March, and here we like it.

Apple New iPad 3

For those that might have missed Apple’s Event on the 7th March, the New iPad, or iPad 3 are many were expecting it to be called was announced, and with it some really smart new features. Apple’s Retina display makes it way on to the new iPad. A retina display is a screen that has more pixels per inch than a naked human eye can see, so at reading distance, you cannot make out the individual pixels. The iPad actually has more pixels than your HD TV at home, which would have 1920 x 1080 which is nothing compared to the 2048 x 1536 the iPad has.

All these pixels need some serious power behind it to make videos and images flow smoothly, so Apple have added their new dual-core A5X chip. The X stands for quad-core graphics which helps drive four times the amount of pixels of the iPad 2. Don’t worry though, it still has that great 10 hours of battery life.

 Another great feature, finally I cry, is the 5MP camera which lots of tablets have had for a while. Apple call this the iSight Camera, as it uses the same backside illumination sensor 

seen in the iPhone 4S, and the 5 level lens with infrared filter with generally just better optics.

 I’d talk about 4G LTE connectivity here, but in the UK that’s not needed right now.

Please, sit back and watch this video on the new iPad here

There are lots more features I could go on about, but just quickly, it now has Dictation so as Apple put it, “Talking is the new typing” as well as iCloud and an update to iOS which brings some nice new features and improvements.

We’ve heard that people are already lining up outside Regent Street’s Apple Store in London with their tents and sleeping bags. Good luck if you’re queuing up, and enjoy it to those that are getting one.For all those wanting one now, 3 are to offer the new iPad in the UK on March 16th on some extraordinary deals. I’m sure everyone knows that on release to get one for free is very difficult, but if you put down £99 and are willing to shell out £29 a month for a 24 month deal, the New iPad 16GB can be yours, with a 15GB data allowance. Not bad, not bad at all. Makes me want to ditch my Motorola Xoom for this tablet.

Gary Cook 

Almost 63% of Blackberry Users Consider Switching

After all the recent disruptions blackberry users have faced, according to PriceRunner.co.uk, almost 63% of them have really thought about changing phones.

Almost 63% of Blackberry Users Consider Switching

Almost 63% of Blackberry Users Consider Switching

You may think, that most of these people would consider jumping ship over to Apple, however only 2% of people said they would go for the iPhone, with 49% of them saying that the iPhone 4S was simply too expensive.

The MD of PriceRunner.co.uk, Alison Guise said, “There’s no doubt that recent issues with Blackberry servers have deterred potential buyers, we’re now seeing a whole range of innovative and advanced phones in the market.  Android boast over half a million apps and manufacturers such as HTC and Sony Ericsson are continually bringing out new models– such as the HTC Sensation and Xperia Ray.  With so much choice, consumers are able to take their pick and get a phone that really suits them – rather than defaulting to an iPhone.”

With so much choice out there, many blackberry users will have a look around before committing themselves to anything. With the likes of the HTC Sensation for £360, or the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray for £270.24, or even the Motorola Atrix Dual Core for £327.99, who could blame them for taking their time?