Creativity is just connecting things.
— Steve Jobs

Tag Archives: iTunes

Ping and the WWDC Keynote

Apple sure had a big day yesterday at it’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Many new and overdue innovations were presented, but one thing was curiously missing from this list of Apple Wunderstats:

Apple Misc:
#1: App store’s rank among software retailers
5,200: Number of developers at WWDC 2011
14 billion: Apps downloaded from store in its history
425,000: Apps in the app store
2.5 billion: Amount paid to developers building apps
130 million: Books downloaded iBooks store

iTunes:
225 million: Number of credit card accounts linked to iTunes store
15 billion: Songs sold from iTunes store
18 million: Songs offered in iTunes
#1: Apple’s rank among music retailers

iPad:
25 million: iPads sold in 14 months
90,000: Apps made specifically for the iPad

iOS Misc:
200 million: iOS devices sold
44 percent: Share of mobile market Apple claims to have
#2: iPhone 4 camera’s popularity ranking on Flick
Over 1 billion: Tweets sent per week by iOS users
100 billion: Push notifications sent to iOS devices
66 percent: Amount of mobile browsing done on mobile Safari

Mac:
54 million: Active Mac users
73 percent: Number of those users with laptops
28 percent: Amount Mac sales rose year-over-year in Apple’s last quarter
3-4 million: Macs sold each quarter

MobileMe/iCloud:
$100 per year: Cost of MobileMe
$0: Cost of iCloud
$24.99 per year: Cost of iTunes Match
10: Devices that can be used with iCloud

MacOS:
$130: Usual cost of OS update
$30: Cost of OS X Lion update

Ping, Apple’s social network functionality for iTunes, is a no-show. On top of that, go to Apple’s website and you’ll see the last Ping press release was published on September 3, 2010. My guess? If it had even a shred of success, it would have made the list above. Everything from Macs to iOS devices to NUMBER OF CREDIT CARDS in iTunes made an appearance.

Take Apple’s silence on Ping and combine it with the financial stats around music sales:

225 million: Number of credit card accounts linked to iTunes store
15 billion: Songs sold from iTunes store
18 million: Songs offered in iTunes
#1: Apple’s rank among music retailers

This data has most likely started an internal conversation at Apple: “Is social media even necessary to facilitate a profitable online music business?” It doesn’t seem like it.

So, will Ping get phased out? Looking at the list of accomplishments in that data table above, if it wasn’t worth mentioning at a major conference like WWDC, it might not be worth pursuing at all.

However, now that the Mac will get an integrated AppStore via Lion, it is easy to visualize Apple expanding Ping’s reach outside of iTunes and into the OS itself to make it more comprehensive with Apps. Ping needs to drive revenue, and the Mac AppStore is a good coattail to ride.

If Apple doesn’t integrate Ping into the MacOS, I believe Ping will disappear within the next 12 months.

Movie Review: Anvil: The Story of Anvil

AnvilThose who know me know that I grew up on 80’s metal. Mostly because that’s how I learned how to play the guitar…and partially because it was the coolest thing going (sorry, INXS / Depeche Mode / Whatever Other Pouty Band You Can Name Next). I thought I had heard of every 80’s metal band, but I had not heard of Anvil. Now that I’ve watched Anvil: The Story of Anvil, I understand why.

Anvil, founded in Canada in 1973 by Steve (Lips) Kudlow and Robb Reiner (no, not that* Rob Reiner), shot to fame in 1982 with their first, and most influential metal record, Metal On Metal. Cited by Metallica, Megadeth, Guns ‘n Roses and many other 80’s era metal gods as one of the original groups to forge the “Heavy Metal” template, Anvil rapidly faded into obscurity, thanks to the now-typical laundry list of music industry landmines: shitty management, horrid tour booking and awful follow-up record production. Take those three ingredients and repeat them for the next 20 years and you have Anvil.

The story doesn’t dwell on their fireball start in the industry but quickly humanizes every member by documenting their present-day worlds. Unfortunately for them, they are unable to make ends meet purely by their music, and we’re taken along for an intimate, sobering and sometimes lighthearted tour of their shitty jobs and broken dreams. Miraculously, the core of the band (Kudlow and Reiner) remained best friends and refused to stop rocking.

Luckily, after a terrible European “tour” that was booked by a rabid, incoherent female Czech fan, inspiration strikes Kudlow on the lips. He decides to send a demo CD of their latest tunes to the original producer of Metal On Metal. To their surprise, the producer gives it a go (with the appropriate amount of funding from the band, of course) and pulls the band together to complete their 13th studio record, aptly titled “This Is Thirteen.”

Anvil then tries to go the old-school route by sending out CDs to record labels for distribution deals. It takes a few rejections before they turn to the power of the Internet and social media to get the word out. Luckily things take off and they triumphantly return to Tokyo, Japan to play a festival, and they kill. And that, my friends, is just the beginning of Anvil’s new lease on life.

With a strangely compelling and charismatic band and blindly supportive yet weary and sympathetic family members, it’s hard to imagine how Director Sacha Gervasi couldn’t make you hope for Anvil to pull it out of the fire. With great editing, great pacing, and just enough drama without seeming like it’s from a reality tv show, it’s no wonder this film won so many awards.

Anvil: The Story of Anvil, is one hell of a story. Forget that it deals with an 80’s metal band. Or they’re from Canada (not that there’s anything wrong with that ;-)). Any sympathetic human being would find this film to be moving, uplifting and inspiring. Said person might even venture to iTunes and buy their music after hearing their latest stuff. Go see it and turn it up!

Final verdict: 4 out of 5 beers. I dare to say this is the all-around best rock music film ever made. Better than It Might Get Loud, better than Spinal Tap, and better than the U2: Rattle & Hum. I would have given it 5 out of 5 if it had an amazing live guitar solo moment, but it didn’t.

iPhone 3.0 Nits

Some quick notes on what I think can be improved:

1. Why do we now have two separate applications for note taking? One is verbal (Voice Memos) and the other is textual (Notes). I could easily imagine a Notes interface button with the old style microphone as its icon that brings up the audio recording interface.

2. Why does SMS get renamed Messages and still stay separate from Mail?

3. The idea that swiping to the left to get to a simple search function is a sad solution. The ultra tiny magnifying glass icon tucked into the list of open windows blows that UI metaphor apart. Why not have the user pinch the screen? We do* have more than just left/right swipes at our disposal right? The pinch could use the same zoom+fade in motion as found on the desktop OS.

4. Why does the Contacts app support screen rotation and re-orientation but the Phone app doesn’t?

5. Because Mail is such a monstrous piece of shit, I’ll tackle that in a separate post when I have time to redesign the whole fucking thing. I’m tired of that app and wish it was more useful than it is.

6. Can we please have more information in the top status bar throughout the OS? Why do I have to back all the way out to the home screen to see if any Pushed emails are present? Why can’t I tap the battery icon in the top right and get a percentage? I know it’s there because it was shown to be so in a hack. Obviously, don’t repeat info shown when on the Springboard but that goes without saying.

7. Is YouTube still so fucking important that it needs to reside on the home screen? Why can’t this be on a second page of lame apps like Stocks or the Weather widget?

8. Why can’t we hide apps from the Springboard? Sorry Apple but not every app you make is something everyone wants. Let us decide please.

9. Why doesn’t the Calendar app icon on the Springboard display a badge when an appointment is nearing?

10. Why in the iPod app’s Artists and Songs screen do you hide the search field at the top? Same goes for Audiobooks, Composers, Genres.

11. If you don’t have a certain type of content on your iPhone, wouldn’t it make sense to provide a button to the iTunes store from the iPod’s Videos, Audiobooks, and Podcasts screens instead of just saying “You can download something from iTunes.” Guess you’re really not trying to sell content to users.

12. Why not share the same iconography from the iTunes store when browsing Genres in the iPod app? Reading text lists in the iPod app is not sexy or fun.

13. At what point in the future will you standardize the placement of the Edit and Create New Item buttons in your apps?

Messages: Create New is top right and is a Pencil icon in a button.
Calendar: Create New is top right and a Plus icon in a button.
Mail: Create New is lower right and a Pencil and “paper” shape – no button.
Notes: Create New is top right and a Plus icon in a button (but it’s brown!)
Contacts: Create New is top right and a Plus icon in a button.
Clock: Create New is top right and a Plus icon in a button.
Voice Memos. WTF

14. Photos. Why can’t I create a photo album on the phone and assign photos to it from the camera roll? And why is the “Photo Albums” header background transparent? What is the benefit of doing this?

15. Mail, can we please mark a message as read without having to literally tap into it? One would think that the Edit button would offer this option, but it doesn’t.

So how’s that for a 15 minute evaluation? 😉

Sharing an iTunes Library Between Users the Easy Way

For a while now, I’ve been trying to share my iTunes library with the other 2 user accounts on our home computer. Apple has a suggestion of placing the Library that has the music in it into a shared location on your computer but there’s an easier way that’s much more reliable.

All you have to do is log into the account that has all the music, turn on “Share my library on my local network” in the master iTunes account (iTunes > Preferences > Sharing), switch to the other user account that wants to listen to the music and open iTunes. The shared library will be in the source column and you can play whatever you want.

Mobile Me Is In My Face

Hey Apple, I don’t want Mobile Me so please remove your lame promo for the service. I do not need this banner ad taking up space in my iTunes sync window under the Info tab. This forces me to scroll down to get to all of the stuff I ACTUALLY WANT. Pushy.

THIS KIND OF MAKES ME NOT WANT TO USE YOUR SERVICE. IT JUST MAKES APPLE LOOK DESPERATE, TOO.

Remote.app Hints

This is a helpful hint if you’re running 10.4.11 like I am and would like to try the new iPhone app called Remote.

Step 1: update iTunes to 7.7.

Step 2: Go to your System Preference > Sharing and make sure Remote Apple Events is checked in the Services tab. Also check iTunes Music Sharing on the Firewall tab too just for good measure. You can leave the firewall itself off.

Your iPhone should show up in the left column in iTunes under “Devices”. It will automatically ask you for the 4 digit passcode as shown on your iPhone. Fill that in and you’re done.

Updated and Activated

I did the iPhone 2.0 software upgrade last night without a hitch. Well, actually I had to remove all the data from my iPhone prior to the update because the backup of the iPhone failed. My phone was jammed with gigs of photos and, once I saw that the upgrade process required a backup, I just decided to wipe it myself to speed things up. Removing everything took under 1 minute and then we were off to the races.

As far as the AppStore goes, let’s just say I’m underwhelmed. The choice of apps is completely lame. Dozens of e-books show up as actual “apps”, many of the apps are just plain boring and the games, which I had hoped for more of, are lacking in quality and quantity.

I know it just opened but that doesn’t mean that the SDK hasn’t been available for a while now. I was actually struggling to find something I wanted to download, which is a scary thought.

I did* happen to download the free AIM app from AOL and it refused to even launch, so I deleted it. The only thing I’ve found worthwhile so far is the Remote control for iTunes app from Apple itself.

Where are all the apps from the good developers out there?

DRAG THIS!

Leopard is coming and Apple has done a nice job adding the new QuickLook functionality in the Finder.

Now you can drag any item that is showing in the CoverFlow view to a folder or disk or whatever. That’s not new because iTunes lets you do the same thing (not that I ever tried it until I began writing this post). Here’s what it looks like in iTunes:

Let’s compare that to the new Finder’s implementation as shown in the new Leopard tour video:

DAMN!

I find it very hard to read the text in the window’s sidebar, don’t you? I mean, obviously the code is simply following its own rules, but wouldn’t you agree that the Finder UI team should reconsider this one and replace the dragged object with a representation of the object at a smaller scale? Forget about a generic icon. Just make the thing animate to a smaller size when you start the drag so the application window behind the object isn’t blown out in the process.