☆ On Apple Music

I gave up on the idea of owning my music a while ago, and it didn't bother me much. Truthfully, I didn't see much value in building my own large music library.

This isn't to say I don't love music - far from it, actually. At any given point in my day, I'm probably listening to music. I enjoy listening, even if it's only in the background while I work, clean or relax. 

Because of my love for music and disinterest in owning it, I was quick to adopt the subscription model. I've been a Rdio premium subscriber for well over a year, and I've dabbled with Spotify every now and again.

I love the subscription model for many reasons, the most important of those being diversification. If you've ever taken a ride in my car, you'd know I have an eclectic taste in music. I can go from listening to Tim McGraw to Usher, Backstreet Boys and then to Tracy Chapman. 

With Rdio, I can listen to (pretty much) any song or artist I can imagine. While it may not be as high quality as other avenues, it's good enough for my needs.

Why Apple Music?

During my time using Rdio, I've never been disappointed with their service. However, if I had to nitpick, I've found the discovery element of their service lacking.

For the same reason I enjoy Pandora and Songza, I love turning on a random playlist and discovering new music I wouldn't have otherwise known about.

When Apple announced Apple Music, they made a major promise regarding discovery:

"Our experts handpick songs, artists and albums based on what you listen to and like. And anytime you want to find out what’s going on in the world of music, our experts are there to give you their take on the freshest and most relevant stuff around."

This promise alone pushed me to make the jump towards Apple Music.

I've only used Apple Music for a day or two, but so far I'm extremely impressed. In contrast to Rdio, I love Apple Music's curated playlists and artists selections. 

When I first loaded up Apple Music, I spent around 10 minutes selecting my favorite genres and artists as presented by Apple.

The result from making these choices was a comprehensive 'For You' page, which has provided me with an endless stream of music tailored to my tastes. 

Besides the curated playlists and recommendations, there are plenty of other ways to discover music. One of my other favourite ways to experience Apple Music is through browsing the 'New' section where it's easy to find what's trending in the music industry. I particularly love the inclusion of lists like 'Hot Tracks', 'Recent Releases', and 'Top Songs.'

One of the highest profile features of Apple Music is the Beats 1 radio station, which Apple hails as a "truly global listening experience." While possessing the traditional trade-offs of a typical radio station, Beats 1 is described as a place for "progressive radio programming."

While I don't think Beats 1 is a revolutionary shift in how I discover new music, I'm amazed at the diverse collection of music curated by the creative minds of Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga.

Within the first hour of listening to Beats 1, I was familiar with only one song. I can truly say I discovered new music I never heard of (and probably never would've been introduced to if it wasn't for Beats 1).

As an example, Zane Lowe played a song by the band Coasts, which I immediately fell in love with. I've now downloaded their entire album. That's discovery.

Considering I've only been using Apple Music for a few days, it's hard to judge every element of the service. Connect, which is described as a place for artists to share pictures, video and content with fans, could end up being a dud, or it could turn out to be the best way to connect with your favorite artists. Only time will tell.

Ultimately, I've enjoyed my first experiences with Apple Music and have no regrets about cancelling Rdio.

While I may have given up on the idea of owning music a few years ago, thanks to Apple Music, I've now adopted the idea of discovering new music and artists.

And I think that's something special.

 

The App Cleanse

The reality is that most people probably have a handful of apps they use on a regular basis. Even power users, like myself, probably have only a couple dozen apps that are used regularly. The slightly tricky ones are the ones you don’t technically open all that often but want to have when you absolutely do need them — like bank/credit card apps.

As I near the 500 app mark on my iPhone, I'm tempted to start fresh.

Atmos Review

It's no secret there's an abundance of weather-related apps on the App Store.

Considering most of them pull data from the same sources, it's hard for one to stand out from the rest. However, one of them did - and that app is Atmos.

Atmos is a beautifully-designed weather app for iPhone and watchOS.

Immediately upon launching the app, you're greeted with a simple on-boarding process which ends with you viewing the weather for your current location.

The main view of the app is extremely clean. An over-sized temperature reading sits right at the top of the app, with forecast summaries below. While I'm by no means a weather 'nut', I like to be informed and Atmos has been a great help. Before heading off to work, the thorough 24-hour temperature/precipitation slider makes it easy to see what the day has in store.

I'm amazed by the level of detail Enormego put into designing Atmos. One example of this is the custom status bar. Unlike any app I've seen before, Atmos uses it's own status bar instead of the traditional one baked into iOS. While this has some trade-offs (no cellular signal for one), it has some major benefits. One of these benefits is the ability for Atmos to change the status bar time depending on the location of the forecast you're viewing. 

Beyond the app itself, Atmos features a fantastic Today Widget and watchOS app/glance.

First, the Today Widget. It's completely customizable to display the information important to you. The coolest part? It will hide expected precipitation and show it only when rain is expected.

Second, the watchOS app/glance is useful and displays all necessary information on your wrist. Regardless, I still found myself using the default weather app on my Apple Watch as it's currently the only one which can link to the weather complication.

Overall, Atmos is a fantastic weather app for iOS and watchOS. Its has taken the 'weather app throne' from Yahoo! Weather and earned a spot on my homescreen.

As ugly as the weather can be in Canada, Atmos makes it look beautiful.

You can download Atmos on the App Store for $2.99 ($3.49 CAD).

NY Times Profile On Zane Lowe

If you didn't already know, Zane Lowe is one of four DJs on Apple's upcoming Beats 1 radio station. I've watched a few of his artist interviews on YouTube, and I must say they are fantastic.

He connects with artists on a very personal level, which is why I'm incredibly excited his first guest is none other than Eminem.

Apple’s Lisa Jackson Promoted

Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Apple's top executive on environmental issues, will become the company's lead on all policy initiatives, including the environment, education and accessibility. Her new title will be the vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives.

In a memo to employees, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that Jackson's new role is in line with the company's dedication to "leaving the world better than we found it."

Another sign Apple isn't fooling around when it comes to their environmental initiatives.

The Power Of Taylor Swift

Yesterday morning Taylor Swift published a post on Tumblr explaining why she won't be on Apple Music:

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries. 

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

Late last night, Eddy Cue published a series of tweets explaining they had decided to change this policy and pay artists during the free trial period:

Cue said he personally talked to Taylor to inform her of the policy changes:

“I did reach out to Taylor today, and talked to her, and let her know that we heard her concerns, and wanted her to know that we were making changes,” Cue  says. “She was thrilled to hear from us and that we were making the change, and we were grateful for that.”

There's no official word on whether or not this will bring Taylor's '1989' and future albums to Apple Music, but a swift reaction like this proves Taylor has a lot of pull in the music industry.

Fallout Shelter

I've been spending a large amount of my spare time lately playing this game. Think of it as a cross between Tiny Tower, Clash of Clans and Fallout.