Facing the Apple Music

Indie Label Beggars Group Expresses Apple Music Concerns:

Beggars Group, like many of the unsigned independent labels, are especially apprehensive about Apple Music’s three-month free preview offer to users, a period in which artists will not be compensated for what is streamed on the service.

That’s incredibly reasonable.

As far as music is concerned, I’m just a listener (and general supporter of artists who have talents that appeal to my ear).

If this accusation is true, it seems to me that there’d be one quick fix that should make everybody happy (Apple Music users included): let labels or artists opt out of being included in the three month trial of Apple Music, but toggle their inclusion once a listener begins to pay for the Apple Music service.

The artists can still be a part of the greater (full, non-trial) Apple Music service, Apple can let the labels control the level of inclusion, and listeners still have a chance to try the Apple Music service and hear their favorite artists when they start to pay for it.

If a listener is upset that they can’t hear their favorite artists under a free trial, I’d question just how much of a “favorite” an artist truly is to the listener. The listener doesn’t need to hear their favorite music again to claim the music as a favorite.

There’s even more reason for a user to pay for a full Apple Music service if certain labels (and artists) are held back during the trial. There’d be more incentive to pay, which I can’t imagine would disappoint anybody apart from people looking for a free ride.

Obviously, this indie label isn’t concerned about discoverability. I’d imagine they’d be happy to be a part of the full Apple Music experience, but not if that means that the artists won’t be compensated fairly (whatever “fairly” is).

But, as I said, I’m just a listener.

And I’m a listener who has supported his favorite artists over the years.

Who Needs a Larger iPad?

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Let’s do our best to avoid rumors and look to what’s in the code. In fact, if such spelunking did not happen, I would have hesitated to pen this post outright (because I do not like lending attention to rumors). Still, here we have it:

https://twitter.com/stroughtonsmith/status/610395503898034176

https://twitter.com/hirakujira/status/610472096523665409

Both tweets were surfaced by 9to5mac in separate posts.

So, for argument’s sake, who would want an iPad screen that was physically larger (and capable of rendering more pixels) than iPad Air? I can think of a few rather largely-represented groups.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of would-be users, but without knowing too much more about what appears to be a new iPad family member, it is impossible to apply the value of a larger-screen iPad beyond what we know it to be (an iOS device that carries with it a larger resolution that would scale to 263ppi on a 12.9″ screen – or 2x what the current iPad Air pushes).

Who benefits?

  • Gamers: smaller screens are more portable, but with the rise of mobile gaming (which, I’d say, includes any game developed with iPad in mind), I’d expect that great gameplay will look greater on larger surfaces. Even myopic platformist stalwarts could not refuse a larger playing area on any device.
  • Students: with the ability to run two (or more?) apps on iOS, research and documentation will be streamlined on a single device.
  • Casuals: I’ll stop short of saying “older people” (if only because I’m slightly north of youth myself), but for someone who wants to both view and explore personal media, surf social and the general Internet, plus get a little bit of necessary work done, larger screens on a trusted platform may certainly outweigh the alternative. Or, in other words, “smaller” iPad screens could have dissuaded casual users from getting iPad over a traditional Windows PC or MacBook to meet their exact needs.

Out of these three, I’d be inclined to believe that Apple would target the latter (with the formers in tow as a bonus). Many features in the next version of iOS seemingly have Windows holdouts in their crosshairs. These changes are coming around a time when Microsoft is set to release its next vision of what Windows can be. Users may very well find iOS more viable, but without “larger” hardware that gives these people the opportunity to replace their aging laptop or desktop, the updates are moot.

I’ve long suggested that the average user is already using their iPad as a primary computing device – but whatever Apple can do to further blur those lines will be perceived as an advantage.

We’re not in a post-PC era so much as we’re in an era when the PC still has its place but is largely outmoded by friendlier hardware, software, and service models for most consumers.

Niche markets (like gaming or production) notwithstanding.

Which Tech Player is Playing Catchup?

Tony Yoon, from last week’s AMA thread:

Have you noticed that a lot of the stuff they talked about at WWDC was eerily similar to what Google announced at I/O – and that multi-functioning iPads are what the Microsoft Surface has been doing? Is Apple playing catch up?

This is how I see the question:

Have you noticed that [Company X] is now doing a lot of what [Company Y] is doing? And now they’re copying what [Company Z] has.

There is no winner in a race that never ends.

Is it “bad” to copy an excellent feature to potentially make another consumer-oriented experience better? Is the feature implemented in a similar, viable fashion – or is the feature implemented better than the original? Does competition increase or decrease? Who loses in these scenarios?

I can tell you who absolutely wins: consumers.

Even if your platform(s) of choice are the ones that are seemingly getting copied from, give the industry another year or two and you’ll find that your platform(s) of choice will likely modify themselves to be more competitive by taking what’s perceived as a value from an alliterative platform.

And, again, all consumers win.

Your product gets better – either directly or indirectly – because of competition. And, as much as religious zealots dislike the notion of rooting for the “enemy,” without a viable alternative, innovation will stall.

So, who is playing catch up in tech?

Everybody. All the time.

And you need it to be that way.

Xbox Backward Compatibility

One of the biggest announcements to come from Microsoft out of E3 2015 is backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games on Xbox One.

So, why wasn’t this feature baked into the first iteration of Xbox One? Despite it being a value to the player, I can think of three solid reasons off the top of my head:

  • Xbox One was originally positioned as a next-gen home entertainment (not necessarily gaming) device.
  • Xbox 360 game support would likely have attenuated interest in upgrading to a newer system.
  • It wasn’t considered a must-have feature to ship until Sony’s PS4 was beginning to dominate mindshare.

Well, no matter the reason, players appear to be quite happy – except for those who sold off most (if not all) of their Xbox 360 games. Me? Well, I currently have no horse in this race since I’m more of a casual (read: mobile) and retro game player.

What is (and What Isn’t) a PC?

My first personal computer (PC):

  • Forgot its previous state when you turned it off
  • Could use cassette tapes for backup
  • Supported 16 colors
  • Came with 64 kilobytes of memory
  • Did not come with built-in applications
  • Was unable to be moved around with convenience
  • Never connected to the Internet

My current smartphone:

  • Remembers where you left off
  • Is set up to use the Internet for auto backup
  • Supports 100% sRGB Color Gamut, full 24-bit color
  • Has a gigabyte of memory
  • Comes with several useful, default applications
  • Happens to be with me wherever I am
  • Remains connected to the Internet

Which one of these is more of a personal computer (PC)?

LG G4 Review

What I Like about the LG G4:

  • Photo quality in certain shots was outstanding
  • Default camera app is insanely configurable, stellar
  • Surprisingly, this is running the latest version of Android
  • Screen is vibrant and crisp
  • Back plate is swappable for another style
  • Battery swapping & SD card slot are a unique feature in flagships now
  • UI ethos intermingling with stock Android isn’t terribly jarring

What I Don’t Like about the LG G4:

  • The LG branding / logo on the front
  • Positions of buttons not “normal” (a crimp in my muscle memory)
  • All of LG’s modifications cannot be removed
  • Virtually impossible to use single-handedly
  • Any degree of default app duplication (Gallery)
  • Software button operation UX confusion (again, Gallery)
  • LG app updates handled independent of Google Play

Who do I think this is for?

  • Someone looking for a best-in-class smartphone camera
  • Someone who wants a mid-sized pocket computer
  • Someone who is ready to move on from their existing Android phone

Who do I think this isn’t for?

  • Anybody who doesn’t like any degree of default OS modifications
  • Anybody who does not value the camera in their smartphone
  • Anybody who does not value removable battery, SD card slot

My patrons were given priority attention in the construction of this review and the videos produced around it.

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