Category Archives: itunes

See the iTunes Terms & Conditions Rendered in Comic Book Form



iTunes comicEvery piece of software we use comes with some kind of license agreement. These agreements are usually filled with tens of thousands of words; a veritable sea of legalese and technical terms. Most of us (me included) just scroll down to the bottom of these agreements without reading a single word. Then, we click the Accept button in blissful ignorance and go on to use the latest app we’ve acquired.

But one comic-book artist has decided to take the somewhat unenviable task of poring over the entire Terms & Conditions that come along with Apple’s all-encompassing media consumption platform, iTunes. It’s a daunting project, for sure. But artist R. Sikoryak is definitely having fun with it by turning those lengthy terms into iTunes Terms And Conditions: the Graphic Novel.

The project is being posted on Tumblr where it’s described as, “The complete, unabridged legal agreement, as drawn by R. Sikoryak. A new page added every day.” R. Sikoryak is also fashioning each day’s comic after the work of other comic-book artists. All of the comics feature a vaguely Steve Jobs-esque character and all of the text in the comics is pulled directly from the iTunes Terms & Conditions verbiage.

Imagine if tech companies actually presented their legalese like iTunes Terms And Conditions: the Graphic Novel. They’d be a lot more fun to read, and more people would actually see them!


Apple Announces Apple Music at WWDC 2015



After months of speculation following their acquisition of Beats, Apple has announced its own streaming music service.

1433792824-apple-musicAt yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Eddy Cue (Apple’s VP of Internet Software and Services) introduced Apple Music, “a revolutionary streaming service” that gives users access to a collection of over 30 million songs right from their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Android phone. Users can also access their ripped CDs and previous iTunes purchases.

In addition to creating their own playlists, users have access to a variety of curated playlists from noted entertainment personalities. Apple has hired an impressive team of DJs, musicians, and other experts in the field to curate exclusive playlists to fit any mood, genre, or situation. In addition to human curation, you can explore Apple Music using Siri. Ask anything, from “play me songs by The Cure” to “play the greatest hits of 1993”.

Apple also launched Beats 1, a 24/7 live music radio station broadcast to over 100 countries, with programming by DJ Zane Lowe in Los Angeles, Ebro Darden in New York, and Julie Adenuga in London. In addition to a curated selection of songs, Beats 1 will offer exclusive interviews, guest stars, and news on the latest and greatest in music and music culture.

Apple Music Radio, a new and improved version of iTunes Radio, allows users to create custom stations based on their favorite songs or artists to discover other tunes that fit their taste. And in other news that’s sure to delight music lovers, with membership there is no limit to how many songs you can skip– yay!

In a move that’s somewhat surprising given the failure of 2010’s iTunes Ping, Apple is launching a new social network feature called iTunes Connect. With Connect, artists can share lyrics, photos, videos, and exclusive sneak peaks with their fans. Fans can follow their favorite artists, comment and like posts, and share content with friends via iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, and email.

Apple Music launches on June 30 in over 100 countries. Users can try it out with a free 3-month trial, after which the service is $9.99/month, making it an attractive competitor to the equally-priced Spotify. Users can also opt for a family plan, which gives access to up to 6 family members (iCloud Family Sharing required) for $14.99/month.


June Measures Sun Exposure at CES



Netatmo June BraceletConsumer electronics company Netatmo have announced June, a sun exposure monitoring bracelet aimed at women. June tracks UV intensity and total sun exposure during the day, feeding information to the app which then provides advice on how to best protect their skin. As most of us know, excessive sun exposure causes sunburn and leads to premature skin ageing.

Depending on the user’s skin type, the app calculates the suggested maximum daily UV dose and then presents the percentage of sun exposure as the day goes by. The app can notify the owner when its time to protect her skin by putting on a hat, applying sunscreen or seeking shade.

Designed by French jewellery designer, Camille Toupet, June can either be worn as a bracelet or a brooch and comes in three colours; gold, platinum and gunmetal. June will be available in the second quarter of 2014 priced at US$99 from select fashion, beauty and consumer electronics stores. The June app will be downloadable from iTunes for iPhone 4S and above.

The June bracelet has won two CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards in both “Wearable Technologies” and “Tech for a Better World” categories. The bracelet will be on show at CES in the Convention Centre, South Hall 2, Stand 26 700, if you want to take a look.

I really like the concept behind this and as a parent, I could see a great deal of mileage in a waterproof version for children (and watersports enthusiasts) to wear. If little Johnny spends too long in the sun, the alarm goes off on Dad’s mobile phone.


One Billion Podcast Subscriptions



One Billion Podcast SubscriptionsWhile some people have suggested that podcasting is a dying art, the data indicates an entirely different reality. Apple announced on Monday, July 22, 2013, that there have been more than 1 billion podcast subscriptions through the iTunes store. Thats a big number!

If you visit the iTunes store today, and visit the part about podcasts, you will see the image that accompanies this blog. It is part of Apple’s special promotion to commemorate the 1 billion podcast subscriptions.

The data from Apple notes that the 1 billion subscriptions are spread over 250,000 unique podcasts. The podcasts are in over 100 languages. More than 8 million episodes have been published in the iTunes store (so far).

Those 1 billion podcast subscriptions do not necessarily equate to the same amount of “listens”. Many people, myself included, have fallen behind on listening to the podcasts that they have subscribed to. Personally, I have more podcast episodes that are sitting in my iTunes, waiting for me to get around to listening to them, than is reasonable. My intent is to get to them all, eventually!


Video Podcasts Behaving Like TV?



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Roku

One of the downsides to Internet-based video content is that generally each new program being played back must be initiated by the user. This isn’t much of a problem if one is watching a full-length movie or television show via Netflix or Amazon Streaming. However, if one is watching short-form content like video podcasts such as “Film Riot” then watching a bunch of episodes in a row tends to be a bit more of a pain since each one must be started playing depending on the playback platform.

I discovered an interesting trick that the Roku is capable of using the free iTunes podcast database app that can be added from the Roku store on your Roku. The app connects with the iTunes podcast database and will display both video and audio podcasts. Select an episode and it will begin to play. If you select an older episode, either video or audio, it will play that episode and then automatically play all episodess that follow it in the correct order.

This is a very useful feature say if you want to catch up with several weeks’ worth of video podcasts. Each podcast plays automatically in the proper order. It is almost like being able to turn video podcast streaming into more of a conventional television viewing experience.


Talkler: Have Email Read to You



Talkler Are you drowning in email. Do you feel like you are never going to catch up, then Talkler maybe for you. It will not only read your email to you but it will also listen to your commands. You can use your voice to delete, archive, skip to the next email and so much more. You can command Talkler to speed up or slow down how it reads back to you. A simple tap will pause or restart a reading. Talkler also has a teleprompter mode. So if you miss something you can quickly glance over a see it. You can also reply to an email using Talkler. Just talk naturally and Talkler will understand you. Finished “writing” your email and tell Talkler to send it and off it goes.

Talkler is free to use and is available on iOS. They are working on an Android version. There is also a pro version available with no ads.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine. and Daniel J Lewis of the The Noodle.mx Network and the Audacity to Podcast

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TuneIn Radio App Broadcasting Outside Lands Music Festival All Weekend



iPhone Screenshot 1

TuneIn Radio, the popular app for iOS and Android is streaming the big Outside Lands Music Festival live from San Francisco all of this weekend.  The app is free from the Google Play Store and $0.99 from the iTunes Store.  TuneIn Radio was also available briefly from the new Windows Store on Windows 8 before being pulled for unknown reasons (I was lucky enough to grab a copy), although unsubstantiated rumors say it will be a Windows RT-only app in the future.

As for Outside Lands, the festival kicked off yesterday and runs through tomorrow.  The lineup includes Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, the Foo Fighters. Norah Jones, Of Monsters and Men, and many other artists.  The show gets under way at noon and runs into the night each day so there is still plenty to hear.  You can see the schedule of performances as well as listen to replays of acts you may have missed by visiting the festival’s web site.