Every 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!
After months of speculation following their acquisition of Beats, Apple has announced its own streaming music service.
At 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.
Yesterday OSX 10.9 Mavericks was released for Mac and Macbook devices. In a new direction, Apple decided to make the update free and was available just after the keynote. Better battery life and iBooks integration were the keys of the system update. The biggest feature being Mac computers as old as 2007 will be able to install the OS.
My Macbook Pro is the 2011 model with AMD Radeon HD 6750M video graphics on top of the Intel HD Graphics (the card switches on video-intense processes). I have a Hybrid HD inside.
How the Battery Life was Extended
In Mountain Lion, I had processes stuck that would make the computer work harder. For example: When I left home I would close the lid to my Macbook Pro (Chrome being the primary window open). I would get to my destination and open the lid. Instantly, Chrome would have processes that stopped responding but would never close – such as Google Chrome Helper.
I would check my processes as the Macbook started heating up and the fan would go wild. Chrome was at 200% and its child processes also were working harder than normal. To fix this, I would have to close Chrome and go back in.
Chrome wasn’t the only program that did that. Photoshop, Audition and other non-Apple apps would also hold onto the processor.
Now with the addition of App Nap it looks like those processes are in check and ones not responding are not holding the processor hostage.
Safari and Battery Life
Safari saves battery life by not running any processes that are not within the viewing screen. At first I thought it was a virtual webpage screen – similar to what your iPhone or iPad will load up. When I scrolled through a process-intense website there were no blank spots waiting for the page to continue loading.
iTunes HD Playback
I had a friend that installed Golden Master last week. He was very impressed he could watch a whole movie without plugging in, so I had to test it out when I loaded Mavericks. I watched a full movie on a fully charged battery and still had plenty of time to do other things. Apple states its a 35% savings.
My Macbook Pro is Cooler
I bought one of those lap-desks because my Macbook Pro would get really hot after working for only 15-20 minutes. The fans would spin out of control to keep the machine cooler.
Today, I have been working for over 90 minutes and I can lift my Macbook up and place my hand on the bottom without feeling discomfort. Makes me wonder if there was a major bug in Mountain Lion…
iBooks on Mavericks
I have a non-retina display, but my model is an enhanced display (pre-retina I believe). I wanted to test out iBooks on my laptop. I was able to access my books and of course get more from the store. The pages flipped with a swipe on the touchpad.
With a simple command+ and command- I could increase and decrease font size. I could also highlight sections and post notes then be able to see the highlights on my iPad.
Maps on Mavericks
I do have to admit – I am impressed with how the maps works. I looked through my city and even found my house – saw my car sitting in the driveway. Unfortunately I didn’t get the 3D view like if I lived in San Francisco. Nonetheless, I was able navigate through and have a good comprehension of where I was.
In Mavericks you have the opportunity to tag everything for easier search. Since I wasn’t tagging things before, I probably won’t be using this feature. It all depends on how easy I can navigate Mavericks without tags.
Other features include an improved calendars and the iCloud keychain. These items I don’t use because I have Google calendar and 3rd party keychain access. Still, during setup I was able to sign in and put on a secondary sign-in email.
One 3rd party program I run called “Cinch” (snaps a window to full screen or half screen like in Windows 8) had to allowed in my security settings to run. It was the only program that required an extra step for me.
I also had to install Java Runtime to continue using my Adobe products (Photoshop, Premier Pro, etc).
Ultimately, I am really enjoying the power saver and cooler Macbook Pro. For these two reasons its a good idea to update your Mac to Mavericks. The additional programs (including an updated iMovie and Garageband) updated without issue. The update took this Macbook Pro about an hour to complete – although times will vary between different models.
One of the biggest frustrations for cord cutters is they cannot get premium TV shows from HBO or Showtime. Well, HBO has changed that (in a way). Shows like Game of Thrones, the Newsroom, True Blood and more will be found on Google Play starting at $1.99 per episode. You can even get full seasons at $19.
HBO said this was just the beginning of their partnership with Google Play. According to an article on Engadget, they plan to put more content up soon – including older shows and documentaries.
A la carte options are very similar to what iTunes does. I used to get all my episodes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad for $35. Only downfall is I would have to wait 24 hours for the shows to be uploaded and cataloged in iTunes.
This also doesn’t void any contracts with cable companies.
HBO will be rolling this out in the coming months.
While 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!
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.
This app is exactly what I needed! Recently, iTunes made a change to the specifications for show artwork for podcasts. Now, your image must be a 1400 x 1400 jpg. This made things a bit difficult for me.
For a while now, I have been creating original artwork for one of the podcasts that I am involved in. I have a background in Art Education, which means that every so often I just feel the need to create some hands-on, not done on a computer, type of art. After the art is finished, I would take a photo of it, upload the photo to my computer, and then use it as art for an episode of my podcast.
The new change meant that I wasn’t going to be able to do things as easily anymore. The photos I was taking were at least twice the specifications that I now needed to fit the artwork into. What I needed was an app that could quickly and easily resize that image for me, (without costing me a fortune to use it). I also needed it to be Mac compatible.
I started my search by clicking on the App store icon that was at the bottom of my screen. After a little looking around, I found an awesome little app called Image Resizer. It was created by Bitten Apps, and only cost $2.99. The price was nice, so I decided to give this little app a try.
I found it to be incredibly simple to use. Open the app, and an interface immediately pops up. Drag the image that you want to resize from your desktop, and drop it in the app. It will keep the image aspect ratio of the original image (unless you go and uncheck the box that tells it to do so).
Unlike some of the other image resizing apps, this one allows me to type in the dimensions that I want the image to be changed into. All I had to do was type 1400 into each box, and click the button that says “Resize!”. Just like that – I had turned an image of my artwork that was too big to use as podcast art into something that fit into iTunes new specifications. I highly recommend this app.