Enjoying the hell out of iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio is a rev­e­la­tion to me. Not that I didn’t know what it was going to be like, I mean, intel­lec­tu­al­ly. I’ve used Pan­do­ra, after all. But Pan­do­ra was annoy­ing, brows­er-based, finicky, and I nev­er used it very long. When I first tried iTunes Radio yes­ter­day, while try­ing to write, I picked some of their pre-pro­grammed “sta­tions” and was all, meh. Their “iTunes Top 100: Alter­na­tive” has too much Killers in it. Which is to say, any Killers is too much. My taste is def­i­nite­ly Alt, but I like my alt more eclec­tic than that. And that Fall­out Boy song (Alone Togeth­er) sounds like Rihan­na in drag.

But today I made my own “sta­tion” based on a song in heavy rota­tion in our house, Lit­tle Brass Bear by Rachel Goodrich.

And it turns out, basi­cal­ly, that iTunes Radio is like Genius, but with the entire iTunes cat­a­log as your library. Which is freak­ing awe­some.

Of course, it also turns out that iTunes Radio is just like Pan­do­ra, Rdio, etc., but with­out the has­sle of using some­thing added on to my ecosys­tem. I am, as stat­ed else­where, ful­ly entrenched in the Apple ecosys­tem, and in here I am as hap­py as a bug that is snug in a rug.

My playlist so far:

Jay­may (one of my favorite songs, Gray or Blue!)
Woody Guthrie
Matthew and the Atlas
Kimya Daw­son
Lang­horne Slim
Thao
Lau­ra Veirs
Lind­sey Ray
The Col­or­ful Qui­et
Malv­ina Reynolds
Lucy Wain­wricht Roche (dang there are a lot of Wain­wrights, no?)
Cast Spells
Rachel Goodrich

I’ve heard of… six of those artists. I own one of the songs I have heard so far. New music! Which is what makes this so awe­some.

Edit: How I “watched” the Apple announcement

Edit: So, I end­ed up watch­ing via Engad­get most of the time, and when they had hic­cups, I went over to Ars Tech­ni­ca. Good job guys.


Hey folks, I am plan­ning on “watch­ing” the Apple announce­ment (iPhone 5S, 5C, iOS 7, maybe some iPads, ever so maybe a TV-relat­ed announce­ment that might just be new soft­ware) today at 10 am Pacif­ic (noon, where I am). Here’s how.

Last time I had the great­est suc­cess with Engadget’s live feed. It has lots of fea­tures, appears to be home­grown (or at least unique) and worked well dur­ing this past WWDC Keynote. If you’re only going to do one feed, do this one:

Engadget’s Live Feed

If you are like me, and you want to swap between sev­er­al feeds of almost the same cov­er­age with slight­ly dif­fer­ent snark, you might also try the fol­low­ing links:

The Verge
Ars Tech­ni­ca
TechCrunch
AppleIn­sid­er

What else is out there? Well, if you like pre­ten­tious hair and live video (of peo­ple talk­ing about the reveal, not of the reveal itself) you can’t do bet­ter (or worse) than C|Net’s ad-dri­ven pre-show page. Oy. Then, there are the lud­dites. AllTh­ingsD seems to be doing a straight up refresh-and-read approach, and Jim Dalrymple’s The Loop is proud­ly pro­claim­ing their refresh for new sys­tem to be “old school.” I’m on the fence about Slashgear’s approach (they are new to me in live blog­ging) and MacWorld’s cook­ie-cut­ter ven­dor-prod­uct-live-blog­ging-plat­form.

No dilemma, Apple is a hardware company

John Gru­ber of Dar­ing Fire­ball points to this arti­cle at the WSJ: Apple Has an Iden­ti­ty Cri­sis: Is It a Hard­ware Com­pa­ny or a Soft­ware Firm? Gru­ber notes that this dichoto­my has been true every one of Apple’s 37 years.

But I beg to dif­fer. There is no dilem­ma. This has nev­er been true. Back when I used to write about Apple, twen­ty years ago, and today, it is quite clear: Every­thing Apple does is about sell­ing hard­ware. You can set your watch, your rumor mill, and your stock options by this.

If they don’t think it will fur­ther hard­ware sales, they won’t do it.

iTunes Match Airport Wall Wart

Delight­ful name, no?

I would like Apple to build a wall wart1 that con­nects to my iTunes Match account (nee, my iCloud account) to stream music.

It should be very much like an Air­port Express, being wall-wartish, and hav­ing an audio out option, but it should be pur­pose built to con­nect to my music in my Apple ecosys­tem. I would set it up via my Apple i(OS)X device, con­nect to my WiFi, log in to iCloud, save my cre­den­tials, and it would be ready to go.

This mag­ic wart would then let me lis­ten to my music, via iTunes Match, with­out a com­put­er or a copy of iTunes run­ning. I wouldn’t have to plug my iPhone in any­where, or use minutes/battery to stream music. I wouldn’t have to “Start iTunes, Hon­ey, so we can lis­ten to music.” I could still use Remote (or iTunes on OSX?) to skip, pick a playlist, etc.

How sweet would that be?

Real­ly sweet.

Bonus, it would be ready for iRa­dio, or what­ev­er Apple calls their even­tu­al stream­ing music ser­vice.

Yes, I know this is very spe­cif­ic to the Apple ecosys­tem. And it would be fab if Apple would let you con­nect it to Pandora/Rdio/Spotify/whatnot, but Apple would nev­er do that. On the oth­er side, Apple would nev­er allow a third par­ty wall wart to con­nect to iTunes Match, so. I am, in my cir­cum­stances, stuck with Apple. I can live with that.

But I can’t live with­out this thing. Build it, Apple!


  1. wall wart (n): elec­tron­ic nub­bin with plug prongs on the back that you plug into the wall where it sits like a par­a­sitic lump, doing “some­thing.” 

In Defense of Apple’s Maps

We got iPhones 5 a few weeks ago now, and I have been very pleased with it. The extra screen space is nice (the key­board doesn’t cov­er every­thing up now!) and the speed is espe­cial­ly wel­come.

But my favorite fea­ture, by far, is the new Maps app.

We’ve been liv­ing in Kansas City (KS) for a lit­tle less than a year at this point. I don’t know my way around ter­ri­bly well. I had been using Nav­igon for GPS rout­ing and it was… well, awful. Hard to start (slow, obnox­ious address entry), hard to man­age (vol­ume was always set to “whis­per”, see­ing the entire route was painful­ly slow, and end­ing nav­i­ga­tion was not easy to do), and the spo­ken direc­tions were too fre­quent and annoy­ing. I nev­er used it because by the time I knew I want­ed it, I was often already dri­ving, and stop­ping for ten min­utes by the side of the road to find the address and enter it was not going to be help­ful. Although I did that once or twice.

In con­trast, Apple’s new Maps app, in com­bi­na­tion with Siri, does exact­ly what I hoped it would. Easy to find des­ti­na­tions, often just by voice request. Imme­di­ate start­up of turn-by-turn direc­tions. Clear maps, just enough voice direc­tion, easy overview, resume, and end func­tions. What­ev­er prob­lems Siri or Maps have, I don’t feel them here in KCK. I have used turn-by-turn direc­tions more in the last few weeks than I did in the pre­vi­ous two years. Heck, some­times I do it just for fun.

So, count me a fan.

How I [watched] WWDC 2012

Inside base­ball here for peo­ple not inter­est­ed in Apple, but if you are: WWDC starts in half an hour, and here is how I am going to start out “watch­ing” the cov­er­age. Reminder, Apple hasn’t offered a live video stream of this event for years, and will not do so this year, either.

(The live­blog­ging is over, and this list is less rel­e­vant now, but it includ­ed Engad­get, C|Net, gdgt, The Verge, Phillip Elmer-DeWitt at For­tune, and Mac Rumors.)

And now it is over. You can catch the video(s) over at Apple’s web­site. Here’s a direct link to the keynote.

In the end, I was switch­ing between three cov­er­age sites, gdgt, C|Net, and The Verge, with an hon­or­able men­tion for Mac Rumors. Engad­get kept cramp­ing up and forc­ing me to reload the page. Kudos to gdgt, for con­sis­tent­ly pro­vid­ing the best feed, and to C|Net for sur­pris­ing me with their sol­id, and dare I say, Mac-friend­ly cov­er­age.