If you’ve ever been slightly annoyed about having to go fetch that torn-off corner of paper that you wrote your cryptic home wi-fi passphrase key on for a guest, then Microsoft has reason numero uno for you to upgrade to Windows 10: Wi-Fi Sense. In a nutshell, this feature – if you choose to allow it – essentially shares your wi-fi passphrase with your friends, as determined by your contacts in Outlook, Skype and/or Facebook. In a loosey-goosey sort of way, Wi-Fi Sense is fairly secure, though I don’t recommend it for the most paranoid among us.
Familiar, yet refreshing new layout from 9to5mac (and the rest of the 9to5 network). They’re sticking with ads, but in a more considerate way. You have to walk before you run; this is great progress.
On a related note, great timing, coincidental though it may be.
In my five or so weeks with Apple Watch, the quote-unquote obvious feature that I most frequently pine for is a simple iPhone battery indicator, either as a glance or, most usefully as a complication for one of the compatible watch faces. Apple’s argument against such a feature is indirectly reflected in one of their most consistent talking points – iPhone hardware and software is designed to get you through the day, so why do you need this?
Apple’s scores of iPhone users undoubtedly have varying definitions of “all-day”, and who knows how many different ways you can define typical usage. Enter Power for iOS. Power is an iOS/Watch app that brings at-a-glance battery information to your Apple Watch. A simple problem and an even simpler solution. Sometimes that’s all you need for something great. And now, with Power 1.1, just released today, you can receive notifications when your battery reaches certain thresholds as it drains or charges. On paper that doesn’t seem like much, but in practice this is great for those “watched pot never boils” moments when you’re waiting for your iPhone to charge before leaving the house for a run or an errand; or if you’re super neurotic about charge percentages like I am.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple eventually implements a native version of this, but in the meantime we have Power for iOS to bridge the gap until then. I hope the developers of Power are already looking into the third-party complications capabilities of watchOS 2. I guess we’ll find out this fall.
Speaking of Material Design, these remixes of OS X/iOS app icons based on Material Design principles are not terrible. Some of them are downright nice, in fact. My personal faves are the Finder and Photos icons. The post wraps up by highlighting some great animation work that has been applied to some of Google’s app icons.
I love the overall aesthetic of Google’s material design specification and I’m excited they’re bringing it to the web with this new, easy to implement library. Now, if only I can come up with a good project/excuse to start playing with it …
As far as I can tell, and based on everything I’ve read so far, Apple Music isn’t substantially better than Spotify or maybe even Rdio, Tidal or Pandora1. But it is different and that just might be enough. I’ll let others provide in-depth reviews and comparisons to other services. In the meantime, in case you’re interested, here’s why I’m all in on Apple Music.
This isn’t a huge leap for me. I’m already a Beats Music subscriber, having switched to the service from Rdio back when Apple first bought Beats. Though I didn’t always favor the Beats Music approach over Rdio’s, I anticipated, along with everyone else, the eventual tie-in with Apple’s existing music services and apps. Thus, when the service was finally released, jumping to Apple Music was a no-brainer. Three free months at the outset (when I was already paying $10 per month) is just icing on the cake. I was slow to jump on the streaming music bandwagon, but I can’t say enough about how great it is to be able to access almost any song any time you want. Few things make me feel more American than that.
The Ressurrection of Radio
The human curated lists in Beats Music are great, but they weren’t always as alluring as just pulling up Pandora or Rdio (back when I was a subscriber), picking an artist or station and letting the service take care of the mix. Now, Apple Music has the ability to create a station from a song or artist and it has the fantastic Beats 1 live, worldwide radio station that basically deserves a review all on its own. Yes, the feature that everyone is and should be talking about is its modern twist and nostalgic reverence for the art and pleasure of radio .
One App to Serve Them All
The new Apple Music app (and corresponding iTunes update) is perhaps the most derided feature or aspect of Apple Music, but it’s my favorite. The Internet is killing the new Apple Music app in terms of usability, calling it an all out mess, chaotic and confusing. And while I agree that it isn’t exactly the most plainly obvious app, I love that I finally have all of my favorite music delivery systems under one roof. Of course it’s confusing! There’s so much to pack into the one application – your existing music library (iTunes or music obtained from other sources); Internet radio, including the aforementioned fantastic Beats 1; and subscription-based music, the all-you-can-eat buffet of music. And this is the one feature that leads me to believe that Apple Music doesn’t have to be a better streaming service than Spotify, or a better streaming radio service than Pandora., because it has the distinct advantage of being a good-enough version of both and combining that with its pioneering2 iTunes platform. Hundreds of millions of credit card populated accounts, and many of those with massive existing music libraries, all connected by Apple Music.
I needed primarily three things out of Apple Music – the ability to pull up any song on a whim, legacy access to my existing iTunes library, and a “just play something” mode for those times I just can’t seem to decide what I want to hear. Based on my first few days with Apple Music, Apple delivered.