Apple TV review: For those deeply committed to the Apple ecosystem

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Al Franken To Feds: Investigate Apple Music.

Apple TV is a set-top box battered by the forces of time. Now more than two years old, it’s showing its age in terms of interface and performance, and it might be replaced by a newer model in the near future.

It’s the latest attempt by a streaming-music service to transform itself from the place where you go to play a couple dozen songs over and over, and dutifully save a couple hundred others you’ll probably never listen to, to the first place you go to find new music. “It’s a lovely idea, to think that someday Spotify or Apple Music might be so smart that the service knows exactly what you want to listen to or watch, and all you ever have to do is open the app and press a giant play button,” Pierce continues. “But that doesn’t work. He’s been following the company for different outlets for some 15 years and writes about it now as the editor in chief at The Loop, a blog named after the the address of Apple’s Cupertino, Calif.. headquarters. “I really wanted it to work and become my default music streaming service, but after the problems I’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks, I’m disabling it altogether,” he wrote in a blog post Wednesday. On Wednesday, Franken wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Justice Department, requesting that they look into whether Apple inflates prices and undercuts the competition. That could explain why Apple recently slashed the price from $99 to $69, giving it the distinction of being the cheapest top-shelf set-top box in our buying guide.

People are finicky, especially with music.” And even if someone does find the secret to knowing what we want before we know we want it, there’s still a huge stumbling block to that level of personalization: It’s based on the assumption that our capacity for not just new music but new artists is as deep as we like to think it is. Franken’s complaints are twofold: Apple forces competing app developers who use its platform—say, Spotify or Pandora—to pay a 30% fee for every in-app purchase, which they cannot disclose to customers. (As per Apple’s licensing deals, those companies are not allowed to use their iOS apps to direct users to their own websites, where customers could skirt those fees.) And now, Apple has launched its own streaming platform that puts its interests in line with those practices. “Increased competition in the music streaming market should mean that consumers will ultimately benefit through more choices of better products and at lower prices,” Franken wrote in the letter. “I am concerned, however, that Apple’s position as a dominant platform operator may actually undermine many of the potential consumer benefits of its entry into the market. Despite being long in the tooth, this old Apple TV still has some redeeming qualities, especially for users who are deeply committed to the Apple ecosystem. While Dalrymple was pleased with the radio and playlists component, he called managing his library a “mind-blowing exercise in frustration.” He described a litany of problems, ranging from being unable to add complete albums to his music to failing to sync across devices. He wrote this letter to the attorney general, saying he’s afraid Apple Music may undermine the consumer’s ability to make choices and pay lower prices. “I’m not necessarily going up against them, I’m asking the FTC to look into this.” Sen.

If you love, say, David Bowie or Kendrick Lamar or Taylor Swift, wouldn’t you rather be able to find a whole bunch of stuff by them that you’ve never heard before than simply be directed to an artist who supposedly sounds like Bowie, Lamar or Swift? An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his complaints. “From what I can tell in my tests, Apple Music is deciding itself, based on your library, that it will not add duplicate songs,” he wrote. “For instance, I purchased a lot of Black Sabbath albums over the years, but not all of the compilations. Outside developers are barred from informing consumers within their App pages that the same service can be purchased on their third-party websites, thereby cutting Apple out of the equation.

It’s an argument that Berklee College music-business prof, and big-time R.E.M. fan, George Howard made convincingly in Forbes in a piece titled “Why Music Services Are Wasting Time Recommending New Music.” What is the value of being presented with artists “similar to REM,” Howard asks. “No other artist is similar to REM in my brain. That’s why I love REM.” So let’s try a little experiment: What “related artists” does Spotify nudge you toward if you’re listening to Taylor Swift? Franken’s letter addresses concerns from music streaming services that believe consumers should be better informed about pricing disparities between the App store and their websites.

But consumer rights groups have complained that Apple’s size and influence gives it an unfair advantage over rival music services, especially when it comes to reaching deals with musicians. Like how Apple takes a 30 percent cut of its competitors’ revenues from purchases made in apps, as well as app sales. “He’s right in the sense that if there were more competition than prices would fall even more,” Waldfogel said of Sen. Apple Music, the company’s new subscription streaming service, will get a native Apple TV app this fall, there are rumors of a subscription video service to follow . Using R.E.M. as bait, meanwhile, brings up the disparate (and not especially helpful) likes of U2, the Lemonheads, Crowded House and Crash Test Dummies. But he says all streaming services offer much better prices than we used to pay way back when. “Compared to the old world this is a pretty good world for consumers.

When you think about it, music recommendation is kind of like matchmaking, which perhaps explains why one of the smarter ideas is billed by TechCrunch as “Tinder for music discovery.” In the end, it’s worth remembering that the inexorable rush to streaming music negates one of the implicit functions of music recommendation. “We’re not listening to streaming-music services so we can find the next song to buy,” Jason Notte noted on “We’re listening and subscribing to them so we don’t have to buy songs anymore.” The FTC is reportedly already on the case, having met with multiple concerned parties about Apple’s practices, though it has not opened a formal investigation.

I was right back where I started.” Mashable has encountered its own serious problems with Apple Music, like the scrambling of music libraries in iTunes, but those issues — which appeared limited to users who had used iTunes Match in some way — were addressed with an update. Section Five of the FTC Act prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” Franken’s letter and the FTC’s possible investigation arrives a few months after Attorneys General Eric T. Instead of a full app store, users get a tightly curated list of pre-installed apps, which means no apps for Amazon Prime, Spotify, Plex, or Sling TV. Schneiderman of New York and George Jepsen of Connecticut looked into possible collusion between Apple and the major record labels around streaming competition.

Those downsides may not be deal breakers if you’re set the box’s Apple-exclusive features, but even in that case, it may be prudent to wait for a new model, which could come as early as this fall.

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