They are being heralded as Apple's best surprise product of 2016 – AirPods. They are being heralded as Apple's ugliest product of 2016 – Airpods. So which is it? Are Airpods great? Yes. Are they ugly? No.
Airpods are virtually identical to to their wired cousins, Apple's EarPods, but for one major factor. Airpods have, rather obviously, no wires. When I first saw them, they looked awkward. After pondering as to why they looked rather odd, the answer became obvious. I'm simply not accustomed to seeing earphones without wires. The answer is really that simple.
I’m a late adopter. I know that. I usually wait a while for a concept (especially in tech) to prove itself before I jump in feet first. My first iPhone was not the original but the iPhone 3G (part of the delay was to wait for AT&T to bring decent service to my home). I rarely, if ever, upgrade iOS on the day it is released, but wait a week or so before taking the plunge, including minor bug fixes. I'm just a wait and see kind of guy.
So with Apple Music I took the same approach. I knew I had a 90 day free trial, but decided to wait to use begin that trial period when I would want to listen to music. That opportunity came when I took a road trip last weekend. Long drives in the car are great for audiobooks and podcasts, but at some point I want music — and not any kind of music — my kind of music.
Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Beats, says he is “scared” about music’s future. Why so? Iovine claims that free music streaming services like Spotify and others return fewer dollars to artists. In order to make up lost revenue, musicians are spending more time on the road playing concerts. In Iovine’s view this means less time to work on future albums. Good music, according to Iovine, requires time and that time is being eaten up by longer than usual concert schedules.
Of course, Iovine is now part of Apple and its attempt to re-energize its iTunes brand. The latest attempt is Apple Music streaming music service. This gives one access to Apple's entire music library on demand. Apple Music does NOT offer a free version beyond a 90-day trial period. After that it is $9.99/month. It appears Iovine’s comments could be a building frustration that young people are not willing to pay for music — especially when they do not have to.
During yesterday’s WWDC keynote event, Apple announced a host of new software technologies and upgraded solutions. OS X El Capitan looks to be a solid release, incorporating Metal, updating Notes, integrating iPhone gestures, and making the entire OS faster. The entire El Capitan package looked like another solid – and free – OS X upgrade. iOS suddenly became much smarter and relevant with iOS 9, and Apple’s aggressive OS update with watchOS 2 lets developers run wild with newfound power on the wrist. Apple Music looks to be the iTunes update everyone has been waiting for, and it finally arrived. Among the piles of announcements, perhaps the most ground breaking, if not shocking, was nothing more than a mere footnote. Apple is launching Apple Music, its largest software initiative in years, for Android.
Starting June 30, Apple Music will be available for iOS, OS X, and Windows. Apple states Apple Music will also be available for Apple TV and Android phones this fall. Apple PR can burry that OS name wherever it wants (front, back, the middle of a sentence), it still sticks out like nothing else – Android.