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Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the question of the iPod Touch and the iPhone 6C, the leaked front screen of the iPhone 6S, a comparison of pocket-to-picture camera times, Apple’s solution to one writer’s Apple Music issues, T-Mobile’s free streaming offer for Apple Music, details on the subscriber numbers of Apple’s streaming music service, a solution to iTunes’ woes, IDC’s tablet market share survey, and a seven-year old MacBook finally retiring.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read our weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Apple iPod Touch 6th Generation, 2015 (image: Ewan Spence)
Is The iPod Touch Getting Us Ready For A Monster iPhone 6C?
Last week I reviewed Apple’s latest iPod Touch model, and the little media player has still got my attention. Maybe it’s the light weight, maybe it’s the portability, maybe it’s just cute… but it’s mostly that I’m enjoying a powerful mobile experience on a four-inch screen. I’m not alone in that feedback, and the iPod Touch has convinced me that a high-specification, high-power, iPhone 6C would be a success. The question is, will Apple release a highly specced iPhone 6C, or carry on the 5C’s servitude in the low end of the market?
While I confidently expect Apple to release an iPhone 6C, my fear is that it will be pitched as the ‘basics’ model with a limited amount of storage, and specifications that are dulled just a little bit more than the original iPhone 6. If the iPhone 6S does jump up to offer 32, 64, or 128GB of storage, the 6C could be doomed to suffer with just 16 GB.
From my time with the iPod Touch, that’s not what I want. I want the smaller screen and form factor, I want the convenience of a physically light model. I want a discreet smartphone.
If you were a cynic you might think Apple was conducting a public beta test of a four-inch, A8 powered device in full view of the world ahead of launching a four-inch, A8 powered smartphone.
Here Is The Front Of The iPhone 6S
With Apple selling so many devices, keeping secrets once parts are in the supply chain is an almost impossible task, so it should come as no surprise that we’ll learn more about the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus as September approaches. The latest reveal comes as a result of some rather tasty pictures of the front display. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly looks at what this tell us:
…the iPhone 6S looks set to keep up the tradition of the S range and make virtually no external alterations to its predecessor. This includes the display size (4.7-inches), native resolution (1334 x 750 pixels) and Touch ID-equipped home button, though a more rigid aluminium alloyshould kill off any new bendgate talk.
Some wild speculation had claimed Apple will move to Touch ID to the back of the iPhone or even inside the screen to reduce bezel size. This sounds great in theory, but these pictures stamp on that and I’d say it’s highly unlikely we see anything similar before the iPhone 7 – at the earliest.
More details on the leaked pictures can be found here.
But Which Takes The Faster Picture?
For all of the snazzy software features and PowerPoint presentations, in many areas there is very little practical difference between handsets. Paul Monckton takes a look at an important aspect of smartphones – the camera – and how quickly you can take a picture with an iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6 Edge in your pocket.
The Samsung’s Quick Launch feature works directly from the home screen or from within any app. This means you can switch immediately from typing a message to shooting a photo without having to quit your current app to go looking for the camera icon. On the iPhone 6, the quickest way to reach the camera is often to lock the phone and start from there. This takes a little extra time and also leaves you with a locked phone after you’ve taken your photo, so you’ll be spending more time unlocking it again to get back to where you started.
Find out the winner here.
A Rather Unique Solution To Apple Music Issues
You might recall last week’s Apple Loop carried a story from Jim Dalrymple and his issues with Apple Music. The good news is that there’s a resolution to the lost music, disrupted metadata, and sync issues caused by Apple Music, the iCloud Music Library, iTunes Match, and the iTunes application. Unfortunately it’s not open to everyone:
It’s been an interesting and confusing day. I arrived at Apple this morning to talk to them about my issues with Apple Music and to hopefully fix my problems. The good news is that I have about 99 percent of my music back.
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. The missing and duplicate song issues that we’ve all seen in Apple Music are being fixed shortly. They are certainly aware of what’s been going on, I can assure you.
Dalrymple goes on to theorise what is going on, but there’s two points to take away here. The first is that not everyone with these issues is a highly visible blogger who Apple will invite to Cupertino to walk through their issues. The second issue is about communication. If Apple is “certainly aware” then why can that not be communicated?
Be it The Emperor’s New Clothes, the reveal of the Wizard Of Oz, or the realisation that Mel Brooks’ films are only funny when Gene Wilder stars, the mystery and shamen-like power that seemed to put Apple above these issues is slipping. That won’t stop the juggernaut of sales in the near future, and neither will it alter Apple’s long-term plans to stabilise existing markets and expand into new markets. But it should be a concern.
For many, Apple was considered to be above and beyond the normal errors that weakened technology companies such as BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm, and countless others. It’s hard to argue that is still true with the evidence available today.
It’s just another issue of arrogance that is affecting Apple’s reputation, and it’s one that should be addressed as quickly as possible.
The iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014 (picture: Ewan Spence)
No More Apple Music Streaming Charge On T-Mobile
While I’ve been setting up Apple Music’s family account I’ve been ensuring that mobile data is switched off so the app doesn’t eat up anybody’s bandwidth by accidentally streaming the latest album from Kelly Clarkson. It’s a setting I’d normally recommend everyone looks for, but now T-Mobile in the USA has ensured that its customers won’t drain their data. CEO John Legere:
First, we’re amping up Un-carrier 6.0, Music Freedom and adding Apple Music to our list of 33 services that stream totally free on T-Mobile. Apple Music has become the single most requested new addition to Music Freedom and counts for a full 80% of the requests coming in via Twitter. I heard every one of them, so it’s happening right now!
In short, if you stream using mobile data using Apple Music, or any of the other applicable services, it’s not going to count against your bandwidth allowance. All you’ll need to worry about is the extra strain on your battery life.
A US Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber overflies the runway during the F-Air Colombia 2015 air festival at the Jose Maria Cordova airport (RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)
It’s The Only Way To Be Sure
All that said, everyone still has to live with iTunes, even if I might agree with Ben Lovejoy’s opinion on how to solve the iTunes bloat issue:
iTunes is now so clunky the only safe solution is to nuke it from orbit
I’ve complained before about the massive missed opportunity of Apple failing to properly integrate both owned and streamed music within iTunes. I got over that enough to use and enjoy Apple Music, and I’m confident I’ll be continuing my subscription once Apple starts charging my card, despite the raw deal we get on pricing in the UK.
But I also agreed with Variety that Apple needed to adopt the same approach for OS X as it does for iOS, splitting out the various iTunes functions into separate apps. Having now been using version 12.2 of iTunes for a month, I’m escalating this from a moderate whinge to a full-scale rant. The time has come for Apple to finally rid us of this creaking, bloated disaster of an app, and start afresh …
Go on Ben, tell us how you really feel…
Apple Music Reaches Eight Figures
Music industry sources have told music site ‘Hits Daily Double‘ that Apple Music has “attracted more than ten million subscribers in a mere four weeks”. That’s a very big sounding number and from a standing start it compares well to the 75 million or so paying subscribers reportedly signed up to Spotify.
There are caveats though. The first is that every subscriber so far is part of the three-month trial period, and there is no indication at all as to the numbers of people who will move to either of the paid tiers. the second is that the vast majority of users who updated to iOS 8.4 were eligible to sign up to Apple Music, and would have seen the splash screen pushing Apple Music the first time they opened the music app. Looking at the numbers from Mixpanel, forty percent of the iOS user were on iOS 8.4 earlier this month.
Ten million subscribers doesn’t look that impressive now. I expect Apple will hold fire on an official number until the opening statements of the September event that will announce the new iPhone devices.
SUN VALLEY, ID – JULY 10: Eddy Cue, senior vice president of internet software and services at Apple Inc., adn Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of AOL Inc. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Tablet Sales Shrinking As Competition Catches Up To Apple
IDC’s latest look at the tablet market makes for mixed reading for Apple. The iPad range is still top, with a market share of 24.5%, although that has dropped year-on-year from 27.7%. Second place still belongs to Samsung, and the South Korean company has also seen a drop, from 18% to 17%. Roger Fingas looks at the numbers and the overall market for Apple Insider:
The tablet industry as a whole declined during the quarter, with shipments falling 7 percent to 44.7 million. IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani suggested that the market has been impacted by several factors, such as larger smartphones, and people keeping their tablets for longer before upgrades…
iPad sales have been shrinking for six quarters in row. Beyond introducing iOS 9, Apple is also expected to reinvigorate its “post-PC” device with a 12.9-inch model that could offer things like a USB-C port and a pressure-sensitive Bluetooth stylus.
Seven years ago, Christopher Phin bought a MacBook. Specifically he bought a 2008 edition MacBook Pro. And this week is the week that he has decided to retire the computer. In a world where manufacturers hope that update cycles last little more than a year, the build quality and utility of Macs are a hidden benefit of the range. Even if Phin’s MacBook is somewhat of a Trigger’s Broom:
But while outwardly little has changed since it was new, the same isn’t true inside, which is the second reason it was so long pressed into service. First the hard disk was swapped for a 256GB SSD from Crucial (transformative, as you’ll know if you’ve done similar), then the optical drive swapped for a second internal drive using a kit from OWC and a 500GB hard disk donated by a friend of mine. Then, as the battery wore out, it too got replaced. And finally, once SSD prices dropped significantly, the main SSD got switched again, this time for a 500GB MX100 from Crucial.
Turns out Phin is, perhaps by accident, a bit of a philosopher.
MacBook range running OSX Yosemite (image: Apple.com)
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.
You can find more of my work at ewanspence.co.uk. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In. You should subscribe to my weekly newsletter of ‘Trivial Posts’.