iOS 10 hands on: Everything that’s new in Apple Music and Apple News

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News and Music ios10
Apple News and Apple Music get much-needed redesigns in iOS 10.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iOS 10 brings much-needed design overhauls for the Apple Music and Apple News apps.

The big iOS update, which is currently in beta but should hit iPhones and iPads this fall, brings huge changes to the Apple Music UI as well as minor improvements to navigation in the music app. To see all the changes in action, watch the Cult of Mac video below.

4 apps that fix Apple Music’s shortcomings

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Want to enhance your Apple Music experience? Try these 4 apps!
Want to enhance your Apple Music experience? Try these four apps.
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor

Apple’s new Music Memos app makes songwriting chimp-simple

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Easy to use music creation app means the end of complex demos.
Easy-to-use music creation app Music Memos does away with complex demos.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Apple’s new app, Music Memos, is hands-down the best free music-creation app I’ve ever used on my iPhone. The amount of tech packed into this tiny little iOS app is nothing short of amazing, and it shows Apple’s continuing commitment to the creative community.

Music Memos lets you sit down with your iPhone, tap the screen, and record music. Then it will totally figure out what you played, and supply fairly decent drum and bass tracks to complement your chords. Wow.

I’ve played in live bands that can’t even do that.

Take my word on this: If you can play even rudimentary guitar, piano or even ukulele, you owe it to yourself to give Music Memos a try.

Is this the first ‘official band app’ for Apple TV?

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Just as good as real medicine.
Just as good as real medicine.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Androgynous English rockers Placebo just claimed the honor of landing the first “artist” app on the new Apple TV. The free Placebo app is designed to deliver an “immersive” experience for fans while they remain ensconced on their couches.

Ultimately the app, which was released Monday, lets you watch music videos, live video of the band and “exclusive content” from the Placebo archives, all in your very own home.

Unique keyboard app turns your boring messages into music

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The most melodious way to type.
Typing "LOL" and "WTF" has never been so melodious.
Photo: SoundKey

SoundKey is a clever keyboard app that plays instruments as you type to create melodies from your words.

Developed by two French students who wanted to incorporate music directly into people’s daily use of the iPhone, it’s an unusual twist on the custom iOS keyboards we’ve come to know and love.

UE Boom 2 gets Block Party mode so you can blast friends’ tunes

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The UE Boom 2's new Block Party feature makes it easier than ever to share music with friends.
The UE Boom 2's new Block Party feature makes it easier than ever to share music with friends.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

SAN FRANCISCO — A slick new feature coming to Ultimate Ears’ Bluetooth speakers will let you stream your friends’ music from the palm of your hand.

Called Block Party, it lets up to three friends connect to the same UE speaker. Then the self-appointed DJ can pick and choose from each person’s tunes, pulled from streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. The DJ can skip songs and jump from playlist to playlist, and it’s all shockingly smooth and simple.

Review: Rhapsody’s redesign takes on Apple Music and Spotify

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Rhapsody
The streaming music veteran takes a shot at becoming "hot stuff" with a total app overhaul.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Responding to the existential threat posed by Apple Music and Spotify, old-school streaming music service Rhapsody has completely overhauled its mobile app. The revamped Rhapsody comes with a fresh design and new features to take things up a notch — although some of these things look mighty familiar.

Will this redesign be enough to take on the newcomers that are eating Rhapsody’s lunch? Check out what Rhapsody brings to the table and see for yourself.

App Watch: iPad messaging, speedy news reading and reinvented music albums

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App Watch: July 29, 2014

We've got lots of creative apps in the hopper this week, from the comic-book-artist-friendly Procreate 2.1 to the art-sharing app August. There's also stuff for metadata-hungry photographers, as well as a note-card app for screenwriters. Get to work.

Procreate 2.1

Procreate, already my favorite painting app on the iPad, just got a huge update. A few highlights are the new color wheel for selecting shades, with pinch-to-zoom for even more accurate picking; ColorDrop, which auto-fills color areas for you; and a new Reference Layer, which lets you designate a layer as a kind of template for filling other layers. Thus, you can make a color-fill layer under your line art, still using that line art as the reference for the fills. I love Procreate, and it keeps on getting better. $6

Together for iOS

Together for iOS syncs with the venerable OS X version, giving an Evernote-like everything-bucket that you can use and access anywhere. Create text files, add photos and import documents from other apps, then tag them and let them sync with the Mac version (and other iOS versions) over iCloud. iCloud sync means you’ll need the Mac App Store version of Together to make it work. It looks fantastic, and way easier to use than Evernote. The only problem is that it can’t search inside any of your documents. $10

Telegram HD

Slick, secure and open messaging app Telegram has just been updated with a native iPad version. The already-impressive app now brings GIF support, broadcast lists and an iPad-friendly interface, along with the same great cross-platform access, letting you read your messages anywhere, even on the Web. Free

PhotoMeta

PhotoMeta shows you everything about your photos that the iOS photos app doesn’t. You can view all EXIF data, from shutter speed and aperture to the direction you were facing when you took the shot. You can even browse photos from your Dropbox, and this latest update to the app lets you view the focus points your camera used. $3

Summbot

Summbot summarizes the news for quick reading. That is, it takes a link as input, parses the page and gives you a processed summary, a short version. I can think of a few sites I’d like to try this on. The problem is that you need to paste a link into the app for every page, easily wasting any time you might save from reading the condensed view. With any luck, this will be turned into a fuller-featured app in a later version. $1

Matter

Matter is a 3-D version of Pixite’s other amazing photo apps. Instead of adding stripes and patterns to your pictures like LoryStripes or Tangent, Matter adds 3-D objects to your 2–D photos. You can even animate them, and the objects reflect the lighting around them. I don’t often add strips and patterns to my photos, but when I want to, I reach for the Pixite folder on my iPad or iPhone. $2

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Celtx Cards

If you’re already in the (minimum $10-per-month) world of Celtx screenwriting apps, you’ll want to take a look at the new Celtx Cards, an ultra-simple index card app for the iPhone and iPad. Each card gets a title, a big text field and tags. You can color code the cards, and drag to rearrange them. And – if you have a Celtx account – you can sync them with your other Celtx apps. Seeing as sync is the biggest hurdle for all other index card apps I’ve tried, the fact that this integrates closely with other apps is a huge selling point. Free

August

August is a new kind of social network, kind of a hyper-focused Tumblr or an Instagram without the cute cats. With added music and film. The idea is that artists posts their photos, music and videos to their August streams, and followers can either save that stuff to their own streams or share to other places (Twitter and Facebook etc.) Thus you might follow someone who has great taste, but produces nothing of their own. The service is currently accepting requests for invites.

Islander

Islander is Norwegian musician Jarle Bernhoft’s new take on the music album for 2014. The app contains 48K 24-bit versions of the tracks, but that’s not all. You can also interact with the music using a virtual mixing console, and even add your own percussion. This combines with liner notes and all the other ephemera a music nerd could want. Plus, if every musician goes in this direction, you will have the added problem of finding an album on your iPad – just like finding a vinyl record in a stack on the floor. It’s so damn authentic. $20