Apple delivers U2’s Songs of Innocence to millions of iTunes users, but not everybody’s buying the hype. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web
Thousands of angry iPhone users have found an album they weren’t looking for: U2’s Songs of Innocence.
Instead of making the band’s mediocre new album an opt-in freebie, Apple jammed it down the throats of a half-billion iTunes Store customers, enraging some of the company’s most loyal fans. Whether they wanted the album or not, it’s now showing up as “purchased” in individuals’ iTunes libraries on their computers and phones.
When Tim Cook trotted out the Irish rockers for a limp finale to Tuesday’s big Apple Watch announcement, he called giving away the band’s new record “the largest album release of all time” — but now it looks like one of the dumbest.
Widget, widgets, widgets. Boy, have we got some widgets for you. And text. Plain text. Plain old text, turned into a calculator. And widgets. Did I mention those? Weather widgets. Battery widgets. And yes, text widgets.
Read all about these new widgets and other new apps in this week's App Watch.
WunderStation from Weather Underground hooks into thousands of privately owned weather stations and presents their data in an iPad app. The smoothly animated graphs are beautiful and can tell you way more than you’d ever want to know about rainfall, barometric pressure and even UV. If you have stations near you, it’s pretty rad. If not, no biggie – the app is $Free
Filthy name, great app. Droool is a “photo gallery for your social networks.” Browse pictures from Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and more, and index pictures from iCloud and other local folders without moving or copying the files. It’s fast, simple and looks great, and it’s free with in-app purchases. $Free
Terrible name, great app. iBetterCharge monitors your iOS devices’ battery level over your Wi-Fi network, using the same connection that iTunes Wi-Fi sync would use, if you still synced your iPhone with your computer in the space year of 2014. It can pop up warnings when the battery drops to a preset level, and a click on the menu bar shows you the level of all the devices on the network. $Free
This is what the Internet is made for. Photogrammar puts 170,000 Depression-era photos in a searchable, browsable archive. Explore on an interactive map, search or get into the Labs section and browse by metadata sourced from the U.S. Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information archives. Warning: serious time-sink. $Free
PlainTextMenu takes the text on your Mac’s clipboard and transmogrifies it into something useful. It strips out formatting, so you never get big ugly Comic Sans when pasting from a colleague’s Word report, and it can turn the text to uppercase, lowercase or title case along the way. From the school of One Thing Well. $1
Web service re/spin takes Spotify playlists and transforms them into Rdio playlists. If someone’s going to share a playlist, it usually comes from Spotify, and re/spin works with published Spotify playlists. Or you can just paste in a track list copied right from the app. It also works with Last.fm. Remember when PCs couldn’t read Mac floppy disks? It’s like fixing that all over again. $Free
You know all those hard drives grafted onto your Mac? Keep a close eye on them with StorageStatus, an app that turns hard drives into traffic lights in your menu bar and changes their colors when they do something. It knows when they are sleeping, it knows when they’re awake, and it knows when they’ve been good or bad. $3
Not new, but awesome nonetheless. Calca is as close as you’ll get to a plain text calculator. Tap in complex formulas or simple sums and see the results right there in a plain text document. Set variables or just add numbers. And see all your pages synced over iCloud between Mac, iPhone and iPad versions, as well as Windows(!). I love Calca for its balance of simplicity and power. From $3
Finally, a version for the iPad. TVShow Time tracks your favorite TV shows and tells you when they’re on. Browse shows and show synopses, and get notifications when something is about to air. See the shows on a calendar, view news about your shows and read about new shows. It’s pretty comprehensive, and looks great on the big iPad screen. $3
Forget Spotify, Pandora and Beats Music. I’ve tried them all, and for my money, Rdio is the best streaming music subscription service out there. It has the best app design and, for my tastes, the best music selection. But you have to pay.
An update, though, is trying to make Rdio much more palatable to free users, as well as help all users find new music faster. It’s making the service free to everyone, emphasizing ad-supported stations for free users (with up to 15 times as many tracks as competing services), and new, smart social services for paid users.
The world already has more music streaming services than any sane person can subscribe to on a monthly basis, but Google is preparing to take on the likes of Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, and Beats Music with a new service of its own called YouTube Music Key.
Equalizers haven’t been a fashionable tech feature since Boomboxes went out of style in the 90’s, but Spotify just released a major update to its iOS app and I can’t stop playing with its fun new equalizer.
Spotify’s 1.1 update includes a number of other new features like a redesigned Artist page on iPad and new Discover feature, but the simple equalizer is perhaps the most useful new addition, allowing users to customize presets with six sliders.
The European Commission today gave its approval to Apple’s $3 billion takeover of Beats Electronics and Beats Music. The regulator concluded that the two companies are not close competitors, and that the headphones they sell are “markedly different in function and design.”
iTunes Radio quickly became known as an underdog after its release last fall, with Apple facing an uphill battle against established services like Spotify and Pandora. In today’s video, we take an in-depth look at iTunes Radio, its features, its future — and why it deserves your attention.
Shortly after updating Spotify with the ability to search for downloaded music offline, Spotify’s iOS app has just received a notable new update.
Spotify now lets users view play queues on their iPhone. This can be done by tapping the queue icon on the top right corner of the “Now Playing” screen. The update also features a new dialog box, which appears each time you try to add a song to a playlist which already includes it: a great way of avoiding duplicating songs without you realizing it.