Inside Apple’s super secret design lab plus the best movies of 2015 on The CultCast

This week: we venture into very heart of Apple, inside their super secret design lab, and what we find is amazing. Plus: the best holiday iOS App Store deals, and we pick our favorite movies of 2015! Our thanks to FreshBooks for supporting this episode, the easy-to-use invoicing software designed to help small business owners […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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The Beatles Are Coming to Apple Music on Christmas Eve

The full music collection of The Beatles will be available on Apple Music and other music streaming services on Christmas Eve, according to a new report from Re/code. The report comes a week after a similar report from Billboard, which said that The Beatles were coming to a streaming service on Christmas Eve but did not specify which one.

The world’s most famous band will finally be available on streaming music services, starting this Thursday, Christmas Eve. And they’ll be available very, very widely: Industry sources say that the Fab Four’s music will be on all of the obvious music services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Tidal, as well as some you might not expect, including Amazon’s Prime Music.

The only music service that won’t have full access to The Beatles’ catalog is Pandora, which doesn’t do direct deals with music owners. However, Pandora does offer some access to select Beatles songs on its web radio service. Additionally, The Beatles’ catalog will also be available on music services’ free tiers, unlike artists like Taylor Swift.

The Beatles’ catalog originally appeared on iTunes back in 2010, giving Apple exclusive rights to the digital distribution of the famous band’s music until 2011. More recently, „The Beatles: +1“ collection debuted on iTunes, packaged with remastered versions of hit songs and mini-movies made by the famous quartet.

Update: The Beatles have confirmed their music will be available on Apple Music and eight other streaming music services worldwide on December 24 at 12:01 a.m. local time.

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‘The Beatles: 1+’ Collection Debuts on iTunes With 50 Restored Music Videos

A new collection of 50 music videos by The Beatles has hit the iTunes Store today and comes packed in with remastered versions of the band’s most popular singles along with a sampling of „mini-movies“ the quartet made together (via MacNews). The $26.99 collection, dubbed The Beatles: 1+, is divided up into 27 music videos of the group’s #1 hit singles from the United Kingdom and United States, as well as 23 alternate versions of some of the songs.

After The Beatles stopped touring, and because travelling around the globe to promote new releases was impossible, they increasingly made what could be described as “mini movies”. These pioneering promotional films and videos helped to define the way we have come to watch music. The Beatles 1+ features all of their 27 #1, UK and US singles as beautifully restored videos for each song, along with 23 alternate versions, as well as rarely seen and newly restored films and videos of additional songs.

The restored videos and audio mixes were produced from the classic analogue tapes made at Abbey Road Studios, and even include audio commentary and introductions by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Fans who purchase the collection will also receive a digital illustrated art book with 113 pages of details and notes about each of the hit songs found in the 1+ collection.

Although Apple and The Beatles were initially in disagreement on the exact terms of releasing the band’s popular oeuvre onto the iTunes Store, the eventual digital release of their albums saw impressive sales numbers in the months afterwards. The band’s music has yet to make its way onto Apple Music, but Apple has curated a few Beatles-themed radio stations, including a track list of the band members’ alternative work and some of the more popular Beatles tracks sung by other artists.

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‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ Excerpts: Friendship With Tim Cook, Campus 2 and Succession at Apple

The upcoming book Becoming Steve Jobs, written by Brent Schlender, a reporter who interviewed Jobs several times throughout his life and became close to him, and Rick Tetzeli, executive editor at Fast Company, is set to be released on March 24. Ahead of time, the authors have shared a number of excerpts from the book that provide untold details about his life.

Apple CEO Tim Cook claims that Walter Isaacson’s autobiography of Steve Jobs „did him a tremendous disservice,“ depicting the late Apple co-founder as „a greedy, selfish egomaniac.“ Cook added that Jobs certainly „wasn’t a saint,“ but that „it’s emphatically untrue that he wasn’t a great human being.“ He believes that Jobs truly cared about things, but his passion was sometimes mistaken for arrogance.

„Steve cared,“ Cook continues. „He cared deeply about things. Yes, he was very passionate about things, and he wanted things to be perfect. And that was what was great about him. A lot of people mistook that passion for arrogance. He wasn’t a saint. I’m not saying that. None of us are. But it’s emphatically untrue that he wasn’t a great human being, and that is totally not understood.“

Even as his sickness progressed, Jobs continued working at Apple until his final days, and wanted others to treat him as if he were not sick. Cook claims that Jobs began thinking about a succession plan and life after Apple in 2004, and spent time working with Joel Podolny, a professor he hired from the Yale School of Management, on Apple University to pass on his methodologies to Apple’s next generation of leaders.

„But as the days went on he would spend more time with me and with other people explaining why he thought or did something, or why he looked at something in a certain way. This was why he came up with Apple U., so we could train and educate the next generation of leaders by teaching them all we had been through, and how we had made the terrible decisions we made and also how we made the really good ones.“

The book also details that Jobs worked closely with Norman Foster Architects on the design of Apple’s Campus 2 in Cupertino, California, a spaceship-like headquarters under construction on the grounds of Hewlett-Packard’s old campus. Jobs approached the design of the headquarters with the same principles he applied to the iPhone, iPad and everything else.

„Steve wanted people to love Apple,“ says Cook, „not just work for Apple, but really love Apple, and really understand at a very deep level what Apple was about, about the values of the company. He didn’t write them on the walls and make posters out of them anymore, but he wanted people to understand them. He wanted people to work for a greater cause.“

Cook reflected on August 11, 2011, the day that Jobs called him to his house and decided that he should be the next CEO at Apple. Cook, who had previously served at the helm of Apple during Steve’s medical leaves in 2004 and 2009, was hesitant about taking the position at first, but believed that the best candidate had to come from within Apple to truly understand the culture of the company.

„If you believe that it’s important to understand Apple’s culture deeply, you wind up clicking to an internal candidate,“ explains Cook. „If I were leaving this afternoon I’d recommend an inside candidate, because I don’t think there’s any way somebody could come in and understand the complexity of what we do and really get the culture in that deep way. And I think Steve knew that it also needed to be somebody that believed in the Beatles concept. [Jobs believed that the Fab Four brought out the best in one another—and moderated any individual’s excesses.] Apple would not be served well to have a CEO who wanted to or felt like they needed to replace him precisely. I don’t think there is such a person, but you could envision people trying. He knew that I would never be so dumb as to do that, or even feel that I needed to do that.“

Jobs passed away in October 2011 following a lengthy battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. The excerpts above were adapted from Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Revolutionary Leader, which will be available in hardcover on Amazon for $18 on March 24. Apple executive Eddy Cue described the book as „well done“ and the „first to get it right“ earlier this week.




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U2 plays it safe with solidly crafted Songs of Innocence

As Bono came in chanting and The Edge power-chorded his guitar for the radio-friendly chorus of “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” today, we hoped for a revitalized big-arena rock band performance from the biggest Irish rock band of all time.…Read more ›



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Multiple Rumors Hint at U2’s Possible Involvement in iPhone 6 Launch

Several rumors circulating today have suggested that Apple might be planning to somehow involve U2 in the upcoming launch of the iPhone 6. A tipster told MacRumors that the iPhone 6 will come preloaded with the new U2 album, and there’s also been some unverified chatter on Twitter from reporters in Ireland pointing towards that possibility.

Most of the rumors seem to come from a recent video shoot U2 did in Dublin, which was conducted in secrecy with „black sheets strategically placed to obscure what was happening from public view.“ Music promoter Stephen Browne managed to snap a blurry photo of the shoot, and he says the „focus of the ‘video’ on the bridge last week was a phone.“ It is impossible to tell what device is depicted in the photo, however, or if the shoot revolved around the iPhone.

A U2 fan site pointed out by a Reddit user may also be a source of the rumors, as Julian Lennon, son of late Beatles frontman John Lennon and friend to U2, reportedly told the site „I think they are shooting an Apple commercial.“

According to CNET‘s Shara Tibken, it’s also possible that Bono might be a „special musical guest“ at Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 event on September 9. The event will be held at the Flint Center at De Anza College in Cupertino, and Apple is in the midst of constructing a massive structure on site.

It is unknown what the structure is, but some have suggested it could be a stage. San Jose Mercury News interviewed a Cupertino resident who had been observing the ongoing construction and said „It looked like a sound stage going up for a rock concert behind Flint Center.“

Apple and U2 have had a long partnership, as Steve Jobs and Bono were good friends. Starting in 2004, Apple released several special edition U2 iPods, which included the band’s signatures and U2’s music. Apple has also been a longtime partner of (Product) RED, a charity founded by Bono.

It is unknown if these whispers and hints of a U2 iPhone 6 tie-in and possible performance are accurate, but it appears to be a possibility given all of the circumstantial evidence. Apple has plans to debut its iPhone 6 on September 9, which is, coincidentally, the same day that the first single for U2’s newest album is rumored to debut.




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Apple TV 2, Magic Wand Outlined in New Steve Jobs Email

Steve Jobs outlined a potential future for the Apple TV in an email correspondence with top Apple executives in 2010, a year before his death, noting potential plans for the „Apple TV 2“ that included TV subscriptions, apps, browser and a „magic wand“ control device. The email was published today as a part of Apple’s lawsuit trial with Samsung (via The Verge).

8. Apple TV 2 – David Moody, Jeff Robbin
– Strategy: stay in the living room game and make a great „must have“ accessory for iOS devices
– sales so far, projections for this holiday season
– add content:
– NBC, CBS, Viacom, HBO, …
– TV subscription?
– where do we go from here?
– apps, browser, magic wand?

While the potential Apple TV features aren’t mentioned in concrete terms, they do provide insight into features Apple was internally discussing and considering in 2010. Additionally, the internal email also confirms that Apple has considered using its patented Nintendo Wiimote-like MagicWand to control Apple TV.

Jobs’ email also goes over other subjects for Apple’s 2010 Top 100, a secret meeting in which top Apple employees discuss strategy for the upcoming year, including plans for the „plus“ iPhone 4 that was eventually named the iPhone 4s and a low cost iPhone model based on the iPod touch that would replace the iPhone 3GS.

Plans for the future of iOS are also mentioned, with Jobs noting that strategy should be to „catch up to Android where we are behind (notifications, tethering, speech…) and leapfrog them (Siri, …)“.

The subject of Apple’s now defunct MobileMe service makes up another large part of the email, with Jobs acknowledging that Google was „way ahead of Apple in cloud services“ and that both the search giant and Microsoft had better technology than Apple but had not „figured it out yet“. The email also notes that Apple’s plan was to improve MobileMe to the point where it tied all Apple’s products together and made its ecosystem even more „sticky“, so that it would be more difficult for customers to leave for a competitor.

Finally, the email makes mention of Apple’s desire to further its lead over Google in music and great apps in the App Store as a part of Apple’s „holy war“ with Google, with mentions for both The Beatles and iTunes in the Cloud.





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Apple Celebrates The Beatles’ American Debut with New Apple TV Channel

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ American debut, Apple today has expanded the lineup for its Apple TV set-top box by adding a channel dedicated to the legendary rock group.

The channel allows users to view The Beatles’ groundbreaking performance on „The Ed Sullivan Show“ for a limited time, and also offers download links to The Beatles’ U.S. releases, which are available digitally for the first time on iTunes.

The Beatles’ music originally debuted on iTunes in November 2010 after years of speculation and prolonged negotiation between record label EMI and Apple. The group’s music went on to sell 2 million songs and 450,000 albums in its first week on the iTunes Store, and eventually reached overall sales of 5 million songs and 1 million albums within in two months. Exclusive ringtones by The Beatles were made available on iTunes in February 2012, and a digital compilation of 59 rare and unheard recordings by the group also launched last December.

Thanks, Mike!




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