Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi Discuss Bloated Software Accusations, Upcoming iTunes Plans

Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi spoke with John Gruber in this week’s episode of „The Talk Show,“ where they commented on recent opinions that Apple’s software isn’t up to snuff and offered some details on a new version of iTunes coming in OS X 10.11.4.

Last week, Re/code‘s Walt Mossberg wrote a piece entitled „Apple’s Apps Need Work,“ pointing towards a „gradual degradation“ in quality in several Apple apps and services like iCloud, Mail, and Photos. iTunes for the desktop was one of the most heavily criticized apps, with Mossberg saying he „dreads“ opening it because it’s „bloated, complex, and sluggish.“

During the podcast, Gruber asked Eddy Cue about Mossberg’s opinion, prompting him to give some background on how Apple wanted the iTunes experience to work. iTunes, Cue said, was designed at a time when people synced their devices via cable, so offering a centralized place with all of a user’s content was key. With Apple Music, Apple decided on a design that would put music front and center while also integrating cloud music with hard copies purchased through iTunes.

„We decided in the short term that what we wanted to do is really make it when you’re in music and iTunes, all you see is music,“ said Cue. He went on to explain that Apple is continually re-evaluating iTunes, and there are plans to release a refreshed version alongside OS X 10.11.4 next month.

„That’s not to say we are continuing… and will continue to think about what’s the best way to architect the app and whether it makes sense to do a separate app for some of the components that are in there or all of the components that are in there. But right now, we think we’ve designed iTunes and you’ll see we’ve got a new refresh with the new version of OS X that’s coming out next month that makes it even easier to use in the music space.“

Cue and Federighi went on to talk about the issues that arise whenever Apple makes major changes to software, as there are always people who prefer not to see significant changes. According to Federighi, there’s a „tricky balancing act“ with software updates.

„People are serious about their music and their collection, and so I think we debate pretty heavily internally the right way to evolve these things. We tend to err on the side of being pretty bold, but there’s a lot of responsibility.

The two also highlighted the immense scale that Apple is working on, with more than 1 billion active devices and 782 million iCloud users. More than 200,000 iMessages per second are sent at peak times, and there are more than 750 million transactions per week in the iTunes Store and the App Store. Apple Music has grown to 11 million subscribers and more than 2.5 million errors in Maps have been fixed, a number presented as evidence that Apple is continually working on its software.

„I would say first there’s nothing we care about more,“ said Federighi, speaking on Apple’s software and services. He believes Apple’s core software quality has improved significantly over the course of the last five years, but pointed towards an ever-raising bar that pushes Apple to keep evolving and implementing new features. „Every year we realize the things we were good at last year and the techniques we were using to build the best software we can are not adequate for the next year because the bar keeps going up,“ he said.

Federighi and Cue’s full discussion with John Gruber about the state of software, the desktop version of iTunes, and Apple’s efforts to expand its public beta program, can be listed to over on the Daring Fireball website.

Tags: iTunes, Apple Music
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Next-Generation iPhone Again Rumored to Have 12-Megapixel Camera

Kevin King, IHS Technology Research Director for China, claimed on Chinese microblogging service Weibo that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will feature a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with smaller pixels (via G4Games), corroborating the same prediction made by well-informed KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this week.

Apple has used an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor since the iPhone 4s was released in late 2011, so the megapixel bump will be the first in nearly four years if the pair of analysts are correct. Prior to that, the iPhone 4 had a 5-megapixel camera and the iPhone 3GS had a 3-megapixel shooter. Given that megapixels don’t always matter, however, software improvements are often more important for image quality.

Last November, well-known Apple pundit John Gruber of Daring Fireball said the next iPhone could have „the biggest camera jump ever“ with a dual-lens system that delivers DSLR-quality imagery, but a later report dismissed the rumor since Apple would need to redesign the current chassis of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which is unlikely for this year’s refresh based on the history of „S“ models.

Apple’s next-generation iPhones are rumored to retain 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes, powered by an A9 processor with 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM and featuring Force Touch, improved Touch ID recognition, gesture control support, an additional microphone near the speakers for improved voice quality, a new rose gold color option, internal mechanical design changes and more.





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Apple Watch Fulfills Promise of All-Day Battery Life in Early Reviews

Apple lifted the embargo for large websites to publish their Apple Watch reviews this morning, providing us with detailed insight about various functions of the device. Battery life in particular has been one area of interest for several prospective Apple Watch buyers, and most early reviews found the Apple Watch to fulfill its promise of all-day battery life on a single charge.

Well-known tech journalist Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal offers one of the better looks at the Apple Watch’s battery life in her video of using the device in day-to-day life. The video keeps track of how much battery life the Apple Watch uses while Stern goes about her daily routine in New York, with the device fully charged at 7:30 AM and having five percent remaining at just past midnight.

Apple confirmed last month that the Apple Watch will have up to 18 hours of battery life with mixed usage, and last up to 72 hours in Power Reserve mode. Early reviews find the Apple Watch generally on par with, or falling slightly short of, those numbers based on articles published by Daring Fireball, The Verge, The Wall Street Journal, Techpinions and Re/code. We’ve compiled those findings in the roundup below.

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

„After more than a week of daily use, Apple Watch has more than alleviated any concerns I had about getting through a day on a single charge. I noted the remaining charge when I went to bed each night. It was usually still in the 30s or 40s. Once it was still over 50 percent charged. Once, it was down to 27. And one day — last Thursday — it was all the way down to 5 percent. But that day was an exception — I used the watch for an extraordinary amount of testing, nothing at all resembling typical usage. I’m surprised the watch had any remaining charge at all that day. I never once charged the watch other than while I slept.“

Nilay Patel, The Verge:

„By the end of each day, I was hyper-aware of how low the Apple Watch battery had gotten. After one particularly heavy day of use, I hit 10 percent battery at 7pm, triggering a wave of anxiety. But most days were actually fine. Apple had a big challenge getting a tiny computer like this to last a day, and it succeeded — even if that success seemingly comes at the expense of performance.“

Geoffrey Fowler, The Wall Street Journal:

„The battery lives up to its all-day billing, but sometimes just barely. It’s often nearly drained at bedtime, especially if I’ve used the watch for exercise. There’s a power-reserve mode that can make it last a few hours longer, but then it only shows the time.“

Ben Bajarin, Techpinions:

„From my experience with battery life, Apple appears to have undersold it. The Apple Watch easily lasted a day, even a long day of heavy use. My Apple Watch battery never got below 20% and only once even got close to that. The day it did was a long day when I took it off the charger at 5:45am and used it frequently, including tracking my activity during a two hour tennis match, and I didn’t plug it back in until 10:30pm.

With my average usage, I tried to see how long I could go and several times over the week got nearly two days of battery life. This will obviously vary by person, but the fact Apple Watch users will not have to worry about battery life over the course of the day no matter how heavy it is used is important for the experience.“

Lauren Goode, Re/code:

„Apple has promised that the battery will last 18 hours per charge with normal use. It hasn’t yet died on me during the day, or even late at night. My iPhone actually conked out before the Watch did; this happened to Bonnie, too.

One day this past week, I woke up at 5:15 am, exercised for an hour using the Watch, ran Maps during my commute, made phones calls and received notifications throughout the whole day, and by 11:00 pm the Watch was just hitting its Power Reserve point.“

Apple Watch goes on sale April 24, with pre-orders and try-ons beginning April 10.




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Why Jeff Williams is Apple’s unsung hero

; Coming off a record-breaking financial quarter — largely thanks to the astonishing success of the iPhone 6 — it’s worth asking who Apple owes its present success to. While everyone is quick to mention the usual suspects (Tim Cook and Jony Ive being two of the…Read more ›



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A colorful theory about what Apple will announce on October 16th

In Apple’s invitation to the company’s October 16th Town Hall event at its Cupertino headquarters, the company’s tagline is: “It’s been way too long.” This has prompted a lot of speculation. It hasn’t been too long since Apple’s last event,…Read more ›



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Both Parts of Tim Cook’s Interview with Charlie Rose Available Online [Mac Blog]

The second half of Tim Cook’s extensive interview with Charlie Rose has been released online, which means that both parts are now viewable for those who haven’t seen it. Both interviews are available on Hulu and Charlie Rose’s website (via Daring Fireball). However, Hulu limits the interviews to those in the United States.

The first half of the interview, has Cook speaking about Steve Jobs, the acquisition of Beats as well as Apple’s interest in television alongside some thoughts on management from the Apple CEO. The second half of the interview, has Cook talking about privacy and how the Cupertino company does not try to collect data on its users.

The second interview, below, also features a segment with notable designer Yves Behar, who has designed numerous iPhone-connected products like the Jawbone and Vessyl Smart Cup.

Those who cannot watch the interview on Hulu can watch both parts on Charlie Rose’s website.




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The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 could have a Super Retina 461 PPI display

With the iPhone 6 set to come in two separate display sizes — a 4.7-inch model, and a 5.5-model — Apple needs to increase the iPhone’s resolution to keep up. But what will the new resolutions be? Up until now,…Read more ›



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National Federation of the Blind praises Apple’s work on accessibility

Last week there was a big furore when it turned out that a Reuters report about the National Federation of the Blind taking issue with the accessibility of Apple’s apps was based on inaccurate reporting. Given how seriously Apple takes the issue…Read more ›



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iOS 7.1 Update Due ‘Any Day Now’ With Support for SXSW App

Apple’s much-anticipated iOS 7.1 update could come any day now, according to new information from John Gruber of Daring Fireball. Gruber has heard that Apple has plans to release an iOS 7.1-reliant app that will stream the iTunes Festival performances at SXSW, and as SXSW will begin on March 11, iOS 7.1 will need to be released to the public ahead of that date.

Apple’s first iTunes Festival in the U.S. starts a week from today at SXSW in Austin. Apple is going to stream the performances to iOS devices using an app, but I’ve heard from a little birdie that the app requires iOS 7.1 (which explains why the app isn’t out yet). That means iOS 7.1 should ship any day now.

iOS 7.1 has been in testing since mid-November, and has seen five different developer betas thus far with the last beta coming on February 4. The operating system update includes a number of visual tweaks, including revamped shift and caps locks keys on the keyboard, refined icons for the Phone, FaceTime, and Messages apps, and a new look for several aspects of the Phone dialer.

Details on features in past beta releases can be found in our previous beta posts: Beta 1, Beta 2, Beta 3, Beta 4 and Beta 5.

A mid-March release date for iOS 7.1 is in line with several previous reports that have pointed to a March launch for the operating system. Apple has yet to seed a Golden Master build to developers, however.

Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and London Grammar kick off the SXSW iTunes Festival with a performance on March 11 that begins at 7:30 PM CST.




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Apple Highlighting iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c Reviews by Tech and Mainstream Press

Apple today added a new page to its website featuring reviews of the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c from a number of prominent publications and sites. Carrying the tagline „It seems we’ve given people a lot to talk about,“ the review page is currently being featured on Apple’s main iPhone page.

The feature page contains quotes from and links to reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time, CNET, USA Today, Esquire, Engadget, Daring Fireball, AnandTech, and TechCrunch. Most of the quoted and linked reviews cover the iPhone 5s, although several address the lower-cost iPhone 5c as well.

Most of those reviews for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were published on Tuesday, September 17, several days before the devices launched to the public. Apple introduced the devices at a September 10 media event, and provided review units to several publications in advance of the public release, allowing them to publish their reviews in a coordinated release late on the 17th.




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