Apple Music Sing will allow fans to sing along to their favorite songs and will be available to subscribers worldwide later this month.
Apple Music expands its world-class lyrics experience with a new feature for fans to easily sing along to tens of millions of songs. Apple announced Apple Music Sing, an exciting new feature that allows users to sing along to their favorite songs with adjustable vocals1 and real-time lyrics. Apple Music Sing offers multiple lyric views to help fans take the lead, perform duets, sing backup, and more — all integrated within Apple Music’s unparalleled lyrics experience. Coupled with an ever-expanding catalog that features tens of millions of the world’s most singable songs, Apple Music Sing makes it fun and easy for anyone to participate, however and wherever they choose.
Apple Music Sing will be available later this month to Apple Music subscribers worldwide, and can be enjoyed on iPhone, iPad, and the new Apple TV 4K.
“Apple Music’s lyrics experience is consistently one of the most popular features on our service,”
said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “We already know our users all over the world love to follow along to their favorite songs, so we wanted to evolve this offering even further to enable even more engagement around music through singing. It’s really a lot of fun, our customers are going to love it.”
With adjustable vocals and real-time lyrics, Apple Music Sing gives fans more control and even more precise timing while they sing along to their favorite tunes.
Apple Music Sing includes:
Adjustable vocals: Users now have control over a song’s vocal levels. They can sing with the original artist vocals, take the lead, or mix it up on millions of songs in the Apple Music catalog.
Real-time lyrics: Users can sing along to their favorite songs with animated lyrics that dance to the rhythm of the vocals.
Background vocals: Vocal lines sung simultaneously can animate independently from the main vocals to make it easier for users to follow.
Duet view: Multiple vocalists show on opposite sides of the screen to make duets or multi-singer tracks easy to sing along to.
Apple Music will also be launching a suite of more than 50 dedicated companion playlists featuring all of the epic songs, duets, choruses, and anthems that have been compelling people all around the world to sing — fully optimized for the Apple Music Sing experience.
Apple Music Sing will be available later this month for Apple Music subscribers worldwide.2
Apple Music Sing will be available on all compatible iPhone and iPad models as well as the new Apple TV 4K.
Rumor has it that Apple isn’t going to reinvent the iPhone this year, but you definitely can’t say the same about its software. iOS 10 was unveiled to the world late in the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, and for good reason — there were many, many new software features to unpack.
And now it’s time to play. Assuming you have the guts to install unfinished software, you’ll be able to grab the iOS 10 public beta soon (as long as you’re part of the Apple Beta Software Program, anyway). As a quick reminder, the preview is compatible with the iPhone 5 and newer, the iPad mini 2 and newer, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. Before you choose your sacrificial iDevice, though, read on to get a better sense of what works in the beta, what doesn’t and how Apple’s approach to software continues to evolve.
I’ve been using the public beta build on an iPhone 6s for two days, and so far it’s been remarkably stable. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve already encountered a handful of hiccups and bugs, but I haven’t run into any full-blown showstoppers either. Still, if you’d prefer not to troubleshoot or restart your phone, you’re better off steering clear of the Apple Beta Software Program. But that goes without saying.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind: Not all the features Apple previewed at WWDC are live yet. In fact, some of the most interesting ones aren’t. (Same goes for Apple’s macOS Sierra preview, as a matter of fact.) Most of Siri’s improvements center on linking up with third-party apps to let you send money through Square Cash, for instance, or tracking runs with MapMyRun just by asking. Sorry! You can’t do that today; it’ll be a few months yet before developers get their SiriKit-enabled apps ready.
Ditto for applications like Skype and WhatsApp: When updated this fall, they’ll display calls on your lock screen as though they were regular phone calls. This version of iOS 10 also doesn’t consistently transcribe your voicemails either or get lyrics for your songs or let you use Apple Pay on the web. The list goes on. Suffice to say the software going live today is just a taste of the software Apple plans to ship in the fall.
It’ll likely be a while yet before we see a redesign as thorough as what we got with iOS 7, but, hey, iOS 10 still feels like a refreshing change of pace. Apple’s typeface is thicker by default, and notifications and widgets are neatly contained in bubbles, all of which goes a long way toward making things feel cleaner. Speaking of notifications, you can use 3D Touch on supported iPhones to take action without even having to jump between apps. Think giving a Facebook message a thumbs-up or archiving emails in Outlook. Alas, you can’t do any of this while the phone is locked.
Those bubbly new widgets appear when you use 3D Touch on supported apps too, and from there it takes one more touch to add it to your Today feed. They can be a little temperamental, though: Only after two days of testing did the weather widget finally decide to display the outside temperature. (The answer: too darn hot.) Naturally, Apple redesigned lots of other bits and bobs for this release. The Control Center you invoke by dragging up from the bottom of the screen has been split into two pages, one of which is reserved for music controls.
Now back to the big, bold aesthetic Apple is pushing this year: It can be hard to avoid. Perhaps the best example of this is the radically redesigned Music app, which is … divisive, to say the least. It’s all about punchy colors and extreme legibility. I don’t mind it, but others who have seen it are not thrilled. Pro tip: You can change the font size used in the Music app from the device’s settings. This new aesthetic carries over into other redesigned apps like Health (which now also lets you opt in for organ donation) and the Clock app (which now has a bedtime mode to keep you well rested).
Nearly all the neat features in the updated Messages app work fine. You can “handwrite” notes by turning the iPhone on its side, send heartbeats with digital touch, leave “tapback” reactions on things people send you and more. My favorite so far: using bubble effects to basically yell at other people using iOS 10. Quickly sending GIFs with the included #images iMessage app is a close second; in case you forgot, Messages is one of those Apple-made apps that will soon benefit from third-party developer support. For now, though, the only other available iMessage apps let you share your recently played music or share animated images like the ones Apple uses on its Watch.
It’s also now dead simple to share a recent photo, since you have a live camera preview as soon as you tap the photo icon. One touch snaps a shot and preps it for sending, though there’s a noticeable delay in this beta build. Oh, word to the wise: If you don’t want to get caught in flagrante delicto, hold off on sending racy messages. If you send a message obscured by invisible ink to someone who doesn’t have iOS 10, the message appears normally with a follow-up that says “sent with invisible ink.” The app sometimes says the secret message hasn’t been delivered to the non-iOS 10 device, but it almost always is.
Apple has added plenty to the traditional messaging experience and it’s all pretty fun, but it sometimes feels like a bit much. Apple is facing stiff competition from Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and others, but with all that’s going on here, I can’t help but think the company is throwing stuff against a wall to see what sticks.
It’s not strictly part of the upgraded Message app, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with the keyboard as well. By default, the keyboard suggests an emoji when it detects a word that matches it. If you switch to the emoji keyboard in that case, all the words that can be emoji-fied glow orange. Tapping any of them replaces the word with the pictograph. Too bad that other keyboard tricks, like free-time suggestions based on your calendar, don’t seem to work all the time yet. For now only specific phrasing (like “I am available at …”) seems to trigger the schedule suggestion.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Apple didn’t do much with its Photos app; at first glance, there aren’t many obvious changes. (Your albums are now laid out in a grid instead of a list, so enjoy.) The biggest difference here is that iOS doesn’t just use your photos’ metadata to organize everything; it can organize them based on what’s depicted in them too. It’s a lot like Google Photos, except all the machine learning magic happens on the phone itself. The downside? If you have a ton of photos like I do, it takes iOS a long time to initially scan them all. Side note: Don’t be shocked if this blows through your battery.
The results are usually great. You can now search for broad categories like “cat” or “drink” or “bikes” in addition to places, and the results have been almost completely been right on the mark. One search result for “bikes” returned a photo from Barcelona where a moped lay at the bottom of the frame, shrouded in shadows. Not bad, Apple. Your photos automatically get bunched into Memories too, like “best of the year” and “last weekend.” There’s more to memories than an array of photos: You’ll get to see where the photos were taken and who’s in them.
It’s too bad the auto-created video montages (“memory movies”) have never loaded properly for me. Maybe your luck will be better than mine. On the plus side, you can edit Live Photos now, and all the changes you make apply to the still and the video that surrounds it. Live Photos still aren’t my jam, but this is a welcome move nonetheless.
Engadget’s parent company might own MapQuest (which is apparently still a thing), but I’m all about Google Maps. My devotion has been more or less unwavering, but Apple Maps in iOS 10 scored major points with me, thanks to the improved (and enlarged) navigation interface. Seriously, it’s so much easier to read at a glance than Google Maps that I can almost see myself switching. There’s also a little weather display in the corner, and the app is better about suggesting places you might want to go and how to get there. You’ll eventually see other apps like OpenTable hook into listings you find in Maps, but we’ll have to wait a few months before that functionality becomes available.
There’s a lot more going on with the Music app than a new look: The whole flow has changed. By default, you’re dropped off in the Library upon launch, where you can access all the songs you’ve saved or downloaded. Simple enough. It’s the For You section that seems to have gotten the most attention. Instead of just giving you a bunch of random playlists you might like, Apple now does a better job of explaining why its choices might be up your alley. The Connect tab is gone this time, so posts from acts you follow are in For You as well. Thankfully, they’re buried at the bottom and easy to ignore if you find them as utterly pointless as I do. Perhaps the most important interface change is that search gets a tab of its own, making it easier to find your perfect summer jam.
Like Music, Apple News also received a facelift that’s heavy on bright colors and large text. And again, the biggest change is the For You section, which is to say it now actually works. The Top Stories were the same between devices running iOS 9 and the iOS 10 beta, but the update brings subsections of stories that seem better tuned to your interests. In my case, those subsections included the Middle East, currency markets, startups and technology — all things I dig and have searched for recently. Throw in notifications for breaking news and we finally have an Apple News that feels like it’s worth using.
The odds and ends
Not everything fits neatly into a box, but here are a few changes to the iOS formula that you should definitely be aware of.
Yes, you can remove Apple’s first-party apps, and yes, it is glorious. Technically, it’s just user data that’s deleted; the app itself remains hidden on the device, but I’ll take that symbolic victory.
Raise to Wake does exactly what it says, and it works remarkably well for checking the time and your notifications.
You can swipe left from the lock screen to launch the camera. (It takes a little getting used to.)
I didn’t always love how fast the TouchID sensor worked on the 6s and 6s Plus. Coincidentally, Apple now requires you to push the home button to unlock instead of laying a finger on it. No more inadvertent unlocks (though you can revert to the old way in settings)!
You can access Spotlight search from just about anywhere, since the search bar now appears at the top of the drag-down notifications shade.
Apple’s Home app is pretty (there’s that bold aesthetic again), but I couldn’t properly test it since I didn’t have any HomeKit gear on hand. Check back for our impressions in our eventual full review.
We can’t issue a verdict on iOS 10 until it launches this fall, but Apple has taken some significant steps forward here. iOS 9 built the foundation for a lot of these features, and with iOS 10 we’re seeing Apple try to figure out how they best work together. Sometimes that means rewriting the rules, and other times that means letting people build on top of the existing platform. How well that will work is the big question, and we should have our answer in a few months.
It might not have gotten the same amount of press as the San Bernardino case, but authorities also hacked into the iPhone of Michael Jace’s wife with the help of an outside party. According to the court documents obtained by LA Times, the Los Angeles Police District has been trying to get into April Jace’s iPhone 5s since 2015. Michael Jace (Julien Lowe from The Shield) is accused of killing April, and investigators believe they argued via text before she was murdered.
April’s phone had a passcode lock, and as you probably know by now, a set number of incorrect attempts will wipe an iPhone clean. An LA judge apparently ordered an Apple technician to help cops figure out a way to crack the device open sometime in 2015. That didn’t seem to work, and for quite some time, the phone wouldn’t even switch on.
Authorities aren’t going after Apple again for this case, though, because they found someone else who could hack into the device, just like the San Bernardino investigators did. LA Times says the LAPD found a “forensic cellphone expert” on March 18th who managed to override the lock screen. The court documents didn’t mention whether the expert also exploited a flaw in the phone and its unidentified platform. If he did and authorities also paid for his services, they might keep that particular flaw a secret from Apple, as well. Let’s just hope it’s a vulnerability the tech titan already fixed.
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One year ago Apple finally decided to get into the smartwatch game. Nobody was surprised that it happened, but the reaction it inspired has caught a few off guard. Some were shocked that it failed to explode on the scene with the same ferocity as the iPhone or iPad. Others have been amazed at how it has stubbornly clung to life, like the Apple TV did for years.
The Apple Watch has been somewhat divisive, even around the Engadgetcompound. Some of our editors ordered theirs on day one, others became converts later. Many still wear and like their Apple watch, while others are wondering how much they can get for it on eBay. Let’s see how seven Engadget editors feel about the Cupertino’s first stab at wearable now.
I regretted buying the Apple Watch. And while I haven’t resold it, it’s not something I wear every day. The best features (message notifications, music player controls and the surprisingly consistent fitness apps) aren’t enough for something that costs just shy of an entry-level iPhone — especially since you need the phone to make the wearable worthwhile and anyone that says different is kidding themselves. Then there’s the cost of everything else: You’d better not lose that charging puck-cable. And how do they get away with charging so much for plastic straps? (Although it is a particularly velvety-soft plastic.)
There’s been a weird side effect to it all, however. I’m constantly poring over watches and have added three more to my humble horological collection. Don’t get me wrong, the Apple Watch remains the most expensive purchase I’ve made — writing at Engadget doesn’t bring a timeless Omega within my budget. Well, at least not yet. But I do like the idea of wearing a watch, having the time there, something that looks nice on my wrist. The Apple Watch is a beautiful “smartwatch,” but that’s the problem — it’s still a smartwatch. It’s chunky and normal watches just look better to me.
When I bought the Apple Watch on launch day, I had no idea whether it would be useful. I knew I loved the way it looked, and since I use an iPhone, compatible wearable options were limited. So I spent the $400-plus on the Watch Sport. I liked it so much I’ve since swapped that for a stainless steel model with a black leather band — it’s much fancier.
I’m happy to say I have no buyer’s remorse. My favorite thing about the Watch is that it keeps me from taking my phone out of my pocket every time I get a notification. Plus, the reminders to stand up and walk around throughout the day keep my body from atrophying.
My one complaint: I wish the apps for it were faster. Sometimes they take so long to load that it’s actually quicker to take my iPhone out instead. Hopefully that will get addressed with the second-gen Watch.
Confession time: I didn’t want an Apple Watch. I only bought one because a notorious former colleague wouldn’t shut the hell up about it, and we eventually agreed it would be funny to send obscene doodles to each other. It was… for about a week. To my surprise, the Watch stayed on my wrist well after that first puerile jolt of novelty wore off, and not for any of the reasons Apple was so keen to talk about.
I never talk to Siri. My list of favorite friends is empty, so I don’t send anyone drawings or heartbeats. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used it for directions. Even getting notifications got to be sort of a hassle. In fact, most of the time I glance at a notification on my wrist, I regret it. That’s mostly due to the abhorrent state of my work inbox, but also because glancing at my watch mid-conversation makes me feel like a dick.
No, I like that it tells me the time. It’s a pretty accurate step-counter, too, and having all data that fed into iOS’s Health app to mingle with “calories Chris gorged on today” and “how much sleep I got” helps paint a picture of the state of my union. And perhaps best of it all, it’s nice to know if I have to put on a jacket before I go outside. For someone who slobbers over wearables on the regular, it turns out my needs are actually very basic. My low bar for features also means something eventually might slip in and replace the Apple Watch, but for now this setup is just the right amount of smart.
I stopped wearing my Apple Watch almost immediately after I wrapped my review last spring. It wasn’t until seven months later, at the start of CES, that I would put it on again. By that time, I had fallen into a funk, during which I all but stopped exercising and put on about eight pounds in as many weeks. I was just starting to cheer up when it came time for my annual, week-long trip to Vegas for the world’s premier consumer electronics show. I knew that I wouldn’t have much time on my work trip to go running on the hotel treadmill, so instead I brought my Apple Watch, with the idea that I could at least console myself with seeing how many miles I had walked around the Las Vegas convention center each day.
It wasn’t perfect — one day when I ended up crying in an hour-long taxi line after the Watch nudged me to “stand up” — but on the whole, it was helpful to see how much walking I was doing every day. Pretty soon, I was competing against myself. Sure, I walked seven miles yesterday, but what about today? I quickly remembered just how well-designed Apple’s fitness-tracking app is. Something about the color-coding and the animated rings and the different badges you can earn. Maybe I’m just a sucker for games.
Nearly four months have passed since CES. I’ve long since left Vegas, and I’ve lost all of my “sad weight” and then some. Barely a day has gone by that I have not worn the Apple Watch. I still won’t use it as a running watch due to the inaccurate distance tracking, which means that on days when I go running with my Garmin, I end up syncing the Garmin data to my calorie counter of choice, MyFitnessPal, and then I manually add my Apple Watch data by subtracting the Garmin calorie number from the larger Apple Watch one. I know, I know: Apple Watch can sync with various apps, including MFP. The point is that I’m trying to avoid having the same data sent over twice, since I tend not to take off my Apple Watch while going for runs. (I want to meet my daily step and calorie-burning goals, after all.)
If that sounds complicated and tedious, it’s because it is. But such is life when you like the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker and not as a running watch. I think my willingness to deal with that every day is a testament to how much I enjoy the UI of Apple’s Activity app, even if I can’t trust it to accurately track my workouts.
I also enjoy the Watch for its notifications but only to a point. I’ve been accused on multiple occasions of being one of those people who’s on their phone too much, and having a smartwatch makes me seem… less rude. Glancing at my wrist is a more subtle gesture than pulling out my handset, and I get just enough information from the notifications to sate my curiosity. It’s been a trial-and-error process figuring out which notifications I actually want (hell no, Tinder and Slack), but I think I’ve landed on a setup that’s useful, not distracting.
All that said, the unit I’m wearing is one I have out on a long-term loan from Apple. Would I have paid my own money for this? A year ago I’d have definitively said “no.” Now I’ll upgrade that to “probably not.”
The best thing I can say about the Apple Watch is that I still wear it. And that’s more than I can say for other wearables — even those that I truly loved, like the Jawbone Up 2 and Misfit Shine. Once the novelty and joy of obsessively tracking your activity wears off, it’s pretty easy to give up on a typical wearable. But the Apple Watch has managed to make itself a key part of my daily workflow: it’s the main way I track my many appointments, view and respond to texts, and deal with a plethora of other notifications. I’ve grown to appreciate how it helps me cut through the never-ending onslaught of electronic noise (ironic for an expensive gadget, I know).
There is, of course, plenty of room for improvement. Apple needs to make future Apple Watch models more independent, and less reliant on being tethered to an iPhone (recent rumors suggest it might include cellular data connectivity). I’d also like some faster hardware to get rid of those interminable loading screens. They’re annoying enough on phones and computers, when you’re trying to quickly glance at your wrist load screens are absolutely infuriating.
I still can’t recommend the Apple Watch. It’s a device for a particular lifestyle of digital addiction. By its very nature (and price), it’s just not for everyone. But I wouldn’t call it an outright failure, as so many have. Analysts estimate Apple has sold around 12 million Watches over the last year, twice that of the iPhone’s inaugural year. It might not completely reshape the digital landscape, as the iPhone did, but there’s clearly a market out there for a smartwatch that helps you survive the digital hellscape.
Straight-up: the Apple Watch feels like an essential part of my body at times. I can certainly go without it if I have to. But I’m so used to turning to my wrist for notifications and apps that I miss the Watch when it’s gone. For someone who gets dozens of work-related emails every day, it’s a lifesaver. It’s also doing a lot to improve my fitness routine — there’s an almost Pavlovian urge to go on runs just to hit my fitness goals. Apps like Swarm and Transit are that much more useful when I don’t have to fish my phone out of my pocket.
Having said that, this is very much an early adopter gadget in the vein of the original iPhone. For one, it’s slow… horribly so, on occasion. Native app support in watchOS 2 made life a lot easier, but there are still times where I’m left staring at my arm while an app loads. And while I’ve grown to appreciate the Watch’s design, its thick body still screams “gadget” a little too loudly. Also, I’ll be honest: many of the things I appreciate can also be found in Android Wear or Samsung’s Gear line. It’s Apple’s implementation that makes the difference for me more than the features. I just happen to prefer its approaches to things like app navigation and haptic feedback.
For year two, I want to see Apple focus on speed above all else. I want interactions to be so quick that I rarely stop to think about reaching for my phone. That doesn’t just mean faster processors and data links, either. Frankly, Siri feels underused on the Watch — it’d speed things up if I could command any app with my voice, not just a handful of official programs. If Apple can make it so that the Watch is almost always the quickest way to get something done, it might appeal more to the everyday person, not just tech-savvy types willing to put up with a few flaws.
I got my Apple Watch more than 6 months after it launched, so I was well aware of both its good sides and bad. As such, I’ve been quite happy with it — I thought a lot about whether it could do the things I wanted, and by and large it’s been as good or better than I expected.
Fitness tracking is by far my most-used Apple Watch feature. For my purposes, it’s as good or better than most Fitbits I’ve tried, and the fact that I like the Watch’s physical appearance means I’m more likely to keep wearing it and get better data. I’ve quite simply been a lot more active since I got the Watch — part of that coincides with the time when I started focusing on running more, but the Watch has definitely helped me with that goal.
I do wish apps worked better, but I never really thought they were going to be a killer feature, so it hasn’t been a deal-breaker. And while getting all of your phone’s notifications on the Watch is a horrible way to live, if you take the time to set it up, you can get actually useful and timely info pushed there. All in all, I don’t regret my purchase at all and expect I’ll keep wearing it for a good long time.
Latest research from Parks Associates shows that Apple remains the dominant smartphone manufacturer in the United States but Samsung is catching up to it. The Cupertino-based company controls 40% of the country’s smartphone market while Samsung is in second place with 31%. The report shows that Android OEMs are gaining ground on Apple’s home turf and are likely to maintain this momentum going forward.
With its 31% share of the country’s smartphone market Samsung is currently the dominant Android OEM in the United States, followed by LG which commands a 10% market share. Other OEMs like Motorola and HTC account for about 5% of the market combined. Despite being the single largest smartphone vendor in the country Apple still loses out to Android in the platform wars as it accounts for almost 60% of the entire US smartphone market. As far as the global market is concerned Samsung remained the leader in global smartphone shipments last year with 324.8 million units shipped. Apple came in second place with 231.5 million units.
Apple’s quest for ever-thinner, ever-smarter devices may produce another casualty: your iPhone’s headphone jack. A rumor at MacOtakara claims that the next iPhone might drop the 3.5mm port and use the Lightning port for audio instead. The move would let Apple slim its phone even further (reportedly, over 1mm thinner than the iPhone 6s) and take advantage of Lightning’s features, such as headphone-based DACs and app launching. You’d have to use an adapter for any conventional wired headphones, or else make the leap to Bluetooth.
You’ll want to take this rumor with a big grain of salt. MacOtakara doesn’t have the greatest track record, and a lot could change in the 10 months between now and the future iPhone’s possible launch in September next year. We’d add that such a change-up might be a little beyond the pale — only a handful of companies make Lightning-based headphones, and there’s no guarantee that others will bend over backwards to join them.
With that said, there is precedent for moves like this. A few Chinese vendors already make super-thin smartphones that drop the headphone jack in favor of USB sound. Apple would just be expanding on that concept by giving you features that aren’t possible with a simple USB audio passthrough.
Apple Pay has been available in locales outside of the US already, and now our neighbors to the north are getting in on the action. Cupertino’s mobile payments tech is now available in Canada, so iPhone and Apple Watch users can pay for goods with those two devices at a smattering of retail locations. There is a catch, though: Apple Pay in the land of poutine only supports American Express right now. If you have one of those cards in your physical wallet, you’ll now be able to add it to the Wallet app on your iPhone in iOS 9.1 for use at places like McDonald’s and Tim Hortons (mmm, doughnuts). Bank-issued AmEx cards won’t work right now either, just the ones issued directly from the credit card company. This means that most debit cards and bank-issued credit cards won’t be compatible as a lot of Canadian banks use Visa or MasterCard. As was the case in the States and other countries, we’d surmise you can expect the list of participating banks and cards to expand in the weeks to come.