Blog Archives

What do devs need to know about the Apple TV?

In this Ask A Dev, iOS Engineer Sean McMains tells eager developers what they’ll need to master in order to make the most out of the new Apple TV and tvOS software development kit.

Sean kicks things off by telling us about the two methods of developing an Apple TV app: TVML and UIKit. He also runs through the available APIs we can play with to make our apps more robust, and explains the new “Focus Engine” that allows us to control on-screen content via the Siri Remote. Lastly, he notes some technical limitations we need to keep in mind before we even begin our apps. It all starts by watching this episode of Ask A Dev.

New to development or a pro who needs help? Just tweet your question to #AskADev. We’ll pick the best ones and have a developer answer them.


Apple Music: A primer on getting started

Apple just launched its ambitious new streaming service, marking a huge departure from the company’s old approach to music. But the pages and interfaces within Apple Music can be confusing.

It claims to be not only a music streaming app, but also a full fledged radio station, social media network and music curator. Transitioning to Apple Music could be disorienting for those not familiar with existing services like Spotify or Rdio.

If you need help making the jump, here’s the easiest way to sign up and get started with Apple’s new music streaming service.

Install iOS 8.4. Updating the operating system has become a hassle for many users, especially those with smaller capacity 16GB iPhones. The over-the-air update only took 222MB on my iPhone and 187MB on my iPad, which isn’t as bad as the 3GB or 4GB major updates, like iOS 8, have been in the past.

If you don’t have the storage capacity to update over Wi-Fi, plug your iPhone or iPad into your computer and update over iTunes. This method will help you avoid deleting anything on your device.

The installation went pretty smoothly for me; it took only a matter of minutes for the Apple logo to disappear and have my phone return to the familiar lock screen.

After you’ve updated the software, you should see the new white and rainbow-colored Music app icon. Go ahead and tap it. You’ll be greeted by a white welcome screen followed by a few options. You can either start your three-month free trial or go to “My Music,” which will still give you access to some of Apple Music’s new features, without on-demand streaming.

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Image: Ronald Chavez

If you choose to start your three-month free trial, you’ll have to select whether you’re joining on your own or with a family plan. If you’re on your own, you’ll be charged $9.99 after the trial is up. But if you’re signing up with others, it’ll charge one person $14.99 for up to six people. Whichever you choose, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID.

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You’ll then be dropped into the “New” section of the Music app. A search button on each page of the app makes it easy to find what you want to listen to. But you’re not quite done setting up just yet.

A big part of the experience is the “For You” tab. This section suggests playlists and albums Apple thinks you might like by pulling information from your past iTunes purchases. You can also plug in your preferences by using an interface taken directly from Beats Music, which Apple purchased (along with the rest of the Beats company) last year for a reported $3 billion. From there, you can tap circles that represent different artists and tastes; the system remembers what you like best.

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The interface is also a solid showcase for Apple Music’s human curated playlists. The app suggested a hip hop playlist for me, which included Outkast and a Watch the Throne track — both are aligned with my taste. It also highlighted a track by Black Star, an artist I’ve been meaning to check out.

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After setting up the “For You” section, you’re ready to jump in to the bulk of the Apple Music experience. Other features, such as the Connect social media section and Beats 1 radio station, are additional touches that can be explored.

Apple Music will Let You Get Music for Offline Listening

Streaming music is great if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, but no one wants to cannibalize cellular data on a morning commute or an evening run.

Apple confirmed in a statement to Re/code that its new Apple Music streaming service will allow users to save music and videos from the streaming library to their devices for offline playing. Users will also be able to make playlists for the content they have saved offline.

At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote Monday, Apple didn’t mention offline listening, but it’s a must for users who want to stream music from anywhere that isn’t their desk or home. The absence of this feature would have put Apple Music at a major disadvantage against other streaming music services like Spotify Premium, Google Play, Amazon Prime Music and Tidal.

We’ll have to see how Apple Music stacks up against other streaming music when it launches on June 30, but at least now we know it isn’t heading into battle a step behind its competitors.