October 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Apple’s Announcements: A Cheat Sheet for Music Fans

Apple iPhone 4S

Apple’s big announcement wasn’t even over before Wall Street began hammering the company’s stock and rabid fan-people complained. Apparently, they wanted to see a cosmetically-different iPhone, rather than the internally-souped-up iPhone 4S — or maybe they would have just preferred if Apple called it the iPhone 5.

Who cares about such trifling matters? Not us. We’re too busy thinking about what all of Apple’s news means for our favorite people: the ones who love music’s effect on their lives. Here’s the deal.

 20 Million Songs in iTunes

Apple has the largest catalog of any music store, in the world, with over 20 million songs. That’s about twice as many as some of the competition. In addition, Apple has sold over 16 billion songs. It still doesn’t have a subscription service, unless you count iCloud, which only streams songs you’ve bought, ripped, or downloaded for free.

iTunes Match: $25 Per Year

Apple’s venture into the music cloud identifies the music on your computer and mirrors it from iTunes’ 20-million-song catalog with the iTunes Match feature, and unrecognized songs get uploaded, meaning that even your weird, rare, and live recordings can go there. Even on Apple’s relatively low-capacity devices like an 8GB iPhone, you’ll be able to access far more music, because you can store it all in iCloud. Apple also announced that when you make a playlist on one iOS device or iTunes, it gets automatically mirrored to your other ones. MOG, Spotify, and others have done this for a while, but Apple’s offering is cheaper (unless you buy music). ITunes Match launches at the end of October.

No Mention of iPod Classic

As predicted, Apple left the venerable iPod Classic out of the equation today. The new iPod line-up consists entirely of devices that run apps (iPod Touch and Nano) and devices without screens (Shuffle). Apple has yet to delete the iPod Classic from its store, but if you like to carry around lots of music and want to use a device from Apple’s new line-up, you’d best sign up for iCloud and iTunes Match, so you can pick and choose from your music collection.

The iPod Nano Looks Awesome for Jogging

The new iPod Nano includes a pedometer, so it can keep track of your workouts. Previously, this used to require separate Nike+ hardware.

Faster Downloads with the iPhone 4S

Due to improvements in the iPhone 4S’s antenna and processor speed, the new iPhone 4S can download data (including music) faster, assuming you have an optimal connection. The iPhone 4 can download at a maximum of 7.2 Mbps, while the 4S does so at 14.4 Mbps. If you plan to use iTunes Match, buying an iPhone 4S likely means your songs will play faster.

Location, Location, Location

Now, you can set reminders based on location — something that app developers will hopefully exploit to let people tag places with songs more easily, so that you can discover them simply by walking around (sort of like SoundTracking). In addition, iOS 5 lets you share your location with friends for a specific time only, which should come in handy for meeting friends at shows (sort of like Sonar).

The iPhone Is Really Popular

If you’re following our advice by following the herd in order to land on the smartphone platform where the best apps are, the iPhone still looks like the way to go. According to Apple, it’s growing 125 percent year over year, while other smartphones are growing at 74 percent. That’s one reason the iTunes app store now has over 500,000 iPhone apps and over 140,000 iPad-specific apps, which add up to a lot of reasons for music fans to choose iOS.

AirPlay Still Doesn’t Work Right on Desktops or Laptops (Updated)

If you want to play Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, or any other music service over your nice stereo using Apple AirPlay, you’ll still need to use your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. For whatever reason, Apple has (until September — see update) refused to allow software other than iTunes to connect to AirPlay devices and speakers. This is good news for Rogue Amoeba, whose $25 AirFoil software corrects the problem.

UpdateDavid D’Agostino of MyMusicThing reminds us that MOG’s desktop app can output music via AirPlay to all supported devices (AppleTV, AirPort Express, and AirPlay peakers and sound systems) at 320 Kbps (see our screenshot to the right). To his ear, it sounds better than with AirFoil.

The iPhone 4S Plays Music for 40 Hours, Holds up to 64GB

According to Apple’s numbers, the new iPhone plays music for longer than any airplane flight we’ve heard of. Also, for people who like to carry lots of music around with them and aren’t interested in paying $25 per year for iTunes Match, the iPhone and iPod Touch now max out at 64GB.

Notifications, Twitter Integration, Camera Shortcut, No More Cords, and Better Blog Reading

We covered these improvements earlier.

Did we miss anything? Let us know.

Update: You can now watch Apple’s keynote online.

  • http://silicoxvalley.com person287

    To be honest I’m a massive fan, but the 4S really doesn’t make me feel like I want to upgrade. The Siri could probably be got from cydia via a tweak soon enough, I can’t really see where the A5 will be used as my iPhone 4 is fast enough now, and there’s nothing else major. The camera looks nicer, but not £600 nicer. Oh well, I just gotta hope the iPhone ’5′ gets 4G/LTE (And the UK Networks get LTE/4G!)

  • Perroandaluz

    Well, if you are happy with your current device, why would you change it?

  • http://silicoxvalley.com person287

    Because I might be happier with a new device :) (Just not the 4S Though!)

  • http://twitter.com/guitartam guitartam

    It’s true, I admit that I was expecting the i5- and a new design, I have held onto my 3GS and am going to hold out buying to see what the 5 brings, since I hope to have all of Siri’s features plus hopefully a new “steve” design (homage to Mr. J)
    For now, I’m planning to iCloud, and add a new macBook to the house.  

    =Tamra=
    Providing business solutions for creative minds
    http://www.TamraEngle.com

  • http://twitter.com/guitartam guitartam

    It’s true, I admit that I was expecting the i5- and a new design, I have held onto my 3GS and am going to hold out buying to see what the 5 brings, since I hope to have all of Siri’s features plus hopefully a new “steve” design (homage to Mr. J)
    For now, I’m planning to iCloud, and add a new macBook to the house.  

    =Tamra=
    Providing business solutions for creative minds
    http://www.TamraEngle.com