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Apple News+ fails to bring in new subscribers despite impressive launch

 

Apple’s Apple News+ launched earlier this year with impressive initial subscriber counts, but the company has failed to bring in significant numbers since then.

Apple News+

When it launched in March, Apple News+ had wrangled more than 200,000 subscriptions in its first two days. Since then, the company has struggled to gain new subscribers, according to those familiar with the subject.

Apple News+ costs customers $9.99 a month, the same cost as Apple Music, and gives customers access to over 300 curated publications. Publications included are People, Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and paywalled versions of popular online news sites.

However, the subscribers don’t seem to be rolling in, according to CNBC. One publisher had told them his company received somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 per month in revenue, a number that was far lower than initially expected.

Interestingly enough, another publisher disclosed that while subscription revenue was lower than expected, it had brought in a different demographic of readers that skewed younger and more female. The same publisher had also said that advertising revenue from Apple News, a free news service from Apple, has consistently trended upwards.

Publisher revenue is an issue Apple is reportedly attempting to improve, with one June report indicating it is seeking input from participating publishers to tweak the service. At that time, publishers who were allegedly advised by Apple they would see ten times the revenue of Apple acquisition Texture in its first year of operation, one publishing executive claimed “it’s one-twentieth of what they said. It isn’t coming true.”

Apple News is, however, starting to pay off for some European publishers, despite the relatively small number of countries offering Apple News+. An August report revealed publishers were seeing increased revenues from being on the basic Apple News service, including some where ad impressions had tripled while revenue doubled.

A report on Thursday had claimed that Apple is including a section in deals signed, telling publishers that it reserves the right to bundle services in the future. Sources familiar with the matter say that Apple may roll out these bundles in 2020, in an attempt to get more people to subscribe. This would likely give users the option to subscribe to Apple TV+, Apple Music, and Apple News+ for one lower monthly rate.

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Apple website, Apple Music, developer services suffering from outage

 

A number of Apple’s online services have suddenly gone offline, with websites and online tools no longer accessible and services like Apple Music encountering errors when trying to stream songs.

At around 1:24pm eastern, AppleInsider noticed the official Apple newsroom was inaccessible, displaying a message advising the page “cannot be found.” Shortly after, other areas of Apple’s online existence stopped working or were unavailable.

In further checks by AppleInsider staff, Apple’s developer site also became unavailable, and the official System Status page that usually displays issues with servers is also offline. Other services are also undergoing issues, including some outages of iCloud itself.

Apple Music was also affected by the outage, with attempts to play music not downloaded to a device displaying errors. One error advised that “A server with the specified hostname could not be found.”

In the time since the discovery of issues, some services are slowly being restored, with the newsroom and iCloud back up and running, followed by the System Status page and Apple Music.

AppleInsider has contacted Apple to query about the server issues.

This story is breaking, refresh for the latest updates

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Sonos One SL and Sonos Port now available for purchase

 

Announced earlier in September, the Sonos One SL and Sonos Port AirPlay 2 speakers are now available for purchase.

Sonos Port and Sonos One SL

Sonos has released two new products for audiophiles everywhere. The wifi-enabled Sonos One SL speaker gives users a reasonably priced entry point into smart sound. The Sonos Port gives users a chance to incorporate their existing audio equipment into their smart home ecosystem.

Sonos One SL

Sonos One SL

Sonos One SL is a compact, fit-anywhere wifi speaker designed to seamlessly integrate into your life. At just over four pounds, it’s easily carried from room to room.

Additionally, it’s humidity resistant, giving it the ability to be use in high humidity spaces like bathrooms and kitchens without fear of damaging it.

The Sonos One SL is AirPlay2 compatible and works with over 100 streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify, and more. Trueplay gives users the ability to tune speakers for a custom experience within their spaces.

Multiple Sonos One SLs can be paired with each other, or with the Sonos One. The Sonos app gives users the ability to group speakers together by room and control them as needed. If you’ve already got a Sonos Playbar, Playbase, or Beam, a pair of Sonos One SLs can be used as rear home theater surround sound speakers.

The Sonos One SL does not feature a microphone, which is likely a boon for those who want a bit of added security.

The Sonos One SL is available in both white and black and retails for $179.

Sonos Port

Sonos Port

The Sonos Port gives users the ability to turn their traditional stereo systems into smart devices.

Connecting a Sonos Port allows any amplified audio system to work with Apple’s AirPlay2—stream music directly from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with Siri integration. Additionally, users can stream music from most streaming services, like Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and more.

Connecting the Sonos Port to your vinyl, cassette, or CD player will allow you to play your audio to other Sonos speakers through the Sonos app.

The Sonos Port features a sophisticated digital-to-analog converter, providing a crisp, clear listening experience.

The Sonos Port retails for $399 and can be purchased directly from the Sonos website.

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Apple Music for Android beta adds Chromecast support, radio stations

 

The most recent version of the Apple Music beta app for Android has added Chromecast support, an often-requested feature by participants.

Streaming and radio stations in Google's Android, screenshots from Android Police

Streaming and radio stations in Google’s Android, screenshots from Android Police

The streaming addition comes very nearly three years after Apple officially released the Apple Music app on the Google Play store. Similar to how Apple Music on the iPad supports AirPlay speakers, a cast icon will appear in the app and the now playing pane.

Radio has been available in iTunes for some time. At WWDC, Apple revealed iOS 13 would include support for live radio, with over 100,000 different stations around the world available for listening, with additional support for iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Radio.com.

The additions were first spotted by Android Police on Wednesday morning.

In March, analytics suggested that the Apple Music app had been installed on over 40 million Android devices worldwide. Most of those installations were in the U.S., about 28 percent. India was a distant second at 7 percent, followed by Great Britain, Brazil, and Russia and 6, 5, and 4 percent respectively.

It isn’t clear at present how many Android users are Apple Music subscribers.

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HomePod now available for purchase in Japan and Taiwan

 

Apple has launched the HomePod in Japan and Taiwan, giving Apple fans the chance to snag the smart speaker for themselves.

Apple HomePod

The HomePod is now available to purchase in both Japan and Taiwan, following an announcement made on August 15.

Buyers can pick up their own HomePod either in brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, or purchase them from select mobile phone retailers.

In Japan, the HomePod retails for 32,800 yen ($310), and in Taiwan for NT$9,900 ($315). Users can purchase a HomePod in ether white or Space Gray.

When announced, the Japanese press release mentioned popular artists such as Aimyon and One OK Rock, whose music would be available to stream from Apple Music. Also mentioned are regional playlists, such as Apple Music’s Top 100: Japan.

The smart speaker debuted in the U.S., UK, and Australia in February 2018, a half-year after being shown at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. Since then, Apple has expanded availability to China, Hong Kong, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, and Spain.

The HomePod is on track to receive some notable upgrades this fall with the release of iOS 13. The update list includes multi-user voice recognition, enhanced Shortcuts integration, and song Handoff with iPhone.

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Like Apple Music, Spotify now offers a three month premium trial

 

Spotify has extended the free-trial period it offers for Spotify Premium from one month to three, the default length of Apple’s free trial for Apple Music.

Streaming giant Spotify is now offering three free months to anyone who has yet to try their service, according to a news post on their site.

“Beginning August 22, eligible users will receive the first three months on us for free when they sign up for any Spotify Premium plan,” says Spotify in a statement about the new trial. “You’ll unlock a world of on-demand access to millions of hours of audio content—no matter when you sign up, winter, spring, summer, or fall.”

The trial period currently only extends to individual and student plans and will roll out across Duo and Family in the coming months. The trial doesn’t extend to Headspace or anyone who is billed directly through their carrier, with the exception of those in Japan, Australia, China, and Germany.

Apple has been offering free three-month trials to Apple Music since it’s inception, though they may begin limiting their trial to one month. Apple had learned artists are wary of lengthy trial periods when Taylor Swift protested the three-month trial by withholding her album 1989 from the service. The protest earned artists the ability to be paid for track and album streams through the free trial period.

Students who sign up for Apple Music can get a free six-month trial by visiting Apple’s Support Page. After the trial ends, students pay $4.99 a month to continue their subscription until graduation, which works out to be about half the price of a standard subscription.

Like most other paid music subscriptions, Spotify Premium offers users the ability to listen ad-free, download music to their device, create playlists, skip tracks, and toggle between devices when listening.

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Amazon in talks to launch free music streaming service for Echo devices, report says

 

In a bid to better compete against market competitors Spotify and Apple Music, Amazon is reportedly in negotiations to launch a free, ad-supported music streaming service that will accompany the retail giant’s Prime Music and Music Unlimited products.

Citing sources familiar with the project, Billboard reports Amazon is angling to make the as-yet-unannounced service available for free on Echo devices as soon as next week.

Like competing free-to-listen streaming services from Spotify and Pandora, ads will support Amazon’s offering. The company is initially offering to pay certain record labels on a per stream basis, regardless of advertising revenue generated in by the venture, the report said.

Beyond expectations that the service will launch on Echo devices with a limited catalog, exact programming details are unknown. Some ad-supported products allow users to search for and stream songs on-demand, while others offer a streaming radio-like experience punctuated by commercial breaks.

The service will join Amazon’s stable of music streaming products that include the subscription-based Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music, a value-added service for Amazon Prime members.

If and when the service goes live, Amazon would become the second major music streaming service to offer both free and for-pay tiers, at least for Echo owners. Segment leader Spotify currently markets an ad-supported tier used by more than 100 million users worldwide.

News of Amazon’s plans arrives about one month after Apple Music surpassed Spotify as America’s top subscription music service. In February, Apple Music hit 28 million U.S. subscribers, beating out Spotify’s 26 million for the same period.

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Apple hires artists to rework cover art for thousands of Apple Music playlists

 

Apple is reportedly hiring veteran industry artists to redesign the covers of “many thousands” of Apple Music playlists, hoping to make them look less generic.

Apple Music Dale Reggaeton

One example is Gerard Huerta, known for his custom letter work for bands like AC/DC, Blue Oyster Cult, Boston, and Foreigner. His work now adorns Apple Music’s “The Riff” and “Classic Metal” playlists, The Verge said. Another artist, Stole “Moab” Stojmenov, was commissioned to do the covers of “Hip Hop Hits” and “Northern Touch.”

For three playlists — “Dale Reggaeton,” “Puro Jefe,” and “Al Cien Con La Banda” — Apple turned to Carlos Perez. Perez directed the video for the Luis Fonsi song “Despacito,” which now has over 6 billion views on YouTube.

Apple Music

Hundreds of playlists have already seen redesigns, said Apple editorial director Rachel Newman. The rest should follow in the next few months.

When Apple Music launched in 2015 much of its playlist art was boilerplate, particularly for genres outside the mainstream, such as dark ambient. That stood in contrast with its competition, Spotify — that service has long had stylized art, if mostly photos rather than illustrations.

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How to get started with a new HomePod, and get more out of it

Apple’s HomePod starts with a simple setup and it ends with you forgetting you didn’t always have music surrounding you. In between, though, there are details to consider about that first setup and many options for when you move the HomePod to a new room. AppleInsider takes a dive into the use of Apple’s latest speaker.

If you’ve just got a HomePod then you’ll use your iPhone to set it up and we’ll show you what you need to do. Yet after that initial setup, it’s very unclear what you can do if, for instance, you move the HomePod to another room.

It’s not as if HomePods are difficult to carry around, though they are startlingly heavy. It’s also not as if you have to do anything to make a HomePod recognize that it’s been moved and should start adjusting its speakers to the new environment.

Rather, it’s that if you’ve initially identified the HomePod as being in your den and now it’s in your office, good luck figuring out how to change that label. We guarantee that across the nation there are HomePods in kitchens who are labelled Living Room and plenty of people who neither know nor care.

As long as they only use the HomePod to play tracks directly from Apple Music, that’s fine. It’s when you want to send audio from your iOS devices that it begins to be an issue. Even then, though, if you only have the one HomePod, you’ll cope. Yet it’s still a case of having to remember to choose Bedroom in AirPlay even though that HomePod is now in your study.

The problem is that HomePod doesn’t get its own app as the Apple Watch does and it’s also not found under Bluetooth the way AirPods are. Instead, it’s part of the Home app and each HomePod is a separate accessory that can be included in automation.

If you have two HomePods, for instance, you could have one set up as part of your evening routine so that at sunset, the HomePod in your den can start playing jazz. And the one in your kitchen can play some cool country. So long as you remember which one you’re asking to play this music.

However, we do get the ability to say what room of our house the HomePod is in —and we even get the option to give the speaker a name —so let’s use it.

Out of the box

Rip that HomePod out of its packaging and stumble a little as you find out just how densely heavy these little things are. Then, though, make sure your iPhone or iPad has been updated to the latest software.

Apple HomePod packaging

Apple HomePod packaging

There’s more. Your iOS device probably has all of this already set up but you need it. The device must be signed in to iCloud. If it isn’t, go to Settings, tap on your name at the top of the screen and then on iCloud.

Sign in if necessary and then scroll down to Keychain. That’s got to be switched on too.

Last, make sure that Bluetooth is switched on and also that the iOS device is on your Wi-Fi network.

This all takes far longer to say than to do. In the great majority of cases, your iPhone or iPad will already be setup for this and shortly you’re going to see just how fast Apple makes adding a HomePod.

Surface tension

In theory, you can place your HomePod anywhere you like. In practice, it’s got to be near a mains outlet. You can always add an extension socket but you’re stuck with Apple’s own cable as that’s hard-wired into the HomePod.

Apple also recommends that you leave six inches of space around it and that the HomePod isn’t pressed up against a wall.

HomePod on Wood

HomePod on Wood

We’d add that you should avoid wooden surfaces. This is not as big a deal as it appeared when the HomePods first came out, but it is possible that one will leave a white ring on the wood. It depends on how that wood was oiled but the surface can react with the silicone ring at the bottom of the HomePod.

If you happen to know that your wooden surface has been treated with a silicon type of polish, then you could place the HomePod somewhere else. If that’s the best spot, though, or if you have no earthly way of knowing what’s been done to the wood before, put the HomePod there anyway.

The worst that is likely to happen is that you will get such a ring after a few days but it can be removed by cleaning. Or, actually, you can just take the HomePod away and the ring may well disappear by itself over time.

This is fast

You’ll love this bit. Plug the HomePod into power and wait for it to chime. There’ll also be a white light that pulses on the top of the speaker. When there is, hold your iPhone next to the HomePod.

The initial setup screen you see on iPhone

The initial setup screen you see on iPhone

A popup dialog will appear showing the HomePod and displaying a Set Up button. This is the same as you get on the Apple Watch but the setup procedure that follows is, if anything, even easier.

Where are you?

The very first question you get after pressing Set Up is Where is the HomePod? and there’s a list of answers.

It only helps for identification later but pick the room you're going to put the speaker

It only helps for identification later but pick the room you’re going to put the speaker

That list includes choices such as Bedroom, Living Room, Entrance and Office. It makes zero difference which you pick as far as how the HomePod will work. Apple doesn’t automatically set the HomePod to be louder if you’ve picked the office and quieter in the bedroom, for instance. It’s solely for identification later.

So tap on one to choose it and then press Continue.

Getting personal

Next, the HomePod setup screen on your iPhone asks for a type of permission called Personal Requests. You’re going to say yes by tapping on Enable Personal Requests but it’s worth being clear about just what this means.

This page of the setup is quite straightforward about how saying yes means anyone can use this HomePod to do various things. What they will actually be using is your iPhone, they’re just talking to it via the HomePod.

So that’s why the setup says that it will allow anyone to read and send messages, and so on.

Allow Personal Requests unless you've great reason not to. It's just so handy.

Allow Personal Requests unless you’ve great reason not to. It’s just so handy.

This is genuinely one of the best things about HomePod because it means you come as close to a Star Trek-style of ambient computing as possible. Just say to the air that you want to place a call to someone and the HomePod will do it.

Yet it’s also the worst part of the HomePod because it is so specifically tied to you and your iPhone. If your partner tries to phone someone through the HomePod, it’s going on your cellular bill. Similarly, anyone can add a calendar event or a reminder but they’re adding it to you.

Add in that the HomePod is tied to your Apple Music account so it has only your playlists. Add in that any music anyone else asks it to play will have an impact on how Apple curates your weekly Favorites list, too.

Then the HomePod becomes this brilliant device for you and merely a great one for the rest of the household.

Still, you are you and this is your HomePod, you might as well get all the value you can out of the money you spent. So tap on Enable Personal Requests.

One more thing to note, incidentally. All of this using the HomePod to add things to your iPhone only works when that phone is on the same Wi-Fi network as your HomePod. If it isn’t, if you’ve switched Wi-Fi off for some reason, Siri on the HomePod will explain to you what’s wrong. Really irritatingly, though, it will sometimes explain it to you twice.

Maybe that’s covered under the next screen, Terms and Conditions, but we nod through that one just as fast you do.

Accounts and Settings

You noticed that this setup required your iPhone to have Bluetooth switched on. Everything you’ve done so far has been over Bluetooth and of course it has. There’s no control on the HomePod to tell it which is the right Wi-Fi network, let alone any keyboard to let you enter a password it.

Tap on Transfer Settings and your HomePod will pick up your Wi-Fi network, password and much more

Tap on Transfer Settings and your HomePod will pick up your Wi-Fi network, password and much more

All of that is handled by this next and final step. Accounts and Settings offers to pass details from your iPhone to your HomePod. Those details include which Wi-Fi network and what password, but also your iCloud account login and others such as your choice of Siri voice.

Tap the Transfer Settings button. You’ll hear a chime on the HomePod and the iPhone setup screen will change to show a picture of that HomePod.

When it’s done, that screen will change to one saying hello to you and the HomePod will speak. “Welcome to HomePod,” your new speaker will say. “You can’t tell, but I’m waving.”

If you can figure out why that’s gently amusing instead of irritating, you’re a better person than we are, but it is. It’s a make-you-smile moment that leads you into some training.

You’re being trained

Siri tells you that you can get the HomePod’s attention by saying “Hey, Siri”, and then it walks you through trying that out through a couple of examples.

The last example has you asking Siri to play some music, and it does. This is the moment when you’re going to realise that yes, you spent your money well. Siri will play some music based on what it believes you like from your previous Apple Music selections but if you want a suggestion, say “Hey, Siri, play Hymn Orchestrated by Midge Ure.”

It’s not such a loud song that it’s going to get the neighbors annoyed, but it will shake your floor. When you’ve jolted your head at how clear and strong the music is, say “Hey, Siri, turn it down”. Or be more specific and say “Hey, Siri, turn the volume to 20 percent.”

That’s it

Your HomePod is setup with all your details and what you won’t have noticed is that it is also setup for the specific room you’ve put it in. It’s setup for the exact position you’ve placed it within that room, too.

HomePod has scoped out the area and adjusted its speaker output to mean that you get its best possible sound regardless of where you are in the room.

Which just raises the first of several questions about what happens when you want to move rooms or make any other substantive changes.

Moving stories

If you want to move your HomePod to another part of your house or even another part of your room, unplug it and move it. When you then plug it back into power, it will automatically do its scanning to work out the best use of its many internal speakers.

You don’t have to do anything else at all. The HomePod will play music just as well in your office as in the living room, regardless of where it thinks it is.

Nonetheless, open the Home app on your iPhone. Under its Home section, there will be a button somewhere with an icon of a HomePod and the name of the room you said it’s in.

Tap and hold on that button. If you just tap it, the HomePod either starts playing or pauses its playback if it’s already working. Tapping and holding gets you a very bare screen with a small image of a HomePod and then two buttons.

Alarms is just like the alarms section of your iPhone’s Clock app and it’s where you can set new ones or see when your existing ones are going to sound.

Then there’s the Settings button and that’s the one to tap.

In the Home app, search for HomePod and then press and hold to get settings

In the Home app, search for HomePod and then press and hold to get settings

There are a lot of options within this HomePod settings app but you’re going to ignore most of them. They’re ones such as controlling how you can use Siri and what voice that will use. You’ll also find a section where you can specify whether HomePod will play music that has explicit lyrics or not.

This is one setting that was automatically taken from your iPhone so if you cared about explicit lyrics there, the HomePod already cares about them here.

Instead, the sections that you’re going to find useful when you’re moving the HomePod around are all at the top of the screen. First there’s one that just says HomePod. This is grayed-out as if you can’t edit it, but you can.

If you choose to, tap on that gray HomePod word and start typing a name for your HomePod.

Right beneath it, there’s a section called Room and on that same line there is the name of the room you’ve said your HomePod is in. Tap on that name and you get a list of alternatives.

Among the many things you can adjust there is a setting for what room the HomePod is in

Among the many things you can adjust there is a setting for what room the HomePod is in

The list is a standard one with items like Living Room, Master Bedroom and so on but it also takes all the ones you’ve ever set up in the Home.

Pick the room you’ve moved the HomePod into or tap on Create New if it’s not already on the list. When you do that, you get the option to give the room a name and also to pick a wallpaper for it.

This is moving away from HomePod-specific issues to how Home and HomeKit works so just briefly, if you assign the device to a room, you can later see it listed with everything else there.

On the main screen of Home, there is also a section called Rooms and this shows you all of the HomeKit devices room by room. It’s not the fastest system. Each room gets its own page and you have to swipe along to reach the right one.

Each room has its name at the top but to help you focus after you’ve got bored swiping, you can choose to have any or all rooms have their own wallpaper. This can mean any image you like but there’s also the option to take a photo. So if you move the HomePod into the den, you could take a photo of the den with it there.

Favorites

Back in the HomePod’s settings page, there is then a switch called Include in Favorites. In theory, switch this on would put the HomePod into Control Center. Or rather, Control Center can have a Home button and tapping on that gets you a grid of favorite devices that includes the HomePod but also, for instance, lightbulbs.

The trouble is that there’s only room for nine favorites. As the default is for Include in Favorites to be on, you very rapidly fill up all nine slots. And there’s nothing to tell you that you have.

You have to swipe down on your iPhone to get Control Center, tap the Home button and then see whether your HomePod is there. If it isn’t, you have to go back through all the devices in your Home app and switch off this Include in Favorites switch for some of them.

You can add HomePod to a Home button in Control Center

You can add HomePod to a Home button in Control Center

If you want to, that is. It is handy to be able to get Control Center and just tap to switch off the lights in the living room, kitchen and den then to switch on the ones for the landing and the bedroom.

It feels less handy to have a button to play or pause HomePod. Maybe you’ll sometimes leave the room and only remember later that it’s playing. Otherwise, skip adding HomePod to Favorites and instead just get in the habit of calling out “Hey, Siri, stop.”

Advantages

Maybe the Home app isn’t a quick one to use but if you list the HomePod in the right room, you could save time later. Say you’ve got it in your office and you’re heading there in the dark one cold winter morning. Call up the office room and you might be able to tap to switch on the lights, turn on the heating and set the HomePod playing.

It depends on what devices you have but HomePod can both be controlled by HomeKit and it can control it right back.

So it’s worth taking a moment to set all this up. Plus there is one more important part of this Home app’s setup for HomePod and it’s to do with the single best thing you can do to your speaker.

Get another one

Yes, HomePod is expensive. Nonetheless, when you’ve got one, you will soon want two. And then when you get that second HomePod, if you’re setting it up on the same Wi-Fi network as the first, it will know.

You’ll be prompted to set them up as a pair. If you do want them in the same room then you do want them as a pair.

Still, they are expensive and a single HomePod on its own is very good so you might well buy the second one for a different part of your house. In that case you would say no to creating a pair when you’re initially setting up the second one.

Later, though, you will either buy a third HomePod because these things are only as resistible as your bank account says, and you will then want to pair up two of them. Plus, if you haven’t already heard that two HomePods together sound incredible, let us be the first to tell you. Two HomePods together sound incredible.

To pair two up some time after the initial setup, go to the Home app. Press and hold on either of them to bring up settings. So long as the two are on the same Wi-Fi network, the settings page will now have an extra option.

Right underneath the Include in Favorites section there will be a new button called Create Stereo Pair.

The HomePod whose settings you’re adjusting will be one of the pair and you get to select any other HomePod you’ve got as the second. Then you can choose which is to be the left speaker and which the right, or swap them around again as you need.

It takes time

Initially you wonder if the HomePod is going to be worth the money, especially when it costs far more than rivals such as Amazon Echo. Then when you’ve got one, you hear how great it is and you get a kind of new-toy feel for a time.

Later you might add a second HomePod or you might not, but this is how you know that you’ve made a good buy. At some point you are going to be in a room without a HomePod and you’ll announce to the air that you want to play some music.

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Apple buys streaming analytics firm Asaii to bolster Apple Music recommendations, report says

 

According to an unconfirmed report published Sunday, Apple recently purchased music analytics startup Asaii in an effort to further refine Apple Music recommendations and better integrate with up-and-coming artists.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Axios reports Apple paid less than $100 million for Asaii. Apple has yet to confirm the deal, though the LinkedIn profiles of Asaii’s three co-founders now list the executives at Apple Music.

Founded in 2016, Asaii applied machine learning to the aggregation and analysis of streaming music. Using song playcount and associated data from Apple Music, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, Spotify and Twitter, the firm’s technology scoured the internet to deliver new and popular tracks to industry insiders. Like other analytics solutions, Asaii distilled and presented discovered information in an easy-to-use analytics dashboard.

According to the company’s website, which is still active as of this writing, the analytics engine leveraged real-time song data to assign an “Assai Score,” surfacing hot new artists for A&R executives. Separate products provided a newsfeed for contextualizing social media reach and a tracking module for artist management.

Asaii also marketed Asaii Recommend, an API for streaming services that powered user recommendations, generated algorithmically created playlists and more.

Asaii CEO and co-founder Sony Theakanath and co-founders Austin Chen and Chris Zhang all took positions at Apple in October.

Prior to creating the streaming analytics startup, Theakanath was a software engineer on Apple’s Special Projects Team from May 2015 to August 2016, concentrating on Core OS and iAd. Chen also worked at Apple, serving as a global operations manager for four months in 2016.

The Asaii acquisition is expected to bolster Apple Music recommendations and track discovery for end users. Sources said Apple is also looking to compete with Spotify’s RISE emerging artist initiative, which leverages the streaming music platform’s size to promote up-and-coming musicians.

Apple’s reported Asaii acquisition follows its purchase of song identification platform Shazam in December.