As much as I think the Apple Music user interface is still a total jumbled mess, I do think there are also a few features that Apple should add as it simultaneously cleans up what’s already there. A big one for me is the potential for private, collaborative playlists and streaming radio stations.
What Apple Music currently has, as far as users sharing music goes, is the ability to share a playlist, station, album or song from within the app via email, third-party apps or copying the link to share elsewhere. But once sent to someone, the person only receives a link to open the shared selection in Apple Music. It works, but it’s not exactly taking full advantage of the potential for user collaboration and a truly interactive experience that ties together the various social aspects of the service.
The new sharing features could be twofold. First, the ability to have collaborative playlists that one or more other people could contribute to. That’s a feature that some competitive services, notably Spotify, already have, but I’d like to see Apple take it a step further with the ability to create not just collaborative playlists, but private, custom radio stations that stream in real-time…
Instagram is rolling out an update today for its iPhone app bringing two major new features, including a redesigned Explore tab and improved search functionality. The company said the updates will “help connect our community to the world as it happens,” or in other words, a more real-time experience thanks to new trending Tags and Places within the Explore tab.
With more than 70 million photos and videos posted to Instagram every day, wherever something is happening, chances are you can see it here. Whether it’s behind the scenes at the NBA Finals, on the runway with the latest fashion trend at a favorite club with a local band, people are capturing moments large and small on Instagram. But, until now, there’s never been an easy way to find these moments.
On top of the new trending tags and places in Explore, the company said it will be adding curated collections of images based on various themes, such as specific people or places, and featuring content from across the network.
The updated Explore feature is first rolling out to users in the US as part of the 7.0 update for iPhone that also adds improved search functionality:
For everyone on Instagram, we’ve dramatically improved the ability to find what you’re looking for. With the new Places Search, you can now peer in at just about any location on earth, allowing you to scout out your next vacation spot in the South Pacific, get a look inside that hot new restaurant or experience your favorite music festival — even if you couldn’t make it this year. The new Top Search also lets you search across people, places and tags all at once.
You can grab Instagram version 7.0 for iOS on the App Store now.
The Weather Channel brings real-time alerts for rain, snow, & lightning strikes to Apple Watch & iPhone
The Weather Channel app is today bringing new real-time alerts for rain, snow, and lightning strikes to both iOS devices and the Apple Watch.
For rain and snow alerts, the app will be offering up what the company says are “exact, to-the-minute timing of when rain or snow will start based on their GPS location,” while the app will also notify users of lightning strikes nearby with a new lightning map layer.
The Weather Channel® today announced the launch of real-time rain and lightning alerts on iOS, Android and Apple Watch. In the app, users can set up fully customizable notifications based on personal preferences so they receive the exact alerts that are relevant to them, whether they are at home or on-the-go. By combining the most accurate forecasts and weather data from The Weather Channel with real-time notifications, users have the information they need to get outside, stay safe and make the most of the weather.
The Weather Channel app, which just received an update for Apple Watch support over the weekend, is available on the App Store.
ESPN is launching a new app today called ESPN SportsCenter, which actually replaces the old ScoreCenter app with a redesign and all new features. The app does much of what the old app did, offering real-time updates on scores for the biggest sporting events of the day, as well as breaking news, analysis, notifications, and more. You’ll also be able to add your favorite teams to customize your experience and the new app introduces a new Favorites feature for quickly accessing news and scores for the teams you want to keep up with most often.
The new ESPN SportsCenter app also includes a new Clubhouses feature that includes all content for every team and league, an Inbox for getting personalized content such as news and alerts, and enhanced game pages that feature “New native sharing and one-click GameCast access.” Also new in the app is ESPN Now, a feature that lets users get real-time scores and updates from social networks.
In addition, the new SportsCenter app has been given a number of enhancements to search and overall performance.
The free ESPN SportsCenter app is available for iPhone now.
What’s New in Version 4.0.0
– ScoreCenter is now SportsCenter
– Speed: Faster than Calvin Johnson going deep
– Favorites: Your team news and scores in an instant
– Clubhouses: Content central for every team and league under the sun
– ESPN Now: Your one-stop-shop for real-time scores and social updates
– Inbox: A dedicated home for personalized content from news to alerts to scores
– Enhanced Game Pages: New native sharing and one-click GameCast access
– Search: Easily navigate to teams, leagues, and sports to view content or add to favorites
Google announced today on its Google Maps blog that it’s finally tapping into the talent and technology it picked up with its acquisition of Waze back in June by integrating real time incident reports from Waze into Google Maps. The new integration means that when Waze users report incidents for everything from accidents to road closures, Google Maps users on both iOS and Android will now be able to benefit:
Users of Google Maps for Mobile will now benefit from real time incident reports from Waze users. This means when Wazers report accidents, construction, road closures and more on Waze, the updates will also appear on the Google Maps app for Android and iOS.
The features will initially be limited to users in certain locations, including: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, UK and the US. In addition, as Google first hinted back in June, the company will also be integrating Google Search into the Waze apps on iOS and Android, while the Waze Map Editor now has access to Google Street View imagery:
Sprint announced today that it will now be offering its Wireless CapTel service to iOS device users, enabling the hearing impaired to read “real-time word-for-word captions” of conversations on their iPhone, iPod, or iPad.
Wireless CapTel by Sprint users place a call in the same way they would when using a traditional phone – by dialing the number directly on the device. The revolutionary application then connects callers directly to the CapTel service when the phone is dialed. When the receiving party answers, callers can listen to what the other person is saying and also read captions on the phone’s display screen.
Incoming calls will be routed through the service as well for users with a CapTel by Sprint number, allowing customers to receive the real-time captions for every conversation. Previously, the service was only available on select Android devices, including the LG Optimus G, HTC Evo 4G, and Samsung Galaxy SIII, and a few others.
Sprint is making the functionality available through a free app available on the App Store, and the service available for free to users on an Everything Data plan.
You can get a look at how the service works in the video below:
Apple details Waze-like crowd-sourced route ratings and incident reporting for real-time traffic alerts in Maps
According to a new Apple patent application published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider), Apple is looking into new mapping features that would integrate real-time, crowd-sourced traffic and navigation data through ratings and user reporting.
At first glance the features appear to be similar to those included in the community-based mapping app ‘Waze’, which is one of the reasons that Google just acquired the company last month. The patent application, titled “User-Specified Route Rating and Alerts,” describes a system for users to “provide ratings for routes, streets and/or locations.” In other words, users can rate a suggested route when getting directions in order to provide crowd-sourced feedback to Apple and in return Apple will provide the most efficient and accurate routes to other users based on the ratings:
Particular implementations provide at least the following advantages: Route determination is improved by accounting for real-world considerations and concerns of travelers. Real-time user-generated alerts allow for faster and more accurate notification of events within proximity of a user that might hinder the user’s progress as the user travels… In some implementations, rating database 110 can store information related to users’ ratings of routes and/or locations. For example, a user of mobile device 102 can interact with navigation engine 104 to provide ratings for routes and/or locations. The ratings information provided by the user can be transmitted to navigation service 106 through network 114. Navigation service 106 can store the ratings information in rating database 110 and route engine can determine routes based on the ratings information stored in rating database 110.
Apple also walks through a process of gathering user-generated alerts for routes including accident reports, road closures, etc. Apple plans on taking all the alert and route rating data and providing it to other users in real-time to improve route directions. In other words, if your device is detected to be in the same location as a user-generated alert, Apple will be able to push that alert to your device or suggest an alternate route based on the incident that’s been reported: