Apple

Sonos gets AirPlay 2 Support and Affinity Designer Comes to iPad

It’s an exciting day for users of Apple products today. Two announcements that caught my attention are highlighted below...

Affinity Designer Debuts on iPad as a Full-Featured Graphic Design Tool – MacStories:

Nearly one year ago, Serif released Affinity Photo for the iPad as a full-featured photo editing powerhouse. Unlike what companies such as Adobe do, where a Mac app like Photoshop is broken down into less powerful versions on iOS, Affinity Photo was brought to the iPad with no compromises whatsoever. Today, that same philosophy is bringing us Serif's second major iPad app: Affinity Designer.

Where Affinity Photo focuses on photo editing, Affinity Designer is a vector-based illustration tool. And with full support for the Apple Pencil, iOS 11's drag and drop, and system technologies like Metal, the app looks like the ultimate portable design studio.

For a limited time, Affinity Designer is available at a launch price of $13.99, 30% off the regular price of $19.99.

I have long been looking for something like Adobe Illustrator on the iPad. I have been very happy with OmniGraffle for designing seating charts, posters, flyers, and other graphics on iOS, especially because it syncs flawlessly to its Mac counterpart. For $13.99 I am going to be very tempted to give Affinity Designer a spin. Download it here.

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Next up, Sonos!

Sonos Adds AirPlay 2 Support to Certain Speaker Models – MacStories

Sonos announced today that it has added AirPlay 2 support to compatible speaker systems. The update allows users to stream audio to the company’s Sonos One, Beam, Playbase, and the second generation Play:5 speakers from iOS apps that support AirPlay 2 of and from iTunes on a Mac.

I recently purchased a HomePod and have been looking forward to pairing its audio with my existing Sonos Playbar in the living room and Sonos Play:1 in the bedroom. Jason Snell wrote a great post for Macworld that gets into the all the details about how all of these different smart speakers play together.

Sonos update adds AirPlay 2 support | Macworld:

Perhaps most impressively, all AirPlay 2 speakers can play music in perfect synchronization. If you’ve got a HomePod or two and a compatible Sonos device, you can now select all those devices and play music through them, entirely in sync. Even better, if you’ve got incompatible Sonos devices and place them in the same group as an AirPlay 2-compatible Sonos device via the Sonos app, those speakers will also play synchronously. I was able to get music to play in sync throughout my house this morning, via a paired set of HomePods, a Play:5, and the (incompatible) Play:1 in my bathroom.

My two Sonos speakers are incompatible. So I can’t get too excited unless I buy a new Sonos One or Play:5. I do need one of these for the basement but it is a steep price to pay. Furthermore, it is a bummer that the old speakers cannot be controlled individually through the Apple home app, only as a group with a compatible Sonos.

I can bypass this problem in the living room, where my TV (with Apple TV attached) is running its audio through a Sonos Playbar. AirPlay allows a phone to send audio to an Apple TV on the same network, so if I want to control the Playbar individually, I just send audio to the living room Apple TV its attached to. The bedroom will be a different story, through I cannot imagine that many scenarios where I will need separate music or volume control in the bedroom and basement.

 

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Music education apps on iOS that I would love to see come to the Mac

From Macworld...

iOS apps that need to be on the Mac | Macworld:

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has a great track record of reporting Apple scoops, wrote a few months ago that Apple was working on a new approach to app development that would let developers “design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware.”

Accepting that Apple could change direction at any time and that this project—code-named Marzipan—might not even be announced this year, it’s an intriguing possibility. Obviously iOS has a much more thriving app store than the one on the Mac, so if Apple could make it easier for iOS developers to deploy their apps on the Mac, it might help the platform thrive. Merging the approach to developing apps on Apple’s two platforms also may make sense in light of the report that Apple may be replacing Intel processors with Apple-designed ARM processors in future Macs.

A lot of rumors and speculation, to be sure. But let’s go back to the root premise of this entire story: The Mac could be improved if it was much easier for iOS developers to bring their apps over. Which got me thinking, what iOS apps do I use today that I wish were on my Mac?

I have been giving this a lot of thought since reading Bloomberg's report. I think this is a big deal. In music education, a lot of useful apps are iOS only. I would die to have the utility of some of them on my Mac. Here are a few examples.

Tonal Energy Tuner: This may be my most used rehearsal tool in the band room. I constantly have a drone and or a metronome running in the background while my students play. The problem is that my Mac is my device that is usually plugged into the mixer at the front of the band room. I would be able to much more efficiently manage TE alongside my Keynote slides and iTunes library if it were piping audio through the same speakers and had support for tactile keyboard shortcuts.

forScore: forScore is one of the only apps I use exclusively on iPad. The form factor of the tablet is perfectly suited to it. That being said, there would be times where it would be easier to manage files in bulk if there was a version for Mac that I could open up and drag stuff into. This, of course, would assume that a forScore library would sync across devices. This is something it currently cannot do (which is good because it is one of the only things keeping me from buying a second, smaller iPad).

Tempo and Tempo Advance: There is a shortage of good metronomes on macOS. There are a lot of good ones on iOS. For the same reason that Tonal Energy would rock on a Mac, so would Tempo. And nothing like Tempo Advance exists on Mac.

I would imagine that Marzipan could work the other way around, making Mac apps easier to develop for iOS. If this were the case, I could do an entire second blog post on Mac apps I would love to see on iOS. Logic Pro, are you out there?

Road Trip!!! Off to the Tennessee Music Educators Association Conference!

 

I am pumped to be spending the next four days in Nashville to present at the Tennessee Music Educators Association Conference. I am presenting three sessions tomorrow, Friday, April 13th. One of these sessions is brand new and focused entirely on teaching intonation to student musicians with the support of the Tonal Energy tuning app. Scroll down for links to all of my session notes.

Road Trip!!!

My wife and I are making a road trip out of this event. In addition to eating and drinking our way through the city over the next few days, I am excited to be seeing old friends and new. Tomorrow night we will be seeing the Nashville Symphony Orchestra performing a program of Elgar, Mozart, and Bach. I will get to watch a friend of mine from grad school, Joshua Hickman (Principal Timpanist), performing with the ensemble.

I will also get to meet friend, Craig McClellan, in person for the first time. Craig has an awesome education/technology blog called The Class Nerd and has been a recent regular on my podcast. (Listen here and here).

Craig and I may or may not have a very special project we are cooking up for teachers later this year...

Session Notes

Here are the session notes for my three sessions. Check them out!!!

Going Paperless with iPad (April 13, 9 am)

Working with Digital Scores (April 13, 10 am)

Teaching Intonation with Tonal Energy (April 13, 3 pm)

iWork Updates Bring Professionally Drawn Artwork, New View Options, and More

iWork Updates Bring Professionally Drawn Artwork, New View Options, and More:

Today Apple released updates for its entire iWork suite across iOS and macOS. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers each received several improvements, some of which are shared and others of which are unique to certain apps.

The most significant update found across all three apps is that over 500 professionally drawn shapes have been added for use. These shapes span a variety of categories, including: Objects, Animals, Nature, Food, Symbols, Education, Places, Activities, Transportation, Arts, People, and Work.

So much to love here. iWork apps have received some hate from die hard Office users over the years but feature updates like this one remind me what I love about Apple apps. They are just so nice. I can see myself using these new shapes, much like I use many of the Keynote templates for my presentations, on a regular basis to make my documents more rich, beautiful, and professional.

Apple Power Users Rejoice!

Another topic I intended to blog about months ago and have been sitting on throughout the spring.

The Mac Pro Lives!!!

John Gruber wrote a great post at Daring Fireball recently outlining Apple’s plans for the future of their desktop computers.

The Mac Pro Lives:

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them.

This is fantastic news. No matter how late Apple is releasing this machine, or how late they are in realizing that they need to release this machine, it is good for everyone that they are releasing it. I own the 2008 Mac Pro. I love it, but I don't think I will buy another desktop Mac in the near future just because my needs have changed so much since 2008. But Apple making a modular pro level machine gives me hope for the platform. It means that creative professionals will be able to rely on Macs as their primary workstations for years to come. It also means that Apple is committed to macOS, an operating system that I have a lot of affection for and rely on to perform high level tasks and operate professional music software. This really is good news for anybody who loves the Mac, whether you need something like a Mac Pro or if the MacBook Air is enough for you.

This, in combination with Apple's recent acquisition of Workflow, lead me to believe that Apple really cares about putting powerful tools in the hands of their users, both traditional professionals who use Mac Pros, and edge case iOS power users.

Apple Acquires Workflow!

I am still playing spring catch-up. A lot has happened in tech over the winter and early spring, a lot of it I wanted to write about but was lost in them sea of band concerts, assessments, conferences, and the like.

This one was very exciting for me...

Earlier this year, Apple acquired iOS productivity app Workflow (Download Link). You can read the general details of that acquisition here.

MacStories has a great write up of what this could mean for both Workflow and Apple here.

Workflow is one of the only reasons I can use an iPad to get work done. It is a standout app and anyone reading this should immediately stop and go download it from the App Store now that it is free. Workflow is at the core of a number of tasks I do on my iPad that are essential to teaching band on a daily basis. I wrote about it in my book, Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers. Actually, one of the workflows I am most proud of including in the book is made in Workflow: by tapping a single button, a clean copy of a student seating chart is copied and exported into the Notability app where I can annotate it on half of the screen while I read my scores in forScoe on the other half of the screen. These annotated seating charts are later archived by date and used to help me remember information about my students and generate weekly rehearsal participation grades.

It's hard to say what this Apple acquisition could mean. I think the best case scenario is that the Workflow will get deeper access to the features of iOS, allowing even more powerful automations, perhaps even being rebranded "Automator" like the macOS app that functions similarly. Time will tell. In the meantime, go download Workflow!

Great iOS 11 concept video

Check out this expertly executed concept video of features that Federico Viticci hopes will come to the iPad in iOS 11. 

I use my iPad for getting work done more and more everyday. There are still a lot of hurdles in the software for getting work done. I think Federico has done a great job illustrating how some of these problems could be solved in an elegant way that doesn't confuse the intuitive nature of iOS. 

I will loose my mind if Apple announces a file management feature anything like the Finder demoed in this video. Apple's developer conference kicks off with a keynote at 1 pm on June 5 where they are expected to announce next years iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS feature updates. Announcements of some hardware products, including a Siri powered speaker to rival the Amazon Echo, are also rumored to appear. 

Syncing Feeling

Jason Snell over at sixcolors.com describes a few grievances with a new feature in macOS Sierra that syncs the contents of your Mac's Desktop and Documents folder across all of your devices and optimizes storage on the device by moving files that have not been opened recently to the cloud. In particular, there are problems with syncing package files associated with professional software, even including Apple's own Logic and Final Cut Pro!

Syncing feeling: iCloud Drive in macOS Sierra:

With any luck, Apple’s hot on the case of fixing the bugs. Perhaps the teams in charge of Apple’s pro apps are working on coordinating project files a bit more aggressively. And I suspect that I might be a little responsible for this new Apple tech note, which suggests that if you’re using a pro app, you should move your projects out of synced folders or turn off Optimize Mac Storage.

Yep, that’s Apple saying that people who use pro apps should just turn off or avoid using a major new feature of macOS Sierra.

Unfortuantely, all to many signs today point to the fact that Apple is

a. not thinking about the pro user.

and

b. releasing buggy updates to their cloud services that create caution amongst users as to whether or not they should trust iCloud with their data.