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All posts by Adrianc

Spotify Upgrades Family Plan (6 Users for $15)

Spotify has announced today that they’ll be upgrading their Family Plan for all users (excluding Canada) to a new $15 a month plan for up to 6 users. This matches their competitor Apple Music’s promising Family Plan. Saving users significantly over the months.

As a Spotify Family Plan member myself I was previously paying $25 USD a month for 5 users plus myself. Now I save around $120 a year for the same plan. The Family Plan includes separate accounts for users to use so that you can have your own playlists, saved songs, and so on. While access to over millions of songs in Spotify’s library.

In a very competitive music streaming space pricing & exclusivity seem to be the big factors in users choice. Now with Spotify matching Apple’s family plan it could incentivize more users to either switch, stay, or upgrade their account on the platform.

You can read the official announcement on Spotify’s blog here & sign up for the Family Plan here

Google’s Home to Compete w/Amazon’s Echo

Today marked the start of Google’s I/O developer conference. One of the many announcements included the introduction of Google Home. Their wi-fi speaker/AI built to compete with devices like Amzaon’s Echo & Echo Dot. These speaker assistants can do various things from playing music to updating you on the weather, traffic, and so on. The ability to connect to smart devices also allow you to control certain devices from lighting to a coffeemaker depending on your setup.

Google Home will be the first big hardware competitor to Alexa Amazon’s assistant. The Home sports a much more compact & playful design. Options available to replace the speaker grill to a color of your choice. All of course powered by the search engine that is Google.

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The Home will connect via wi-fi to your network & allow you to stream music via a variety of services & apps. All while offering the ability to trigger the assistant with the “Okay Google” keyword. Aside from having advanced voice recognition technology Google’s Home also has the ability to understand context something Alexa is still improving on. Asking a question & following it up with something relevant to what was last asked is where the Home shined in the demo.

Now this product was only announced at I/O in order to get developers to start working on various apps & connections that can be made. No official word on release date other than later in the year & pricing. However it’s no question that this will directly compete with Amazon’s Echo. Just like the Echo the Home interconnects with various devices around your house from Google. You can easily stream audio from the Home across to your Chrome cast connected devices either at your choosing or all at once.

The device looks promising however Amazon has definitely been pushing out updates over time to keep the Echo relevant over time & more and more smart devices are supporting it. We’re expected to see this sometime in fall in regards to pricing & more solid details in it’s capabilities.

Chance the Rapper third mixtape “Coloring Book” available for streaming

Coloring Book is artists Chance the Rapper’s third official mixtape that has been highly anticipated for 2016. The mixtape can now be streamed as of now officially exclusively on Apple Music. Time will tell if it will be released across other platforms such as Spotify. Coloring Book features a wide arrange of features from Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and Future to Justin Bieber, T-Pain, and many other artists. Spanning across 14 tracks the Hip-Hop/Rap mixtape is certainly one that’ll be on peoples streaming rotation for the weeks to come.

In initial listening the album has a very gospel like vibe similar to that one of Chance’s idols Kanye. With two tracks both named “Blessings” it’s not necessarily hard to tell. Further the Chicago based rappers performance on “The Tonight Show” had the choir in full effect for the song.

Stream the mixtape now via Apple Music & if you aren’t a member keep in mind there’s a free 3-month free trial & 50% off plans for students so take advantage while you can!

Instagram’s New Flat UI

Instagram has been quietly testing out it’s flat UI for some users over the last couple weeks & it has made it’s way in a formal update today.

The new app icon is the first thing you’ll notice sporting a rainbow like color scheme. As Instagram puts it

Today we’re introducing a new look. You’ll see an updated icon and app design for Instagram. Inspired by the previous app icon, the new one represents a simpler camera and the rainbow lives on in gradient form.

More importantly the UI of the app itself has changed to an all new flat design. Sporting a simple black & white color scheme with flat buttons. The aim to simplify the design while maintain the same navigation as far as UX goes. Everything is still in the same place with a more simple look in order to allow focus on of course what matters most the content.

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Personally the app icon itself takes more adjusting to then the app design itself. Gone is the brown hue & camera we’ve grown to know on our homepage. However one thing  I’ve always appreciated about Instagram is the simplicity, surely theres been multiple features added over the years but the content is still front & center. What do you think about the all new minimal UI? Love it or hate it let me know.

 

Apple Music Introduces Student Plan for $5

Apple Music is Apple’s music streaming solution to the very populated market. Be it Spotify, Tidal, or Google Music there’s no shortage of services. On top of the overhaul news that is expected to hit WWDC Apple Music has received a couple more updates today in order to entice new users.

A student plan will offer 50% off the monthly subscription, coming it at just $5 a month for access to hundreds of thousands of songs. This will last students up to 4-years of the 50% discount regardless or not if they cancel in between. Meaning you can re-use your address intermittently to get the discount.

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The aim is to make the service more appealing to students while saving them a considerable amount over the years. So if you haven’t heard Drake’s Views album yet & have been holding out on a Apple Music subscription thus far & have a .edu address now’s the time to take advantage of it.

Apple’s 2016 Macbook Rose Gold Update

Apple has quietly pushed out a 2016 update to their Macbook line. Bringing faster hardware to the same sleek Macbook design & adding in the famous Rose Gold (Pink) color to the lineup.

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Aside from the shiny pink I mean Rose Gold look all aesthetics are about the same port & dimension wise. The update brings changes internally, mainly that of the CPU & GPU. Adding in the new generation of Intel-M processors (namely the M3, M5 & M7). Further diving reveals that they’ve expanded the battery ever so slightly to produce longer life & small enhancements to hardware such as the PCI controller & DRAM speeds.

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The base model starts at $1,300 & can go upwards of $1,600 depending on your configuration. Real time results wise you get a 20-25% speed increase & almost 40% performance on the GPU side of things. By all means this isn’t going to make your previous Macbook obsolete. Ram capacity, hard drive options, and everything else is basically the same. However if you are already in the market for a Macbook there’s no better time then now to buy based off the recent refresh. This isn’t a powerhouse but for lightweight usage & basic video & photo editing task the Macbook performs decently.

However the update in itself is nothing surprising. More of a refresh but even at that your still stuck with just one USB-C port & outside the Intel changes the exact same hardware options. There was a lot wrong with the last gen Macbook & this simply gave it a speed bump without addressing the major issues. If you know what your looking for & what you’ll get out of this mac then by all means however I feel Apple could’ve waited on this one to push out a more substantial update.

 

 

 

Amazon’s Leaked Kindle Oasis

The upcoming Kindle that was announced by CEO Jeff Bezos a couple weeks back has now leaked to the net before official launch. Speculated to be called Kindle “Oasis” the popular e-reader looks to provide a better one handed experience with its new design.

The design which features an interesting take on the Kindle. Essentially adding a big handle to the it, this is meant to make one handed use much easier & convenient but as they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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The supposed Oasis has a side profile similar to that of a trackpad from Apple or Logitech while the actual specs are said to be a screen of 300ppi & improved battery life. There is no set word on pricing & full specs just yet but from the looks of it we’ll see a better screen, new hinge like design to accommodate easier reading with one hand, and two physical buttons to navigate through pages & the Kindle interface.

What are your thoughts on the rumored Oasis? We’re likely to see an official release this month however as of now Amazon has declined to comment on any rumors/speculation related leaks.

 

 

The Case for the Subscription Model in the App Economy

Smile Software makers of TextExpander made a big announcement recently with regarding the pricing of their shortcut snippet software. The update sparking a conversation regarding the subscription model & it’s place in our app economy.

Essentially TextExpander pricing goes as follows:

$4 monthly/$48 Yearly (Annual Plan)

$5 monthly/$60 Yearly (Monthly Plan) 

Team plans & existing users get a discount to help save.

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The reaction to this has been very mixed some users in support of a tool they use everyday while others claim they’re basically getting charged more & not essentially owning the software. Now Smile is doing this in part to as they say free users of the upgrade treadmill & of course profit more in this model.

The feedback here however is interesting. The subscription model in itself is nothing new & has been around the internet for quite some time. Be it internet dating, music services, you name it. Though this day in age where we can buy an app with a tap of a finger the subscription model is being widely adapted. The argument of willingness to pay upfront for software or over time in a subscription model has it’s benefits & drawbacks. Paying upfront means you know what you get & you own the software for the most part. You pay more initially but if the tool at hand is something you use often then it’s worth every penny. A subscription model would disperse that payment over time & of course if you decide to stop using it you simply stop paying.  This model however can add up overtime. It’s also bills to worry about every month versus a one time payment.

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The bigger question here comes to that of worth. What is the app in question worth to you?  I think of my own subscription services & what I qualify as things I use often enough to justify a monthly subscription. Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix, HBO Go, are just a few examples. All services I use on a consistent basis & serve as the entertainment factor in my life. They save me money when I consider the cost of let’s say buying albums on a frequent basis or renting/buying TV shows. So in that case I find it highly worth it. These are also services that have been for the most part a subscription service from the start. Text Expander’s issue is that it’s been a tool that people have been gladly paying for. Despite paid upgrades & new versions people were loyal customers. It’s only in changing to a new model that requires a change in that, creating uproar. Now redefining how we see the app & it’s usefulness to us on a daily basis. Especially when there’s cheaper & similar alternatives to said app.

So the question comes what qualifies as a worth subscription model for you? An app, service, donation platform. The technology we use is changing & ways developers & companies gain revenue from it is changing to. If the tools & services we use are integral in our daily lives then the dollar value & what we’re willing to pay should reflect that. However it’s also key to realize that the consumer has a vast amount of options from cheaper to free nowadays beyond that there are some who simply can’t afford more monthly expenses. There are times where the case makes sense say the Adobe suite for example where rather than paying hundreds of dollars your paying twenty per month of use.

There’s a balance to be found in this system & the ever evolving app-economy. Both from the consumer & developer side of things. Until then we either give our business where we see fit or take it elsewhere. Leave your thoughts & opinions in the comments below or drop me a note on Twitter!

How To: Use Your SiriMote on a Mac

Thanks to Matthias of EternalStorms for sponsoring DigitalDojos & making this weeks content possible. Aside from his free-ware EternalStorms offers a great suite of paid apps that are all worth taking a look at!

Arguably one of the best things about Apple’s most current Apple TV is the all new Siri remote. From it’s trackpad to the glossy form factor the all new Siri remote is a convenient way to navigate the TV OS. So why let that experience stop at the TV. SiriMote allows you to connect the bluetooth based remote to any mac that supports bluetooth 4.0 & is on El Capitan 10.11 or newer.

The SiriMote utility is completely free & allows for basic control over media functionalities throughout not just OS X but 3rd party apps as well.

Download SiriMote

Video Overview:

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SiriMote is highly useful when it comes to controlling media on your mac. Whether your listening to music on iTunes or watching movies on VLC. The app outlines a method for connection as simple as enabling bluetooth & pressing two buttons. From there your guided through the interface of SiriMote as it pertains to OS X. Noting that you cannot actually use the swipe functionality on the new trackpad just yet however all other buttons work fine & replace a common media key such as play/pause, next/forward, previous/rewind.

I personally think the utility is great for instances where you use the mac as a media server like platform. As someone who has a library of content for my iMac SiriMote is convenient as the new remote is all bluetooth based so no having to worry about IR signal or line of sight when it comes to controlling. I can be away from the desk in a chair or what have you to simply control the media. SiriMote however controls more than just media, another use case for me lies in the ability to control presentations. With support for Keynote or PowerPoint you can easily go through slides which I find handy for when I’m pacing the room & practicing my slides. This could obviously be used in a full presentation mode & allows you that extra flexibility & freedom from the mouse/keyboard.

All in all SiriMote acts as a simple bridge to connect & use your brand new SiriMote alongside your mac for free. Keeping in mind the Apple even sells the remote separately via their site if your ever interested in picking up the remote by itself sans Apple TV (Though I’d recommend just getting both at the price point). So if your looking for a simple & free way to connect your remote to your mac look no further than SiriMote.

Yoink Overview- A Drag n Drop Shelf for OS X

  My thanks to Eternal Storms Software for sponsoring DigitalDojos this week. Eternal Storms Software houses a suite of OS X & iOS apps that make everyday life easier. Productive tools from Yoink, ScreenFloat and their free-ware app SiriMote will change the way you use your mac.

 Yoink is an app that is far better displayed then explained on paper. A drag n drop shelf for OS X users that changes the way your work & interact with files on your mac. The app retails for $7 on the Mac App Store or try a free demo via their site. Check out our full video overview to see it in action!

Video Overview:

The great thing about Yoink is it can be used in a variety of scenarios. For me recently it’s become even more essential given my smaller screen size I’ve been working on. The idea of Yoink is that it offers a tucked away menu that you can easily interact with by dragging & dropping files you interact with on a daily basis or per project. Freeing your mouse from having to drag files across the screen & across apps. The best example I can give is for those who work in fullscreen app environments. Whether your editing photos on photoshop, videos on Final Cut Pro X, or what have you. You can of course swipe between fullscreen environments with gestures or click on the Finder window & be thrown around or you can use a solution like Yoink. Take all the files your using & drag n drop them into your Yoink bar.

After that you simply go into your app of choice of when you need said files simply toggle your Yoink bar & drag the files in as needed. Again this is great because you can take files from your desktop or finder windows & stash them all in a place that is always accessible no matter what you doing in OS X. No need to find the correct Finder tab, file, or group of files when it’s all stashed in Yoink.

 

Yoink Options:

Matthias at Eternal Storms made the Yoink options super simple & to the point which is something I enjoy about the app. You can tweak it to your liking & adjust to whatever workflow you may have.

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Windows Position (Set Yoink bar position on your screen be it left or right)

Windows Size (Adjust the size of the Yoink bar from 3 files to biggest, smallest, or automatic)

Preferences allow you to tweak other options & behaviors of the app, such as controlling quick look preview options for files & so on.

 

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There’s a good amount of options to adjust how Yoink looks & acts based on your preferences.  You can have files stacked together when you are working with multiple lets say videos or photos for a project, or have them spread out depending on the option you prefer. This app truly changes the way I work when it comes to video editing projects in ScreenFlow & Final Cut. No longer do I have to constantly switch between windows or find certain files that may or may not be in one location. I simply take a couple seconds dragging and dropping the files I’m working with & just get to work. Saving me arguably the most important resource, time.

So if your looking to save time & improve your own workflow by simply putting that much more power in your drag n drop actions then look no further than Yoink. There’s no right or wrong way to use it. Treat it as your temporary shelf for a permanent home for the files. Organize your files with a simple click n drag, free your mouse up & get to work.