Apple Loop: Taylor Swift’s PR Victory, New MacBook Pro Review, Apple Should … – Forbes

Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes a reprise of Apple Music’s dialog with Taylor Swift and other music publishers, a discussion on why Apple should remove the home key from the iPhone, the potential for a 21-inch 4K iMac, a review of the new MacBook Pro, new patents for improved location-based functionality in iOS, Apple Pay’s UK spending limit, the future of Apple Watch and the healthcare industry, and why Apple loves gold.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read our weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Taylor Swift (AP)

There Should Be A Taylor Swift Lyric Here

It’s hard to look anywhere other than the huge amounts of column inches devoted to Apple Music in the last week, and the value of the ‘free trial period’ to the music publishing industry. The issue has been bubbling away for some time, but when Taylor Swift kicked off and brought her online following to bear, that’s when things started to change. Before that point, Apple was not offering any income to publishers for the three months trial period of Apple Music. After that point… Apple is offering income.

There’s a clear win for Taylor Swift here… and a win for Apple. If you wanted to raises awareness of Apple Music, and cast Apple as ‘the good guy who comes to his senses’, this is it. The New Yorker’s Ian Crouch looks at the PR behind the story:

Flattery is a clever and effective element of diplomacy, and Apple knows how to take a compliment. By framing the reversal as having been brought to its senses by Swift’s moving words—rather than by the mounting, industry-wide pressure that threatened to overshadow the good will attached to the launch of its paid streaming service—Apple gets to lay claim to the blandishments offered by the most popular singer in the English language, and act like the “historically progressive and generous company” that Swift says it is, worthy of all of her due respect. Cue called Swift personally to give her the news. He told Billboard, “She was thrilled and very thankful.” Thanks, Apple. You’re welcome, Taylor. xoxo.

Following this, Swift has said that her latest album (’1989′) will be available to stream.

Details of everyone’s deals are not public (although there are indications that 0.2 cents per streamed track will be the going rate), but a number of smaller publishers are now coming on board. Billboard looks at the reaction of one group, Beggars:

Beggars is the unofficial standard-bearer for the indie community. Its leader, Martin Mills, who built the company from the ground up and is a tireless advocate for the independent music community has, until now, stood firmly opposed to Apple’s offer…. Beggars comprises four labels – 4AD, XL, Matador and Rough Trade – and has had a big hand in the careers of AdeleRadiohead, the ProdigyArcade Fire and many others.

Beggars, by the way, are now signed up to the streaming music service.

Apple Music goes live on Tuesday June 30th, and we’ll have a closer look at the service next week. In the meantime, Forbes contributor Ian Morris wonders if Apple Music will kill the music labels?

The thing is, the music industry always had something of a point when it came to people sharing music and not paying to download tracks. But the biggest threat to the industry isn’t people stealing music, it’s their being rendered irrelevant by a company like Apple.

Apple Should Remove The Home Key

Lots of discussion this week over potential improvements to the technology behind the screen and digitiser used by Apple that could allow TouchID to be part of the screen and not the home button. In which case does Apple still need to have the home button? I argued that Tim Cook should ditch it as quickly as possible:

First of all, the removal of the home key would be a bold statement from Apple. It would show the company is still willing to change its most successful product line by removing features that may be loved, but can be easily replaced. The iPod Mini was the most successful MP3 player when it was halted – and while it was immediately replaced by the first iPod Nano the decision was still taken to kill the Mini when it was at its peak.

The home key is pretty much the given way of doing things in the mobile world. If Apple has a better way, why not kill the home key? Dare I say it, it would show that Apple is still able to  ’think different’, and still capable of innovating new ideas and solutions for smartphones.

Read my thoughts and reasoning here on Forbes.

OSX Beta Hints At New Retina Display 21-inch iMac

Following on last week’s discovery of support for an on-screen keyboard suitable for the iPad Pro lurking in the beta of iOS 9, the beta of the next version of OSX 10 (El Capitan) has given up another secret. The code supports a new retina display resolution of 4096 x 2304 pixels. This is not present in the current code for OSX Yosemite, as Mark Gurman writes:

Likely destined for a refreshed version of the 21.5-inch iMac, which currently does not have a Retina display, the new El Capitan beta references Mac support for a new 4096 x 2304 resolution Apple-made display panel. While the larger, more expensive 27-inch iMac is offered with a 5K display, it could make sense for the smaller screen to be upgraded to a 4K resolution.

The code also suggests Apple will be using a new Intel graphics chipset and four new AMD Radeon processors. With the OSX update on course for a public release in late September, it would be a fair bet to assume that a 4K iMac could be available by Christmas.

New MacBook Pro Reviewed

Dom Esposito has sat down with the latest MacBook Pro, to put it through its paces for 9to5Mac. He found it to be a machine he’s happy to have around, but do be aware of two points. The first is that Esposito ‘tricked out’ the Pro with a lot of extras, and this is still a Haswell chip architecture machine… those looking for a true ’next generation’ MacBook Pro will need to wait for the ‘Skylake’ architecture from Intel.

It would be silly to say that Apple’s latest iteration of the 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best MacBook yet, because that’s mostly the truth with every new model. Unfortunately, you won’t find a shiny new processor setup this time around, as Apple stuck with the trusty old Haswell configuration, but there are some nice improvements here.

The good news is, there’s a bump in clock speed across the board if that matters to you and we have a new GPU setup thanks to AMD in the high-end model. Even with these modest upgrades, the MacBook Pro I purchased is a beast for content creation…

You can read the review (and watch the accompanying video) here.

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