Will Apple do for streaming radio what it did for podcasts? The company did make it incredibly easy for people looking to create their own customized audio experiences, after all. And how much do those other services (Pandora, Slacker, Spotify et al.) need to worry now? Time will tell, but with the arrival of iTunes Radio last week, 11 million people went to check it out. Like those other radio streamers, you can use the service on your mobile devices, you can use it on your computer and it’s all very easy to have a steady flow of music whenever you want it.
If you’re at all curious but don’t know where to start, check out Apple’s guide to iTunes Radio. If you’re already an iTunes user, it’s a fairly pleasant addition to the overstuffed program. (If you’re happy with a different streaming radio service, never mind.) At any rate, iTunes Radio might actually be useful for some people and it’s already more interesting than Apple’s last attempt to get social with music.
This week JD takes a listen to Apple’s new iTunes Radio service and breaks it down for us; Pedro wrestles with a rare tie-less day in the studio; and gives us his observations on everything from “Breaking Bad”, iOS 7 and the updated edition of JD’s book, “iPad: The Missing Manual”. In the news New York State goes after fake online reviews; LinkedIn gets sued for allegedly hacking user accounts; Microsoft debuts new Surface tablets; Blackberry throws in the towel; iPhone sets a sales record for their new smartphones; Google’s Gmail service slows to a crawl; Valve announces their own Linux based OS; and Adobe updates their consumer photo apps to eliminate the dreaded “Pet Eye”. (Stop frontin’, you know you wanted it…)
Are your playlist powers in a rut? Your music mojo feeling a little weak as you keep coming up with unexciting variations on the same old cardio workout theme or commuter mix? (Seriously, that’s enough with the “Call Me Maybe” on everything. Yes, you.) So if you want to perk up your playlists and get new ideas for songs and mixes, here a few suggestions:
- Many people like to publish their work as inspiration for others. You can find many a sample playlist online on Pinterest or sites devote to the art of the mix, like 8tracks, mixtaple.me and playlist.com. (Mashable has tips for using many of these sites here.)
- If you’re looking for workout mixes, check out fitness Web sites for ideas — FitBottomedGirls.com and Shape magazine’s online site are just two places that have some playlists to inspire.
- On-Demand Music services, which you can join and explore also give you access to music you may not be familiar with and knock you out of your slump with fresh tracks. Grooveshark, Hypster, Spotify, Last.fm, Pandora, Slacker Radio — they’re all out there.
- If you use iTunes and you’re feeling lazy, you can also use Apple’s Genius feature for making playlists automatically by algorithm. You basically click a song in your iTunes library that you want to use as a foundation for the playlist, click the Genius icon and let Apple do the mixing work for you. You can also edit or redo the results if you don’t like what you get.
- If you like the idea of automation, but want more control over what tracks go into the mix, you can use the Auto Playlist feature in Windows Media Player or the Smart Playlists option in iTunes to tell the software what you want to hear. Once you make a new auto/smart playlist, you can tell the program what you want on it with a series of pop-up menus or text fields. You can pick tracks you have rated 3 starts or higher, use songs from a specific time period, factor in beat-per-minute and have your music program search your library for songs that meet all or some of your pre-defined criteria. The SmartPlaylists.com site, which is geared toward iTunes users, has more ideas and we’ll have links on how to use the Auto Playlists and Smart Playlists features on your show page. And remember, for this to work, you need to have really good tags in your music files.
You can also find playlist-making advice over on Lifehacker and Yahoo has a roundup of free online playlist sites. And if you just can’t think of a good name for your poppin’ fresh new mix of tracks, you can get help with that part, too, over at the Playlist Name generator site. The titles may be a bit on the goofy side — Warm Popcorn, Accidental Design, Whimsical Flesh and Insidious Sweater are just a few samples — but hey, you saved some brain cells not having to think too hard about it.