Tag Archives: Apple Music

Apps for Autism Awareness Month

By Tracey Dowdy

 April is Autism Awareness Month, and there’s no better time to celebrate the diversity and strength of the autism community.

Over the years, there’s been much misinformation surrounding what causes autism – there’s no one cause –  and possible cures – there is no “cure,” but behavioral treatments and interventions can be highly effective for many autistic individuals.

Autism is considered a “spectrum disorder” because it presents such a wide range of characteristics. A common saying within in the autism community is, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” In other words, two individuals, even within the same family, can present with different behaviors, challenges, and strengths. Ask any parent of an autistic child, a physician, or mental health professional, and they will tell you there is very little that is typical or predictable about autism.

Friends Brady and Nathaniel are both on the autism spectrum, but like any neurotypical friends, have distinct personalities, challenges, and gifts. Brady, diagnosed with Autism/PDD-NOS at two and a half, was non-verbal until he was nine, but is now a great conversationalist and lights up every room he walks enters. Nathaniel was diagnosed with Autism, ADHD Combined TypeSensory Processing Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder at three years old and knows more about Pokemon than anyone you know. Both boys have learned how to manage the sensory overload and anxiety that they struggle with, enabling them to continue their education with goals of getting a job and the possibility of some kind of independent living.

When asked what apps are most valuable for supporting both the autistic individual and their families, these apps are highly recommended by parents, caregivers, and individuals with autism:

Find My Family, Friends & iPhone – Life360 Locator Life360 Locator is great for children and teens with autism. An intuitive tracker app to keep family, friends, and caregivers connected, the app works across mobile devices. When you open the app, family member’s locations are immediately visible, eliminating the anxiety of not knowing when your child at home, work, or at school, and allowing them to check your location at a glance, so they know when you’ll arrive to pick them up.  You can set alerts, send private or group messages, and even send a quick “check-in” to alleviate any concerns about personal safety. (Free)

Amazon Music, Spotify, or Apple Music  – “Nathaniel uses Amazon Music daily to help manage his anxiety, prepare for transitions, and to stay on task with chores. Allowing him time to listen to music while completing chores results in much less grumbling about doing them. He will listen to a three-minute song to make sure he has brushed his teeth long enough.” No matter which platform you choose, music is a powerful tool to assist with transition, distract and redirect during meltdowns, and cheer an otherwise troubled heart. Amazon Music comes as part of your Amazon Prime Membership, Spotify can be bundled with Hulu with additional discounts for students, and Apple Music allows you to set up a Family Sharing plan. (Prices vary by service)

Time Tree –  Mobile phones have native calendar apps, but if you need to go one step further, Time Tree a collaborative calendar app for Android, iOS, is an excellent option. When you set up the calendar, the app asks what it’s primary use will be – personal, family, friends, work, relationship, or group use.

Each category is clearly defined so you can make the best choice – the relationship calendar is made for two people to share, so it’s ideal for managing your child’s schedule and tracking appointments. You can create multiple, color-coded calendars within the app and events are displayed in an overlay providing an overview of what’s on your schedule any given time. (Free)

Proloquo2Go – Symbol-based AAC – Proloquo knows that “Not being able to speak isn’t the same as having nothing to say. The app is a full-featured augmentative communication application (AAC) that offers picture only, picture and text, and keyboard options for non-verbal or individuals with verbal communication challenges. The app uses natural sounding male, female adult or child voices, and the keyboard and picture/text grids can be used for sentence building. The buttons are SymbolStix images, however you can customize the pictures to make it an even more personalized tool. (iOS – $249.99)

Choiceworks – Choiceworks is a picture-based learning tool to help individuals stay on task and complete daily routines, chores, or schoolwork and helps them understand and control their emotions, improves their waiting skills, and empowers them to make right choices. It’s useful for assisting with transitions during the day or at bedtime and offers useful resources for re-directing anxiety and de-escalating meltdowns. The app allows users to create an unlimited number of schedules and practice waiting by using the “wait screen” that displays a timer counting down the amount of time left, and offers suggestions options for what to do while they wait. (iOS $6.99)

Peppy Pals Sammy Helps Out (Preschool), The Social Express II (Elementary), Sit With Us (Teen) – Each of these apps teaches empathy through age appropriate social learning by encouraging inclusion and acceptance for all individuals. Not only are they useful for individuals on the spectrum, the apps are particularly useful for neurotypical individuals who may be unfamiliar with autism and the challenges it presents as well as the abilities and gifts of these individuals. (Prices vary by app/available across platforms)

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

The Music Industry Resets – Again

By Tracey Dowdy

It will come as a surprise to exactly no one if I say streaming – not downloading – is the future of music.

Streaming isn’t new. When Pandora launched back in 2004, it was one of the first streaming sites to use algorithms to create personal radio stations matching your musical tastes and preferences. Over the years others, like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music, have joined the game and now, for the first time, streaming services have edged ahead of downloads in income generated.

When the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) released its 2015 year-end sales report, analysts noted that the music industry earned a whopping $7 billion in revenue last year. Streaming services generated $2.4 billion, or 34.3 percent, of that revenue, with downloads coming in second at 34 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, physical music sales (CD’s and vinyl) brought in a solid 28 percent, perhaps in part due to the resurgence in popularity of vinyl.

“In 2015, digital music subscription services reached new all-time highs, generating more than $1 billion in revenues for the first time, and averaging nearly 11 million paid subscriptions for the year,” RIAA CEO Cary Sherman said. “Heading into 2016, the number of subscriptions swelled even higher — more than 13 million by the end of December — holding great promise for this year.”

So what does that mean for your music library? Is it as obsolete an 8-track tape? Well, yes and no.

Streaming may have surpassed downloads last year but only by a narrow margin. The music industry still generates significant revenue through downloaded music and it’s unlikely that will change any time soon, particularly when top artists like Drake, Taylor Swift and Adele are factored in.

When Adele, one of the industry’s top selling artists refused to make her last album “25” available on Spotify and Apple music last year, she explained her decision to TIME. “…for me, all albums that come out, I’m excited about leading up to release day. I don’t use streaming. I buy my music. I download it, and I buy a physical [copy] just to make up for the fact that someone else somewhere isn’t. It’s a bit disposable, streaming.” She isn’t alone. Taylor Swift pulled her album “1989” and her back catalog from streaming services and wrote an open letter to Apple to ask them to review the compensation paid to artists.

Despite this, consumers have demonstrated a preference for subscription services over ownership of a particular song. According to Forbes Magazine, Spotify has seen roughly 8 million Apple users move to its platform. As a result, Apple had to get onboard with streaming to mitigate the lost income. Of course, using streaming doesn’t generate the income downloading brings, but it’s more than Apple would see if they allowed users to defect to Spotify, Tidal and Pandora and didn’t offer their own alternative.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

What to Expect from iOS 9.3

By Tracey Dowdy

Apple released the beta version of iOS 9.3 to developers in early January and those with access are starting to roll out their reviews. These are some of the features that are generating the most buzz as we wait for a final version of 9.3 to be released in the coming weeks.

As a chronic insomniac and someone who uses my phone or iPad later in the evening than I should, Night Shift has definite appeal. Going beyond “night mode” (white text on a black background vs. black text on a white background), Night Shift changes the colors on your display to “to the warmer end of the spectrum,” thus reducing the amount of blue light that tricks your mind into thinking it’s still daytime. Night Shift will kick in at sunset and turn off at sunrise based on your location. It’s likely to be an optional feature as there are obviously times you need to be awake and alert after dark.

Notes isn’t new but going forward it will be password or fingerprint protected, giving your memos an added layer of security. Apps like Evernote and Day One have offered this feature for awhile so it’s nice to see Apple catch up.

I have never been a fan of the News feature. Consequently, it’s in a folder labeled “Stuff I Never Use” on my phone only because it’s native and I can’t delete it. Apparently I’m not alone in my opinion. Apple has responded by redesigning News with features like inline video that allows you to watch without exiting your feed, landscape capabilities through the iPhone version, and more intuitive content in For You.

Likewise, HealthKit, another feature that hasn’t taken off the way Apple hoped it would, has been revised. Originally designed as a framework for all the third-party health related apps we use, iOS 9.3 will recommend HealthKit apps to install related to Weight, Workouts and Sleep. It will also include a section for Reproductive Health, something that was noticeably missing from previous versions. If you use an Apple Watch, it will also integrate the move, exercise, and stand data that’s collected.

CarPlay users will now see New and For You in the Apple Music app, and Maps now supports Nearby so you can easily locate gas stations, restaurants and parking.

The education features may be the most significant of all the updates and changes. Schools that use iPads in their classrooms will get an Apple School Manager portal to allow teachers, administrators and support staff to “easily reset passwords, audit accounts, create IDs in bulk, and create customized roles for everyone in the district.”

Teachers will now be able to see what their students are looking at on their individual iPads, as well as the ability to lock apps via Remote Control to help students stay on task during a lesson. Students can look forward to a new shared iPad feature that allows access to their unique content and lets them pick up right where they left off.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Getting the Most Out of Apple Music

By Chantal Bechervaise

Apple’s streaming music service, Apple Music, arrived Tuesday. It is Apple’s long-awaited response to other streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora. Apple Music is available for download via the iOS 8.4 update for mobile devices and it’s also available for your desktop (Mac or Windows).

After you download Apple Music and open it for the first time, you will be asked if you want to go with the three-month free trial offer or jump right into your own music. If you say ‘yes’ to the trial offer, you will automatically be billed $9.99 per month after the trial expires. You can avoid the automatic billing by going to your Apple account settings and turning off the auto-renewal feature.

For You

When you first log in, Apple Music will ask you for your music preferences and tastes. You simply select different genres from the bubbles on the screen. It will also scan your music library to see your preferred artists. After this is complete, the For You tab will recommend some custom playlists. You can further refine what For You recommends by tapping on the heart when listening to music. This will enhance your personal algorithm and will continue to improve the playlists and other content that’s presented.

New

This section offers the latest and most popular albums and songs. The default screen offers weekly selections from each musical genre chosen by Apple editors. You can also click on ‘Hot Tracks,’ ‘Recent Releases’ and ‘Top Songs’ across all different styles of music and narrow down the results by selecting different genres. The New tab also offer playlists curated by Apple editors such as ‘BBQing,’ ‘Breaking Up,’ ‘Studying’ or ‘Partying.’

Beats 1 Radio 

Beats 1 Radio is probably one of the most interesting features of Apple Music. It offers Sirius XM type radio stations, which makes it stand out compared to some of its streaming competitors. Beats 1 offers shows by Zane Lowe, Dr. Dre, Elton John, Pharrell Williams, Drake, Q-Tip, St. Vincent, Ellie Goulding, Jaden Smith and others. The downside to these radio-style stations is that they are not available on demand so you have to listen to them live.

If you don’t want to listen to stations with live DJs, then you can scroll past the Beats 1 section and select from a variety of music stations organized by genre. Or you can ask Siri to play the top 50 songs from the year 2000 or any other playlist and your music will start playing automatically.

Connect

Another interesting Apple Music feature is called Connect. It’s a social platform that allows artists to interact with their fans by posting content and comments. By default, you automatically follow artists that are in your music library and are also on Connect. This new feature will continue to be free after the trial period. It will be interesting to see how Connect grows, particularly as lots of artists already have large followings on other social networks.

Have you tried Apple Music? I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions. Please leave a comment below.

CBechervaise67Chantal is located in Ottawa, Ontario. She is passionate about everything related to the World of Work: Leadership, HR, Social Media and Technology. You can read more from Chantal at her TakeItPersonelly blog or follow her on Twitter @CBechervaise.