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Pretty Good Hat

What I Want From WWDC; And, Entirely Uninformed Speculation About Beats

I want AppleTV to get better in the following way: multiple cross-provider playlists of favorites, things to watch, and other things I have bookmarked. This would eliminate a lot of the need for a big UI overhaul and increase TV watching quality of life a ton.

Pipe dream: an open channel service similar to Roku that would let me plug in stuff like Rdio and, dare I say, Amazon. This will never happen, of course.

Also a pipe dream: a more visually-complete iOS app that would let me truly navigate the AppleTV menus from my phone. Use case: queuing up the next episode of Rescue Bots from the kitchen without having to get into line of sight of the TV. Come on, this can’t be impossible, right?

All I really want1 for iOS is a way to select items from clipboard history. Use case: grabbing a username and a password from 1Password and then switching to a target app where I could paste them both via two operations without switching back and forth twice between the apps. Similarly for things like email and phone number from a contact, or multiple snippets from an article I want to quote. The ease and great convenience of working with the Alfred clipboard history has spoiled me.


It wouldn’t be responsible not to speculate, at this point. Here’s my Beats acquisition theory, which more or less came to me while listening to the first twenty minutes of The Prompt discussion of the value of curation on the bike at the gym. I didn’t get to finish the show, so it’s likely that my so-called original idea was discussed thoroughly after I got off the bike, but here goes:

I agree on the increasing value of curation; there’s too much music and noise to find music that I might like, and I’ve never found algorithmic you-might-like lists very useful. In my case it’s because they very rarely can tell me why I might like something.2 For this reason I’m pretty attracted to at least the concept of the Beats music service, which is promoted as much more driven by real-person music editors.

That said, making a profitable streaming service probably relies substantially on learning what consumers want to listen to, and with 1) slow uptake of iTunes Radio and 2) streaming supplanting buying, Apple was losing out on a precious resource that Spotify, Rdio and (to a lesser extent due to its newness) Beats were eating up at ferocious rates: actual listening data.3 By buying Beats, and assuming that Beats Music does gain a foothold among users, Apple gets insight into consumer preferences that was probably steadily leaking further and further out of their vision every quarter. And as we’re learning that the intent is to run it as basically a subsidiary, it maintains the brand that the Beats team have been building, one that may be a little more vibrant to some consumers than Apple. They get a big headphone business, an injection of new industrial design and software engineering expertise along with it; seems like a really strong move to me.

  1. That’s probably not all I really want, but it’s a start, and all I can think of on this sunny afternoon. ↩︎

  2. Pandora is supposed to be better at this, but I just never clicked with that service. ↩︎

  3. Worth mentioning here is, which I have to imagine has, because of its age, by far the biggest listening history database on the planet. That they’re not at the center of all of these conversations has got to be some kind of huge misstep by CBS. CBS owns; everybody knows this, right? ↩︎