Tag Archives: apps

Google: Smarter ads in mobile games will be fun! No, really

Ads that pop up less often and allow publishers to offer full versions of games will make players happier in the long run, promises a Google exec.

Google is pumped up about ads in mobile games and thinks you should be too.

You wouldn’t be blamed for rolling your eyes, considering the message comes from a company that makes most of its money off advertising. But Jeff Birnbaum, head of gaming partnerships at Google, says that the smarter ads it has in mind pop up less frequently and lower the likelihood of annoying gamers. Relying on ads for revenue also means a publisher can offer you a complete game, rather than one that constantly nudges you to pay for extra lives or levels.

Birnbaum’s enthusiasm for getting Google more involved in mobile games underscores the enormous potential in the market, which was worth an estimated $13 billion last year, according to researcher PwC. While almost all of that revenue comes from in-app purchases — those levels or lives that cost you extra — Birnbaum believes advertising will start to catch up because it represents an untapped area of growth.

“We’re at a bit of a tipping point right now,” Birnbaum said in an interview last month.

The Mountain View, California, company’s push has an impact on gamers too. The search giant believes it can provide a better experience by serving you ads that target your interests.


Birnbaum points to an extreme case to show that Google-powered game ads can work in the best interests of both player and developer. When Etermax, the Buenos Aires-based creator of the hit mobile game Trivia Crack, agreed to stop sticking in commercials from any ad network other than Google’s AdMob system, it produced some helpful changes for players.

The ads were more consistent, so if players wanted to close a video spot, they would find the button to tap in the same place every time. Tapping into just one ad network also means that the game runs fewer video ads and that individual players are less likely to run into repeat viewings of the same commercial.

“Seeing the same ad all over and over again…you don’t like it as a user, you don’t like it as a publisher, and you don’t like it as an advertiser, too. It’s bad for everyone,” said Maximo Cavazzani, founder and CEO of Etermax.

Birnbaum points to other benefits, such as speed, for game players when developers use fewer ad networks. Typically, a mobile game with advertising has multiple systems feeding ads to fill available slots in the game. These vendors bid in real time to fill that opening, but the seconds it takes to determine a winner add up to the time a player must wait for the spot to load, he said.

The more ad networks that a game includes, the bulkier the game is to download and store on your device, Birnbaum added. This means the next time you’re deciding which storage-hogging app to delete so you can fit more photos on your phone, you may put in your crosshairs a game loaded up with ad vendors.

Still, game advertising is bound to be a nuisance in the way that all commercials are, said Stephanie Llamas, director of research and consumer insights at video-game researcher SuperData. The least offensive ads pop up without interrupting play, she said, but more lucrative ads are going to be more disruptive. “Advertising in mobile games is going in the direction of all advertising online,” she said. “People have learned to tune it out.”

In newly industrialized countries, though, advertising in games is particularly vital, noted Fabien Nicolas, vice president of marketing at analytics company App Annie. Up to 70 percent of game maker revenue is coming from ads in places like India and Southeast Asia, where small incremental purchases are a greater burden on tighter disposable incomes, according to Nicolas.

Even in places like the US, where games are heavily weighted to in-app purchases, pressure is building on developers to squeeze more value out of the vast majority of players who never spend a dime, according to Nicolas. “We’re going to see the makers who are really excelling at in-app purchases try to figure out how to monetize the other 95 percent,” he said.

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Windows Phone apps are disappearing from the platform — can Windows 10 turn it around?

Microsoft has struggled to make Windows Phone a viable competitorin the mobile ecosystem for more than five years now. There have been some good devices running Windows Phone, but the lack of apps has been a constant pain point that has limited adoption. On the cusp of Windows 10 coming to smartphones, Microsoft is dealing with a new problem, and it might be entirely their own doing. Developers that have previously been maintaining Windows Phone apps are losing interest, and in some cases dropping support altogether.

The latest developer to pull out of Windows Phone is the financial manager service Mint. The users of the Windows Phone app are not pleased in the least, but Mint’s position is that development resources are not infinite, and it already has Web, Android, and iOS versions to maintain. Windows Phone apparently isn’t worth the effort. This follows the end of support for apps by Pinterest, Bank of America, Kabam, and more.

Microsoft can’t blame all of this on the dominance of Android or the negative portrayal of Windows Phone in the media. Microsoft itself has often not shown Windows Phone the kind of love it should have. Implementations of Skype and Office are better on competing platforms than they are on Windows Phone, and Microsoft has removed many Lumia photography apps from the store as well. You can’t blame third-party developers for wanting to bail when Microsoft seems more interested in supporting iPad Office users than users of Windows Phone.

windows 10

There’s a chance Microsoft could turn things around with Windows 10 on phones. This will be the first universal Microsoft OS that can share apps between desktop and mobile with very little legwork for developers. And there are a lot of Windows PCs out there, many of which are eligible for a free Windows 10 upgrade. That might keep developers on-board with Windows Phone if they can easily support computers and phones with the same code.

Windows 10 will also support a method for getting Android and iOS apps running on Windows. This is a good move for Microsoft, but it’s probably also the mobile platform’s only hope. It’s not ideal either. Developers will probably port apps to Windows 10 because it’s easy, but they won’t look or work like Windows apps — they’ll work like Android and iOS apps. By making this an option, Microsoft is encouraging developers like Mint to refocus their efforts on native apps for other platforms knowing they can also port those apps to Windows 10 on phones later. Maybe it won’t work perfectly, but it’s not like there are very many Windows Phone users to complain (sorry).

Windows 10 is giving developers every possible opportunity to be part of the ecosystem, even if that won’t always offer the best experience for users. At least they’ll have an experience, right? Windows 10 is expected to start appearing on existing phones in December. After five years of Windows Phone, this might be Microsoft’s last chance.

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Minicab-booking app secures investment as it battles Uber

Minicabit, which compares rival minicab companies, receives £1.4m investment

A minicab-booking service that aims to enable the UK’s private car hire companies to fight back against the rise of Uber has raised funds from a group of high-profile investors.

Minicabit, whose smartphone app and website can compare prices from hundreds of operators to find passengers the cheapest price, has secured £1.4m from financiers including Oakley Capital and Hambro Perks.

Its expansion comes as both the private hire and black taxi industries in London attempt to deal with the meteoric rise of Uber, the American minicab-hailing app which has grown phenomenally since launching in London in 2012.

Minicabit says it saves passengers the hassle of ringing around minicab apps by allowing them to enter a route and compare prices from 700 operators. Users can then select a ride, which can be booked and paid for via the app.

As well as Oakley Capital – a major investor in Time Out, and Hambro Perks – which recently led an investment in door-to-door laundry service Laundrapp, minicabit was previously backed by O2’s start-up fund Wayra, and received offers on Dragons’ Den before negotiations fell through.

Founder Amer Hasan, the former head of apps at Vodafone Global, said he planned to use the money to expand minicabit beyond the 40 cities it operates in, and is targeting £100m in annual revenues by 2020.

It has already signed deals with venues including Heathrow Airport, whose website integrates the technology to help visitors find drivers.

Mr Hasan has been pitching minicabit to minicab firms as a way to adapt to the rise of smartphone apps, which have replaced phone calls as the way for many passengers to book journeys.

Apps such as Uber, which link freelance drivers with passengers, have shaken up the industry, letting riders hail a minicab within minutes.

Though Uber has surged in popularity in recent years, Transport for Londonhas proposed new regulations that would threaten the company’s ability to operate in the capital.

“Cab bookings are now shifting online at a tremendous pace, driven by customer demand and technology advances,” Mr Hasan said. “This latest investment can enable us to empower Cab Operators UK-wide to take full advantage of the digital revolution.”

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Google, now Alphabet, spells success with mobile, YouTube

Google is known for driverless cars, but when it comes to the tech giant’s immediate future, all signs point to mobile ads and its massive video site. Its latest earnings top estimates.

Google, reporting its first earnings as the new holding company Alphabet, said it owed its profit and sales success last quarter to having six products with more than a billion users apiece.

They are search, the mobile operating system Android, the Web browser Chrome, maps, the marketplace Play and YouTube.

But Google executives on Thursday specifically called out YouTube.

The Google-owned video giant has become synonymous with online video. Every month, more than a billion people, or one of every seven on the planet, visit the site to watch movie trailers, get makeup tips or see cute animals do something adorable.

That appetite for cat videos does more than satisfy our collective dopamine receptors; it’s also good for Google.

So much so that the Mountain View, California, company has been expanding YouTube’s offerings to get you to spend even more time on the site. On Wednesday, Google announced YouTube Red, a subscription version of the service that for $10 a month nixes the ads and gives you access to original shows and movies from top YouTube talent. In August, Google launched YouTube Gaming, a hub dedicated to video game-related content.

“The shift to video is a profound medium shift, especially in the context of mobile,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on a conference call. He said the video site has had “amazing momentum,” especially on smartphones and tablets.

The result is an ever-sprawling video powerhouse that in many ways points to the future of Google. In July, Google CFO Ruth Porat said videos kept people watching 60 percent longer than they did a year ago. On smartphones and tablets — the preferred places for advertisers, aka Google’s lifeblood — the average watch time is 40 minutes. That’s double what it was a year ago, Porat said.

On Thursday, announcing results for the quarter ended September 30, Google said it beat Wall Street expectations for sales and profit, thanks to “substantial growth” in mobile search sales. One of the biggest contributors: YouTube.

Third-quarter sales were $18.67 billion, Google/Alphabet said in a statement. Profit, after adjustments for stock-based compensation and other items, was $7.35 a share. Analysts had estimated $18.53 billion in revenue and earnings of $7.21 per share.

Investors are happy. At 3:30 p.m. PT, Alphabet’s stock jumped more than 11 percent in after-hours trading to more than $725. The company also said it will repurchase $5 billion in shares starting in the fourth quarter.

Earlier this month, Google restructured itself under a new holding company named Alphabet, part of an effort to make it easier for each unit to develop new projects, faster. On Thursday, Alphabet said it will keep reporting financial results for Google’s business — which includes YouTube, search and maps — as a single group. Other businesses, including its X research lab and device maker Nest, will be reported as a combined group known as “Other Bets.”

Still, even with the company’s outsize ambitions, it all comes back to the tiny video startup Google acquired in 2006 for $1.65 billion.

It doesn’t look like Google will slow its expansion of YouTube anytime soon. The site will be a key part of Google’s virtual-reality efforts. Last year, the company unveiled Google Cardboard, a no-frills kit made of, well, cardboard that turns your smartphone into a VR headset. In May, the company said people would be able to directly watch VR videos on Cardboard through YouTube. All you will need to do is choose the VR function from the YouTube smartphone app.

Google can use YouTube as a place to experiment with video, like trying to make it more interactive or immersive, said Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner.

“How can Google reinvent video over time?” he said. “That is going to be really powerful for YouTube going forward.”

In the meantime, what are people watching? YouTube lists the top videos of the moment here. Unsurprisingly, No. 1 is the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer, which premiered Monday night.

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Uber launches new app for drivers

The redesigned app gives drivers more incentive to pick up passengers and tips to make more money

Uber has launched a newly redesigned app – for its drivers, rather than its riders. The revamped app allows drivers to grow and manage their business more easily.

New features include a personalised newsfeed with notes from the Uber team in your local city – whether that’s Strasbourg, France or Seoul, South Korea – information on all recent rides, tips for how to maximise the money you earn and your ratings.

The app also has 4 icons: the always-on home icon provides heat maps of areas where you are likely to pick up your next passenger, even in times of low demand; the earnings icon breaks down driver income by highlighting your final take-home pay; the ratings icon allows drivers to track ratings and comments from riders over a period of time. Finally, an account icon allows drivers to manage their accounts from inside the app – this previously required logging onto a computer.

The six-year-old on-demand minicab company has more than 4,500 employees in 61 countries and is currently worth more than £32.6 billion ($50 billion). This meant testing the app in several international markets where English wasn’t always the drivers’ first language. According to Wired magazine, the Uber team began piloting the new app in Phoenix, Arizona and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the start of the summer.

The changes are designed to help drivers make extra income by leveraging the data available through Uber, and as the changes are rolled out to drivers worldwide over the next few weeks, this should mean more timely trips home for riders.

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Hulu’s virtual reality app is set for its close-up next month

Tim Connolly, the streaming-video service’s head of distribution, said Hulu’s VR experience is “ready to go” in November when Samsung’s $99 Gear VR headset starts to reach consumers.

The curtain is about to rise on the first act of Hulu in virtual reality.

The streaming-video company’s VR app will be available next month when the $99 Gear VR headset from Samsung goes on sale, according to the Hulu’s head of distribution, Tim Connolly.

“We’re ready to go,” Connolly said.

When the Los Angeles-based company announced the VR effort in September, it said the app would be available in the US during the fall season, with no specific time frame.

Hulu is one of several major digital video providers, including Netflix and YouTube, that is supporting virtual reality with content. The format has long been a mainstream curiosity seen as a niche part of technology. But VR could be hitting the mainstream, as social network behemoth Facebook throws its weight behind the format with Oculus and low-price devices like the Gear VR headset become available.

Hulu is also considering commissioning original series that are purely virtual reality without a “2D” element, Connolly said in an interview Friday on the sidelines of the New York Media Festival. Hulu is owned by traditional TV giants Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast.

The company is already dabbling in VR. It’s producing a VR short film called “The Big One,” created by YouTube creator Freddie Wong made alongside his upcoming Hulu original series. Another project is an immersive environment created to watch Hulu’s catalog of 2D video — like watching a traditional episode of “Seinfeld” as though sitting in protagonist Jerry’s apartment.

“We think this is a smart bet that helps position us as an innovator and helps us learn earlier on what could be a substantive storytelling environment,” he said.

However, most of Hulu viewing, Connolly noted, is happening where TV has always thrived: in the living room. About 70 percent of Hulu viewing is on a television, he said, either through a console, streaming device or a smart TV that directly connects to the Internet. Of that TV viewing, Hulu customers use Roku’s products the most.

But live video, a staple of TV for decades, isn’t in Hulu’s immediate future, Connolly said. “We’re in ‘if’ mode” when considering live programming, he said, saying live content isn’t a foregone conclusion. This week, Bloomberg reported that Amazon is exploring a live pay-TV service, and Apple has beennegotiating with networks to develop a similar product.

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Uber hit with lawsuit over alleged sexual assaults

The ride-hailing company is being sued after two women allege they were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers. The plaintiffs say Uber needs to do more to keep passengers safe.

Uber has been struck with a new lawsuit alleging the ride-hailing company knowingly neglects the safety of its female customers.

The suit, filed Thursday in US District Court in San Francisco, claims Uber aims its marketing at young women who have been drinking but doesn’t conduct adequate background checks on its drivers. That lapse has led to a number of sexual assaults, according to the 52-page complaint filed on behalf of two “Jane Does” who allege their Uber drivers sexually assaulted them.

“What Uber has not shared with riders is that making the choice to hail a ride after drinking also puts those same riders in peril from the Uber drivers themselves,” the complaint reads. “By marketing heavily toward young women who have been drinking, while claiming that rider safety is its #1 priority, Uber is instead putting these women at risk.”

The lawsuit alleges that Uber’s “negligence,” “fraud” and “misleading statements” led to the sexual assaults of the two women listed in the complaint. In addition to seeking unspecified damages, the suit is requesting a jury trial and a permanent injunction against Uber to overhaul its safety measures.

If successful, this case could have sweeping repercussions for the company because Uber would be forced to exert more control over its drivers, who are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. Uber is the most valuable venture-backed company in the world, worth more than $50 billion.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to order Uber to boost its safety standards by adding several new measures. These include creating 24-hour customer support hotlines in all cities in which it operates; requiring all drivers to install GPS tracking systems on their cars that would set off an alarm if deactivated; disabling child-lock features on passenger doors; and conducting fingerprint-based background checks and in-person interviews with drivers.

Uber declined to comment specifically on the lawsuit.

The San Francisco-based company has come under fire for dozens of sexual assaults allegedly carried out by its drivers worldwide. A handful of states, including California and Texas, have launched investigations into Uber, claiming it routinely fails to adequately screen drivers and has hired drivers with criminal histories.

Uber’s website says the company has “strict safety standards” and that “the Uber experience has been designed from the ground up with your safety in mind.” Before driving for the company, drivers must first pass several background checks through a third-party firm called Hirease. In the US, would-be drivers’ names are run through seven years of county and federal courthouse records, a multistate criminal database, a national sex offender registry, and Social Security and motor vehicle records. Uber says it rejects anyone who has a history of violent crimes, sexual offenses, gun-related violations or resisting arrest.

“Liability boils down to whether Uber could have foreseen the drivers’ misconduct,” said Sarju Naran, an attorney who chairs Hoge Fenton’s employment law group. “Even with thorough background checks, it is often difficult to predict if or when someone might engage in violent or other criminal acts. But with or without liability, there’s no way to avoid the reputational damage caused by these types of incidents.”

Two attacks, one lawsuit

Jane Doe 1’s alleged assault took place in Boston at around 2:30 a.m. local time on February 8, 2015, after she and her friends had been at a party, the complaint says. The Uber driver dropped off Jane Doe 1’s friends first, drove her along an off-route detour and then groped her and forcibly kissed her, according to the complaint. She managed to unlock the car door and escape.

The complaint says Jane Doe 2 was at a bar with friends in Charleston, South Carolina, on August 9, 2015, when they were picked up by an Uber driver. After dropping off her friends, the driver drove Doe 2 to a remote parking lot and raped her, according to the complaint. Doe 2 then escaped and got help.

Uber barred those drivers from its service immediately after the incidents were reported, according to a company spokesman.

“Our thoughts remain with the victims of these two terrible incidents,” said the Uber spokesman in an emailed statement. “We proactively worked with law enforcement in Massachusetts and South Carolina at the time to share information and aid their investigations. Both drivers have been permanently removed from the platform.”

Dozens of alleged sexual assaults by Uber drivers against passengers have been reported over the past year, within the US and in India, France, China and Canada.

“No woman should have to be physically violated because a company has decided to put profits over safety,” said Douglas Wigdor, of Wigdor LLP, who filed the lawsuit. Wigdor also represented the hotel maid who brought sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former chief of the International Monetary Fund. That suit settled in 2012 for an unspecified amount.

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Five ‘sharing’ businesses that are using technology to shake up their industries

The “sharing economy” is disrupting a lot of traditional industries. Here are five of the key companies that are offering an alternative to the usual business model

The so-called “sharing economy” is sweeping the world, changing the way people buy goods and services and allowing them to circumvent traditional bureaucratic systems to get what they want faster than ever.

Here are some of the companies leading the charge – and leaving a tidal wave of controversy in their wake.


A user scans for an available vehicle using the Uber app

Uber, the taxi hailing app that matches drivers with passengers via a smartphone app, has caused outrage among London’s black cab drivers and associations, by circumventing the regulatory requirements cabbies are forced to adhere to the world over – notably, acquiring permits and insurance and undergoing licence checks.

The company has faced protests from rivals and difficulties with regulators in several countries, as well as controversy over its “surge pricing” mechanism, which forces consumers to pay more during busy periods.

Now Transport for London is proposing a series of rules that would be particularly damaging to Uber. These include a stipulation that companies must not show vehicles being available for immediate hire either visibly or virtually via an app. One of Uber’s key features is a map of available drivers in the area around the passenger.


Airbnb Courchevel

Airbnb, the room letting website that lets people find and rent lodging and advertise their own properties to travellers, has aroused controversy over whether its members should be subject to hotel tax, like the rest of the industry.

There have also been complaints from across the industry about the fact that Airbnb rentals do not have to meet the standards required of professional hotels and hostels.

Other concerns include whether the properties on offer meet standards of local housing law and regulations and the security risks associated with letting a property. There have been some instances of guests stealing or vandalising properties, raising difficult questions around liability.


Mini and JustPark: a 'world first' in smart parking

Just Park, the app that matches drivers with parking spaces, allows drivers to bypass costly hourly rates charged by car park operators and enables families, schools, pubs and churches to earn a second income by listing their idle spaces online.

Though there have been controversial parking apps like MonkeyParking, which enabled users to buy and sell public parking spaces illegally in San Francisco, JustPark has been met with fairly little opposition, since it benefits all parties involved.

In 2013, some town halls began clamping down on homeowners, threatening them with fines of up to £20,000 for renting out driveways without first securing planning permission for a change of use. However, driveway rental was officially given the green light last year, after an intervention by Eric Pickles MP.


The TaskRabbit app encourages users to book helpers from their mobilesThe TaskRabbit app encourages users to book helpers from their mobiles

TaskRabbit, the service that allows users to hire others to do odd jobs for them, gives people in need of some extra cash the ability to fill as much of their idle time as they want with temporary work – from assembling Ikea furniture and scrubbing floors to making photocopies and decorating parties.

The company started with an auction-bidding model similar to eBay. However, this was ditched in 2013, in favour of a centralised system into which taskers input their hourly rates for every category that they want to be hired in.

The change prompted a storm of protest in the US at the time. However, it allows taskers set their own schedules and the geographical area that they want to work in, and TaskRabbit will match the tasks that come in to the 15 most appropriate taskers.


Food-delivery apps are nothing new, with the likes of HungryHouse and JustEat allowing people to order food online for many years. However, Deliveroo does something a bit different.

Rather than just aggregating existing food-delivery services and allowing customers to order online, Deliveroo allows people to get take-away food from local reastaurants that don’t offer their own delivery service

Once they order, the restaurant is notified via a tablet, which Deliveroo provides. When the food is ready, the restaurant summons a driver by tapping a button and the most appropriate delivery person completes the transaction. All deliveries are done on scooters and bicycles.

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Apple Music subscriptions: Time to pay the piper

The all-you-can-eat streaming service has been free for the past three months. As the first trial periods expire this week, the true test begins for the subscription model.

Apple’s first subscription service is taking off its training wheels.

The Cupertino, California, tech giant introduced Apple Music in June as its first foray into monthly charges. To get consumers to try the service, Apple offered a free, three-month trial with unlimited streaming. The first wave of trials expires Wednesday.

It’s an about-face for Apple, considering co-founder Steve Jobs vocally opposed subscriptions. Apple also has a lot to lose. It remains the king of digital track downloads, which are the primary way music makes money today. But with streaming models on the rise and downloads shrinking, Apple risked losing its crown if it continued to ignore the shift in consumer behavior.

Now that customers must either pay to continue using Apple Music or give it up, Wednesday will mark the first test of whether the company’s service has legs. Even as a free trial, the service faced criticism for its complicated interface and how it handles your music library.

The backlash started even before the service launched.

Nine days before the debut of Apple Music, pop juggernaut Taylor Swift warned she would keep her hit album “1989” off Apple Music because of a licensing loophole: zero payments during the three-month free trial. Less than 24 hours after Swift posted the message on her blog, Apple’s head of software and services, Eddy Cue, tweeted that Apple would capitulate and pay artists for every stream during the trial period.

The service also sparked a rant from one of Apple’s most vocal fans.

Jim Dalrymple is a writer who has tracked Apple for nearly two decades, most recently on The Loop blog. In a July blog post titled “Apple Music is a nightmare and I’m done with it,” Dalrymple recounted how songs in his music library disappeared as he tried to integrate his collection with Apple Music. “Adding music to my library is nothing short of a mind-blowing exercise in frustration,” he wrote.

He later noted that he recovered most of his music.

Apple Music also irritated an influential music industry commentator. On the first day Apple Music was publicly available, Bob Lefsetz, who writes a blog called The Lefsetz Letter, compared Apple to cable providers, long a prime example of American dissatisfaction with corporations. “When you make it hard to install and want me to give my credit card up front…you look like a sleazy American company, like a hated cable operation, and you make people reluctant,” Lefsetz wrote.

Music listening is only one part of Apple Music. The service introduced a blog-like social network for artists called Connect. Earlier this month, website Music Ally studied artists’ posts and found that they were occurring weekly rather than daily and that much of the content was recycled from Instagram or mundane promotional messages. “In June, Apple’s services boss Eddy Cue said that Pharrell Williams would be posting photos, lyrics and raw mixes of songs — but at the time of writing, he’s posted a single photo two months ago,” according to Music Ally.

Apple declined to comment on complaints about Apple Music. However, earlier this month an executive acknowledged that the service had its problems. Oliver Schusser, vice president of iTunes International,told UK news site The Guardian that Apple is “adding features and cleaning up certain things” in Apple Music.

Now that Apple Music is about to begin charging for its first subscriptions, where does it stand?

Based on what people say online, interest in the service has declined but reactions to it have grown more positive, according to Amobee Brand Intelligence, a marketing technology company that analyzes online reactions. Buzz around Apple Music peaked on July 1, the day after the service first became available. In July, Apple Music was the subject of 808,000 Tweets, and Twitter sentiment was 19 positive and 13 percent negative, Amobee said. So far in September, 310,000 Tweets have been 28 percent positive and 10 percent negative.

In a study last month by researcher Musicwatch, 77 percent of people who use an Apple mobile device in the US are aware of Apple Music, and 11 percent reported they were using Apple Music. While 64 percent of those Apple Music users said that they were extremely or very likely to pay for it after their free trials end, almost as many (61 percent) reported that they had already turned off the auto-renewal option.

Now that Apple is about to start charging, the company isn’t taking any more chances. This week, it started posting videos that explain how Apple Music works. The company may soon find out whether offering tutorials three months into the game is too late.

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Dash Radio: What happens when Apple swipes your mic? (Q&A)

When DJ Skee launched his startup, he didn’t anticipate going head-to-head with Apple Music’s most popular feature, but he isn’t letting Beats 1 knock him down.

At 6 feet 3 inches tall, DJ Skee isn’t often the little guy, but everyone looks small compared with Apple.

The Cupertino, California, tech giant is known for following established trends with polished products and services. What does that mean for a fledgling company that paved the way? Scott Keeney, better known as DJ Skee, said explaining his startup got a little easier, especially to people who thought he was crazy.

Skee spent a decade as a DJ for radio giants like LA’s KIIS-FM and satellite radio service Sirius XM. That was long enough for him to see what was going wrong. Too many commercials and the lack of freedom to be musically adventurous were making radio unlovable, he said.

So he quit and launched a startup a year ago: free Dash Radio, a digital network of live radio channels with a mission of expertly picking the right tracks.

“We want to bring back the magic of what live audio could be,” Skee said.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles-based Dash, Apple had the same idea.

When Apple Music launched in June with a three-month free trial, its live worldwide radio station, Beats 1, was among the most lauded features because of inventive programming and expert hosts.

With Apple Music’s first free trials due to expire Wednesday, Skee spoke to CNET about what it was like when the technology giant moved into a niche he had carved.

Q: Apple’s Beats 1 is fundamentally similar to Dash Radio, your startup. What’s that like?
DJ Skee: We don’t necessarily look at Apple Music as a direct competitor as much as, say, iHeart Radio or Sirius XM. Apple Music only has one station, and its main goal is to get people to start using subscription services. It just happens that Apple is using radio services as marketing for that.

Bob Pittman, CEO of terrestrial radio giant iHeart Media, once joked that if Apple invented radio, everybody would be amazed. Launching Beats 1, Apple made good on that punchline, in a way. Will Dash be overlooked?
Skee: Just by the media power and the spending power that Apple has, it helped educate a whole group of people who didn’t realize how magical live radio could be.

People nowadays grew up in the era of corporate radio. For the past decade or so, if you turned on the radio, you had a 99 percent chance of tuning into a station owned by one of the big conglomerates. Chances are it’s the same 20-song playlist, and there’s a 1 in [3] chance you’re listening to a commercial. About 20 minutes per hour on traditional radio is commercials. There’s so much more music out today than there was ever before, and radio never caught up. They’re still in bed with the major labels. They’re still shady. Just being honest. That was one of the key reasons I left.

Apple has launched one station that has incredible content and top artists. We still think we have that too, on steroids. Plus ours is uncensored, and we don’t have ulterior motives, like trying to sell things.

Is there anything Beats 1 is doing that makes you envious?
Skee: Absolutely, I’m envious. No. 1 is just the budgets they have. It’s the most valuable company in the world, so they can afford to hire the biggest staff ever. But I wouldn’t trade places, because they’re more limited in what they can do.

The biggest thing is censorship [of obscenity]. I’ve talked to many DJs there, including some who started off with us but were offered a huge check to leave, and they’re frustrated with that. I understand why they have to be clean: It’s Apple, they only have one station, and they don’t have any other option. We have clean stations, and we have dirty stations.

I wouldn’t trade that, even though they have all the money in the world.

A few weeks before Apple Music launched, Dash had more than a million monthly active users. Where is it at now?
Skee: It has grown. It’s been climbing steadily every month. I don’t have the exact number, we haven’t disclosed it yet.

[Dash has more than 2 million monthly active listeners, Skee said in a follow-up after the interview. Apple hasn’t discussed monthly active listeners, but last month it said 11 million people have signed up for Apple Music free trials.]

Can you characterize how Dash’s growth rate has changed since the introduction of Apple Music?
Skee: It hasn’t gone down, but it hasn’t made a tremendous jump because of Apple entering the space. We haven’t lost anybody. The time spent listening is going up steadily, almost five minutes every single month, so about 35 minutes to 40 minutes per session right now. When we launched, we were at four or five minutes per session.

You’ve talked before about how you met with Apple to give the company more insight into Dash, in the hope of App Store promotion. Then Apple executive Jimmy Iovine took to the stage to introduce Apple Music with what sounds a lot like the same pitch you made. What happened?
Skee: I don’t want to make it us versus Apple. At the end of the day, the idea is radio. We took a system that has worked for 100 years but consumers weren’t happy with, and we made it digital and made it good.

With Dash, like every app company, we want to talk to Apple, just like we talk to Google and everyone about store placement. We showed them the product early on, and we have visited Cupertino. At the time, it was to say, “Hey, we’re not competing with Beats,” its streaming service at the time. “We compete directly with iHeart, Sirius — we’re live audio.” And they were always fans.

Then when we started hearing the rumors that they were getting into broadcast, at first of course it was daunting: “Wow, Apple is going to come in, they can do whatever they want.” But even if they’re taking a little bit from the concept, it still justifies the idea. There are people over there that were over here first. I’m not mad at it. Everybody has to do what’s best for them.

We don’t think that it makes sense for one company to own every space. Now, I’m the biggest Apple fanboy in the world. I’ve had an Apple computer since I was a kid, I’m talking on my iPhone to you, I have an Apple Watch on my wrist. Yet we don’t know if we want the same people that forced U2 onto my iPhone telling us what music is.

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