When Apple Music Matches Its Own Music Incorrectly

Since the early days of iTunes Match, and then later with Apple Music and iCloud Music Library – now called simply Cloud Music Library – there have been issues with tracks added to your library not matching correctly. Here is one example from 2015, when I added a big collection of music by Frank Sinatra to find that it matched as eight different albums.

I recently added a new collection of music by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark called Souvenir. Looking in the Recently Added section of the Music app, I see this:

Omd souvenir

Night Café contains one track, The Punishment of Luxury contains 13 tracks (including the first track twice), and the other edition of the same album contains two tracks.

What apparently happens when you add music from Apple Music to your library is that it then gets matched; in other words, it gets added from the cloud, then the Music app tries to match it. Even though the metadata on the original album is correct, the matching process, which uses acoustic fingerprinting, re-matches tracks with different albums. In some cases, these are the original albums, in others, different collections.

But this doesn’t make sense. Since I haven’t downloaded those tracks yet, why are they being matched again? And why incorrectly? As Apple Music tracks – this information is in the files – why would anything change which albums they come from?

This is one of the more frustrating issues with Apple’s music could, because you simply cannot trust it to match your music correctly. The fact that it happens to Apple Music tracks is really quite odd, because those tracks should never change. This is one of the reasons why I still refuse to put my personal music library, which is carefully and precisely tagged, in the cloud. I use my second Mac to store my cloud library, and add some music from the main library on my iMac. The fact that Apple consistently makes this kind of mistake befuddles me.

The iPad is an ergonomic disaster for traditional computing work, and needs full pointer support right now – Revert to Saved

“From day one, the iPad to me never felt like a device purely for consumption. As half the tech industry fell over itself to claim you could ‘never do real work on an iPad’, I saw everyone from artists to technicians doing real work on an iPad. What people really meant was that the iPad didn’t have a full version of Microsoft Word, because that is the only ‘real work’ in the whole world. Or something.

That said, I’ve always wanted to do more work on an iPad than I actually do. The big blocker for me has always been interaction. Simply put, the iPad is an ergonomic disaster for long-term ‘traditional’ work.”

I’ve been thinking about this recently, especially because of the many problems in macOS Catalina. I’m suffering from tech fatigue lately: I’m tired of having to troubleshoot so many problems. My iMac, since I upgraded it to Catalina, is very unstable. I still can’t use CarPlay in my car because something in iOS 13 broke it (or because there’s corruption in my iCloud account; I’m waiting for Apple to get back to me). It seems that every day, there’s a problem with an app, with authorizations to access files on the Mac, with some hardware device not being compatible.

The iPad is the ultimate thin client, and it eliminates a lot of these headaches. I have friends who lament the iOSification of macOS, but I look forward to things working more smoothly. It’s not that iOS is perfect, but that its limits make it a lot easier to work with.

But as this article says, the iPad is not ergonomic. I’d been considering getting Apple’s smart keyboard folio for my 11″ iPad Pro, but at £179, it’s really overpriced, and the position of the device isn’t ideal. What I want in a keyboard for an iPad is the ability to place the device in portrait mode. This is possible with this Logitech keyboard, but a friend who has many keyboards says that the touch isn’t right. It’s not expensive, so I may try it anyway.

But Apple needs to consider the longer term use case of the iPad. Not everyone will be able to work with it handheld, and placing it flat on a desk is very bad ergonomics. I’m not sure what the solution is – it’s certainly not in making bigger iPads – but Apple would do well to try to solve this.

Source: The iPad is an ergonomic disaster for traditional computing work, and needs full pointer support right now | Revert to Saved: A blog about design, gaming and technology

Use Half-Star Ratings in macOS Catalina’s Music App

The macOS Catalina Music app, which replaces music functionality from iTunes, offers two ways of rating your music: you can either use stars or “loves.” The latter binary option suits people who only want to flag their favorites, but the five-level option for stars is for those who like more granular judgments of their content.

You can go further; you can use half-star ratings as well. To do so, open the Terminal app in Catalina (it’s in /Applications/Utilities), paste this, then press Return.

defaults write com.apple.Music allow-half-stars -bool TRUE

You can then apply half-star ratings by carefully clicking on the stars when visible. If you click on the left side of a star, that counts as a half star; if you click on the right side of a star, that gets recorded as a full star.

If you want to turn this off, run the following command in Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.Music allow-half-stars -bool FALSE

The PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 53: Focus Stacking

You can control depth of field in a photo using narrow apertures, but what do you do when that’s not enough to get everything in focus? For macro and some landscape photography, the answer is focus stacking, a technique that blends several images shot at different focal lengths. Kirk and Jeff talk about how it works and when you’d want to use it.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The PhotoActive on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 104: Getting Ready for Catalina

Josh and Kirk celebrate the two-year anniversary of the podcast, and discuss getting ready to upgrade to Catalina, with tips on how to ensure that your upgrade will be smooth, and the most efficient way to upgrade your Mac.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Where the Catalina Music App Stores Album Artwork

When I updated my iMac to Catalina yesterday, I watched as the Music app slowly display album artwork. I have about 4,000 albums in my library – this is all local music, I don’t use Cloud Music Library on this Mac – and it took a couple of hours for the Music app to go through all the files and display the artwork.

But I couldn’t find where it was stored. In the past, there was an Album Artwork folder in the /Music/iTunes folder in the home folder. While that folder is still there – and isn’t needed any more – artwork is now stored in a different location.

But I couldn’t find it at first. I was looking for a folder around the same size; my Album Artwork folder was always around 4-5 GB. The new path for artwork is:

~/Library/Containers/com.apple.APMArtworkAgent/Data/Documents

For me, this folder is less than 1 GB, which is why I couldn’t find it previously. Interestingly, this folder no longer contains files with the extension .itc, which only a few apps could read, but the files are now the original .png or .jpg files that I added to my music files (or that came with purchases from the iTunes Store).

macOS Catalina: Use Your Apple Watch to Enter Your Password and Authenticate

You have been able to use the Apple Watch to unlock your Mac for a couple of years. In the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences, you can check a box to allow this to occur. When you’re wearing your Apple Watch, and it’s unlocked, pressing a key on your keyboard or clicking your mouse tells the Mac to look for the Apple Watch to authenticate you. This was the single feature that got me back to using the Apple Watch a couple of years ago after having worn the device off and on.

Now, in Catalina, this goes one step further. If you have turned on the above setting, you can use your Apple Watch to enter your password when you need to authenticate to perform administrative tasks. For example, if you want to delete files in the system space, applications installed via the Mac App Store, or access secure preferences panes, you must enter this password.

Now, you’ll see a dialog like this:

Unlock with watch

Double-press the side button on your watch, and, boom! It’s done. This will save a lot of time when performing this type of operation, and it allows you to create a more secure password, because you won’t need to type it as often.

Note that on a Mac with Touch ID, this latter technology seems to overrule the use of the Apple Watch. Here’s what I see on my MacBook Pro:

Unlock with watch touch id

I guess this makes sense; it defaults to the closest method of authentication available to the device, and using Touch ID is even a bit quicker than using the watch.

Use Timed Lyrics in the iOS Music App to Sing Along to Your Favorite Songs

I’ve always liked having lyrics available when I listen to music. I don’t look at them often, but there are times when I want to know exactly what the words of a song are. Sometimes when I’m listening to Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row, and want to be precise. (I still haven’t memorized all the lyrics; but it’s more than ten minutes long.)

A nifty new feature in the iOS Music app is Timed Lyrics. When a song offers this, you see the lyrics, each line highlighted as it is sung.

You’ll probably see this in the Music app the first time you play a song that offers the feature, if you have your iOS device’s screen on with the Music app up front.

Timed lyrics1

Tap the Lyrics button at the bottom of the Music window and enjoy.

Timed lyrics2

How to Export an XML File in the Music App in macOS Catalina

iTunes was long able to create an XML file, which was a readable dump of its library file, so the apps could access information about your library. This file was also useful to have as a backup; if your iTunes Library file got corrupted, loading the XML file could allow you to recover your library.

In the macOS Catalina Music app, you can no longer have this file created automatically, but you can create it manually. This can be useful if you’re a DJ and want to use it with software that hasn’t been updated to use the iTunesLibrary framework, or if you just want to have a backup of your library.

To do this, choose File > Library > Export Library, name the file, and save it.

Xml file

Again, there’s no way to automate this, but if you do need the file to use with a DJ app, you can just dump it before your set.