There are two ways to choose a ringtone for your phone. You can either choose one of the default ringtones available, or you can get personal, and choose something musical (or not) that expresses your personality. If you go the latter route, you can buy ringtones, and the iTunes Store is happy to sell you one.
But you may want to make your own ringtones using music you have. Using music from CDs that I’ve ripped, I’ve made several ringtones. One is for standard calls, and the other is for calls from friends or family, and I’ve got another for Messages.
There are many ways to do this, but I’m going to show you one using an app that I like called Fission. This $32 app is a great audio editor, which is fast and easy to use, and which doesn’t convert your audio files. If you want to edit an AAC or MP3 file, you’ll work with that file, and not have to convert it to and from a different format. You can also use it to edit FLAC and Apple Lossless files, or even convert among different file formats. This is called non-destructive editing.
Much of what I use Fission for is to split, edit and trim files, but it’s great for creating ringtones, and can even add them directly to your iTunes library. Here’s how it works.
First, find a song or other audio file you want to use for your ringtone. Make a copy of it first, so you don’t edit the original. If you want to use a song in your iTunes library, right-click it and choose Show in Finder or Show in Windows Explorer.
Launch Fisson, then drag the file onto its window. You’ll see the file’s waveform.
Next, find the section of the music you want to use as a ringtone (you may want to use Fission’s zoom slider at the bottom left of the window to find the precise spot where you want this to begin or end). Ringtones can only be up to 40 seconds long, so make sure to choose something no longer than that.
When you’ve found the part you want to use, you can trim the song with Fission. Click at the beginning of the section you want to use then drag to the leftmost end of the window. The selection will take on a white background.
Press the delete key to delete the highlighted section.
Go to the end of the bit you want as your ringtone, click, then drag to the right end of the window. Press the delete key. You’ll now have a 40-second or shorter bit of music. Play it in Fission to make sure it starts and ends correctly.
Next, choose File > Save as iPhone Ringtone. Fission will process the music, change its file type, and add it to your iTunes library. You’ll find it in the Tones library. (If you don’t see this, choose iTunes > Preferences, then check Tones in the Show section.) You can sync it to your iPhone, or even to other iOS devices to use as tones for alerts.
That’s all you need to do. You can make as many ringtones as you like, from just about any format music file. Feel free to try different ringtones and see which work best for you.
iTunes Radio has been around since mid-September, and record labels are starting to get their first royalty statements. I’ve seen numbers from a number of labels, and they’re edifying.
iTunes Radio is only available in the United States for now, with other countries coming soon, so the user base is much lower than it will be in, say, a year. Rumors suggest that this service will hit other shores sometime in early 2014.
So, how much do record labels earn? Here’s one example, from a mid-sized classical record label, with a fairly extensive back catalog. Classical music is certainly less popular on iTunes Radio, so it’s hard to apply this to pop music; This might match a small pop label’s numbers. (I’ve altered these numbers slightly, keeping the same amount per play, so the label cannot be identified.)
For 500,000 plays, the label earned a total of $350. The data they get shows plays per track, and one track had around 10,000 plays, for a total of about $7. One album accounted for 70,000 plays, presumable because it was featured on one of iTunes’ curated radio stations.
It should be noted that this is money paid to record labels, not artists (performers, songwriters, etc.). Just as Spotify does not pay artists directly, this money is divvied up by the record labels. They keep part, as owners of the recordings, and pay part to performers, as well as to copyright holders for works not in the public domain.
Even if iTunes Radio usage increases drastically, and this label gets, say, 5 million plays a month, they’d still only earn $5,340 per month, minus costs paid out to performers and/or rights holders.
For the label used in this example, it’s safe to say that, after they’ve paid out everything that they don’t keep, their monthly payment is likely to be less than their accounting costs to manage it.
iTunes offers a lot of options for smart playlists. You can choose to make a playlist by genre, artist, rating, recently played, time and much more. But one type of smart playlist that isn’t obvious is one you can make by decade. If you like to organize your music by what was hot in the 1960s, 70s, 80s or 90s, it’s easy to do.
Create a new smart playlist. To do this, choose File > New > Smart Playlist, or click Playlists in the iTunes header bar when you’re in your Music library, then click the + button at the bottom-left of the iTunes window, and choose New Smart Playlist.
Next, choose the following conditions: Year is in the range, then enter two years in the subsequent fields.
In the example above, I’ve created a smart playlist for the 60s, and set the smart playlist to be 1960 to 1969; you can choose any years you want. For example, if you think that, musically, the 60s ran from, say, 1959 to 1972, you can use those years.
You can then set other conditions: perhaps choose songs rated above a certain number of stars, or songs you haven’t listened to recently. Click OK to save the smart playlist.
It goes without saying that you need to tag your music for the correct years. Any music that doesn’t have a year in its tags won’t show up in this smart playlist. To add a year to a song or album, select a song, or a group of tracks, then press Command-I. Click the Info tab, then enter a year in the Year field, as below. Click OK to save the year.
If you need to find out what years your music was released, the best place to go is probably Wikipedia; there are entries for most popular albums. If you’ve purchased music from the iTunes Store, it will generally have years in its tags, but the years are most likely the year the album was released, which may be later than the original release date, in the case of a remastered album. So check carefully to make sure you’re not missing any year tags if you want to use these smart playlists.
I wonder if December 1st is the new April 1st. Amazon yesterday announced that the company would start using unmanned drones to deliver packages, and this as early as 2015. The company hopes this will become ubiquitous, saying, “One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.”
I don’t believe this. There are so many reasons why this can’t happen that it just seems like a stunt to grab attention.
To start with, think about safety. A drone – such as the one shown above – has spinning rotors, which can probably cause damage to people, or to power lines. They will certainly be able to navigate through trees and phone lines, but having such devices coming out of the sky would be a hazard to inattentive people. I’m sure Amazon doesn’t intend these to be flown by robots; they’ll most likely hire an army of drone pilots in some third-world country to control them. But when one fails – say, over a school or busy highway – the danger is obvious.
Another thing is that these drones can only operate in certain areas. They can’t work in urban environments, because there isn’t enough room for them to land. So they’ll be limited to areas where there are houses, not apartments or office buildings. People will need to be present to receive the packages; I don’t see how the drones can put them in mailboxes.
The idea of that many unmanned objects flying through the skies is ludicrous. With no flight control system to keep them out of each other’s way – because if this happened, you can be sure that Amazon wouldn’t be the only company using them – accidents would happen often.
Finally, in a country with so many guns as the US, does Amazon really think that these things wouldn’t be used for target practice like aerial piñatas?
No, Amazon’s not going to use drones. They’re getting lots of publicity as a forward-thinking company. Good timing too; this article in The Guardian was also published yesterday, and it highlights the harsh working conditions of the real Amazon drones: the ones who fulfill orders in the company’s huge warehouses.
With iOS 7, you can no longer play music videos in landscape mode. If you access music videos from a playlist you synced with iTunes, they’ll look like this:
The above view is fine if you simply want to listen to your music videos, but not if you want to watch them.
If you turn your iOS device, you’ll see something like this; this is the Music app’s new landscape display, which lets you play music by scrolling through album art:
However, you can still view music videos in the Videos app, and they play by default in landscape view:
So if you’re frustrated by the size of your music videos in the Music app, just go to the Videos app to watch them.
In my latest iTunes Guy column over at Macworld, I look at some questions about the iBooks app on OS X, a tricky question about moving the contents of an iTunes library back and forth between two Macs, and a question about a smart playlist with nested conditions.
I wanted to print something from my iPad the other day. And I couldn’t do it; not directly, at least. And this is Apple’s fault.
I can print from my MacBook Pro or my Mac mini to a printer connected to my AirPort Extreme base station. But I can’t print from an iPad or iPhone to that device. Why not?
Apple has a system called AirPrint, which lets you print from iOS devices – or Macs – to certain printers. The problem is, these have to be AirPrint printers; presumably models that have paid Apple to license this technology.
Why hasn’t Apple just built this into OS X and their AirPort base stations? I can’t imagine they make a lot from licensing AirPrint. And iOS device users are unlikely to want to spend what it costs to get a new printer, just to occasionally print a web page or document.
Printer sharing works extremely well on Macs and with AirPort base stations. When I needed a new printer recently, the only AirPrint models I could find locally didn’t suit my requirements, so I bought a Brother laser printer, which I connect to my AirPort base station. And whenever I do want to print something from my iPad – or when my girlfriend, who doesn’t have a computer, and only uses an iPad – wants to print something, I need to send a link to a web page, or send a PDF or other document.
It seems like sharing printers to iOS devices should be a no-brainer. Is Apple really not doing this just because of some licensing fees?
Note: You can do this quite easily with the $20 Printopia; to be honest, I don’t need to print enough to want to spend $20 for a third-party solution. But if it’s that simple, then why doesn’t Apple provide this as a standard feature?