Beats Mystery Surrounds iOS 8.3 Update

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, March 26, 2015 | | 0 comments »

Beats Music and iOS
It is now clear what Apple plans for the next iOS update when it announced that beta tests have begun and are now only open to developers.

However, unlike the previous tests, Apple has publicly declared what is in each update at every stage of testing. For example iOS 8.2 was released recently, but everyone knew since December that it would bring support for the Apple Watch. And yet the mystery surrounding iOS 8.3 continues to grow each day.
A few days ago, Apple has released another update for iOS 8.3 (beta 4, build reference ‘12F5061’) to developers and public testers and the expected cherry on top – an Apple version of the Beats streaming music service – refuses to show its head.

It was labelled ‘expected’ because, like the iOS 8.2 inclusion of Apple Watch support, iOS 8.3 has long been touted for the introduction of the much anticipated, Beats-inspired iTunes evolution. Instead, the reality is a lot more unclear than before.

iOS 8.3 Beta 4 ships to developers continuing earlier iOS 8.3 beta support for a wireless version of CarPlay, Google 2-step verification, racially diverse emoji, filters for Messages (known/unknown senders), a UI tweak for the iOS keyboard and new compatibility for Apple Pay on the China UnionPay network.

In addition there are expanded voice commands for Siri, including the ability to initiate calls over speakerphone and the ability to skip password entry when downloading free apps. The specific changelog for beta 4 (primarily fixes) can be found on page 2.

Consequently the likes of MacRumors have begun to speculate that Apple has pushed the debut of its streaming music service to iOS 8.4. Remarkably MacRumors servers have already detected devices visiting its site running iOS 8.4, suggesting Apple’s breakneck release schedule since iOS 8 launched in September shows no sign of slowing.

There are mitigating circumstances. Many iOS 8.x releases have so far been bug fixes and most are now squashed (ironically, excluding the biggest). Still with WWDC 2015 expected to be held in June (and typically where Apple announces the next iOS generation) this doesn’t leave a lot of time to push out more major iOS 8 releases.

All of which brings everyone back to Beats, which Apple bought for US$ 3.2 billion in May 2014. A purchase largely believed to have been fuelled by Apple’s desire to cannibalise the company’s music service. The bonus of headphones – with Lightning models growing – didn’t hurt either.

Then again I questioned the purchase at the time and I still do. The Beats streaming music licenses don’t automatically pass to Apple on purchase (they require renegotiation) and there’s nothing of value in its headphones technology (Beats effectively rebadged Monster Inc. products until 18 months before the Apple purchase). Meanwhile there’s little in the brand value, historically Apple has rebadged every company it has ever bought.

My personal theory is, having struggled to get a streaming music service to market prior to the Beats purchase, Apple has found it is still more difficult than it imagined afterwards. I’d have bought Spotify (at the time valued at $4BN) and got the same leg up while also killing my biggest competitor.

So what is the reality? It is clear iOS 8.3 is now out for a streaming music service announcement. It could indeed appear in iOS 8.4 as some hope, though that would seem to a missed marketing opportunity with the hype of WWDC 2015 to follow shortly afterwards.


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