Apple Music Now Available on Amazon Fire TV

Amazon today expanded its Apple Music integration to the Amazon Fire TV, allowing Fire TV owners to ask Alexa to play songs from the Apple Music service.

According to CNBC, Apple Music on the Amazon Fire TV is available starting today.


The expansion comes three months after Apple allowed Apple Music to be streamed on Amazon Echo speakers using the Alexa voice assistant.

On the Fire TV, users can use commands like "Alexa, play music by Stevie Nicks," or "Alexa, play a Fleetwood Mac album" to play content directly from Apple Music.

It can be enabled by going to the Alexa app on an Android or iOS device and activating the Apple Music skill. Those who have already set up Apple Music with Alexa for Echo devices will not need to repeat the steps.

Right now, Apple Music is limited to the Fire TV and Amazon Echo speakers, though it may be expanded to third-party Alexa devices in the future.

Apple's effort to allow Apple Music to be streamed on third-party platforms is part of a deeper push to grow services revenue. Apple is also planning to expand iTunes to Samsung Smart TVs in the form of an iTunes app, and AirPlay 2 functionality is being built into recent smart TV sets from a number of manufacturers like Sony and LG.


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Apple Not Fighting Royalty Increase for Songwriters That Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon Have Appealed

Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon have all teamed up to appeal a ruling by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board that will increase royalties paid to songwriters by 44 percent, reports Variety.

In a joint statement, the companies, which all operate major streaming music services, said that the decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners.

"The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), in a split decision, recently issued the U.S. mechanical statutory rates in a manner that raises serious procedural and substantive concerns. If left to stand, the CRB's decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision."
Apple is not joining the other streaming music services and will not appeal the decision. According to Variety, songwriter organizations have been heavily praising Apple while condemning the other streaming services.

David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers' association, called the appeals from Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon "tech bullies who do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible."

He also thanked Apple Music for not participating in the appeal and for "continuing to be a friend to songwriters."


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Amazon Pulls Echo Wall Clock Over Connectivity Issues

Amazon has pulled its Echo Wall Clock over concerns about connectivity issues, just a little over a month since it began shipping the product.


The Wall Clock's lack of availability on the Amazon website was first spotted by The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern before being confirmed by Amazon in a statement given to The Verge.
"We're aware that a small number of customers have had issues with connectivity. We're working hard to address this and plan to make Echo Wall Clock available again in the coming weeks."
Announced in September along with several other Alexa-enabled products, Amazon's Wall Clock costs $29.99 and performs the expected Alexa and Echo tasks while also telling the time.

It runs on four AA batteries and connects to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for setup, but requires the user to own a standard Echo to access all the features, which include displaying timers on the clock face.

Customers who received a clock before they were delisted and have experienced connectivity issues are advised to contact Amazon to arrange a refund.


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Reports Suggest Ring Allowed Employees Unfettered Access to Customer Camera Feeds

Over the course of the last month, some troubling information has surfaced about Ring, the Amazon-owned company that has millions of cameras inside and outside homes across the globe.

The Information in December suggested Ring employees in both the U.S. and the UK had unfettered, unnecessary access to customer camera feeds, and today, The Intercept has shared additional details.

Starting in 2016, Ring allowed its Ukraine-based research team to access "every video created by every Ring camera around the world." Video content was unencrypted and "easily browsed and viewed," plus videos were linked to specific customers.

Ring employees highlighted objects in video feeds to improve object and facial recognition>

Ring's Ukraine team was provided with access to further development on facial and object recognition software, with executives and engineers in the U.S. also able to access the same data even if they didn't specifically need it for their jobs.

Employees with access to customer feeds could view an individual's camera with just an email address.
Although the source said they never personally witnessed any egregious abuses, they told The Intercept "I can say for an absolute fact if I knew a reporter or competitor's email address, I could view all their cameras."
Ring employees weren't just watching outdoor video, either, with a source who spoke to The Intercept suggesting indoor video was viewed as well for the same object recognition training. Ring employees were instructed to draw boxes around objects with labeling, allowing the system to learn to recognize various things.

Employees allegedly showed each other the videos they were annotating and discussed some of the incidents they witnessed, such as people kissing, stealing, and guns being fired.

According to The Intercept, Ring is still using similar tactics for improving video tagging and object recognition. Ring Labs, the team Ring has in the Ukraine, is continuing to employ people who watch and tag details in Ring video content.

Ring spokesperson Yassi Shahmiri declined to answer The Intercept's questions about past and current data policies, but he confirmed that Ring views and annotates "certain Ring videos" that are either public or obtained with "explicit written consent."
We take the privacy and security of our customers' personal information extremely seriously. In order to improve our service, we view and annotate certain Ring videos. These videos are sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors app (in accordance with our terms of service), and from a small fraction of Ring users who have provided their explicit written consent to allow us to access and utilize their videos for such purposes.
Team members are held to "high ethical standards" and there are systems in place to "restrict and audit access to information." Bad actors are subject to a "zero tolerance" response if abuse is detected.

As The Intercept points out, given the information from the sources it spoke to, it is not known if Ring has always used the standards described in its current statement, and past reporting from The Information has suggested that access used to be less restrictive until Amazon purchased the service.

As Ring says, Ring users who are opting into the Neighbors system, which allows for sharing of videos to "create safer videos" are unknowingly opting in to potentially having those videos viewed by Ring employees and there is no mention of that when customers sign up for the feature.

Ring's terms of service and privacy policy do not mention manual or visual annotation by employees, even though that practice is still being used to this day, nor are customers notified that some employees had or could still have access to their camera feeds. Current and prospective Ring customers should be aware of Ring's practices and wary of who has access to their videos.

Tags: Amazon, Ring

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CES 2019: Ring Debuts New Door View Cam, HomeKit Still Not Included

Ring, which was purchased by Amazon last year, today debuted its latest line of home security products. The Ring Door View Cam, its newest doorbell option, is the most notable.

The Door View Cam is designed to replace the viewfinder or peephole built into a front door, and while it doesn't require drilling or permanent door modifications, it does require the removal of the existing peephole.


Ring's Door View Cam fits into the empty space of the viewing hole, filling the space on both sides of the door. It features a rechargeable battery, motion detection, an impact sensor to detect knocking if the doorbell isn't pressed, two-way talk, and 1080p HD video that supports door activity detection, person detection, night vision, and more.


In addition to providing a video feed, the peephole the new Ring camera replaces remains functional. Ring says that the Door View Cam is ideal for apartments and rental locations because of its easy installation.


The Ring Door View Cam will be available in the United States later this year for $199. Ring also plans to release it in UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Ring is also adding new accessories to its Ring Alarm security system, including a $35 smoke and carbon monoxide detector, a $35 flood sensor, and a $30 add-on siren, along with new outdoor lights.

All of Ring's products work with Alexa, but despite promising HomeKit for some of its video doorbell devices, Ring is not adding HomeKit compatibility to any of its new devices. The new Ring Door View Cam, like other Ring doorbell options, does not work with HomeKit.


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Amazon Confirms More Alexa-Enabled Speakers Will Eventually Support Apple Music

Amazon has confirmed that Apple Music will eventually be supported on additional Alexa-enabled speakers, according to a tweet from Mashable's Raymond Wong spotted by AppleInsider. Amazon didn't provide a timeframe for the rollout.


A variety of third-party Alexa speakers and devices are available from brands such as Sonos, JBL, Ultimate Ears, and First Alert.


Apple Music went live on Amazon's line of Echo speakers last Friday in the United States. This allows users to link Apple Music with their Amazon account in the Alexa app for iOS and use Alexa voice commands to control playback of Apple Music songs and playlists and Beats 1 radio on Echo speakers.

To access this feature, simply use a voice command such as "Alexa, play music by Ed Sheeran on Apple Music" or "Alexa, play today's hits on Apple Music." Apple Music can also be set as the default music service in the Alexa app so that "Apple Music" does not need to be specified each time.

Apple and Amazon announced this new partnership in late November, with Amazon saying it is "committed to offering great music providers to our customers," and referring to Apple Music as "one of the most popular music services."


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Apple Music Now Playable on Amazon Echo Speakers via Alexa in United States

Apple Music can now be streamed on Amazon Echo speakers via Alexa in the United States, a few days ahead of schedule.


As spotted by 9to5Mac, it is now possible to link Apple Music with your Amazon account in the Alexa app for iPhone and use Alexa voice commands to control playback of songs, playlists, and Beats 1 on Apple Music on Amazon Echo speakers.

To access this feature, simply use a voice command such as "Alexa, play music by Ed Sheeran on Apple Music" or "Alexa, play today's hits on Apple Music." Apple Music can also be set as the default music service in the Alexa app, so that "Apple Music" does not need to be specified each time.


Other streaming music services supported on Echo speakers include Spotify, Deezer, Vevo, SiriusXM, Tidal, and Pandora.

Apple and Amazon announced this new partnership in late November, with Amazon saying it is "committed to offering great music providers to our customers," and referring to Apple Music as "one of the most popular music services."

Apple Music playback on Amazon Echo speakers is currently limited to the United States.


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Apple Music to Launch on Amazon’s Echo Devices the Week of December 17

Apple and Amazon today announced that Apple Music will launch on Echo devices beginning the week of December 17. In a blog post, Amazon explains that Apple Music subscribers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artist, playlists, Beats1 radio stations, and albums, all through an Echo speaker.

One example they give is the command, "Alexa, play Bebe Rexha on Apple Music."


The integration will launch as an Apple Music skill that will need to be enabled within the Alexa app, where users will also be able to link their account to start listening to Apple Music on an Echo speaker. Apple Music will join the ranks of a few other music streaming services already supported on Echo, including Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora.
“Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa—since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices.

“We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top tier services. We’re thrilled to bring Apple Music – one of the most popular music services in the US – to Echo customers this holiday.”
Apple Music is said to have over 56 million total subscribers, including those on the free trial. The company is in a battle with Spotify as each tries to grow their numbers. In November, Spotify reported 87 million paid subscribers on its service, and 191 million monthly active users.

These numbers refer to global paid subscriber users, and in a report over the summer it was suggested that Apple Music is actually ahead of Spotify's paid subscriber count in the United States. Both Apple Music and Spotify were said to have more than 20 million paid subscribers in the U.S. as of July 2018, and at the time Apple was "a hair ahead" of its rival.


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Amazon Begins Selling More Apple Products, Including Latest Macs, iPad Pro, and Apple Watch Series 4

Nearly two weeks after Amazon reached an agreement with Apple to sell more of its products, a selection of Apple products are available on Amazon in the United States, including the latest iPad Pro, Apple Watch Series 4, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and Mac mini models.


Other products available include accessories such as Apple Watch bands, the Apple Pencil, Beats headphones, and the Magic Mouse 2.

Prices are fairly consistent with Apple.com, but there are some discounts to be had, including $100 off a base model MacBook and $300 off the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.6GHz six-core Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. Note that some of the products are currently out of stock or available in limited quantities.


Amazon has yet to begin selling any new iPhones directly from Apple or its network of Apple Authorized Resellers, but the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR are expected to be available soon as part of the deal. One product that won't be available is the HomePod since it is an Amazon Echo competitor.

Apple has prominent marketing banners on each of its Amazon listings that resemble the look of its product pages on Apple.com. Apple-authorized product listings contain the wording "ships from and sold by Amazon.com."

A limited selection of new and used Apple products were already available on Amazon via third-party resellers, but those product listings will be removed after January 4, 2019 under the new deal. Third-party resellers will need to apply to become Apple Authorized Resellers to continue selling on Amazon.

Beyond the United States, Apple products are also beginning to appear on Amazon in France, and the sales agreement will extend to its storefront in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India as well.

Disclosure: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.

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Amazon Inks Deal to Sell New Apple Products Like iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and 2018 iPad Pro

Amazon and Apple have reached an agreement that will see Amazon selling an expanded selection of iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch devices through its online storefronts in the United States, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India, reports CNET.

In the near future, Amazon will offer its customers the Apple latest devices, which includes the new 2018 iPad Pro models, the iPhone XR, the iPhone XS and XS Max, Apple Watch Series 4 models, and a selection of Beats headphones. The products will be available through Apple-authorized resellers on Amazon's marketplace.


Certain Apple products will not be included on Amazon's site, such as the HomePod, which directly competes with Amazon's line of Echo devices.

In a statement provided to CNET, Amazon said that it added Apple products because it's always aiming to improve the customer experience.
"Amazon is constantly working to enhance the customer experience, and one of the ways we do this is by increasing selection of the products we know customers want," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement Friday morning. "We look forward to expanding our assortment of Apple and Beats products globally."
At the current time, many Apple products are not available on Amazon's site or are sold through unreliable third-party marketplace sellers at non-standard prices. With the new agreement, Apple devices will be available at regular retail prices.

Independent sellers who offer new and used Apple products on Amazon will have their listings removed after January 4, 2019, under the new deal. Those sellers will need to apply to become Apple authorized resellers on Amazon to continue to offer their wares.

As CNET points out, while this deal will provide customers with access to a greater selection of Apple products at standard prices, it could potentially impact the used Apple device market on the platform.

Tag: Amazon

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