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Apple Music update packs new features

From live lyrics to Chromecast support, Apple Music’s latest update adds features to amplify the user experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Apple’s music streaming service, Apple Music, has received a facelift on the various platforms. The company says it has amassed around 60-million subscriptions to its paid-only service, which comes preloaded on most Apple devices. From smartphones to TV, we took a deep dive into the service to shell out the best new features from the platform.

1. Sing along to the music – with the right words

With its latest update, Apple has introduced a lyric scrolling mode which highlights the line in the song where the artist is singing or speaking. It features the lyrics on a dynamic background, that’s based on the album art of the song and pulses or moves around to the music. The coolest part about this one can scroll through the lyrics and tap a lyric to be taken to that part of the song. This feature can be activated by tapping the quotation bubble in the bottom left corner of the Now Playing page.

2. Your music taste is split from what Apple thinks your music taste is

There is a clear distinction between what you like and what others think you like. That’s why the Apple Music app makes a clear distinction between what you have and what you like. Under the Library tab is where the music one has saved lives, while next door, the For You tab holds a daily update of one’s music tastes and listening habits. This includes personalised weekly mixes, what friends are listening to, what’s happening in spaces from genres the user listens to, and new releases from artists that the user listens to.

Apple has also confirmed that the personalised mixes aren’t simply thrown together, but rather crafted by how the songs go together based on how editors have selected songs to go together.

3. Radio stations are a tap away

Apple hosts many radio shows on its platforms, with hosts like DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, and The Weeknd. One of the most popular radio stations on the platform, Beats 1 Radio, frequently features prominent guest artists like Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, and Tame Impala.

This is a hidden gem if you like hearing your favourite artist discuss the latest topics in between songs. If those artists aren’t to your taste, try making your own station by starting a song you like, tapping the three dots next to the song title and selecting Create Station.

Local radio stations like 947, Jacaranda FM, and East Coast Radio are also available to those who prefer a more traditional radio sound. Keep in mind that this is streamed over the Internet, so charges may apply.

4. Find that song – even after it’s done

Hearing a new hit that resonates with you is special. But what if you don’t have the Shazam app? Just ask Siri. Apple acquired Shazam just over a year ago, and has since integrated the functionality into iOS. Now, users can either open the Shazam app to identify the song, or say “Hey Siri, what’s this song?” to identify songs without the app. For all platforms, one can type in a line from the lyrics of the song into the search bar of the Apple Music app to find the song.

5. Works beyond Apple products

The Apple Music product transcends the Apple ecosystem and works with Android Auto, Chromecast, and in any web browser. Users of Apple Music for Android can enjoy a similar ‘plug n play’ experience when connecting to their Android Auto enabled cars. Catering to those outside of the Apple ecosystem, Apple Music for Android can also cast to Chromecast to play music to their TV and/or sound system, wirelessly. Those who can’t install additional software to their computers can still use Apple Music through the web by pointing their browser to https://beta.music.apple.com/.

With all these additional new platforms, Apple Music is quickly becoming ubiquitous among devices on the market.

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TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.

@ndlovuyouthchoir

Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup

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It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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