Apple has signed an agreement to bring Warner Music into the fold of its new streaming radio service, according to a CNET report. Though previously thought to have been inked a few weeks back, terms with Warner apparently weren't finalized until Sunday. The deal brings Apple closer to having the service, possibly to be called 'iRadio,' ready for premiere at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
On Monday, meanwhile, the company released the official WWDC app for iOS devices, which features a slightly "flattened" design that's heavy on black and white and light on textures and shadows. The app's design lends credence to rumors that iOS 7 will move away from skeuomorphic design trends toward a simpler flat appearance. (A skeuomoprhic design mimics real-world materials - for example, the virtual leather grain binding in the current iCal app.)
Apple has already announced it will preview the next generations of its iOS and OS X operating systems at the conference. The company is also rumored to be working on refreshed MacBook Pro laptops, possibly featuring Intel's new 'Haswell' processors, for launch during the keynote address June 10 in San Francisco.
Lining Up The Big Three For iRadio
On the streaming music front, Apple inked a licensing deal with Universal Music last month, and is still negotiating with Sony, presumably to have all three of the music industry's largest companies on board for a WWDC iRadio launch. While the Universal deal covers only recorded music, the Warner agreement is said to span recordings and publishing rights, and Apple is reportedly in talks with both arms of Sony's music business. Sources for both CNET and The New York Times have said that Apple will be paying per-stream and royalty rates at least on par with, if not higher than, what Pandora pays music companies in its licensing arrangements.
Perhaps the most popular of current internet radio services, Pandora counts some 70 million active users. Apple, meanwhile, has registered more than 500 million iTunes accounts. Apple reportedly tried to leverage its massive user base to negotiate cheaper licensing arrangements than Pandora's, but the music labels balked. Reports say that Apple plans to build advertising into its radio service in order to drive additional revenues - which will be shared with the music companies.
Thinner 13" MacBook Pro?
Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has published his forecast for WWDC, highlighting expectations of a refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro with retina display. According to a 9to5Mac report, Kuo expects the updated model to feature Intel's new Haswell chips in a slightly slimmer industrial design with an upgraded 1080p resolution webcam. The current 15-inch MacBook Pro retina is actually a bit slimmer than its little brother; it could be that Apple is prepping a 13-inch model that matches the thickness of the current 15-inch machine.
Kuo also predicts a refresh to the MacBook Air line using the dual-microphone setup employed by the current MacBook Pros. The two-microphone array allows for advanced noise cancellation techniques to enhance FaceTime calls and other voice applications. Better voice recognition would, of course, be key to incorporating the voice-activated Siri service, should Apple choose to bring such functionality to the Mac.
Stay tuned to ReadWrite for the latest on what to expect at Apple's WWDC.
WWDC app acreenshots via iTunes.com.