Researchers have identified an incredibly smart method used by fruit flies to categorise odours – and it's so clever it could be applied to powering recommendation algorithms for the likes of Netflix or Spotify. In the same way that YouTube might want to flag up videos similar to the one you've just watched, fruit flies – like many other animals – need to know which smells are similar, for finding food and avoiding poisonous substances. The team from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California has found that fruit flies have an especially clever way of categorising odours which lets them recognise differences with a very fine level of accuracy. "In the natural world, you're not going to encounter exactly the same odour every time; there's going to be some noise and fluctuation," says one of the researchers, Saket Navlakha from Salk. "But if you smell something that you've previously associated with a behaviour, you need to be able to identify that similarity and recall that behaviour."
The acquisition gives Apple ownership of an app that helps users identify unfamiliar songs. Users are often directed to listen to those songs at Apple Music or Spotify, helping those services possibly reach new subscribers. Such referrals could help Apple boost the number of subscribers to its streaming-music service from its current 30 million. Spotify AB says its service has 60 million paid subscribers. Shazam, which made its debut as an app in 2008, also gives Apple access to extensive data and insight on people's musical interests.
Apple on Monday confirmed it has bought Shazam, the music app that can identify a song by hearing just a snippet of it. The acquisition boosts Apple's position in the music world and advances its artificial intelligence efforts. Shazam, launched in 1999, claims that at least 1 billion people have downloaded its app and used it to identify songs at least 30 billion times. Its service was one of the first AI products to be used by a broad audience. As Apple faces other tech giants in this increasingly competitive arena, analysts say Shazam could add significant value not only with its own service but also by making Apple's AI products -- namely Siri -- smarter about music.
Scan your eyes over Apple's just-published list of the year's most popular iPhone apps, and there's one notable omission: Shazam. In fact, it's been a while since the song-identifying software squeezed its way into the iOS App Store's top 10. So, why has Apple confirmed it is "combining" its business with that of the smaller London company? It has not revealed the price it is paying, but the sum is rumoured to be as much as $400m (£300m), which would make it one of Apple's most expensive takeovers to date. The US technology giant also hasn't disclosed its motivations beyond saying that it has "exciting plans in store".
Apple is reportedly closing in on a deal to purchase the audio recognition app Shazam--a popular app that can identify music, television show, movie or advertisement by listening to an audio clip--according to TechCrunch. No official price has been made public, though the deal is believed to be in the nine-figure range and has been rumored to be around $400 million. During its last funding round in 2015, Shazam was valued at more than $1 billion. The report was confirmed by the Financial Times, which reported the deal would value the London-based Shazam as worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" and would be one of the largest acquisitions in Apple's history. During its September 2017 earnings report, Shazam posted $54 million in revenue over the course of its 2016 fiscal year, a turnaround from its previous two years.
It took Amazon a while to get its streaming music strategy truly off the ground -- its Music Unlimited service, with competes with Spotify, Apple Music and the like, only launched last fall. But today, both Music Unlimited and the Echo smart speaker lineup are expanding in a big way: Amazon has announced that both are available in 28 new countries, most of which are found across Europe and South America. Pricing for Music Unlimited will vary by area, but Amazon says it'll offer the same three plans it currently does -- including an Echo-only plan, the standard individual plan for smartphones, computers and other devices and a family plan for multiple users. Amazon's also not discussing pricing for Echo hardware, as that also will vary from country to country. But launching both the hardware and service at the same time is a smart move, as the company says its music service is designed with voice control in mind.
Check out the "Media, entertainment, and advertising" sessions at the Strata Data Conference in San Jose, March 5-8, 2018. Hurry--best price ends December 8. Subscribe to the O'Reilly Data Show Podcast to explore the opportunities and techniques driving big data, data science, and AI. Find us on Stitcher, TuneIn, iTunes, SoundCloud, RSS. In this episode of the Data Show, I spoke with Christine Hung, head of data solutions at Spotify. Prior to joining Spotify, she led data teams at the NY Times and at Apple (iTunes).
Given how easy it is to discover new music on Spotify, it's just as easy to forget about all the equally delicious tracks you found last month. Thankfully, Spotify won't let that happen, today releasing Your 2017 Wrapped. This clever feature, initially rolled out last year to replace its previous'Year In Music' recap, lets you effortlessly relive all the gems you discovered in 2017 and set some goals for the new year ahead. By heading here and signing into your account, Spotify swiftly analyses your year's worth of valuable listening and comes back with some pretty remarkable stats. Check out how long our CEO Spotify-binged this year!
Ready to have your mind blown? Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged in the music industry with its very first producer! SKYGGE might look like your average up-and-coming artist on Spotify, with just a couple of tracks to the name. It's actually a part-human-part-computer duo between French producer Benoit Carré and the AI program called Flow-Machines. An AI co-producer is behind two new tracks, "In the House of Poetry," and "Hello Shadow" featuring Jack Ü collaborator Kiesza.