Apple Music makes gains in the U.S., but a possible Spotify IPO looms

The problem we love too much?

Did you use your smartphone over the weekend? Spend time on Facebook? Twitter? WhatsApp? Snapchat? If you’re like most people, the answer is yes to at least some of those online activities. Using social apps and smartphones is so common now for billions of people that we often forget how much time we spend tapping away at our small screens or parked in front of monitors, killing countless hours on social media.

Fun? Sure, but also addicting, and a new group of ex-social media company employees and other tech industry types have started The Center for Humane Technology, a group dedicated to breaking – or at least tempering – the hold social media and its associated technologies has on us. The group features a long list of Silicon Valley luminaries, and they’re not mincing words, calling todays tech addictive and listing its ill effects, especially for children.

It’s often said we now live in an economy of attention, rather than money, even though that attention does translate into ad revenue dollars. So what to do? It is, of course, a complicated topic, and the site has some interesting reads we encourage you to check out. Hit the link and see if you agree with what they’re saying – and then go outside and get some fresh air, maybe without your phone.

Don’t cross the streams

Our smartphones are also our music players these days, and it’s been game on between Spotify and Apple for some time now, but it looks like Apple Music is starting to cut into Spotify’s lead, at least in the U.S.  The Wall Street Journal says Apple Music/iTunes could surpass Spotify in terms of subscribing listeners in America by the end of this year, but that’s just the battle, not the war.

Spotify, which is headquartered in Sweden, is still the worldwide music streaming leader by a long shot, with 70 million subscribers worldwide to Apple’s 36 million. And Spotify really rules in aggregate users, with 140 million users a month, many of which listen for free with ads – kind of like when people listened to “the radio” way back when.

But The Journal says Apple Music is growing at nearly double the rate Spotify is, at least in the US, even though it does not have an ad-supported “free” option. Meanwhile, there may be changes ahead for Spotify as it may go public later this year.

The future of glasses?

Apple boss Tim Cook has repeatedly said that he is bullish on Augmented Reality, the tech that adds an overlay of information to our vision of the world as seen – for the moment – through the screens on our smartphones. But the real breakthrough for augmented reality tech will likely require something a bit less nerdy – and a bit more fashionable: as in, augmented reality glasses… that look just like normal glasses.

The folks over at The Verge recently got an exclusive close-up look at just what that kind of tech may look like when they tried on a pair of “Vaunt” AR glasses from Intel.  They look like normal spectacles, but there’s a ton of tech in the glasses, including a retina projection system that beams data right into your eyeballs, but in a sort of nice, unobtrusive way. Check out the story and video at the link above.

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