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ExtraBITS for 7 December 2015

In ExtraBITS coverage of what we’ve found interesting for the last two weeks, Apple is raising the track limit for its cloud music services, Dropbox schedules the end of Carousel and Mailbox, Apple open-sources its Swift programming language, Adobe admits that Flash is on its way out, AT&T raises prices on unlimited data plans, we learn why some people don’t like the Apple Watch, Amazon Instant Video is coming to the Apple TV, and The Verge explains what Spotify should steal from Rdio.

Apple Raises Track Limit for Cloud Music Services -- Apple has at long last raised the track limit for iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library from 25,000 to 100,000. Apple had promised the track increase with the launch of iOS 9 in September 2015, but it wasn’t until this month that users began noticing an increase. Apple is rolling the feature out in waves, so if you’re still limited to 25,000 tracks, give it a few days or weeks before calling Apple to complain. It’s unclear why Apple bothers having a limit at all, given that the small proportion of people with that many tracks wouldn’t increase the overall costs noticeably.

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Dropbox Sunsets Carousel and Mailbox -- Dropbox has announced that it’s shutting down Carousel, its photo management app, on 31 March 2016 and Mailbox, its suite of email apps, on 26 February 2016. Dropbox said that it will integrate features from both apps into its core cloud storage offering. Carousel was an original creation of Dropbox in 2014 and at least made some sense, while Mailbox was an independent app that was acquired by Dropbox in 2013 for reasons that were never clear. The moral of the story for Dropbox? Stick to your knitting, or in this case, file sharing and document collaboration.

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Apple’s Swift Programming Language Is Now Open Source -- As promised, Apple has released the source code to its Swift programming language under the Apache 2.0 license (with a Runtime Library Exception). Apple has set up a Web site for Swift, with links to the source code, documentation, community, and more. The source code itself is hosted in a GitHub project, including a version for the Ubuntu distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system. Kudos to Apple for following through on this promise — the question is if Swift is an interesting enough language to gain traction on non-Apple platforms.

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Adobe Deprecates Flash -- Flash isn’t quite pushing up the daisies just yet, but its days are numbered. In a blog post, Adobe has announced that Flash Professional CC will be redubbed Animate CC, with a focus on creating HTML 5 content. While Animate CC will still generate Flash content, and Adobe said that it will continue improving Flash in areas “where new standards have yet to fully mature,” the company is encouraging developers to use new Web standards in lieu of Flash. It’s none too soon — between the security problems suffered by Flash and Apple disabling it on Macs at every opportunity, Flash has become a source of confusion for users and Web developers alike. If you do need Flash support for some site, stick to Google Chrome, which contains its own constantly updated copy.

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AT&T Raising Prices on Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans -- AT&T has announced that it will be raising prices on grandfathered unlimited mobile data plans by $5 per month, beginning in February 2016. For the most part, AT&T has dropped unlimited mobile data plans, but users who stuck with their old unlimited plans have been allowed to keep them. Because of the price increase, AT&T is waiving the early termination fee for customers who cancel their service within 60 days of the increase first appearing on their bills. The unlimited data plan that Apple negotiated for the initial release of the iPhone was such a good deal that AT&T still hasn’t been able to come up with a new plan that entices grandfathered users to switch.

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Why Some People Stop Wearing the Apple Watch -- Analyst Ben Bajarin, working with wearable analytics firm Wristly, surveyed users who said they were dissatisfied with their Apple Watches in an attempt to tease out the main shortcomings of Apple’s smartwatch. The complaints unhappy Apple Watch owners shared were poor performance, short battery life, the watch face not always being visible, reliance on the iPhone, and the high price. Perhaps surprisingly, the most critical and least satisfied Apple Watch owners “work in tech, evaluate tech for a living, or are fairly technical.” To be clear, this study focused on dissatisfied users, but Bajarin notes that satisfied Apple Watch owners make up a much larger group.

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Amazon Instant Video Coming to Apple TV -- Engineer Dan Bostonweeks contacted Amazon to complain about the lack of an Amazon Instant Video app for the fourth-generation Apple TV, and he was surprised to receive a response saying that Amazon is working on it. The company added that the app should hopefully be available in a few weeks. That’s good news for users who were tired of having to watch Amazon Prime Video via some other video streaming box. We hope it will also end the online griping about Amazon ignoring Apple users, or about Apple not playing fair with Amazon, depending on your point of view.

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What Spotify Should Steal from Rdio -- With over 20 million subscribers, Spotify is the most popular music streaming service, a position that’s only going to improve with the shuttering of competitor Rdio. On The Verge, Casey Newton lists five things that Spotify should steal from Rdio, including Rdio’s approach to downloads, New Releases page, album notifications, listening section, and overall look. Despite Spotify’s strong position, its primary competition now comes from tech giants Apple and Google, meaning that now is no time for Spotify to rest on its laurels.

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