Online music service Spotify's decision to open up its service to Apple iPhone and Google Android users for free has paid off, with the company drastically growing its customer base.
After announcing its free app, Spotify app downloads increased by four times during the past week, though Spotify wouldn't release official download figures after its announcement. Instead of allowing music listeners to select what artists and songs play, Spotify relies on a 'shuffle mode' that gives listeners the chance to shuffle through personal - and random - playlists.
The music service now includes an ad-supported version of its service for mobile users - and should continue to pick up users at a rapid pace. Services such as Pandora offer a great service for mobile users, but the ad-supported version isn't as functional as the paid membership, with Spotify trying to fill the void. Expect a continued battle among music providers trying to attract casual users as the number of smartphone and tablet owners increases due to product availability and price.
Shutterbugs who are fond of both 500px and Windows Phone will be happy to hear that the two have merged in the form of a new app. The official 500px app for Windows Phone was released this morning, and allows you to check out friends snapshots using the Flow feature.
Additional features include the ability to search for interesting images, and import 500px images to live tiles and the phones lock screen. Unfortunately direct uploading of images to 500px is not supported at this time, and no mention was made of when this feature may be integrated.
A struggling BlackBerry is attempting to turn its BlackBerry Messenger Service into something that can help keep it afloat, and lately has been pushing it pretty hard. Today BlackBerry announced that it has entered into a deal with LG that will see BBM installed on all of the company's smartphones.
Along with this announcement comes several new features that are sure to make BBM users on iOS and Android quite happy. Heading up the list of new features is BBM Voice, a free calling feature that lets users voice chat instead of using cellular voice service. BBM also now features chat room with a handful of channels that vary based on interest, hobbies, and consumer brands.
Creating apps isn't easy, but it looks like Microsoft wants to make it easier to make Windows apps with the just-announced Project Siena. Project Siena is a Metro-style app that lets anyone create their own Windows 8.1 program.
All you'll need is Windows, obviously, as well as some knowledge in how to use PowerPoint and Excel. You can make apps directly from a touch-enabled slate, which is a nice touch, as you don't even need a mouse or keyboard to make an app, which is nice. You can get into it right here.
This morning Spotify began quietly rolling out updates to its Android, Windows and Mac apps that brings forth a whole new look for the popular music streaming service. The login pages have a new look, and the overall theme is now much darker than before.
The update also adds image galleries, track play counts, and other small improvements such as larger fonts. Unfortunately, a full changelog has not been published and Spotify is keeping oddly quiet on the matter. When contacted by website, TheNextWeb, a Spotify representative said that the company had no comment on the updates or changes.
For those of us with expansive Kindle libraries, Collections have made life very easy when looking for books of a specific type, but unfortunately until now, Collections were not possible on Android Tablets. Today Amazon updated the Kindle for Android App, and has now included the ability to add books to collections.
Kindle for Android now lets users chose how they would like to organize their books, and can also filter them by Author, Title, or Genre. Additionally, accessibility support for Android's Talk Back feature has been added, as has Explore by Touch. Users can now also offer a star rating for the books they like or dislike.
Time Warner Cable subscribers that currently own an Amazon Kindle Fire HD or HDX tablet now have access to 300 live channels and 5,000 on-demand titles via their tablets. Time Warner already rolled out VOD for Roku set-top boxes, Microsoft Xbox 360 game consoles, the Samsung Smart TVs, and Apple iOS and Google Android devices.
It was rumored the Apple TV would receive the TWC TV app, but it looks like that might have to wait until early 2014.
Time Warner, like other cable operators, continues to try and tempt users to migrate content away from the living room - and rolling out apps for devices such as the Kindle Fire is an important step in the process. In a battle against cord-cutting, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes wants cable operators to create new and innovative ways to compete against Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and other Web-based, streaming services.
Beginning February 1st, all apps submitted to the Apple App Store must be optimized for iOS 7, and those not iOS 7 ready will be rejected. This basically means that all apps must be built using the latest version of Xcode 5, and feature specific optimization for iOS 7.
The official announcement from apple follows: "Starting February 1, new apps and app updates submitted to the App Store must be built with the latest version of Xcode 5 and must be optimized for iOS 7. Learn more about preparing your apps by reviewing the iOS Human Interface Guidelines."
Google has rolled out a new YouTube app for the Roku 3 set-top streaming player, providing Roku owners easy access to the world's largest video sharing site. The new channel is available starting immediately.
The new YouTube app includes HD video streaming, "Send to TV" feature from wireless phones, and easy access to all subscribed channels that can be shown on the TV. The new Roku 3 YouTube app is available for users in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, with additional rollouts expected in the future.
Even with HDTVs, Blu-ray players, and other living room electronics using streaming services, lack of YouTube access for Roku 3 owners has been a major complaint. The Roku 3 is the premier model from the set-top maker, providing access to a large amount of TV episodes, movies, sports, and other content all in HD - with integrated support for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and VUDU - and includes a headphones jack so content can be enjoyed quietly.
With Apple iPhone, iPad and Google Android support, viewers can use their mobile electronics as a Roku 3 remote.
LG Smart TV's are finally getting access to the most popular music streaming service on the web. LG announced today that Spotify will be making its way to LG Smart TVs later this month.
To gain access to the streaming app, you will have to meet a few requirements though which include a Spotify Premium subscription, and your LG Smart TV must be a 2013 or higher model. Unfortunately 2012 models will not have access to the app, and at the moment their appears to be no plans for free access to the service on LG TVs.
Its been almost a year since Yahoo first introduced its Weather app for Apple's iPhone. Today the company has announced that the app has been officially optimized for iPad as well.
The Weather app has been huge amongst iPhone users, mostly for the fact that it integrates Flickr to display stunning background images on its local weather forecast. Yahoo says that now the app has been optimized for use on all iPad models and everything has been designed to dynamically scale up to the proper resolution. The release for iPad comes a few months after Yahoo refreshed the Weather app for Android.
WhatsApp finally has some substantial competition for its bid as the biggest text messaging service in existence. Today Kik messenger announced that it has surpassed the 100 million user milestone and has been adding new subscribers at a rate of 200,000 per day.
"For us, growth gets a really big bump over Thanksgiving, which is a combination of new devices and people being in a new social sphere and sharing their passion for Kik," he explained, pointing to factors that have helped them reach this milestone. "It's hard to know what exactly is prompting growth. I wouldn't say there's anyone coming to Kik just for Cards and not for the messaging platform, but what it does do is provide a way for people to look at it and say 'Look at all the fun things I can do with Kik that I can't do with any other messaging apps."
Earlier this year, Google unveiled Chrome Apps for the PC desktop environment, and today the company has finally released a version for Apple's Mac devices. The apps are different from Chrome OS apps and Chrome browser apps, and feel more like native apps to the device and can even be accessed offline.
The apps are designed to resemble their web-counterparts and function exactly the same, the difference is that they have access to local storage naively and do not need an interlink such as the internet. They will however fully sync up to your Google account to ensure that all changes made are present across all Google services. Users must run the Chrome browser on their Mac for the new desktop apps to appear though.
Google didn't do too much to change the lock screen with Android 4.4 KitKat, but thanks to the openness of Android, developers across the world can just make their own apps, such as Cover for Android. The video below shows it off perfectly.
Cover for Android, which is still in beta at the moment, is a feature-rich lock screen application. You can tell it your home and work addresses, and when at a particular place, it will come up with specific apps. At work, you might use a select few apps, which Cover handles without a problem. At home, you might use other apps - such as Gmail, Facebook and Chrome - so it will have shortcuts ready for you.
Cover for Android currently works on Android 4.1 and above, and for users in the US, Canada and Europe - although, I'm based in Australia and I've just installed it without a problem. You can grab Cover for Android (beta) from the Google Play Store.oidcentral%26utm_medium%3Dblog%26utm_campaign%3Dbloglink
Razer has released its Comms for Android app, which is a free app for gamers. You can use Razer's Comms for Android to keep in touch with your gaming friends, which supports both voice and text chat on-the-go.
Private messages also make an appearance, which is yet another nice addition to the app. Comms for Android will also let you respond to SMS at your desk, as well as turn down calls through its Windows version, too. You can grab Razer Comms for Android from the Google Play Store, but if you're on an iOS device, you'll have to wait until early 2014 to get your mitts on Razer's mobile app.
This morning, Instagram unveiled a newly added feature to its service that will allow users to directly share images and videos with specific friends via Facebook messaging and text messaging. Dubbed Instagram Direct, the new feature allows users to share images with friends directly in real-time and see likes, and comments instantly.
Instagram Direct has a few safety measures in place as well, with the most prevalent being a notification when someone you are not following sends you an image or video. The app will let you chose if you want to see this image or video, and if you decide not to, then you simply decline and the invitation goes away.
"As we've grown, Instagram has evolved not only into a community of photographers, but also into a means of visual communication. From a photo of your daily coffee to a sunrise shared from the top of a mountain hike, every Instagram moment contains something you find special-something you broadcast to your followers when you tap share," Instagram said in its official release. "There are, however, moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a smaller group of people-an inside joke between friends captured on the go, a special family moment or even just one more photo of your new puppy. Instagram Direct helps you share these moments."
If you're a fan of PopCap and Electronic Arts' Plants vs. Zombies 2, then you'll want to make sure you've received the new, and massive, 215MB update to the mobile game. The update includes:
- There's loads of cool stuff in our latest update! We have a new map, fun new features and we introduce a new foe!
- We've upgraded the map to make game progression quicker and easier.
- It's simpler to know how much you've done, where you're going, and what loot you'll get along the way.
- You can invite your friends and send 'em gifts.
- Use the Turbo button to speed up your planting - and speed up the zombies.
- Be warned: when we were upgrading the map, somebody let in the Gargantuars.
Today Codeacademy launched a new app for iOS users that allows them to continue their coding education even when on the go. The new app features lessons that are designed to take less than an hour each to complete and gradually teach the users the basics of coding.
Codeacademy timed the launch with Computer Science Education week, and hopes that the app can play a role in helping 10 million students to participate in one hour of coding. At the moment the app only features one lesson, but the company's CEO says that it will eventually become a stand-along code learning platform much like its website is now. No word was mentioned on when we might see an Android version of the app released.
Today Pandora added new functionality to its app for iOS in the form of a new alarm feature. The new Alarm Clock will let users wake up to their favorite Pandora station, and are no longer limited to their iPhones stock alarm sounds. When the alarm triggers, the Pandora app will begin playing from a user-selected station and album art will scroll in the background.
Users can snooze the alarm to 5,10,15 or 20 minutes by simply tapping the screen. Additionally, the alarm can be quickly turned off by tapping the song title or artist name. This alarm works perfectly with Pandora's other recently added feature that turns off the music feed after a preset length of time, allowing the user to fall asleep to their favorite station.
iBeacon is part of Apple's iOS 7, which works with low-power Bluetooth transmitters and the Apple Store app, which together track your location within a retail store, providing relevant information to your iPhone.
For example, if you were standing next to the iPhone table, with everything iBeacon requires from you enabled, it would pop a message up onto your iPhone asking if you'd like to upgrade. It would also tell you if you were eligible for getting some money back for trading in your old iPhone. It could also send push notifications to customers alerting them to when their order is ready to be picked up.
iBeacon isn't just limited to Apple Stores, either, as it has rolled out into retailers like Macy's, J.C. Penney and more.
It looks like Spotify could be unleashing a free mobile version of its streaming music service, something that The Wall Street Journal is reporting. The free version would be an ad-supported app, focusing around playing personalized radio.
Users would be allowed to play a certain amount of songs on demand, which isn't bad considering it would be pushed out as a free app. At the moment, Spotify's on-demand mobile service is only available to paying consumers through its Premium service, with the free service limited to PCs. The Journal is reporting that the music streaming outfit has inked deals with Sony, Universal, and Warner for the free service.
The issues weighing in on the deal were the rates that the company would pay the label, as well as the level of on-demand control that users would have. We should hear more details on the service at the Spotify event being held in New York City next week.