Almost half a year ago, Google announced its music streaming service known as Google Play Music. Much like Spotify, Google Play Music is a monthly subscription-based music streaming service with hundreds of thousands of songs waiting to be listened to. In the beginning, the service was only available on Android and through a Web App, but this morning Google released the streaming service to iOS.
Google Play Music for iOS retains most of the features that are seen on the Android version, and initial reports say that it is very refined for iOS and feels like it is a native Apple-built app. It will be interesting to see how reviews of the service stack up against iTunes Music, and if iOS customers will open up to the $9.99 per month price that is required to access Google Play Music. Personally, I am still calling Spotify the best streaming service on mobile and the web. I have been a subscriber since it hit the US and have yet to find any flaws.
Dropbox has announced some changes in its cloud storage goodness, where it won't stop Dropbox for Business users from combining their personal Dropbox accounts on the same device.
From now on, Dropbox will allow personal and business users to combine their cloud storage content, but it will still allow business IT departments to keep business as business, keeping users out of their personal storage. You can now link your Dropbox accounts together if that's what you're after, where you'll see two accounts on mobile devices as separate folders: Business and Personal.
Coin is made by a company that is based in San Francisco. It looks like a credit card but can store up to eight different cards that can either be debit, credit, gift or even membership cards. Coin uses an app and a card reader adapter for your smartphone to input all your cards into one. It uses a magnetic strip on the back much like a regular card but with a press of a button it can cycle through your cards and change the strip. Coin detects if you get certain distance away from it and will tell your smartphone with an alert sound if you accidentally leave it behind. It does this using Bluetooth Low Energy, which is the same thing used in most smartwatches and fitness tracking devices. The device does not have a changeable or rechargeable battery, but the battery in the Coin lasts two years and at that point you replace the unit.
Coin isn't available yet, but you can get your hands on one next summer. The company has started a campaign through their site and is looking to raise $50,000. At launch it'll be available for $100 but early backers can get them for $50.
Now when users utilize Google Voice Commands, their Android phone may talk back to them. In a recent Google Now update, the company has added conversational voice commands that react to user commands and queries much like Apple's Siri does. Users can give their device a verbal command such as "Send a text message," and the phone will ask who to send the message to.
The service is quite handy, but it is not completely hands free yet, as it will not read search phrases back to you like Siri does, This update greatly improves the voice command functionality on Android, and after trying it out for myself, I have to say that I like it. For now the update only affects Android phones, but it is safe to assume that Google will roll it out with search features on the iPhone eventually.
I admit it: I used to be a huge Facebook Messenger user, but I've converted over to Hangouts for most of my chat now. I still use Messenger for chatting with people I can't chat with on Hangouts, but Messenger has just received a new update, and it looks swish.
It was previously only made available for a limited number of users, but now it has rolled out to the public, with an all-new design and fresh new features. We have a nice white and light blue design, as well as improved performance, and new chat features. The new chat features include the ability to message people with just their phone number, which is a nice touch.
You can grab the latest version of Facebook Messenger from the Google Play Store, if your device hasn't auto-updated already.
Nokia's Refocus app may be one of the most highly anticipated apps of the year, and since its unveiling, every Lumia owner out there has been chomping at the bits to get their hands on it. Today their wait was ended when Nokia launched the app at the Finnish conference known as Slush.
The App allows users to tweak their previously taken images by adjusting focus points, as well as selectively removing or replacing colors. Additionally the app lets users friends play with their photos as well. "It gives more context of the story you want to tell," said Samuli Hänninen, vice president of software program management for Nokia's Smart Devices business. "It makes the images come alive, and you can combine it with different colors and make it as artistic as you want." Users who own a Lumia PureView device can download the app at the source link below.
The PlayStation 4 has some awesome sharing abilities, where PS4 gamers can share screenshots and videos directly to Facebook. Unfortunately, this won't be done through a dedicated Facebook app on the PS4.
Facebook engineer, Colin Creitz, when talking with Polygon, explained why Facebook will rely on built-in browsers: "One of the things that came out of our experience with the previous generation of consoles is that we found that maintaining the native apps was a relatively high maintenance burden, and didn't really lead to a high fidelity experience."
Gamers can establish their real identity using their Facebook login, with Crietz explaining: "One way you can establish your real identity is by using your Facebook login," Crietz said. "It'll bring in your Facebook profile picture and you have the opportunity to manage whether people are looking at your PSN avatar or your Facebook profile picture, [which is displayed] on a per-other user basis."
Everyone's favorite six second video sharing app, Vine, has finally made its way onto Microsoft's Windows Phone. The Twitter-owned app was first released back in January of this year on iOS, and made its way to Android a few months later. Now those who subscribe to the Microsoft way of life will be able to create short videos as well.
Vine on Windows Phone will have all of the same functionality that the app does on Android and iOS as well as a few other features. Windows Phone users will have the ability to pin favorite accounts to the home screen, and pivot to flip through the apps quickly. Back in August, Vine announced that it had over 40 million users, and that number is expected to grow by several percent now that Lumia users around the globe have access to the service!
BlackBerry is pretty much a sunken battleship right now, waiting for the pirates to circle and collect all of its loot. But, is it the end? Not yet, especially not if BlackBerry 10's latest update on its way is any indication.
The next update to the BlackBerry OS would see it natively run the Google Play Store app, which would be quite the swing in a totally different direction. CrackBerry is posting images of a BlackBerry Z10 smartphone running Google Play, which is a nice touch. Remember: it's possible to side-load Android apps onto BB10-based devices, but it isn't simple.
If these images are a tease, then the world of BlackBerry could get a little better in the coming weeks.
Google is now pushing out a new version of Hangouts, the one that we reported that would be capable of sending and receiving SMS with. The update to Hangouts makes it equal to the one that ships with the Nexus 5 smartphone, which is the default SMS app on the device.
Once you've received the updated Hangouts app, you'll be asked to enable SMS support - something you can decline - but if you turn it on, you'll do all of your text messaging through Hangouts from now on. This is great for those who don't already use a third-party SMS client, as it keeps all of your messaging in one place, up in the cloud, and on your device. The update is going out gradually, but here in Australia, I'm not enjoying the new app yet unfortunately.
If you didn't already know, Google just unveiled its new superstar smartphone, the Nexus 5. Alongside it, it unleashed Android 4.4 KitKat, which seems like a much bigger upgrade than we're used to, which is great.
One of the killer features of KitKat is that Hangouts has been updated and features proper SMS and MMS integration - which is great! Google says you'll even be able to import existing conversations into Hangouts, another nice touch.
Animated GIFs make an appearance, as well as the Auto Awesome animated photos feature which is found in Google+. These new features will hit the refreshed Hangouts app which will come preinstalled on Nexus 5 devices, and be made available through the Play Store in the coming weeks.
Pandora Internet Radio is the first new app to officially come to Google's Chromecast since its release and was not something many expected to be honest. Many thought that we would see an Amazon Prime, Spotify, or Plex app for Chromecast release by now, but I guess Pandora will suffice for the time being.
Pandora will be updating their app for Android and iOS to include the "Cast" button which users can press to "Cast" their Pandora station to their Chromecast connected TV. "By integrating Google Cast technology into our mobile apps, users now have another easy access point to a better listening experience from the biggest screen in their living room," said Tom Conrad, Pandora's chief technical officer.
I reviewed Google's Chromecast and since then, I use it almost every day. I am still holding out for a Plex, and am hopeful that Spotify will release an app soon as I have not logged into Pandora in quite some time. Another big name I would like to see come to the Chromecast is Audible, as I would enjoy listening to my library without the need for headphones or smartphone audio.
If you're like me, you'll use Google Hangouts for messaging friends who don't use Facebook - I'm looking at you, bro (who is anti-social networks) - but the Mountain View-based giant is looking to make Hangouts a more powerful messaging platform with some new additions that will soon be introduced.
The biggest of which is direct SMS integration, as well as the ability for users to create their own GIF files, as well as share their location. There's some new photography-based additions and auto enhancement tools that we'll see, as well as new effects for saved videos or live Hangouts feeds. The Auto Awesome automatic enhancement and editing tools will be rolled out to video, but most of the new features will be centered around photos.
The video editing tools will make editing video easier, but is a great feature to have on mobile.
Facebook has just launched a new version of its Messenger app for Android and iOS. The newly update app has been completely redesigned from the ground up and appears to have removed many of the stylings it shares with Facebook itself. The new Messenger (note that its not Facebook Messenger anymore) app features a much lighter color pallet and the chat screens are less like the messenger used in the Facebook App.
The new styling is intentional and is part of Facebook's master plan to infiltrate the every growing market of instant messaging apps. At the moment, the messaging ecosystem is dominated by WhatsApp and iMessenger, but it appears that Facebook is looking to hit them head on and the newly updated app proves that by adding in a host of new features. One of the most prevalent new features is that the Messenger app now has the capabilities of identifying users based on their phone numbers, something WhatsApp has been doing since the beginning.
Facebook is testing the new version of Messenger with select users on Android and iOS and will be rolling out the new update over the course of the next few weeks. Have you gotten the update yet? If so, post some images and your thoughts on our Facebook page as we would love to see and hear them!
BlackBerry launched its messaging app on Android and Facebook about a week ago, and now the official numbers are beginning to roll in. Just 24 hours after launch, BlackBerry says that over 1 Million users installed the app to their Android and iOS devices, and that total has risen much higher than anyone expected in just a week.
Today BlackBerry announced that it's BlackBerry Messenger app has been downloaded and installed on Android and iOS over 20 million times since its launch. Unfortunately, the data is not clear on whether users are just installing the app and sharing their pin-code on Facebook or actually using the app. I believe that its more of the latter as for the time being, it is quite difficult adding friends to the service, and users must manually invite each and every friend they want to add to the service. There is no easy group invite feature, and no quick search functionality, and this is where Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp still rule king.
The PS4 is nearly here, with Sony finally confirming that its PlayStation App will be released for both iOS and Android devices in the United States on November 13, with Europeans receiving it on November 22.
The PlayStation App will have some cool functionality, such as the ability to act as a secondary screen on some PS4 games. It will also let gamers access their PSN profiles, check on friends and their trophies, send messages to people who are also running the app, or people on the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita.
Gamers can make purchases directly from the App, with the PS4 remotely downloading the game. You can also use your smartphone or tablet to turn off the PS4, or as a keyboard for typing. I think it's great that Sony has put so much effort into this application, and I look forward to testing it when the PS4 is released. What about you? Let us know in the comments.
Advertisements on Instagram are coming, you can't stop them, so the Facebook-owned company has come out and teased what the ads will look like in users' feeds. The show below, gives you a taste.
Instagram didn't go into much detail, but it has assured users that the ads would be 'natural' and 'creative' where they will fit seamlessly with others photos and videos. The shot you see above features a very distinctive 'Sponsored' label where the time stamp would usually be found. This sample ad will roll out to US Instagram users' feeds "in the coming week" to prepare people for the eventuality of ads in Instagram.
WhatsApp is continuing its meteoric growth, with the messaging app now seeing over 350 million monthly active users. WhatsApp's CEO, Jan Koum announced the milestone on stage during a keynote presentation at the Nokia World 2013 conference.
Just two months ago the messaging app was pushing just over 300 million users, so an increase of 50 million users in the space of two months is nothing short of impressive. The cross-platform abilities of WhatsApp is driving its growth, especially with these kinds of growths over a two-month span.
BlackBerry silently rolled out its BlackBerry Messenger service to Android and iOS earlier this week and today the company announced that within the first 24 hours, the app saw over 10 million downloads. The free app has been slated to arrive on both platforms for more than a year now, and has been delayed due to bugs and financial troubles.
The 10 million downloads were spread out over more than 75 countries including the US, UK and Canada, and BlackBerry is calling the launch a success and "one of the best single-day app launches to date." While we are not so sure about that claim, the fact that the app has received a 4.2 rating on Google Play means that BlackBerry may still have a product that people want to buy. Maybe the future of BlackBerry truly is in software and not hardware.
Yesterday Evernote pushed out an updated version of its productivity app that allows premium users to reorder their homescreen buttons, and delete those that never get used. The apps update also brings forth the ability to view notes within a map view by simply tapping on the name of the location.
Additional functionality was also added that includes a new feature that lets users create as well as save searches from within the search results. Evernote is free on Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and users can upgrade to a premium subscription for just $45 per year or $5 per month. Head over to the source links below to download your copy today!
Today Netflix rolled out version 3.0 of its app for Android. This update features a completely redesigned user interface that is refined, faster and easier to navigate. Overall, the layout is very similar to what we are use to seeing, but the entire skin is sharper, and more crisp.
Netflix redesigned the backend of the app from the ground up and as a result, things are more responsive. When you touch the screen, your touch is instantly recognized, and the screen scrolls like you would expect. Netflix has also improved compatibility with Chromecast and the service feels much more snappy now when casting to your Chromecast. Netflix is slowly rolling the new app out over the next few days so if you have not gotten the update yet, be patient and it will arrive soon.