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Apple is poised to press the all-systems-go button for iTunes Radio, but Pandora is striking its hammer now, with company CFO Mike Herring announcing during Pandora's earnings call yesterday that the company will remove its 40-hour listening limit on mobile devices.
Last we heard they had started a 40-hour listening limit per month because of an increase in royalty rates, but now mobile users can enjoy the same unlimited music streaming goodness that desktop users can enjoy, without the $36 per year charge. Just what accounting magic did Pandora perform to provide mobile listeners with unlimited music, for free? Herring explains:
Our investment in advertising infrastructure and implementing smart levers such as reducing song skipping and limiting mobile listening have helped us drive monetization and manage content costs, as reflected by the increase in RPM and a decrease in content costs as a percentage of revenue
As our results have shown, the continued strong growth in our advertising revenue allowed us to cover the increased royalty costs with dollars left over to invest back into the business. With these tools in hand, and insight into how they work, we are resetting our levers in September. Notably, Pandora plans to eliminate the blanket 40-hour-per-month limit on free mobile listening effective September 1st.
Many years ago, Mozilla revolutionized the browser world with its addition of the "awesomebar" to its Firefox web browser. This awesomebar allowed users to do so much more from the URL bar than just entering URLs. Today, the company announced that it has completely revamped the "awesomescreen" feature in its Firefox for Android app.
In a blog post, user interface engineer Lucas Rocha said that Mozilla has accepted the new awesomescreen design into its beta-stage "nightly" builds, which is where the new feature will be tested, debugged, and further refined before being released into the mainstream app.
The awesomescreen basically meshes together two key features of Firefox: the browser start screen and the screen that is shown when users tap the address bar. Much like Chrome, this new awesomescreen will display thumbnails of webpages from a user's browsing history, bookmarks, and a reading list. Each of these different segments can be featured by swiping from side to side among the different topics.
Earlier today, avast! Software announced the release of its new premium mobile security platform called avast! Mobile Premium. The company says that this premier version of its award-winning mobile security app for Android smartphones and tablets offers customers new superior anti-theft and backup technologies. The company claims that the new software will help owners recover lost or stolen phones by using a new technology called "Geofencing."
Geofencing creates a virtual perimeter around the device and sounds a loud alarm if someone attempts to take the device beyond a user set distance. This new anti-theft feature, when combined with avast's mobile backup, ensures that in the event that a phone is stolen, both the hardware and data are easily recoverable. The backup technology allows you to backup important documents such as photos, contacts, and even financial information.
"More than half the people in the US own a smartphone and consumers are growing more concerned by the day about the security of the information on their mobile devices," said Vincent Steckler, Chief Executive Officer at AVAST. "avast! Mobile Premium easily fills the rapidly growing need for on-the-go security and protection." Check out the full release at Source #1 below. You can pick up the avast! Mobile Premium app from the Google Play Store at Source #2.
In a not-so-surprising move, PayPal is reportedly testing out a new face verification system for mobile payment transactions. PayPal's app currently features a tab called "Local," which allows users to find nearby stores and restaurants that accept mobile PayPal payments.
When a customer checks into a PayPal-capable store, their name and photo appear on the store's PayPal app. The customer can then use the app to pay for items, with the cashier completing the transaction by clicking on the customers profile picture. Head of retail services at PayPal, Rob Harper, has said: "We're pleased to help local businesses of all sizes offer a new more personal experience, while never having to turn away customers who don't have enough cash on them to pay."
Google are continuously pushing out updates to its awesome Google Now app, with today being no exception. The Mountain View-based giant has pushed an update out that includes the ability to keep track of your car rental, and more.
Concert tickets are included in the new update, as well as an update to Now's public transport cards that will notify a user when their last train leaves home. There's also a new football card that will let you check out the latest NCAA scores, if that's your type of thing. There's also a new reminder feature, too.
The reminder feature is accessed by tapping on the "remind me" button when searching for media, which will have Google Now notify you when your favorite TV show, band or author releases something new - a very, very cool new feature. Even better, is an updated TV card which will detect the TV program you're watching using your smartphone's mic, after which it will provide you information on the program you're watching.
Today, Google started rolling out a massive update to its YouTube app for Android. The update brings the application into its fifth iteration and sports a magnitude of new features that improve the user experience tremendously.
YouTube for Android 5.0 ushers in a new picture-in-picture feature that allows users to multitask by minimizing the video they're watching. This feature works by pressing the down arrow in the top left corner, hitting the back button, or swiping down while in full screen mode. This allows you to use the app as normal by searching, browsing, and subscribing to channels while continuing to watch the video you originally selected.
Additionally, the app features a deeper integration with Google's ChromeCast and brings forth a new preview screen with various video-related information with the option to send it to your ChromeCast-connected TV. Google has also updated the app to include the ability to search other user's channels and watch selections from their playlist. With this comes a new-looking user interface that brings it more closely in line with other Google services.
Dropbox has started giving users an additional 1GB of free storage when they link their Mailbox account into the service via the iOS Dropbox application. Users must simply install the Mailbox for iOS application, head to the settings menu, and then tap the "Dropbox" button. After entering your information, the accounts will sync and 1GB of extra space will appear on your Dropbox account.
If you're already a Mailbox user who has previously connected to Dropbox, all you have to do is unlink them and reconnect again and the additional 1GB of storage will be added to your account. Unfortunately, this only works for users who own an iPhone or iPad as the Mailbox app is not available for Android.
Apple is widely expected to release its iTunes Radio streaming service sometime next month. The service was first announced back in June at Apple's WWDC conference and we have known that the free service will be made possible by the injection of ads. Today, we found out what type of ads those will be.
According to website TechSpot, Apple injects three different types of ads into the free version of the streaming service. An audio ad will play every 15 minutes, while a video ad will queue up every hour, and finally the third type of ad is what is known as an interactive "slate" advertisement, which fully consumes the entirety of the display. All three of these ads will be present on the iPhone, iPad, and desktops or laptops running iTunes. It is said that users of Apple TV will also experience similar ads.
Circumventing these ads is quite simple and requires users to purchase an iTunes Match subscription, which will remove all advertisements from the service. In the beginning, the ads will run across all platforms, but later in 2014, advertisers will have the ability to specify specific devices on which they wish their ads to appear. This means that someone advertising iPhone accessories will be able to target their ads to only display on iPhone devices.
A catchy name is everything in the mobile app world. After all, there were hundreds of photo filter apps like Instagram; they did the same thing but never caught on. As a result of its popularity, Instagram has seen parts of its name used in dozens of third-party applications that in some form or another tie into the Instagram Service, and this unauthorized use of its name has the Facebook-owned company in an uproar.
According to a report released today by TechCrunch, Instagram has began sending cease-and-desist emails to companies that feature the "Insta" or "gram" wording in their applications. The first to receive the hit is the app Luxogram, an application that allows you to use Instagram via a web browser.
As TechCrunch points out, while the Instagram name has always been protected by trademark as well as the company's API guidelines, the use of the terms "insta" and "gram" have not. Until very recently, the use of those terms were actually encouraged in the Instagram API documentation. Apparently, Facebook has decided that allowing third parties to use either of these terms is unacceptable and could damage the Instagram name.
Today, Google is showing off the first round of integration between its Maps for mobile service and the recently acquired Waze traffic data startup. Now in both the Google Maps for Android and iOS, users can select the traffic tab and see notifications of accidents, construction, road closures, and other incidents reported by Waze users. This includes the reporting of roadblocks as well as locations of police patrol cars.
On the flipside, the Waze app now supports Google Search, and Google has granted access to Street View and satellite imagery. With Waze users reporting over 1 million accidents and blockages per month, the addition of Waze incident reports to Google Maps is a substantial improvement to the service. "I think it will have a pretty big impact," said Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps. "A big fraction of GMM users will see these."
"We are cross-pollinating as much as possible," McClendon said of his team and the Waze U.S. unit, which moved to Mountain View a couple weeks ago while the company's engineering group remains in Tel Aviv. "We're learning a lot both ways; it's a very strong meeting of the minds."