Samsung brought adblocking to mobile browser this week which promptly caught the ire of Google. Now pulled from the Play Store, the Adblock Fast app -- which used Samsung's custom API -- exceeded 50,000 downloads and appeared in the top charts in its short lifespan.
Fast was developed by Rocketship Apps; one of its staff members Brian Kennish posted the e-mail behind the jump from Google which was sent to them after the app was pulled without warning.
Not to be outdone by Alphabet's announcement of 1 billion monthly users of Gmail, Facebook has announced that WhatsApp is now home to 1 billion monthly users, too.
With WhatsApp still charging its $1 annual subscription fee to its users, with over 1 billion users - that's a nice amount of pocket change for WhatsApp each year, just on its annual subscription fee. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to his personal Facebook account, where he said: "One billion people now use WhatsApp. Congrats to Jan, Brian and everyone who helped reach this milestone!"
He continued: "WhatsApp's community has more than doubled since joining Facebook. We've added the ability for you to call loved ones far away. We've dropped the subscription fee and made WhatsApp completely free. Next, we're going to work to connect more people around the world and make it easier to communicate with businesses. There are only a few services that connect more than a billion people. This milestone is an important step towards connecting the entire world".
Today marks the end of free streaming through Apple's iTunes Radio service, which, as reported previously, is being rolled into its subscription-based service Apple Music. As of now, should you attempt to listen to the Radio service by any means, you'll be prompted to join Apple Music. The sole exception is the Beats 1 station, which is still available to iTunes users everywhere.
iTunes Radio launched in 2013 alongside iTunes 11.1 and iOS 7. Much like Spotify, it was ad-supported and encouraged discovery of new music through featured stations and various algorithms. Unlike Spotify, there was no ad-free subscription.
In its year-ahead look, Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman notes its Android app is going into beta today, with iOS to follow "soon."
Unfortunately, this is a closed beta, sign-ups for which began last month. So if you didn't sign up then, you're out of luck. If you did, check your e-mail.
Excitement for the app is paired with apprehension, as reddit's current iOS app Alien Blue has been extremely poorly received, with some users saying it's only gotten worse over time. Reddit's battle for approval is even more uphill than that, given quality apps Sync and Relay are already doing a great job of making the site easier and more enjoyable to browse on smartphones.
A fresh update for Google's chat app Hangouts adds in quick reply functionality. When a notification comes in for a call or message, so will a button that allows you to reply without entering an entirely new window. This is handy if you just want to shoot a quick message to someone, to tell them you're not available for a call or you'll be right back or whatever else.
The other key change in the update is conversation shortcuts, so now you can just click a button on the Home screen to talk to specific people.
You can find the APK at the source.
After initially announcing for May, Spotify AB will finally be introducing video content of all kinds to its Android app this week; iOS users will receive it by the end of next week (January 29), whereas desktop users won't receive it at all. The content will only be available in US, UK, Germany, and Sweden (at least for now).
Testing for the new content began months ago, during which time the company learned music-related videos like Epic Rap Battles are popular with users, and that users want compartmentalized content, so you'll be able to test out what are effectively playlists. Spotify already has this functionality for music, so it should feel familiar.
Apple has released a new app called Music Memos that lets you record basic songs on your iPhone, edit them a little, and then if you like, port them to GarageBand for heavy duty changes. It seems to be intended for sketching out song ideas -- particularly on acoustic guitar and piano -- when you're out and about, although the tools included and uncompressed, high-quality audio let you put together an impressive song just with the app itself, especially if you elect to connect an external mic.
Once you record the song, you can add in a virtual drummer and bassist which play along intelligently, speeding up or slowing down as appropriate. Hit the source for demos of this in action -- the result is surprisingly professional.
Android Central, finding performance issues across multiple phones, determined the Facebook app to be the primary culprit. Uninstalling it, it found the issues were "gone entirely". I've had issues myself on my Moto G recently so naturally I gave it a go, at which point I did indeed experience majorly improved performance.
You might be thinking, "Well that's no good to me -- I need my Facebook to live." Turns out the Facebook mobile website is pretty great, and if you access it via Chrome, you still get notifications. For the chat aspect, you can simply use the Messenger app only. There are some features hardcore users will miss, but most should be plenty satisfied.
As of today, the Starbucks app will now tell you what music is playing while you're in the store. Not only that, you can save the songs to Spotify playlists, "Love" songs to influence your Starbucks playlists, share the songs online, and play the songs on Spotify. And with Spotify itself, you can check out playlists curated by Starbucks, even if you're a Free user.
Currently, only US stores and US Spotify customers will be able to make use of this; we've asked Starbucks if and when the feature will make it to other parts of the world and will update this story if we hear back.
Some have reported Google has allowed you to install apps directly from its search results for about a month now, but as of about today, it looks like a wider roll-out of the new feature has taken place.
By directly we mean you click the install button (which already shows up for everyone), then instead of going to the Play Store, you are immediately prompted to install the app without having to leave your search.
It didn't work in our testing, but try it for yourself by simply searching for an app via Google and let us know what you find. If nothing new, sit tight: Google may well release the feature to everyone soon.