Beats Music is catching up on its competitors Rdio and Spotify by making its API public. Up until this point, the company only gave its API out to a few select partners so that they could create integrations with compatible devices.
Now that developers have access to the API, they have access to Beats' catalog of over 20 million tracks, as well as metadata, artist and album art, personal recommendations, and the company's own curated content. The curated content is what Beats believes will make its service stand out against the streaming music crowd.
Opening up its API has Beats in a more competitive nature, as it will allow developers to get elbows deep in its code, making the service available on more platforms.
Some people are impatient, and don't want to wait for their torrent to download before they want to click the play button, so Popcorn Time has released a piece of software (that is still currently in beta) that should have you smiling.
Popcorn Time is an app that works on Windows, Mac and Linux that lets you search the web for torrents, and watch them right away. The software will choose the best version of the content you want, and then begin streaming. Of course, torrents are illegal in most countries, so this news is for those who live in countries where this might not be illegal. You've been warned!
Valve released its Steam Family Options in January, but has just now unshackled Steam Family Sharing from its long-standing beta run, making it available to all Steam users.
If you haven't heard of Steam Family Sharing until now, let's run through it. Steam Family Sharing allows those with blood ties to you to freely share access to retail PC, Mac and Linux game releases through Steam. Valve's official description of Steam Family Sharing reads: "Players who share computers can now also share their available libraries with one another, each earning their own achievements and saving their own game progress to the Steam Cloud. It's all enabled by authorizing shared computers and the familiar accounts that log into them".
The FrostWire BitTorrent client has integrated bitcoin donation payments into its latest client build, opening the door to artists, content holders, and others to be rewarded for broader content distribution.
PayPal has remained a popular payment method for online file sharers, but bitcoin - and it's supposed increased layers of anonymity and security - and accepting a wider variety of currencies help spur donations from spontaneous contributors.
Thousands of companies and retailers accept bitcoin as a payment option, though there is continued concern related to value stability and legalities. However, services looking to receive donations and financial support should not have a problem receiving bitcoin, such as FrostWire's decision to accept payment.
The Game Developer's Conference 2014 is being held next month, where Microsoft will be hosting a session called "DirectX: Evolving Microsoft's Graphics Platform". The session is being hosted by Anuj Gosalia, Developement Manager for Windows Graphics. The session is described as:
"For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet.
However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console.
Come learn our plans to deliver."
Referring to 'closer to the metal' means more control over your GPU, with lower CPU overheads - which is similar, if not identical to AMD's Mantle technology. If this is the case, it could be quite the benefit to PC gamers, as it will increase performance across the board of hardware, not just limited to AMD GPUs, but NVIDIA, Intel, and others.
Back in November 2013, the FCC released its Speed Test App for Android users that is designed to let users of Android devices help test the speed of broadband networks around the country. The FCC has now announced that the app is available for iOS users as well.
The app for iOS is a bit different than the Android version. iOS users are unable to allow the app to run in the background periodically as the Android offering does. Users of the iOS flavor will need to run the test manually.
The app will gather valuable information about the speed and reach of broadband networks in the country. Data gathered by the Android app has been used in three reports already according to the FCC.
RSA 2014 - The Microsoft XP end of support date is looming on April 8, and while most users have migrated to Windows 7 or 8, there are some stragglers that still want to feel nostalgic.
The 2014 RSA Conference might be focused largely on cybersecurity and mobility, but XP-related solutions are also on display.
There is a unique opportunity for companies that want to cater to current XP users, such as the Unisys Stealth security platform - Stealth protection offers XP endpoints to be undetectable - and only admins and assigned users can make use of the XP endpoint.
Home users and companies that continue to wait to migrate to Windows 7 or 8.1 will face long-term security issues that open the door to an increased number of security vulnerabilities. However, there are companies that understand a small amount of users will continue to procrastinate before migrating, and want to offer added layers of security.
Microsoft's Office Web Apps was meant to take on Google's Drive / Docs services, unfortunately it seems like the masses never took hold of Office Web Apps the way we all adopted to using Google Drive. Microsoft seems to think that the issue lies within the service's branding, and this week made a major move to rebrand Office Web Apps to something that makes a little more sense.
The service is now called Office Online, something many feel that it should have always been named. Microsoft says that the new name more closely reflects what the actual product is, and is free to use for OneDrive users. The rebrand also includes a new URL, Office.com, which should go a long way in introducing new users to the service. Office Online is made up of Word, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint,Excel and more, and even includes Google Drive-like co-editing features. Microsoft has also refreshed the service with a wealth of new templates, and given the UI a handy drop-down toolbar to make life easier.
You might remember that Microsoft also rebranded its SkyDrive cloud storage service to the new name of OneDrive earlier this week. The renaming stemmed from a lost trademark battle with British Sky Broadcasting last year. OneDrive and Office Online sync up together just like Google Drive and Google Docs do, and users are given 7GB of storage space for free upon signing up. Additional space can be purchased, and 500MB of free storage is given with each user referral.
While we don't yet officially know what Windows Phone 8.1 will feature, there have been a number of leaks that hint at what the next smartphone operating system from Microsoft will offer. We are expecting Windows Phone 8.1 to bring a revised notification center. That revised notification center surfaced in some leaked screen shots earlier this month.
This week a video has turned up that claims to show another feature of Windows Phone 8.1 in use on the video. The video is of the official bake din Microsoft swipe keyboard. If you have ever used a swipe keyboard on another device, you know how this works.
The idea is that you can slide your fingers around the screen without having to pick your finger up to select a letter or symbol. Along with the swipe keyboard, a few other nice features are also tipped to be coming.
If you are a big fan of the Google Chromecast device, it will be getting a new trick soon. The Chromecast was designed to shoot content like photos, music, and video form the Android device to your big screen in the living room. Soon the Chromecast will get the ability to mirror screen content.
That should mean that anything seen on the screen of the Android device could be seen on your big screen. That means everything from your home page to your favorite game app presumably. The ability to mirror the screen will be coming via the AllCast app.
There will be a bit of lag, as you would get with other screen mirroring solutions like Miracast. The lag isn't expected to affect the ability for users to watch videos. There are a few things that we don't know just yet about the screen mirroring experience.
If you have ever had someone send you a digital document that you had to sign and a fax machine wasn't handy, you know what a pain this is. You have to print the document, sign it with a pen, scan it back in, attach it to an email, and then email it back. Microsoft has announced that it is teaming up with DocuSign to streamline the process of signing digital documents.
Microsoft and DocuSign have teamed up to bring the ability to digitally sign documents in Office 365. Office 365 is the online subscription version of the Office productivity suite. The long-term deal will definitely streamline the singing of digital documents.
Under the new deal, users of Office 365 will be able to apply digital signatures to documents from within Office 365. The app for digital signatures will be tightly integrated into Word, SharePoint Online, Outlook and more.
Penn Manor High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will embrace the open source Linux platform, installing it on more than 1,700 laptops. Every student at Penn Manor HS received an Acer TravelMate laptop powered by the Ubuntu 13.10 OS - and the student body was encouraged to explore the OS and push its limits.
"We encourage our students to install software and lift the hood of the system to better understand what makes it tick," said Charlie Reisinger, Penn Manor district technology director, in a statement to Linux.com. "I hope our students run local webservers, toy with Python or simply explore graphics programs such as GIMP. Linux offers so many opportunities to explore computing, programming, and the arts."
Desktop Linux market share, at just 1.60 percent, is dwarfed by the Microsoft Windows operating systems - but still plays an important role in our everyday lives. Google Android, for example, got its successful starting using Linux, while set-top boxes, supercomputers, researchers use open source technology, and many cloud-based services rely on Linux in one its software layers.
U.S. companies and universities are desperate to try and increase student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
In less than two months, Microsoft will officially pull the plug on Windows XP after more than 12 years of general availability of the popular OS. XP served as a dependable OS that already surpassed Microsoft's expectations, though the software company is anxious to migrate users to the still struggling Windows 8/8.1 operating system.
Microsoft will officially end support for XP on April 8, and is now urging home users, small and midsize-businesses, and corporations to finally migrate. Consumers that might be more interested in Windows 7 will be discouraged that Microsoft pulled the OS from its retail stores, and stopped selling to OEMs long ago - though many e-tailers still have Windows 7 OS copies - and Windows 7-powered PCs and laptops available.
Despite 8/8.1 frustrating some users, the OS is significantly more secure than XP - and has modern support from hardware and software makers - but XP still controls around 29 percent of the desktop OS market.
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games from Sochi, Russia is being broadcasted by NBC in the United States, with streams into the living room, over the Internet, and on mobile devices. NBC teamed up with Microsoft, using the company's Azure Media Services video service platform that Microsoft powers with its own data centers.
Analysts believe Olympic viewers will watch and stream the Olympics for at least six hours per day, which was the average during the 2012 London Olympics.
"We are pleased to be working once again with Microsoft, and we are confident that Windows Azure Media Services will help us provide the most robust streaming experience ever for a Winter Olympics," said Richard Cordella, NBC Sports Group Digital Media GM, in a statement.
Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Cup, present a great opportunity for tech companies to test their cloud computing products. Microsoft Azure already powers around half of Fortune 500 companies, and working with NBC at the Olympics presents a great way to woo potential clients.
Newly appointed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella plans to focus on mobile solutions and cloud computing during the early part of his reign as leader.
Nadella takes over for former CEO Steve Ballmer, as Ballmer leaves behind a 14-year-reign that has left many consumers and analysts disappointed. Nadella has served as the executive vice president behind Microsoft's cloud efforts, which doubled its growth last quarter.
The software giant has embraced cloud computing with success, as its Office 365 service is popular among businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions. However, disappointment with Windows 8/8.1 on the desktop and Windows RT and Windows Phone on mobile devices continues to frustrate users.
Microsoft will continue its attempt to migrate towards the mobile space, though has lacked appealing software to entice users. It's a shame because a seamless transition from desktop Windows apps to a tablet and smartphone would generate great interest from business users.
SteamOS would feel a little lonely right now, and quiet, but Steam Music beta is coming, very soon. Steam Music will allow gamers to listen to local music files within SteamOS, while playing games.
The closed beta is accessed by joining the Steam Music community, where you might get randomly selected. Valve has said that the beta testers will be "invited in waves" before the feature goes live for everyone.
AMD has just unleashed its new Catalyst 14.1 Beta drivers, which include the first proper look at Mantle in the public space. There is a download that you'll need for Battlefield 4 to enable Mantle, too.
Another Mantle-capable game is Star Swarm, which is available on Steam, and includes some bigger performance improvements when using a CPU-limited system. AMD is claiming a gigantic 319% performance improvement when running Star Swarm on its Extreme setting at 1080p, using their A10-7700K processor.
This is the very first release of Mantle, so we should only expect things to get better from here on out. You can grab the new drivers here.
NVIDIA has just posted its new GeForce 334.67 Beta drivers, which include a bunch of additions and improvements to its 3D Vision content. The usual tweaks and improvements across the board are also provided. This is what you can expect from GeForce 334.67 Beta drivers:
- Assassin's Creed Liberation HD - Created profile (download through GeForce Experience)
- Gas Guzzlers - created profile
- HeartStone: Heroes of Warcraft - created profile
- Assassin's Creed III - Rating now "Excellent"
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Rating now "Excellent"
- Battlefield 4 - Rating now "Good"
- BioShock Infinite - Rating now "Excellent"
- Far Cry 3 - Rating now "Good"
- Hitman: Absolution - Rating now "Excellent"
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted - Rating now "Good"
- Saints Row IV - Rating now "Good"
- Sniper Elite V2 - Rating now "Excellent"
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist - Rating now "Good"
- Total War: Shogun 2 - Rating now "Good"
- Warframe - Laser sight and shadows fixed
You can grab the new GeForce 334.67 Beta drivers right here.
NFL sponsor and tech giant SAP will help bring technology to the Super Bowl experience, providing updated, custom information for football fans. Both companies have provided real-time team and player stats throughout the season, and will continue to improve for future seasons.
Using its own NetBase analytics software, SAP is going to provide an interactive exhibit for football fans in New York City, running through next Sunday. The information provided is based on data collected from social analytics, compiled throughout the season, including positive and negative team sentiment, team support from fans, and social media buzzword tracking.
SAP and other big-money sports sponsors are getting creative to help boost return-on-investment and company brand exposure. The NFL uses SAP cloud computing software and both companies are in the second year of a multi-year business partnership.
TiVo has laid off its hardware team as the company continues to transition into cloud-based streaming services, while the home entertainment industry continues to evolve. The company didn't officially say the hardware staff was laid off, with company executives noted the employees were "reassigned," though didn't mention if they were given a new role.
"We continue to balance appropriate levels of staffing and expertise necessary to support our existing hardware business and continue our innovation in hardware platforms and accessories with the need to allocate resources where strategic growth opportunities exist - and there is no doubt that we expect growth in the cloud-based delivery aspects of TiVo's business," said Steve Wymer, TiVo VP of Public Relations and corporate communications.
During the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month, TiVo didn't announce any new direct-to-consumer products.
If TiVo is axing its hardware division, it's hard to imagine the company will continue on making set-top boxes and other hardware - even if company officials claim they plan to.
PC maker Hewlett-Packard will continue to sell Windows 7-powered PCs until Microsoft's tentative deadline of October 2014 to stop pre-installs, with options still available to interested consumers and business users. However, many OEMs are focusing more on promoting Windows 8 and 8.1, which provides better sales revenue from the touch-enabled devices.
Microsoft increasingly wants value-added resellers (VARs) and partners to push consumers directly to Windows 8 or 8.1 - but clients still have the option of downgrading from 8/8.1 to 7. However, customers not ready to embrace 8/8.1 are choosing the familiarity and stability of Windows 7, and that trend doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.