Archives For Apple

Amazon Prime Music Arrives!

Dave Zatz —  June 12, 2014

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After months of rumor and speculation, Amazon Prime Music has arrived. And, as with other Prime benefits, the streaming service is effectively free for existing Prime members ($99/yr). At launch, Amazon’s collection pales in comparison to other streaming music services, such as Spotify. Yet, as The Verge notes, it doesn’t have to compete head-on. Prime Music is a just-nice-enough perk that it’ll surely replace my $4/mo Pandora and provides another reason to stick with Prime (despite LaserShip’s ongoing delivery challenges).

As to the service itself, it’s an interesting ad-free hybrid of albums, tracks, and playlists… with favorites ending up cross-pollinating your library of Amazon music purchases. In fact, anything tagged Prime can be downloaded for offline listening. Sadly, Amazon “Cloud Player” joins “Unbox” in the digital media dustbin as the e-tailer goes with the clear, yet dull, “Amazon Music” app branding for iOS and Android. Regarding app distribution, Fire TV support remains notably absent and my Sonos connected speaker system hasn’t yet been updated. Soon?

2014-06-09 20.29.20

Intro
Ever misplaced your keys? Or wanted to know when your luggage has arrived at the baggage claim?  Maybe marked the spot where you parked the car in the mall lot?

The Elgato Smart Key aims to address all of these situations as a sensor that you either attach or place on different items for tracking. Depending on what you are looking to track, the Smart Key can notify you of certain situations that might need attention.  Walk too far away from your keys, it will start to beep. Attach to your luggage and when it comes near to you at baggage claim, your phone will notify you. Continue Reading…

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Any geek (or developer) with even a passing interest in Apple surely is aware that the Cupertino company hosted their annual developer’s conference this past week. And what a doozy it was, with massive, meaningful updates planned this fall in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, emphasizing continuity and cloud. There’s a lot to digest. But even given a limited, initial analysis, I’m pretty stoked. Here’s an early breakdown of two compelling Apple software initiatives: Continue Reading…

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My T-Mobile honeymoon has long since passed, with the day-to-day reality of life on a second-rate carrier having set in. Of course, your mileage may vary as cell coverage is highly dependent upon locale (or building composition). For me, T-Mobile has provided an extremely frustrating experience with perhaps, ironically, superior coverage roaming overseas partners versus native networks here at home — with the majority of my calls dropping. On the occasions I have coverage to initiate one. Continue Reading…

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TiVo continues to execute on their multiscreen strategy, having just cranked out a significant update to their iOS app. In addition to the requisite iPhone and iPad bug fixes, the revised app features:

  • New design for iOS7
  • New Facebook feed in “What To Watch”
  • New YouTube video feeds in “What To Watch”

By linking both my YouTube and (wife’s) Facebook account, new panels of suggested video appear in the sprightlier What To Watch section… with options to playback video on your TiVo-connected television or directly on the phone. Also interesting is the “Shared by Friends” Facebook heading – as it leaves the door open for other means of pulling in social video. As I’m blogging from an airport terminal, I haven’t yet had a chance to fully explore the features… so consider this a community project and let us know what you’ve discovered in the comments below.

Roku’s mobile apps see significant updates this week, featuring a flatter, more minimalistic appearance and the introduction of universal content search. Sound familiar? The handy universal search isn’t new to Roku, but it is new to the app – which is ultimately a more efficient location. And, beyond video availability, it also looks like we’ll be treated to metadata in the form of actor filmographies to explore. Of course, the compelling existing features of beaming photos to the big screen and direct channel launch remain. Yet we still pine for Miracast. The 3.0 iOS app update is available in iTunes for iPhone and iPad, with the refreshed Android app having hit Google Play.

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After what seems like a million years, Sonos has begun to refresh their app interfaces with something a bit more modern (and flat). Along with the updated visuals, organization is vastly different as well. And, having only spent a day with the beta Android app, I’m not quite ready to pass judgement. The app opens to a screen headlined by a listing of music sources and paired with new search functionality, spanning multiple services. Pinned to the bottom of the home screen, is a speaker – by clicking that, you bring up a Now Playing screen. To see other speakers/rooms, you’d tap the current room’s name in the upper right. It doesn’t appear all features are in place yet, as you might expect from beta software, and I’m not sure flipping between white and black backgrounds is the best approach – but I had no problems getting my music going. iOS iPhone and iPad updates, along with the final Android app, are expected later this spring.