Say it with me now: piracy is bad. There are ways to get free copies of just about everything online, but even setting aside the legal and moral aspects of it, doing so can come with the risk of infecting your computer with something icky or falling victim to a phishing attempt. People who know their way around the woods will continue to be able to take advantage of things, but Google's working on reducing the likelihood that the average user will end up in a place they don't want to be.
The cool kids like the quality of their music turned up all the way to 320 kbps (the coolest ones prefer lossless), but that's a luxury that often goes away with streaming music over the Internet. Rdio says it's had enough with that lower quality crap (I can't really tell the difference, but the cool kids tell me that stuff's awful), so it is bringing in the ability to stream and download songs at 320 kbps over both Wi-Fi and a cellular connection.
I've wanted HBO for a while now, but I haven't desired it strongly enough to subscribe to an expensive cable plan and put up with an ugly box under my TV. I'm a young twenty-something that has cut the cord with no desire to get tethered down to such a dated system, and since I refuse to pirate content, I've opted to miss out on some great shows. I would love to give HBO my money, if only they would let me.
As cool as Google Voice's free text message service is, it has always been a bit barebones. Big features like MMS have been missing for a lot of users, with some notable exceptions. Multimedia Message Service, usually used to simply attach a photo to a text message, is handled by completely different servers at most carriers, causing some problems with Google's forwarding system. It looks like Google has addressed these issues, at least for most people in the US and Canada, finally enabling the sending and receiving of MMS via Google Voice.
Google employee Alex Wiesen announced the new feature on his personal Google+ account.
The folks over at Comedy Central have hit up Google Play with an official Android app, and it's looking pretty good. The company's promising full episodes available the day after they air, stand-up specials, and access to some older content - such as every episode of Chappelle's Show. The app can toss up a TV schedule if you just want to know what's coming up next.
A TV subscription is required for most of the content, though the Play Store page says a login isn't required to view the latest episodes.
With a Sonos sound system, people can pump music through every room of the house using their Android phone or tablet as a master control device. This wireless audio jujitsu previously required users to directly plug a Sonos Bridge into their routers, which would create a dedicated network for the system to do its business on. With version 5.1, the Bridge is no longer required. New customers can set up their Sonos systems using their existing Wi-Fi networks.
Earlier this summer word got out that Mozilla was working on a media streaming stick of its own that's intended to be a more open option than Google's Chromecast. The device would allow anyone to cast to it, regardless of their platform or the content they're hoping to cast. Yet even with these big plans, the organization has still taken the time to bake Chromecast support into Firefox, starting with the nightly builds.
Google knows using YouTube on a TV could be better, so the company has started to push out an updated version that fits in more with the company's latest sense of style (Android TV, anyone?) and, more importantly, makes content easier to access.
YouTube looks great on a TV, but it's not as easy to browse as other media services such as Netflix and Hulu, where users can just shift through movie titles and the latest shows without having to go through all that much effort.
Amazon's flaming media streaming and gaming box is currently marked down to $84. This is a savings of $15 on the original price. The difference here isn't enough to get Fire TV detractors to change their tune, but if you were considering picking up Amazon's little black box, this might just help with the decision.
We've put the Fire TV through its paces in a lengthy review, and to sum things up shortly - it's not a bad box.
Android's screen casting feature lets people cast all the things, but it doesn't let them cast to all the things. No, Google will officially send media out to a Chromecast, but for other things, that's where third-party apps come in. One of the better options, LocalCast, has jumped up to a new version that brings the app up-to-date with the next release of Android (since L isn't actually out yet, would that make this before-to-date...up-to-early...ahead-of-date?).