Google isn't taking the arrival of Apple Music lightly, it would seem. The company just announced a new free tier of Play Music in the US that provides access to ad-supported streaming radio. It looks to have all the same restrictions as other free streaming services, but you can't argue with the price.
Back in May Spotify offered a healthy serving of new functionality to iOS users that, dagnabbit, we Android folks wanted too. At the time, we were told that our taste would come in the near future with no specific timing. Well, premium Spotify subscribers have started to see the features show up in the latest beta updates.
Music will generally sound better coming through the Sonos speaker system in your home than your phone or computer, so it's a no brainer that Spotify subscribers want to stream albums this way. Fortunately new features have found their way into the beta version of the Android app that make this a better experience.
A number of these additions help you find new content. Spotify Premium subscribers can now start radio stations from any artist or track and get recommendations based on the time of day. The app will also do its part to help you discover newly released albums, and access to charts lets you see what music is trending in various parts of the world.
The latest app from doubleTwist lets you take advantage of all that online storage you're (maybe) sitting on. CloudPlayer does what the name suggests—it plays music from your cloud storage. Just upload your tracks and plug in CloudPlayer.
The app supports Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive. You would, of course, be able to simply navigate to the file locations of any song in one of the official clients for these services and play it, but CloudPlayer operates like a traditional music player.
Under the hood improvements don't always get much love, but there is a segment of Android users that will be thrilled to hear about what Google has done for those working with audio. The headlining change is an API for MIDI, which is the primary interface for communicating music-oriented information between devices. The net result of this will be making it far easier for developers to create apps that interact with hardware for making music or other sorts of sounds.
Attention parents! Google has some free music on Google Play today to make your next family road trip a pleasure for your children and torture for you. Play: Music, by The Rainbow Collections, is currently free. This timeless collection of wonderful(ly annoying) children's music contains classics such as 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star', 'Row Your Boat', and 'Old MacDonald'.
As much as I have tried to educate my two boys that eighties rock is far better road trip music material, they still prefer this dreadful stuff.
The new version of Shazam has a feature that will probably appeal to smartwatch people. You can now use your Android Wear watch to identify songs and see lyrics without ever touching your phone. In fact, you only have to touch the watch twice (or zero times) to get it done.
There's a new streaming music service in town, and people seem excited about this one. The UK-based MixRadio has the customary umpteen million tracks available, but it tries to be more personal than services like Pandora. It also seems a little less restrictive in what you can do with the free streaming music.
YouTube updates have been rolling out about every week or two for the last couple of months. Most of the changes haven't been very big, but they're polishing up little aspects of the app in notable ways. The latest version bump doesn't bring significant modifications, either, but it's continuing the trend of small but visible changes. A permanent Cast button has been placed in the action bar and there are updated icons in the privacy selector for uploads.
Google just rolled out an update to Play Music, but not for the app. This time it's the web interface that is getting a fresh coat of paint—an interesting shade of Android app. Yes, the web interface looks almost exactly like the app now.