There's a new version of YouTube out, and as usual, hidden inside its chocolaty center are hints at upcoming features and capabilities. We've seen information about a lot of this stuff before, some of which has even been confirmed by Google itself. Aside from the user interface changes we mentioned in the announcement post, there are framework elements for the upcoming YouTube subscription service, "Uninterrupted Playback," an offline video mode, and background music listening.
If you're a regular user of the iHeartRadio service, there's a big update waiting for you in the Play Store. The most useful addition in the new version of the Android app is undoubtedly the expanded control options: you can now pause, play, or advance your streaming music on the lockscreen or the new notification. The notification is even expandable - are you watching this, Pandora?
The user interface gets a fancy new slide-out menu, accessible from the main player and home screens.
Third-party music players are a little less important ever since Google cleaned up Play Music, but there's still something to be said for the venerable old doubleTwist. This app has gone through several UI iterations and adjusted its feature set to better serve Android users as time went on. With the newest update, the app improves support for tablets with a UI overhaul, among other improvements.
A few months ago Spotify introduced the ability for users to stream music over Wi-Fi to a select speakers. The feature, coined Spotify Connect, was unfortunately limited only to iOS devices. Now an update has landed for the Android app that officially makes it multi-platform.
You will need a Spotify Premium subscription in order to make use of this feature, but that's not all. Only a few speakers currently work with Spotify Connect.
Remember two years ago when everyone was head-over-heels in love with Turntable.fm? Well, things haven't gone swimmingly since the hype died down. After launching mobile apps and rolling out new features, the team is calling it quits. Instead of continuing with Turntable.fm, they're going to work on a new live concert platform called Turntable Live.
In case you never got swept up in the hype, Turntable.fm is an online community where you can start rooms and play songs for everyone.
SoundCloud is known for letting users share original audio, and it's a great way to hear a bit of what creative types are out there, well, creating. With millions of users, there's ample reason to keep the Android app from stagnating for too long. So version 2.7 is now rolling out, and it brings a handful of new features that improve the interface and make discovering new content even easier.
The side menu has been redesigned to make most-used functions more accessible.
It seems like if you're willing to strap a computer to your face, you should at least be able to listen to music with it. However, that isn't an option with Google Glass, but it will be in just a few short weeks. Google has announced that Glass Explorers will soon have the option to stream tunes from Google Play Music on Glass. There will also be new Glass stereo earbuds available for a proper listening experience.
Google has been fiddling with the way lockscreen media controls should work since Ice Cream Sandwich, and they've gotten yet another makeover in KitKat. When a supported app like Google Play Music, Netflix, or Play Movies is running in the background (Chromecast-only in the last two instances) you get a full screen display of the artwork associated with the content on the lockscreen. It offers some new functionality too.
You can still navigate around to other lockscreen widgets and the album art will still be there – it essentially takes the place of your background.
A few of our readers spotted the Chromecast icon hanging out in yesterday's tablet-focused update to Pandora, and sure enough, it looks like the flip was switched this morning. You can now use Pandora to stream your stations directly from Chromecast the same way that you can with Google Play Music. Our guess is that Google needed to enable support via its media provider app list.
There's no need to update the app again if you grabbed yesterday's update, though you may need to force close it if it's been running in the background.