On the eve of I/O, Google managed to finalize deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment to bring a music subscription service to both YouTube and Google Play, according to a report by The Verge that is now being corroborated by The Wall Street Journal. If everything goes smoothly, a preview or launch of the new service tomorrow isn't out of the question. The Journal similarly says the streaming solution could launch "as soon as this week." That would give Google a substantial leg up over Apple, which is still in the process of negotiating contracts for its own music streaming solution.
Whether due to neglect or a topsy-turvy set of priorities, Android developers sometimes leave out basic features like lock screen or notification (I'm looking at you, Spotify) controls. Well, Pandora is fixing at least some of its problems with an update that brings the ability to pause or skip tracks from the lock screen. Unfortunately, notification controls still aren't available but, hey. One step at a time.
Here's the full change log:
What's in this version:
- Lock screen controls for devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and later
- Added elapsed and remaining timestamps to the track progress indicator
- Reduced startup time
- Bug fixes and enhancements
Aside from the lock screen controls, it's not a huge update, but it's always encouraging to see a prominent developer truly take advantage of what Android can do.
Users of the app can now browse their song history if they want to find a track that they liked in the past, and those tracks can be reviewed, rated, or bookmarked whilst browsing.
If you love a particular track, you can now dive into the information associated with it to find a full bio of the artist, as well as tracks and artists similar to the song that you're currently listening to. For those of you who like to sing along to your music, you can also view all of the lyrics to the song so that you don't end up looking like this...
No, it's not. At least not for Android - and that's what we're here to talk about today. The merits of Spotify as a music streaming subscription service for your desktop are substantially greater - it's well organized, searching and streaming are quick, powerful, and pretty. There's a lot to love - and at $10 (or free for ad-supported and no Android playback) a month for unlimited streaming, those plusses are hard to argue against.
Unfortunately, if you plan on using Spotify on your Android device, there's a lot less to love, unless your musical needs are very specific. Spotify for Android is good for one thing: finding music.
Sonos is a company well-known in the tech industry for their line of wireless speaker systems, designed to let you sling music around your house without the hassle of complex setup processes or routing wires through ceilings and walls. To mark the launch of their Sonos Controller for Android application, Sonos generously loaned me a full multi-room system consisting of two Sonos S5 speaker units and a wireless ZoneBridge router. Given the buzz surrounding Sonos's products, it seemed best to review the system as a whole, viewing the application and hardware as a complete set. Read on to see how it all stacked up.
The team behind Buzz Voice, a service that converts posts from your favorite blogs and news sites into speech, and previously available exclusively in the Apple ecosystem, has been working diligently for the past few months to release a version for the Android OS. The good news finally came this past weekend, when Buzz Voice for Android was officially announced.
Buzz Voice on the Android platform brings a couple of new features over its Apple counterparts, including an Android Radio which features Android Police, among other great Android sites.