At the start of this review, I was simultaneously excited and frustrated. Now I'm just plain excited. For a bit of context, I have been bouncing between cloud music services since Lala was still a thing. I had one simple desire: I wanted to pay a monthly fee for unfettered access to a large library of content, but still wanted to be able to bring my own. I know that $10/month is not going to get me every song in existence, but if I can pay for most music, and then supply the rest, I'll be happy. Today, Google finally gave me what I wanted and, make no mistake, this is the model that other apps are going to follow for a long time to come.
We just got done breaking down the proposed Dish-led acquisition of Sprint which is in no small part about gaining control of Clearwire's sweet, sweet spectrum. Now we're hearing that Verizon is reportedly also throwing its bid in, but not to buy any of the companies involved. Just to gut their ability to function as wireless carriers by gobbling up spectrum.
In a recent filing, Clearwire disclosed that an unidentified "Party J" offered up to $1.5b for the airwaves that it owns. According to the Wall Street Journal, Verizon is that secret party. This could throw a kink in Sprint's plans.
Sprint is currently in the midst of a buyout with Japanese company SoftBank that would give the foreign telecom control of not only the Now Network, but Clearwire as well, and infuse the company with some much-needed cash. Dish Network, however, hopes to derail these plans with a bid of its own, offering more cash than Softbank has on the table, as well as synergy with its existing television and and broadband packages.
Dish is offering Sprint roughly $25.5 billion for the carrier. This is about $5 billion more than SoftBank is offering, and would keep ownership of the company within the U.S.
Two weeks ago, we took a look at the invite-only beta of Redbox Instant. In that article, we gave a brief glimpse into what the fledgling service's library had to offer. Of course, the inevitable question had to be asked: how does it stack up against Netflix? Or Amazon Instant Video for that matter? While we're at it, how does Google's Play Store compare? Those are pretty big questions! So, they deserve pretty big answers. Today, we have them.
With Oscar season upon us, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings laying down some serious smack talk recently, and the public release of Redbox Instant right around the corner, the time feels right to give the various services a close examination.
At last, my collection is complete. Just the other day I received my invite to the beta of Redbox Instant. I was excited. The idea sounds great: it's like Netflix, but you also get four monthly credits at Redbox rental kiosks! Awesome, right? What's that? Verizon has something to do with it? Well, no matter. It's not exclusive to the carrier's handsets, so I'm sure it's nothing to worry about! I'm ready to get my hands all up on this thing.
Oh, how naïve I was.
I'm going to start by taking a look at the desktop site and the service as a whole, but don't worry, we'll get to the Android bit in its own section.
Hi, my name is Eric Ravenscraft and I'm an addict. I have a weakness for trying out new online media services. I've signed up and, where applicable, paid for Spotify, Rdio, MOG, Rhapsody, Pandora, Last.fm, Jamendo, Grooveshark, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Epix, Crackle, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and virtually every other movie and music streaming service on the internet. So it bugs me that I haven't yet been invited to add Redbox Instant to my collection of collections. According to Verizon's CEO, though, people like me won't have to wait too much longer as the service will be going public 'before the end of the first quarter.'
What's most interesting is that the company is touting it has 7,500 "streaming and transactional movie titles" available so far.
Chances are, even if you haven't heard of Vudu (though that's a little hard at this point), you might just own some piece of content that can be used with the service. Vudu is a digital movie locker that allows users to rent or buy movies online and have them streamed to their computers, or a number of set top boxes and Blu-Ray players with internet connectivity. This is all pretty standard fare. The standout feature, though, is Ultraviolet support, which happens to be one of the preferred methods of offering 'digital copies' for Blu-Ray multipacks.
Once you sign in, you'll have access to your entire library (if you have one), as well as the ability to shop around for anything you'd like to watch.
Before we get too far into this, let's point out that this rumor is coming from an Israeli newspaper, so it is easy enough for a company to disavow stories like these. With that disclaimer out of the way: Amazon may be looking into buying Texas Instrument's OMAP business. As we already know, TI has expressed interest in getting out of the mobile game. Not to say they'll stop making processors, but that the focus would be less on tablets and phones, and more on embedded SoCs for a variety of applications (such as automotive, vision, and robotics).
Of course, Amazon uses TI's mobile processors for its Kindle Fire line, which runs a very heavily modified version of Android.
It's almost become trite to hear that Google has bought another company that deals in photo editing software. Yet, here we are again. Today, Vic Gundotra announced on Google+ that Nik Software, creators of the impressive Snapseed app that we saw demoed at CES this year, will be joining the Mountain View team.
While there's no indication yet just which Google product will see the benefit of this new talent, it can only mean good news. When Google purchased web-based editor Picnik, for example, the app ended up being built right into Google+. Even if it remains fairly well hidden.
We've heard developers gripe that paid apps are very rarely successful numerous times in the past, be it because of piracy or because Android owners simply aren't willing to pay. About a year ago, we asked how many apps readers had purchased in the last month; 71% had purchased 2 or less, and 45% hadn't purchased any at all. But that was a year ago, and Android is a much more mature OS now. Time for an updated poll.