The latest Spotify update isn't anything major, but it should help make it easier to navigate the vast amount of content out there and discover what new tunes you might be interested in. Clicking on the Browse section of the Spotify side navigation menu shoots you out to a grid of genres to choose from. Clicking on any of them presents suitable artists, and there's a menu at the top where you can break down the genre even further.
The change log for this release is pretty short. In addition to sub-genre filtering, the app now has an expanded new releases section, and - more importantly - it's finally available for cats.
Popular radio and podcast streaming app Stitcher has made the leap to version 3.1 today, and while it hasn't picked up many new features along the way, the few it has are doozies: a new navigation menu makes it easier to get around the app, and you can now designate entire playlists for offline listening. This means you can start streaming at the comfort of your office desk and walk out for lunch without your listening session coming to an abrupt and jarring end.
A hard to miss "Available Offline" button now resides in the top right corner of the app, just under the action bar.
A Google Play Music update v5.2 just popped up in the Play Store, though it's being slowly rolled out, as is the case with many big Google apps nowadays. The previous version is 5.1, and indeed I'm seeing quite a few changes inside that would warrant a point release.
Update 9/10/13 4:00pm PT: the official changelog has been posted:
* All Access Genre Radio is here! Go to Radio or Explore, pick your favorite genre and enjoy unlimited radio based on the music you love.
* New download queue that allows pausing, resuming and cancelling
A detailed teardown may be coming in the future, but in the meantime, there is one big change that was immediately apparent: Google Play Music now supports Genre Radio in addition to the regular artist/song radio.
Losing the cellular connection on your phone, even briefly, can be a potentially serious issue. It might come at the moment you need to call for emergency services, or when somebody is trying to call you. Today, we're going to talk about a pair of issues on the Nexus 4 that can send it into radio silence for as little as a few seconds, or as long as it takes for you to notice it.
The first issue is likely to have gone unnoticed by most users, unless they've set a PIN code on their SIM card. The symptoms are simple: from time to time, purely at random, the connection will drop for several seconds, then come back online.
Some app updates have really short change logs, but don't let that deceive you into thinking this isn't a big deal. Tune-In Radio was updated today with only "We've fixed some bugs to improve your TuneIn experience" listed as what's new. What bugs did they fix? Well, the only one that matters to us is that they got rid of the persistent notification that plagued users running Android 4.3.
If you're scratching your head right now, here's some context. The Android 4.3 update introduced a "bug" where some applications place persistent notifications in the notification bar. These cannot be removed, even with the option in app settings.
The BBC iPlayer video application has been available to Android-totting Englishmen for some time, but the audio equivalent has sadly lagged behind. Today the app finally lands on Android, and it was worth the wait: BBC Licence Fee subscribers can listen to the various radio stations over WiFi or mobile Internet, and it even works when they travel abroad. Unfortunately, the service isn't available to international users at any price.
The interface of iPlayer Radio is an interesting mix of Holo elements and unique ideas, particularly a station selector that apes an old-school rotary phone dialer. Once you've selected a radio station, you're presented information about the current track or show, along with the standard social sharing functions.
Sometimes Long-Term Evolution wireless is presented as the future of mobile, and the answer to network incompatibility. That's half true. While LTE and GSM tend to play nice (or at least nicer than the entirely disparate GSM and CDMA standards) the bands and frequencies used for high-speed wireless access vary pretty widely in different countries, or here in the US, across different networks. Chip OEM Qualcomm is hoping to banish network anxiety with a new family of LTE radios, christened RF360. You can expect to see the radios embedded on future Snapdragon platforms.
The RF360 will work across a staggering amount of standard frequency ranges: GSM, CDMA and WCDMA, EV-DO, and an impressive array of LTE bands.
As if there weren't enough contenders out there for music subscription service, Slacker Radio has updated its business model. You can still get the standard ad-supported radio station features that were always available. However the company has added a Spotify-like buffet option for $10/month. Pony up the dough and you can remove all ads and listen to as many tracks as you want.
The combination is pretty powerful, as one of the biggest complaints over Spotify is its discovery problems. Slacker Radio never really dethroned Pandora, but it did offer some stiff competition. There has been relatively little overlap between radio and subscription services.
Finance radio! Are you excited yet? Good. Bloomberg has released an app for the company's 24 hour network of audio shows discussing economics, business, and investment. Through Bloomberg Radio+ you can either choose to listen to whatever's on the air right now, or pull from a list of on-demand shows. You can even download the episodes for offline listening.
The app actually looks very well made. It's as feature-packed as one would want a streaming radio service to be. There's even a persistent stock ticker at the bottom of the screen. Because you can't talk about money without one.
The Spotify Android app typically lags behind not only its counterpart on other platforms, but even its own desktop app. One of the nicest features that the streaming service offers on the desktop is its Radio services. Using your own selections as a starting point, Spotify will put together automated playlists based on your taste. You know, like Pandora. As of today's update, the Radio functions are not only available on mobile but are even accessible even if you don't have Spotify Premium.
This marks an exciting new era for Spotify. Up until now, if you wanted to get access to tunes on the go from the Swedish-borne service, you had to pay $10 a month for the privilege.