If you were jealous of iOS users who were able to wake up every morning to the sound of their favorite Pandora stations, then today may just be your lucky day. Today, Pandora announced a new update to its Android app that includes the alarm clock feature which debuted on iOS last month. In addition to waking you up at a set time with the station of your choosing, it also includes a snooze ability and a customizable snooze timer which can be set to 5, 10, 15, or 20 minute intervals.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.