Don't call it a comeback ... actually, yeah, it's a comeback. Google's Blob Opera digital experiment, a curiosity that became a brief sensation last December, will be back for tomorrow's Google I/O keynote speech. Google took to Twitter to make the announcement:
Over the last few months, Spotify has been redesigning and improving its app to make it easier to find the music you're looking for. These improvements are continuing as the company announces changes to the way music and podcasts are shared.
A few weeks ago I bought a used Kia Soul. (Please, no comments from the peanut gallery.) I'm pretty pleased with it overall, and my dog Marty freakin' loves having the spacious back all to himself. But it's a 2013 model, made in that awkward period when pretty much all cars had Bluetooth, but they sucked at it. The Soul's built-in Bluetooth stereo can't play, pause, or change tracks on my phone, which is a bummer.
Targeted advertising is often incredibly spot-on, leading some people to believe that social networks and advertisers are using their phones' microphones to spy on them. While that's just a myth, Spotify appears to be exploring the possibilities offered from listening to its subscribers. The company filed a patent detailing how it could use microphones to determine people's "emotional state, gender, age, or accent," according to Music Business Worldwide.
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I've been a loyal Spotify user since what feels like the year the service launched, and a premium subscriber since 2014. Spotify premium has tons of great extra features, and I absolutely think it's worth the money if you're considering a paid music streaming subscription. But as I've been spending a lot more time at home of late, I've started watching a lot more YouTube, and the various pre-roll and mid-roll ads were starting to grate on me. Of course, you can remove those ads—by signing up for YouTube Premium. But that would also give me access to YouTube Music, meaning I'd technically be paying for two music services.
With a plethora of music streaming services to choose from these days, local music players have become somewhat of a niche app category. But that doesn't mean users and developers have completely lost interest, and many people still prefer to own their music. That's where apps like Phonograph or Shuttle come in, and the developer of the latter has just released the beta of a completely rewritten Android app. You can give it a try on the Play Store.
You can already play any content with Chromecast support on Google Assistant smart speakers, like the Nest Audio or Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, but you need a phone or tablet nearby to start the process. Some services offer full integration with Assistant, allowing you to ask for specific artists or songs using only your speaker, and now Apple Music is joining in.
Amazon Music is just one of many music streaming services out there, but the shopping giant has been pouring some resources into making its offer a viable alternative to Spotify, Apple Music, and Co. The Android app has only recently gained support for behind-the-scenes tidbits and trivia about top songs, and no serious streaming service can go without podcast support these days. Now Amazon has decided to take on YouTube Music with its own catalog of music videos, rolling out to Unlimited subscribers.
If you browse YouTube to take in the visceral spectacle of music videos or just like to cruise control through randomly autoplaying tunes, you may come across more sensical commercials than in times before. Marketers are getting beta access to two new ad verticals right now which focus on audio, not video.
Apple is preparing to launch iOS 14, and that means there are updates incoming for all of its system apps, including Music. It looks like the company is working on bringing over these latest changes to Android as soon as possible, as the latest Apple Music beta v3.4 already sports almost all of the new stuff that will come to iOS 14: there's a new icon, improved search, autoplay, and Listen Now, which replaces the For You section of old.