For any video app or service, a queue is an essential feature. The laws of the world don't apply to YouTube though, and the online streaming giant has thrived without a proper queue for years. Users got algorithm-approved videos to play next and that was it. But YouTube seems to now be aware, all of a sudden, that it should add the feature and so it's working on it. It's in temporary testing on the web and anyone can give it a try.
Here at Android Police, us writers are encouraged not to use the word "finally" in titles, as it can manufacture unnecessary excitement for something that not a lot of people may care about. However, for something as miraculous as this, there really is no better word to use. Google has at long last begun testing speed controls in the YouTube Android app, something that people have been wanting for years. It's about time.
YouTube's Offline Playback feature was first introduced alongside Music Key back in November, finally giving people a way to store a (limited) selection of videos for trips into areas with poor connectivity, or just to avoid using up capped data plans. While it has remained mostly unchanged in the last 8 months, the latest update finally brings a few modifications. The interface is now a bit more informative and uniform, and there's a new low-quality option (which is actually a good thing). A teardown also revealed some big improvements to the voice command interface that has been in the works for a while.
After the launch of Music Key in November, we've had good reason to expect quite a bit from YouTube. We've seen things like 60 fps live streaming, 360-degree videos with cardboard support, and big updates to the Kids and Creator Studio apps – and that's just some of the stuff from the last two months. We also know there's plenty still to come, particularly an ad-free subscription model. The latest update doesn't seem to deliver any new features, not unless Google is planning to flip a switch server-side, but it gives a few hints about what to expect in the future.
Google has big plans for both YouTube and Google Play Music. We've heard a lot about YouTube's potential subscription music playback service, background audio, and offlineplayback, and there's been much speculation about what such an arrangement would mean for Play Music All Access. What we've got today gives those rumors and clues some clarity.
Here's the basic rundown - YouTube is set to launch a service called YouTube Music Key, and Google is set to rebrand Google Play Music All Access to Google Play Music Key.
Specifically, it looks like YouTube Music Key will offer ad-free music, audio-only playback (for background or screen-off listening), and offline playback.
Update: The Android version of Shazam has now received this update as well. Here's the new changelog posted to the Play Store.
This release brings full track playback in Shazam, powered by Rdio. Once you’re connected, you can play any track and carry on listening to the music as you discover more in the app. Shazam a song to get started.
Shazam, the company whose app uses a phone or tablet's microphone to identify a song or TV show, has partnered with Rdio to offer users full in-app song playback. Previously Shazam kicked users out to a separate app to check out the track.
If you're an audio perfectionist, you've surely stumbled onto flac, an audio compression format designed to deliver lossless recordings. The file sizes are considerably larger than your average MP3, but the sound quality is unparalleled by lossy compression algorithms. It's not hard to see why audiophiles drift towards flac as their preferred storage medium. Now imagine the latest version of Android is causing stuttering, cracks, pops, and static in the otherwise perfect playback of flac.
Audio players on Android 4.4 through 4.4.2 will produce snaps, crackles, pops (heheh), and various other imperfections during the playback of .flac files. The timing of these disruptions is pretty random and seems to get worse over time.
Last week, we heard from Dan Morrill (via Reddit) that "top men" were working on the "sleep of death" issue that caused 4.3 devices to become unresponsive if they fell asleep while streaming from Netflix through the Chromecast.
Tonight, though, it looks like the issue is already fixed with Netflix's update to version 2.4.1. We've been testing the update since it popped up earlier this evening, and haven't experienced a lockup yet.
The change log for the update is short and sweet, but unfortunately doesn't mention the 1080p streaming set to debut on the new Nexus 7.
Fixes and optimization for devices running Android 4.3.
Google released an update to the news reader it hasn't abandoned today, adding a bunch of support for audio-centric features. Playlists are now available for editions that contain audio content, and users will be able to play, pause, and jump forward or backward in the playlist. There are even status bar controls added for when audio is playing, so you don't have to sit staring at a blank playback page while listening.
Here's the full change log:
What's in this version:
* Audio playlist for editions with audio * Audio media bar in app for stop, start, next, previous * Story scanner audio icons for launching Audio directly * Status bar audio controls when Currents audio is playing * Syncing post read state between devices * Bug fixes
It sounds a lot like Google is gearing up to make Currents more than just a guided content scraper.
SoundCloud may not be the most famous app around, but when it comes to sharing a simple audio clip or a song, it's hard to beat. Now, the company's mobile app is getting an overhaul and with it comes a shiny new interface that doesn't suck. The UI upgrade makes use of the action bar, side navigation panel, notification controls and all the other fancy new features that we've grown used to since Ice Cream Sandwich and beyond.
The update also brings improvements to the search features that should help you track down public audio (like our podcast!) more easily.