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1 year ago

Amazon Cloud Player now matches iTunes purchases and CD rips

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Amazon Cloud Player has been updated with a bunch of new features, including some hefty new licensing deals with Sony, EMI, Universal, and Warner to beef up their music selection for sale. There's also some new ways to make sure all of the music on your computer is in line with what's being stored in the cloud, namely that 250 of your songs (even ripped or purchased iTunes music) is automatically added from Amazon in 256 Kbps audio. 

  • Amazon MP3 purchases — including music that customers purchased in the past — are automatically saved to Cloud Player, which means that customers have a secure backup copy of the music they buy from Amazon, free of charge.
  • Amazon scans customers’ iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries and matches the songs on their computers to Amazon’s 20 million song catalog.  All matched songs – even music purchased from iTunes or ripped from CDs – are instantly made available in Cloud Player and are upgraded for free to high-quality 256 Kbps audio.  Music that customers have already uploaded to Cloud Player also will be upgraded.
  • Any customer with a Kindle Fire, Android device, iPhone, iPod touch, or any web browser —and soon, a Roku streaming player or Sonos home entertainment system — can play their music anywhere.

Soon, Amazon Cloud users will be able to access their remote libraries through Sonos and Roku boxes too - a palatable option for real music junkies. Currently, Amazon Cloud offers 5 GB of free storage with plenty more available for $24.99 annually. Of course, any music you buy on Amazon doesn't count towards your storage limit, which is a nice touch. A significant change starting today is that Amazon Cloud Player and Cloud Drive will be separate storage bins and have their own subscription fees. That's not so great news for those that use the service for both tunes as well as documents, though they've lowered the Cloud Drive price to $10/year for 20 GB.  

You can get more information about signing up here, but us international folks are out of luck on this one, unfortunately. How many of y'all are already Amazon Cloud Player users? Are you happy with the experience, or is Google Music doing the job for you just fine? Would these new features get you to switch?

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1 year ago

Romney to announce VP pick via Android, iPhone apps

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Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will announce his running mate ... on his official Android and iPhone apps.

The Android app, which gives you plenty of opportunities to sign up, sign in and donate (via a poorly formatted web view) will be the first place to learn who will join Romney on the Republican ticket this fall. In fact, jests the app, you'll learn it before just about anyone else. (Of course that's not actually true, but it's a nice selling point.) Says the app:

"Who will be Mitt's VP? There's no telling when the announcement will be, so check back often and enable push notifications to get the exciting news before the press and just about everyone else (except maybe Ann)."

The app gets some kudos for properly having an option to turn off push notifications (actually, they're off by default), and it's attractively designed, though it doesn't really follow Google's design cues.

Download: Mitt's VP

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1 year ago

ScoreMobile for Nexus 7 and Android tablets released

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Sports fans, you'll be happy to hear that most excellent ScoreMobile app for Android has been re-jiggered to run on the Google Nexus 7 and other Android tablets. The usual features are still there, like:

  • Personalized navigation with "My Score"
  • Game view offering scores, stats and Twitter streams
  • Interactive live blogs during key games
  • TV segments and video highlights for selected leagues
  • Integrated social sharing tools

There's also some dedicated 2012 Olympics coverage nestled in the app among all of the other football, basketball, golf, MMA, auto racing, soccer, and tennis sections. If you're seriously into the Olympics, be sure to check out our Olympics app roundup for a few more suggestions. 

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1 year ago

My BMW Remote app unlocks car doors, starts the A/C, and more

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BMW just announced that their remote control application for cars has made the leap from iOS to Android. With it, users can unlock their car, find where it's parked, alter the climate control, and launch into local points of interest search. Here's the full feature list. 

  • "Remote Door Lock & Unlock" allows the car to be locked and unlocked from a smartphone.
  • "Climate Control” makes it possible to control the interior temperature by adjusting the auxiliary ventilation and heating settings, and programming the systems by timer.
  • With “Horn Blow” for sounding the horn and “Flash Light” for briefly switching on the exterior lights, users can trigger acoustic and visual signals to help them find their vehicle in crowded car parks, for instance.
  • If the car is out of sight and hearing distance but within a radius of up to 1,5 km, the “Vehicle Finder” function is able to display a map on the smartphone screen showing the way to the vehicle’s location. This function is only available when the ignition is switched off, thereby making it impossible to track the vehicle’s movements.
  • Finally, using Google Local Search, users are able to import points of interest (POIs) from their smartphone into the vehicle’s navigation system via the message list.

BMW 7 Series 2010, 6 Series 2011, 5 Series 2010, X3 2010, and 1 Series 2011 should all be compatible with the app. Any BMW owners in the house? 

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1 year ago

Samsung Music Hub goes live in the U.S., but not for everyone just yet

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Samsung today announced that its new Music Hub service, previously only available in the UK, is now available in the United States. But only on the Galaxy S III, and only on two carriers. That'll change, as the service expands, but for now, it's not all that widespread.

We've been using Music Hub for a couple weeks now. In a nutshell, it's an expanded and improved -- though more complicated -- version of Google Music, combining locally stored songs, songs uploaded to Samsung's MSpot cloud storage and streamed back to the phone, and the 7digital online music catalog.

For now, it's only available on AT&T and US Cellular's Galaxy S3. Music Hub will be announced later for Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

There are a couple versions of Music Hub available. First is the free Music Hub Store, which gives you access to 7digital's library for purchase, along with 30-second previews of songs. Any music you purchase is automatically uploaded to the Music Hub cloud, as well as remaining on your phone locally for offline playback.

Then there's Music Hub Premium. It costs $9.99 a month, but you get a free 30-day trial. With the premium version, you can upload up to 100 gigabytes of music to your Music Hub account. Music Hub scans your directories for any music already in its system. If it finds a match, it'll simply stream the songs, saving upload time and space. Along with  that, you get personalized and customized Internet radio, and music recommendations.

Other features include a EQ, a number of storage and streaming settings, and the ability to change the quality of the audio to better suit your data speeds.

In our testing, Music Hub worked pretty well. Samsung's streaming and uploading services (you install an app on your Mac or PC just like you do Google Music) work as advertised. 

The 100GB of cloud storage is five times greater than what Google currently offers, though Google's giving you that 20GB for free. The question at this point is whether you're ready to invest in yet another music service, both in the time it takes to set up, and with the $120 a year it'll cost. At the very least, though, the 30-day trial is worth a look.

We've got loads more info and screen shots after the break, so let's hit it.

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1 year ago

Final Fantasy 3 announced for Ouya Android gaming console

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Ouya's partnerships aren't stopping at OnLive; today they've announced that Square Enix will have Final Fantasy 3 available on the Android-powered gaming console in time for launch in March. Worried about an obscenely huge pricetag, since FF3 originally launched on Android for $15.99? Ouya promises that a free demo will be available, and make a very interesting point about the launch: "This will be the first time gamers outside of Japan can play FFIII on their televisions through a console." What most of us considered Final Fantasy 3 was actually Japan's Final Fantasy 6, which also explains why it was a big jump to FF7 for many gamers. 

It's great to see Ouya roping console developers as readily as those on the mobile side. Seeing as there's still 8 months to go before launch, I suspect we'll see many more big-name games find their way to Ouya. Which Android games would you like to play on the big screen with an honest-to-goodness controller? 

Source: Kickstarter

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1 year ago

Google adds service alerts for NYC subway into Google Maps

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Regular subway commuters in New York City, this one's for you. Google has flipped the switch from this morning, on a new addition to their transit information in the City. When searching for transit directions, or when selecting any one of the 468 subway stations labelled in Google Maps, disruption alerts and any planned service changes for the relevant stations will be displayed. 

The added features are available in Google Maps on the desktop, and within the Google Maps Android application. It's noted that Google is regularly adding new features all over the globe. And, having up to date travel information right within the app most Android users will be using to find their way around, is no bad thing.

Source: Google Lat Long Blog

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1 year ago

Spotify update brings Spotify Radio to Android at last

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Music streaming service Spotify has pushed an update out to their Android application this morning, which brings with it at last the Spotify Radio functionality. Best of all, it's completely free of charge. The free radio will be ad-supported, so every so often between songs you'll have to listen to ads, but these go away for Premium account holders. Free radio is at present only available to U.S. users, but the premium version is available to everyone. This feature has been around on iOS for about a month now, but we're delighted that it's now coming our way. 

Spotify Radio isn't just any old radio streaming app, in vein of say, TuneIn Radio. Spotify's effort aims to learn from your personal preferences, so when you give a song a thumbs up, this is remembered and used to generate a playlist for you. So, next time that Glee soundtrack song appears, it might not be so easy to explain away!

You also have the ability to create your own radio stations based upon a playlist, album or even a single song. When a song comes up that you like, you can save that too to listen back to at your leisure across any Spotify enabled device. 

The update is live in the Play Store now, and you'll find the full press release after the break. 

Download: Spotify

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1 year ago

Mutant Roadkill review - when Temple Run goes post-apocalyptic

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Mutant Roadkill screeched into Google Play earlier this month as an unabashed homage to Temple Run with a few significant twists. Instead of being chased, you're the one chasing, and you're running over radioactive zombies in a gritty post-apocalyptic world.

Players mount up in a car and steer by tilting the device to the left or right in order to dodge debris littering the streets and nail shambling mutants. Some will be a bit more aggressive, and require players to scrape them off the side of their car by skimming walls, or rely on the odd power-up to clear the way. Players earn cash based on how long they survive without crashing, how many mutants they hit (earning bonus points for consecutive kills), and how many challenges they manage to complete. That coin can be used to buy new vehicles, improve power-ups, and purchase consumables. A premium currency can be bought through IAPs in order to access the particularly good stuff.

 

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1 year ago

PlayUp review - get social with the Olympics

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PlayUp's sporting social network has recently updated with lots of content specific to the Olympics, and with the games just getting started, it seemed like a good time for a review. If you're looking for more, be sure to check out our round-up of Olympics Android apps, and expect another one soon. 

PlayUp curates a wide range of sports content from a bunch of different sources, including Twitter, USA Today, NBC,  ESPN, Reuters, and others. There's even some decent video content that seems to come direct from PlayUp. For the Olympics, users can drill down into individual categories, check schedules and results, as well as create hangouts, where you can publicly or privately banter with other PlayUp users about events as they happen. Users can add friends through Facebook and Twitter connections to send them direct messages and see their activity on the network. Users can also add sports to favorites for quick access later on. 

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