Free service will gain advertising, $3.99 subscription will be ad-free
Samsung will be offering a premium version of its Milk Music service to its users in the future, the phone manufacturer has revealed. Launched last month as a free service for Galaxy smartphone owners, Samsung will soon introduce advertising to free accounts, adding an option to remove advertising priced at $3.99 per month, with premium subscribers said to be receiving some unnamed "exclusive features."
Record companies argue that state law protects older recordings
Following a similar lawsuits against Sirius XM radio, a group of record companies has filed suit in a New York court against Pandora, the top streaming subscription music service in the US. While songs made before February 15, 1972 are not subject to federal copyright protections, the labels argue that Pandora, like Sirius, should pay royalties to the tune of tens of millions of dollars because the songs are still protected under state laws.
Software update being tested could remove need for Sonos Bridge
Sonos is testing a software update for its wireless speaker system that removes the need for a physical connection to the home network. The software would allow for the system's SonosNet network to operate with one of the speakers accessing the local Wi-Fi network, and avoiding wiring either a speaker or the Sonos Bridge wireless networking device to a router.
Song-identification technology may be enlisted for Siri, iTunes Radio
Citing unnamed sources "with knowledge of the product," Bloomberg is reporting that Apple may enter into a partnership with song-identifying app Shazam to bring the music-matching feature to iOS 8. Users could, for example, ask Siri "what song is playing?" as they listen to iTunes Radio or other streaming music services, with the voice assistant enlisting Shazam's services to return an answer after a short identifying pause. This in turn would produce a link to the song on iTunes.
Sighting adds to rumors that Apple plans multi-country but slow rollout
Fueling speculation that Apple may be planning to expand iTunes Radio to selected countries in the near future, tweets on Twitter have revealed that Apple's director of iAd services, Paul Wright, has been making the rounds of London media marketing and ad agencies where he is based. This follows claims by online radio service Bloom, which would be a competitor to iTunes Radio in the UK, that it was rebuffed from advertising on iAd, and a report of iTunes Radio briefly functioning in Ecuador.
Details remain scarce
Following a Nikkei report to the effect earlier this week, Alpine has officially confirmed plans to ship aftermarket receivers compatible with Apple's CarPlay. The units will roll out in the US and Europe towards the end of 2014, but apart from a concept image, no other details are available. The Nikkei account suggested prices would fall between $500 and $700.
Five new receivers planned
Audio specialist Pioneer has announced plans to ship five Apple CarPlay-compatible receivers this summer. The new models in the NEX series will all have large LCD displays, but come in at very different price points. The cheapest model, the AVH-4000NEX, is set to cost $700. Higher-end models will ship for $750, $900, $1,200, and $1,400. Pioneer is also promising various non-CarPlay related improvements; the units are expected to have more responsive interfaces, for example, and better sound and safety features.
Follows earlier report of occasional reception in Canada, UK
Users in Ecuador have provided evidence that iTunes Radio is now sporadically available in the South American country, suggesting that Apple is testing the service in preparation for international rollouts there and elsewhere. The news comes on the heels of previous reports in both the UK and Canada that saw testing of the service in those place, which may hint that Apple plans to announce a big expansion of the service in the near future. Officially, it is only available in the US and Australia currently.
Uncertain if device will have Apple sanction
Car audio and navigation company Alpine will start selling its first aftermarket CarPlay upgrade in the fall, according to Nikkei. Details are relatively scarce, but the unit will reportedly cost between $500 and $700, and "likely" measure 7 inches. Given the nature of CarPlay, the unit will presumably need to be dealer-installed.
Sony rolls out the PHA-2 portable headphone amp for smartphones, PCs
Just as Apple seems to have switched its attention away from standalone music players in favor of its iPhone and iPad businesses, Sony has made a play for the burgeoning high-resolution audio market. One of its latest high-resolution audio devices is the PHA-2 portable headphone amplifier that has been designed to work particularly well with Macs and Apple's iPhone and iPads. Not only does the device sport an in-built battery for use on the go, it also includes a high-quality DAC that supports 24-bit/192kHz audio files that includes a digital input for iPhones and iPads. Helping improve sound quality further, it also includes separate operational and headphone amplifiers.
Sprint-Spotify tie-up could include discounted Framily group access
Sprint customers may soon be receiving a discount on Spotify, as part of a deal between the two companies, according to a report. An announcement by the carrier, allegedly scheduled to take place on April 29 in New York alongside its expected HD Voice launch, will apparently see Sprint customers receiving free trials of Spotify Premium, with some carrier subscribers potentially qualifying for Spotify discounts.
Mixvibes' Cross DJ 3.1 released, DJ competition announced
Mixvibes has introduced the newest version of its cross-platform software, Cross DJ v3.1.0. The software provides users with the tools needed to DJ, such as browsing track catalogues, and monitoring playing track's peaks and phrasings. The new version allows for the ability of users to record their mix and share it on Mixcloud and Youtube, as well as Dailymotion.
Charming, surprising, intriguing finds coming to market soon
Now that we've had time to recover from the fury of meeting so many vendors at this year's Macworld, MacNN and Electronista have had a little time to reflect on some of the products and services we saw there. Many have yet to come to market -- a running joke was the number of projects crowdfunded last summer that will be arriving in stores soon -- some have won awards, and some are just little gems we were delighted, intrigued and wowed by. First up in this ongoing series is a successful Kickstarter startup, Glowdeck.
Might accompany rumored overhaul of iTunes Store
[Updated with Apple hiring details] Following on the heels of a claim that Apple is planning to "dramatically" overhaul the iTunes music store in the near future, a previous rumor that the company was considering offering "high-resolution" 24-bit music tracks has gained new currency. Apple has been reported to be looking for ways to boost digital music sales, which have seen a slump as users spend more time listening to on-demand streaming services like Spotify. The higher-quality music files would likely be offered in a lossless format.
Dropbox debuts Carousel app for iOS and Android
Cloud storage company Dropbox has released its latest product, Carousel, a photo and video gallery app. Available for both iOS and Android platforms, Carousel provides a single location for users' photo and video content in an organized manner. The app automatically backs up photos and videos to the user's Dropbox account as they are captured, ensuring they are safe from being lost in a device crash. Users can engage in private conversations with friends, as to share their media with others. The number of photos and videos one can put in their Carousel is based on how much space they have attached to their Dropbox account, with the free storage size starting at 2GB. Carousel is free to download through iTunes and Google Play, and requires a Dropbox account to utilize its features.
Google Play Music app on Android can cast directly to Sonos speakers
Sonos is adding support for Google Play Music to its multi-room speaker system, the company has confirmed. While both Android and iOS will gain the extra support, users on Android will be able to control music playback from the Google Play Music app itself, and marks the first time the speaker manufacturer is allowing a third-party app to control the speakers directly.
Auto routing software for iOS apps updated to version 2.0
Popular app-to-app audio routing solution for many iOS apps, Audiobus, has been updated to version 2.0. Initially released in 2012, Audiobus offers iOS apps the ability to communicate with each other to exchange effects and sounds, allowing users to create a single audio stream from multiple apps, simultaneously. Its latest version features Multi-Routing, which can manage multiple audio pipelines for unlimited connections or effect chaining. Audiobus display a menu for selecting a compatible app, opening and adding an effect on top of an existing one. This creates a chain of effects within the Audiobus interface, which can be combined with multi-channel input hardware support.
New HDX-SDI video interface with Thunderbolt offers capture and playback for variety of programs
Motu has announced the release of its new HDX-SDI video interface with Thunderbolt technology. Offering a HD/SD video production workstation for any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac (or PC), its I/O technology supports high-resolution displays and high-performance data services though a single port. Users can connect any video source to the HDX-SDI, with best image quality derived from uncompressed video capture.
Design issues, need for compelling offering cited
YouTube's untitled on-demand music service launch has been postponed again. The move is allegedly a requirement for the company to "get it right" from day one, and for the service to be competitive with similar offerings from other vendors immediately upon release. The service, originally slated to go live at the beginning of 2014, is now not likely to see release until the end of the year, or later.
IK Multimedia announces music-creation app
Accessories and music-creation app developer IK Multimedia has announced a new iPhone, iPad and iPod touch app designed to work in conjunction with the Orange Amplifier. AmpliTube Orange is a real-time mobile Orange Amplifier and effects studio, featuring digital models of five classic and modern Orange guitar amplifiers, and one Orange bass amplifier. Its four vintage-styled, Orange-inspired effects include a noise filter for keeping the hiss down when the gain is elevated; the Highway Drive, for an overdrive pedal sounds with crunch, level and tone controls; the Echo Trip delay pedal, with feedback, delay time, level and tone controls; and The Shaker tremolo pedal with rate, depth and "shape" control.
Buyout flew under the radar
Unnoticed, Apple bought speech recognition company Novauris last year, a report says. While Apple itself hasn't talked about the acquisition, a call to Novauris' UK offices is said to have got confirmation from an employee. People from the Novauris team are claimed to be working on Siri, Apple's voice command system.
Nokia MD-12 uses hard surfaces for bass boosting
Despite the unveiling of the Lumia 930, Lumia 630, and Lumia 635 Windows 8.1 smartphones at Microsoft Build, Nokia still had something new to reveal for itself at its scheduled "more" event. The Nokia MD-12 is a portable mini speaker that connects to smartphones via Bluetooth with NFC pairing, which is able to use "acoustic bonding" with whatever surface it is resting on to provide a more powerful sound.
Includes USB charging, adjustable light levels
Soundfreaq has started shipping the Sound Rise, a new Bluetooth-based clock speaker. The device is relatively straightforward, for instance featuring built-in dual alarms, which can use separate weekday/weekend settings and a gradual volume increase, whether an alarm is toggled to FM radio, a connected device, or a chime. The speaker also includes a sleep timer which can be set in increments up to 120 minutes, and dimmable display brightness that can even be shut off completely.
App update removes starred tracks from Spotify for new collection system
Spotify has made drastic changes to its user interface, by introducing a new darker theme. The change in appearance of the streaming music service across all platforms is joined by a new feature called "Your Music," something the company previewed in late 2012, allowing users to collect and manage their music without requiring users to create playlists.
Crackle adds Chromecast, iOS 7 optimization
Movie and TV show streaming app, Crackle, has received an update today. Central to the app's update is its new support for Google Chromecast, allowing Crackle users to stream content from its service through to one's Chromecast device ($35), and view content on one's HDTV. Crackle features a wide variety of video media for free, including original content such as Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Available for iOS and Android devices, Crackle is free to download.
Shooter Suite's automated audio/video sync tool updated
Red Giant announced today the release of its updated audio/video sync tool for Shooter Suite, PluralEyes 3.5. Able to analyze the audio from a variety of devices and automatically sync it to multiple video tracks, the editing tool aims to save days of work in the usually-tedious process of unifying unsynced audio and video. The latest version of PluralEyes offers improved and expanded support for more media types, and support for AVCHD camera that include support for spanned clips.
Former media event lives on as accessory, app showcase
The Macworld Expo (now called Macworld/iWorld) certainly isn't the show it was five years ago, the last year Apple attended. Its a much smaller show -- maybe 25,000 attendees at best -- but with a more sustainable focus: a showcase for computer and mobile peripherals, accessories and gadgets, as well as a gathering of app developers. Because Apple doesn't make big announcements timed to the conference anymore -- and the one company that did, Microsoft, chose not to have its Office for iPad event there -- the Macworld/iWorld show doesn't make the news as often as it used to.
High-resolution audio looks set to make an impact in 2014
If you think that high-resolution audio includes music ripped from typical CDs in lossless formats including FLAC and ALAC, you'd be wrong. The term refers to music that has a higher sampling frequency and bit depth than standard CD recordings, which are mastered at a bit depth of 16-bits and with a sampling frequency of 44.1kHz. FLAC and ALAC, however, do support music recorded at resolutions equivalent to those used in studio recordings, which is better than CD-quality. In recent times, a growing number of sites have started offering music in studio quality giving listeners the opportunity to listen to music literally as the artist intended.
Square notifying users of upcoming card reader replacement
Square, a mobile payment service, has begun to notify its existing customers that they can receive the latest Square reader for free. The redesigned Square card reader is 45 percent thinner than the original, and will be replacing the previous model as the standard device, with the former to be no longer supported. Users can receive their new Square reader for free by signing into their web dashboard.
Successful crowd-funded projects a fresh source of innovation
Macworld/iWorld 2014, currently going on at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, handed out its Best of Show awards on Friday, including a mix of hardware devices and software apps, many of which started life as successful Kickstarter or similar crowd-funded ideas, both from established companies and novice entrepreneurs. Winners included a portable RAID drive, a thermal camera for the iPhone, an app to get kids to do their chores, and new Thunderbolt adapters, among other useful apps and gadgets.
Sony takes aim at the high resolution audio market with the NWZ-ZX1
Electronista has been given the opportunity to go hands on with Sony's forthcoming NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Audio Walkman. The new device is part of an entire High-Resolution Audio portfolio that Sony is currently starting to roll out to markets globally aiming to tap into the resurgence of interest in high quality audio. After missing out on the digital music revolution that started with the Apple iPod, Sony is positioning itself to make sure that it gets in early on the market for high definition audio players. Digital music has now come full circle with increases in data bandwidth allowing users fast and easy access to high quality uncompressed and lossless audio files.
Renowned DJ collaborates with Philips to produce DJ-quality headphones
Philips, in partnership with renowned DJ Armin van Buuren, has launched the A5-PRO DJ headphones. Designed for audio monitoring and mixing, the headphones' replaceable bayonet-mount cushions are available in three sizes for comfort options. Its anodized aluminum form with leather headband is foldable, and its 50mm high-definition neodymium driver offer high quality low-frequency sound. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.
Facebook updates Messenger app for iOS, adds Groups, forwarding
Facebook Messenger for iOS received an update yesterday, offering its users access to Group features, including a forwarding function. In v4.0, users can now create groups for the people one messages the most often, and name them, and set group photos. Messages and photos can be forwarded to someone who is not in a designated conversation thread by using a tapping gesture. Additionally, miscellaneous improvements to improve the app's speed and reliability have been included in the latest update. Facebook Messenger is free to download, and requires iOS 6.0 or later to run.
Sources cite revamped effort curating discussions, discovery
Even though Twitter is shuttering its #Music service and has yanked the supporting app from the iOS App Store, the microblogging service is preparing a new but similar offering, according to services familiar with the matter. The new service is allegedly forsaking the app-driven approach, and focused on conversations about content, hosted on Twitter itself.
Twitter for iOS and Android updated, adds photo tagging of up to ten people
Twitter announced an update to its mobile apps today, adding the ability to now tag up to ten people in a photo. Available for both iOS and Android app, tagging does not affect character count in a tweet. Up to four photos can be shared in a single tweet, and a full image in a group can be viewed by tapping on a preview. The new photo features rolled out today on iPhone, and are due soon for Android and its web version.
Ad-free subscription music service shutters in late April
Last.fm is shutting down its subscription-based music streaming service at the end of next month. The company reveals in a forum post that it's closing the $3 ad-free streaming radio function from its apps on April 28th, though it will continue to operate its ongoing "Scrobbler" music tracking, playlist building, and new music recommendation service to users as normal.
Existing Spotify Apps restricted to critical updates in future
Spotify is no longer accepting new submissions of apps for its desktop player, the company has announced. While it will stop any new apps from being added to the client, the service will be continuing to offer access to its Web API and mobile APIs, in what could be considered a move towards a greater mobile focus for the music-streaming company.
Rhapsody International looks to handle recommendations internally
Rhapsody International, the company that houses both Rhapsody and Napster music streaming services, says it is cutting ties with the music recommendation system The Echo Nest. The move comes not long after Spotify purchased The Echo Nest for an undisclosed sum at the beginning of March.
Social service tried Ping-like crowd-sourced music discovery
Twitter has quietly announced that it will pull the plug next month on its year-old Twitter #music service, which offered users a way to follow and listen to the music of popular artists and up-and-coming discoveries based on crowd-sourced recommendations. The service will be shut down on April 18, and as of Friday afternoon the iOS Twitter #music app was no longer available on the App Store.
Options said to be in early stages, may not come to fruition
About 12 years, Apple brought out its second-generation iPod and made it compatible with Windows, where it had previously been a Mac-only product. A year later, iTunes came to Windows in a move that ensured the software's dominance in the then still-niche MP3 player market. According to music trade magazine Billboard, Apple may again be considering "sleeping with the enemy" in the form of an iTunes app for Android, and is also said to be considering expanding its streaming-music options.
Pure announces new radio, availability of SiriusXM Internet Radio on devices
Pure has announced the availability of its new Internet and FM radio, the Evoke F4, including its access to SiriusXM Internet Radio for subscribers.The Evoke F4 is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, and can be used both on its own or grouped together with other speakers for delivery a multi-room audio system. Central features of the radio include recording live Internet streams to USB memory sticks through instant and timed recordings, touch-sensitive controls, a large clear graphical display, input for MP3 player and headphones, 12 hours of portable listening per charge, and more.
Drum expansion requires in-app purchase
Apple has released a minor update for the Mac edition of GarageBand, v10.0.2. The main addition is the ability to export songs directly to MP3, saving time and effort in conversion. Apple has also added three new Drummers and drumkits for the rock, R&B, and singer/songwriter genres, but only for people who've purchased the app's complete sound library.
Traktor Audio 2 DJ interface now features iOS compatibility
Native Instruments announced today that its DJ audio interface Traktor Audio 2 now offers iOS compatibility. Traktor Audio 2 delivers 24-bit/48kHz audio in a portable format, and is now among the variety of iOS-compatible hardware by Native Instruments. Its two 1/8-inch stereo outputs can be connected to a standard DJ mixer, allowing for two Traktor decks to be mixed simultaneously. Available through various retailers as well as the Native Instruments online store, Traktor Audio 2 is priced at $100.
New rate for new users to offset dramatic increase in cost of business
Online music streamer Pandora is raising its prices for new subscribers. The current subscription cost for unlimited and ad-free Pandora One is climbing 25 percent to $5 per month, up from $4. Existing Pandora One monthly subscribers that remain active will not experience a price increase and will continue to pay $4 per month. The company cites rapidly-growing costs to deliver the service as the reason for the price hike.
Will leverage Prime Video, rumored to offer game and music streaming also
A new report from the Wall Street Journal claims that Amazon is in the process of demonstrating to partners and developers a nearly-complete set-top box device designed to leverage the company's Prime streaming services and compete directly against Apple TV and Roku. The device is thought to be debuting sometime next month, and may also offer game streaming.
Microsoft's Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850 announced
Microsoft has announced its new lightweight wireless mouse, the Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850. Priced at less than $15, the 1850 uses 2.4GHz wireless technology for a reliable computer connection, and holds a built-in mini USB transceiver that can be plugged into one's computer or hidden inside the mouse. The mouse will be offered in black, red, pink, purple and dark blue, and is due to be available this month.
Play Movies and TV reaches 39 more countries on Android, 32 on iOS
Google has expanded the reach of two of its Google Play services, allowing more users access to its content. Google Play Music and Music All Access has been enabled in four more countries, while the Google Play Movies and TV apps gain increased language support and a service expansion into up to 39 new markets on Android, 32 new countries on iOS.
Pair of Bluetooth streamers bring portability, bass to mobile device audio
Bluetooth speakers come in enough configurations that anyone should be able to find one to suit their needs. Be it a speaker to fill an entire room with sound that never moves from its spot on a shelf, or a small speaker clipped on a bag pumping out music on the go, there are tons of different units on the market to match an individual's tastes. Boomphones and id America each offer a speaker that may fit a niche for customers looking at small form factors with unique features. Which speaker will do the trick in our showdown -- Boomphones Pocket Speaker or the id America Touchtone?
Eclipse TD-M1 wireless speaker system features compact size, Airplay compatibility
Eclipse TD has announced the upcoming availability of its wireless speaker system, the Eclipse TD-M1. The M1 aims to reproduce the sound of music played live, incorporating a non-oversampling DA converter (NOS-DAC) for clear listening. Its egg-shaped form is designed to suppress internal standing waves, as well as minimize the diffraction effect that occurs from the front baffle angle. Featuring wireless music playback, the M1 is AirPlay compatible for high-resolution sound from any recent Apple computer or device. Touch sensors and LED indicators provide intuitive use and reduce clutter of its design, removing the need for buttons. The Eclipse TD-M1 has a dedicated iOS app available for remote control functionality, offering power on or off, volume adjustment and input switching functionality. Available for purchase beginning March 31, the Eclipse TD-M1 speaker system is priced at $1,300.
High-fidelity music player PonoPlayer sails past original Kickstarter goal
The PonoPlayer, a music playback device backed by musician Neil Young, has doubled its target on Kickstarter shortly after starting its campaign. The high-fidelity player has so far raised over $1.6 million on the crowd-funding site, beating the $800,000 the campaign originally asked for within 24 hours of launching, with the pledging period set to continue for another 33 more days.