Posts Tagged ‘Streaming’
Google has been a little busy sending out invitations for its cloud storage service, but that hasn’t stopped others from rolling out the same. If you’re still waiting for that invite, you might want to check out a new service from mSpot. Actually, there are two new services that work hand in hand. The first is that cloud storage service. The second is streaming radio. You might like your Pandora or Slacker — even the new Slacker Premium — but mSpot’s streaming service adds a personal twist that the others don’t quite have.
The cloud storage works as you might expect. You can head over to mspot.com and sign up for a free account. From there you can upload your music, up to 5GB for free. After you download the Android app, you can access those songs from the cloud. This is clearly a feature that we’ll see more of in the coming months and years. Everyone seems to be releasing a cloud storage service, since it means streaming without using on-device memory. mSpot is also offering a premium plan, which allows you to upload 40GB and access those songs from up to five mobile devices (from the free plan you get just one device). That costs $ 3.99 per month, which is pretty reasonable given the cost of other music services.
Remember how we talked about HBO on Android a couple of weeks ago? That was mainly DirecTV related, and at the time they were saying that they’d get their HBO GO app out for Android and iPhone later in the year. Who knew that later in the year meant two and a half weeks, and who knew that it would work for cable providers other than DirecTV? That is apparently the case. On Friday the app dropped, and in case you missed it on every other Android blog, well, you’ve found it here. If you are a subscriber to AT&T U-verse, Charter, Cox, Dish, Suddenlink, FiOS, or Comcast’s Xfinity — and of course DirecTV — you can download the app from the market. You’ll need an HBO subscription, of course. But with that, you can watch your favorite HBO shows anywhere. Now, if only Cablevision would get on board.
Note about Grooveshark included after the jump.
If you use Last.fm as a music discovery and recommendation tool, then |OP| of the xda developers forums has a must-download app. It’s called PlaylistR, and it lets you build playlists from your Last.fm favorites. This includes your charts, recommendations, friends, and overall charts. Then you can import those playlists into one of a few services. It works best with Grooveshark, MOG, and rdio, since you can import those playlists right from your Android device. There is also a level of support for Spotify and Deezer, though you can’t really build playlists for them. You can, however, stream individual songs.
With streaming apps, playlists are where it’s at. This is especially true of an app such as Grooveshark, which can get a but cumbersome when searching. Last.fm does a great job of pinning down music that you enjoy, and so it works well for playlist creation. If I still used Grooveshark, or had any of the other streaming services, I’d be all over this one. The more ways to generate playlists, the better. The app takes that further, automatically generating them for you. I like making playlists as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just want to automatically create one.
With our focus on Android multimedia, I find myself browsing AppBrain multiple times per day. There are always hidden gems in the Market, and AppBrain makes it easy to find them. Music & Audio is obviously a category of my particular interest, since it’s where I can find media players and streaming services that make Android a better multimedia platform. Yet every time I go there I see the same thing: Pandora on top. It doesn’t quite surprise me. If you graphed my most frequently run apps, Pandora would be No. 1 by a long shot. It made me start thinking about why this streaming service absolutely destroys all others.
The simple answer anyone can conjure. Pandora is simply awesome. It not only has a library filled with millions upon millions of songs, but it’s quite good at detecting which of those millions you will enjoy. Even though there are limits on skips, even for paid users, it’s not often that I find myself skipping six songs in a row and being forced to change channels. That is, if used properly, Pandora is almost guaranteed to stream you songs you want to hear. Yet there’s so much more to the app than that.
You might remember the saga from earlier this month. Three weeks ago we found that if you make a few changes to your rooted Android, you could sync your music with the cloud. A few days later I chronicled my experienced with the Honeycomb cloud music player. I know some people have found success with it, but for me it was an utter failure. It’ll come eventually, so I’m not too upset. Making me less upset is Amazon’s recent announcement of its own cloud storage and streaming service. They’ve made it quite easy, and I’m jumping on board as I type.
I caught this on Engadget, but all the information is in the press release that Amazon circulated. Here are the important numbers. Everyone gets 5GB of free storage, but there are plenty of plans beyond that. The best way to increase your storage is to buy an MP3 album from Amazon.com. That gets you 20GB of storage for a year, which normally costs $ 20. Additionally, music purchased from the Amazon store doesn’t count against your quota. This is quite brilliant, as it incentivizes people to purchase from Amazon. It also disincentivizes people to buy DRM music from the iTunes store, since that can’t be uploaded to the cloud.
For some it was a great boon for streaming music. For others it wasn’t worth the trouble. But however you view or viewed Grooveshark, the latest development is significant for all music lovers. Citing terms of service violations, Google has removed Grooveshark from the Android Market. This is not an unprecedented move. Last August, Apple removed Grooveshark from the App Store, just over a week after it debuted. There are certainly legal issues surrounding Grooveshark, and it’s not a stretch to imagine that these issues are what prompted Google to remove it from the Market. I just wonder what it means for the future of streaming music apps.
Of course, most major streaming music apps, such as Pandora and Slacker, don’t face this particular problem. They have licensing deals with record labels, and so can stream music freely as long as they stay within the license’s terms. Grooveshark, on the other hand, has a licensing deal with just one record label, EMI, and that came as the result of a lawsuit. Grooveshark is currently involved in a lawsuit filed by Universal Music Group, which is over a year old. Other record labels could spring litigation on them at any time.
When it comes to streaming media, the faster the network the better. That should go without explanation. It comes across most in video. When you’re on a WiFi network you can experience near-perfect video quality. But when you’re on a 3G network — and particularly Sprint’s and Verizon’s CDMA networks — you’ll notice a significant downgrade. It’s no surprise, then, that Sprint and Verizon have the two most important aspects of any product. Sprint was first, and Verizon is best. At least, that’s what the latest speed tests say.
Boy Genius Report cites a study by BTIG Research, which ran 1,000 speed tests on both Verizon’s and Sprint’s 4G networks. The results weren’t even close. There was more variance in Verizon’s results, but even in the closest results Sprint’s WiMax wasn’t within 7Mbps of Verizon’s LTE. The devices used for testing — relevant to our interests — were the Thunderbolt and the EVO 4G. That is, they are both HTC devices, so that helps cut down on some device-to-device differences. I doubt that any WiMax phone could come close to making up for this differential.