Spotify has made the online version of its music streaming software available to all UK users as it continues to extend the player’s public beta. The Web-based app has been online at https://play.spotify.com for several weeks, but has now been announced in an email sent out by the company, and is accessible for all Spotify users in the UK.
The online app brings with it many of the features and options available in the desktop client — you can manage your playlists, see new tracks, tune into Spotify radio and of course stream any of the millions of tracks on offer. Unlike the desktop client, there is currently no support for local files or third-party Spotify apps. Tracks cannot be cached for offline playback, as they can when using Spotify’s desktop and mobile tools.
The move is a bold step forward for Spotify in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Rival apps Rdio and Deezer work in Web browsers, as does Google Music, which is based around local files uploaded from your PC. Rumours persist that Google is about to add a streaming component to its Music service, with several analysts also claiming that Apple is about to join the streaming subscription service fray as well.
In the time we’ve spent testing Spotify’s new Web player, it seems to be a stable and responsive app with very few obvious bugs. As we’ve already mentioned, there are missing features — including Last.fm scrobbling support — but in today’s always-on computing world a Web player makes perfect sense. Spotify can now be used on Chromebooks, for example, and users can switch from one computer to another without having to install any additional software. Head round to your friend’s house for a party, and all you need is a Web browser to get at your disco-ready playlists.
Despite rumblings of discontent from artists receiving paltry royalty cheques from the streaming music services, it would seem they’re here to stay — their ease-of-use, huge catalogue selection and cross-platform compatibility make them a more flexible and streamlined option than, say, a 20GB iTunes library. It would be no surprise if Google and Apple soon dipped their toes into the water too.
It’s the Geneva Motorshow this week and rather than bore you with power-to-weight ratios and torque figures of the new cars, we thought we’d round up some of the best in-car entertainment systems that are on show this week. We’ve got cloud streaming from Ford, iPad Minis in Ferraris, and the world’s most over engineered soundsystem in the all-new Rolls-Royce Wraith.
Ford SYNC AppLink
Ford’s SYNC AppLink is the American motor manufacturer’s new futuristic in-car entertainment system, and this week they announced it is making its way to Europe, with 3.5 million Fords expected to get the system by 2015.
Ford announced that their EcoSport compact SUV will be among the first Ford vehicles in Europe to offer their clever SYNC AppLink technology, which sees the car manufacturer partnering up music streaming service Spotify.
Basically Ford, and almost every other car manufacture, is betting that when 4G becomes widely adopted motorist’s will want to use their phone’s mobile broadband to stream music, radio, podcast, and maybe even one day: TV and film.
The Ford SYNC AppLink integration of Spotify is the first proper collaboration with an automotive manufacturer, and will see all future Fords streaming music via the Swedish music streaming service.
By leveraging a smartphone’s capacity to receive a high-speed internet, Ford drivers will be able to control Spotify via either voice-control or physical controls which are located on the steering wheel.
In addition, Ford announced partnerships with Kaliki, Glympse, and Aha who will offer various content services to Ford drivers in Europe. Kaliki Audio Newsstand provides audible playback of newspaper and magazine articles with radio-talent voices. They’re expanding into European languages with content from news sources like Agence France-Presse and entertainment titles such as: Public and Première.
Glympse will allow Ford drivers to share their location and estimated time of arrival with friends and family, all in real-time on a dynamic map, directly from their vehicle using simple voice commands.
Finally, Aha will deliver more than 30,000 stations of audio entertainment and information to the car, allowing drivers to safely access web-based music, news, their Facebook and Twitter feeds, personalised restaurant recommendations, hotels, weather reports and much more.
Ferrari wowed the world with their new LaFerrari (yes, the name is terrible, but just look at it). It’s the Italian’s new 6.3 litre V12, 950 horsepower supercar (sorry, but 950 is just too bigger a number not mention). As well as the car the Italian sports car maker announced that they’ve teamed up with the Ferrari of the tech world: Apple, to bring their products to a range of sports cars.
Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo said the company is now “in talks with Apple about broadening a partnership on in-car entertainment.” Whilst that might not sound too concrete just yet, Ferrari also confirmed that its new four seater FF coupe will come with iPad minis for backseat passengers, so they can presumably play Angry Birds whilst traveling sideways in a plume of burning rubber.
Rolls-Royce unveiled a brand-new car at the Geneva Motorshow. The Wraith is Rolls’ answer to the Bentley Continental GT. Priced at a sensible £200,000 the credit crunch Rolls is obviously very fast, but we quite like the sound of it’s incredibly over engineered sound system, and something Rolls is calling “the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller”. Audio experts in stereo and multi-channel audio have specially optimised the bespoke audio system. So – naturally – this means you can enjoy the Dark Knight in 18.1, or you could listen to the Arches in a way you’ve never experienced before.
As well as the usual stuff, the Wraith houses a couple hundred gigs worth of storage for music. Passengers, or the driver, can make music searches via what Rolls is calling “the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller” (you just can’t make this stuff up) where you can search by artists, album, genre, or use the car’s in-built recommendation engine.
But it’s the sound quality itself that places the Rolls-Royce Wraith at the pinnacle of in-car audio. The fully active 18-channel amplifier delivers surround sound through 18 speakers, including two bass speakers in the boot, seven tweeters, seven mid-range and two “exciter” speakers.
Overall the Wraith is chucking out 1,300 watts. But that’s not all: Rolls has included a microphone that measures the ambient exterior noise, then with a digital processing unit uses the information to adjust volume and tone settings, ensuring the system is always perfectly set-up.
Then there’s a system called DIRAC that uses frequency and phase correction for individual speakers to eliminate dead spots caused by reflections from the windows.
If you move, or more specifically work out to the beat of a different drum then you might find music to be an essential work out companion. However if your local gym is anything like mine you may have to endure the endless repetition of the hit parade (my gym plays a lot of Chris Brown).
Reebok have teamed up with Spotify to save your ears via a cool new app called FitList. Fitlist creates bespoke playlists which match perfectly to your workout. Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 is an amazing Aphex Twin album but it’s not the best way to crunch your abs (then again for a stretch or cool down session it’s pretty great). If you waste a lot of time trying to work out what to listen to then the app is a godsend, boosting your workout by matching songs and artists based on your music tastes/likes and the workout you are going to do.
If you get easily bored, then I have no idea how you’ve made it this far through this article. But this app might at least invigorate your workout but matching your music tastes to other artists and genres, taking into account the BPM and energy levels required. No two workouts are the same, and now no two playlists will be the same.
Spotify as a music player is already great, but Spotify as an app platform is an exciting frontier. Apps such as Pitchfork where you can read reviews and then create playlists there are then are a natural extension of the idea of streaming music and hopefully can carry over onto the Spotify mobile platform.
It seems those harmonious home audio wizards Onkyo have been hard at work cooking up another winner. Having been concentrating up to now on building quality mid market systems, they’ve now turned their efforts to the mini hi fi market.
The CR-N755 is a mini hifi receiver mini system and in true Onkyo fashion is fitted with 96 kHz/24-bit optical and coaxial digital inputs and a 192 kHz/24-bit DAC for high-resolution audio. Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry amplifies incoming signals while Onkyo’s Phase-Matching Bass Boost system ensures mid range clarity and a strong low-frequency presence, whatever the volume. Another high-end inclusion is VLSC noise-mitigation technology, which helps the onboard DAC to filter digital noise from the audio.
The genius part, is it’s able to network streaming music serives, so Spotify, Last fm, vTuner and AUPEO! can all be accessed, plus a plethora of internet radio stations. Now, I’m an internet radio convert, no hysterical or banal presenters, just 24 hours of uninterrupted music and the CR-N755 is the perfect platform to get it from. Better still you can download apps to your smart phone to browse these services and then play the stream through your network. You access your LAN via a standard cable connection, however there is an optional UWF-1 adapter. Talking of optional items, you can also get a pair of two way bookshelf speakers for an extra £150.
The mini receiver also caters for other media sources; the front loading cd player, the AM/FM tuner and finally a USB port for an iPhone, iPod, or flash-memory device. So all the bases covered then. This is a pocket rocket that packs a quality punch too.
Onkyo CR-N755 – Network CD Hi-Fi Mini Receiver with Spotify (available in black or silver) – £300. Additional D-055 speakers £150. Wi fi adapter £50.
PURE has launched an online music service to rival the likes of Spotify.The cloud-based on-demand service will let users browse and listen to millions of tracks. They’ll be able to organise and play as many tracks and albums as they want on multiple devices, including PURE’s range of eight internet-connected digital radios PCs and Macs via the PURE Lounge internet radio and media portal (www.thelounge.com) and on smartphones running the PURE Lounge app.
Another feature of the service is PURE Tag, which lets you bookmark tracks you hear on the radio, and find out more about the track and artist using the search and recommendation facilities of the PURE Lounge, to discover more about the artists and their back catalogue, podcasts, or even discover similar and related artists. This is an updated version of PURE’s FlowSongs music tagging service, which was launched in 2010.
Your choice of albums and tracks can be dragged and dropped into playlists, which will automatically be kept synchronised across all of your PURE Music listening devices. Playlists can be shared with social networking contacts on Facebook and Twitter.
There will be one price to start with – £4.99 – but be aware that there is no caching offered as yet, so you won’t be able to experience offline play. As more functionality is introduced, PURE will introduce a tiered pricing structure.
PURE Music went live in December and you can register your interest at www.thelounge.com/puremusic
The mobile phone giant might not seem the likeliest choice to launch a game-changing digital music service, but it certainly is reaching for the sky with its new cloud-based innovation.
Music Anywhere allows users to access their entire music collection on the go, by “fingerprinting” their tracks and playlists. The songs will then be available wherever there is an internet connection to hook up to.
By taking advantage of cloud technology, which allows consumers access to shared resources on demand, the company is forging ahead of its competitors. Previously your mobile music library has only been as big as your Mp3 player’s capacity – but with Music Anywhere, there are no space constraints whatsoever, making it an appealing prospect for music obsessives.
The service costs £29 per year (or free if you purchase a Samsung Europa smartphone from CW), making it much more affordable than its nearest rival, Spotify. It’s currently only available on iPhones and BlackBerrys, but that’s likely to change in the future.
Music Anywhere launched on Tuesday with modest fanfare, yet it’s already causing a bit of techbuzz among the media.
The Guardian called it a groundbreaking service that has surprised some in the music industry. It reports that the venture has been publically endorsed by the labels and claims the company may also allow users access to films and eBooks in the near future.
The Register however, points out a possible blip on the radar, as it describes an “alarming” item in the service’s terms and conditions: Apparently, if the majority of Mp3s in a collection are pirated, the company reserves the right to terminate a user’s contract.
Catch Media, the company that powers the service acknowledges this clause, but also states that this will only occur in extreme cases, and that it will abide by privacy laws.
The Telegraph shares the same concerns about “snooping”, but concludes with quotes from BPI head Geoff Taylor, who believes that services such as these are “key to digital growth in the sector”.
Meanwhile, Techradar ponders whether Music Anywhere really will blow its rivals out of the water, or if music-lovers will simply just upgrade to a higher capacity phone or mp3 player.
“cloud music has become one of the most important concepts in digital music over the past couple of years and has attracted the attention of some of the biggest technology companies in the world”.
There are many unanswered questions about Music Anywhere and its chances of success, but one thing is certain: fans, musicians and record companies alike, will be watching with interest in the coming months to see whether this unique and unexpected service can breath new life into an ailing music industry.
Latest Gadgets met up with the team from Roberts Radio to have a look at the cutting edge of digital radio. Well over a hundred years old, radio has a hard time qualifying as a Latest Gadget, but is an amazing example of continual reinvention in the gadget world and some of devices on display managed to get my weary, gadget saturated eyes excited.
The most eye catching of the Roberts range is the COLOURstream (pictured) which throws different types of audio into one sleek looking (and apparently acoustically tuned) wooden cabinet. Featuring a nifty little touchscreen (everything has a touchscreen these days) the stream is pretty easy to operate. One of the buttons on the homescreen is for Last FM, enabling direct access, and even cooler apps coming to the platform so it’s perfectly possible that a Spotify App could be released onto the device at some point in the future.
Another unit which impressed me was the STREAM 61i. FM and DAB are obviously included and a little USB port at the front means nothing stands between you and your tunes. Internet connectivity, both wireless and wired, means you can also access your music from your home network. You can also connect to URLs, so streaming Internet radio stations are available to you. An iPod dock is also throw in and thanks to the SD card reader, you can rip tunes to SD as well as record radio programs.
Aside from the workhorse that is the Stream 63i, I was also impressed by the iStream, which is part of the Revival range. The iStream is more of a conventional looking DAB, clad in a traditional leather case but with a fully modern feature set including wireless Internet access.
In addition the award winning solarDAB, caught my eye. A radio with an integrated solar panel, the solarDAB can apparently get approximately 20 hours charge and seems an ideal picnic companion.
The full Roberts radio range should be heading to stores and online retailers near you over the next couple of months.
With the launch of the hotly anticipated iPad last Friday we thought we would round-up the best music related apps available. Including games, music players, and everything in between. When the iPad launches it will be backwards compatible with all the current iPhone apps meaning you have over 300,000 apps at your fingertips.
If you are fed up with shelling out loads of money on music from the iTunes, then Spotify is certainly worth a look. Spotify launched last year to much fanfare as it the first music store that allows premium account holders to consume as much music as you want for a flat rate. Spotify is available on the app store for free and if pay for the premium service you are able to upload music to your iPhone even if you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection and with over 8 million songs you never be without your favourite music.
Soundcloud is another app that is worth picking up it allows user to access their Soundcloud account on the move. It lets you seamlessly browse and listen to tracks from people you follow, sent to you from other people or sent directly to your drop box. It’s based on the twitter following system so you follow artists and you can listen to their music they have uploaded. And for only 59p it’s a steal.
If you’re like me you hate it when you hear a song but just can’t remember what it’s called. Well Shazam looks to answer those questions with their nifty app. Shazam gives you instant satisfaction when you want to know what song is playing. Just point the phone towards the music source to identify and buy the track or share your discovery with friends and family. Yes, sometimes it doesn’t work on obscure tracks but it has worked for me a lot of the time. And its free.
Bloom made quite a splash when it was released last year– Bloom explores unchartered territory in the realm of applications for the iPhone. Part instrument, part composition and part artwork. Bloom’s innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen. Turn the lights off, plug in some headphones and start relaxing all for £2.39.
Beatport have recently released their app, which works with their fantastic music store. Beatport is the world’s leading dance music online store and with their new app you can you access the whole of their store over Wi-Fi or 3g and you can listen to tracks or add them to your cart so you purchase later and you can do this all on the move. It’s the perfect app for any DJ or music junkie and it’s free.
One of the top selling apps is the Ocarina, it’s the official instrument of the Zelda games. Ocarina allows you to blow into the mike on iPhone like you would on a flute and you have yourself a fully functional virtual instrument. And at 59p it will give you loads of entertainment for a small price.
If your looking for a great Radio app you can’t go wrong with Internet Radio Box which allow users to listen to 30,000 thousand of radio stations across the world. The only downside is you can’t listen to it and use other apps like safari at the same time…yet.
iSequence is great little app for the music producers of the world – it’s fully functional music sequencer and with ability to export any ideas through midi to any fully fledged music software. It’s a great app to waste time with and with a solid bank of sounds you’ll soon be making music.
Daft Drum machine is worth a look and allows you to become Daft Punk by using combinations of loops, drums, bass and various voice effects you can make your own Daft Punk songs of your own. It’s 59p and worth every penny.
OSC is a nifty app that allows you to use your iPhone as a midi controller for any music software – for the price you can create your own touch midi pad for the fraction of the price of a Jazz Mutant. And it’s a very reasonable £2.99