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12
Oct

Why buy gadget insurance?


Why should you shell out for tech and gadget insurance? After all, you might be thinking that providing I’m super-careful and keep a watchful eye on the hundreds of pounds’ worth of phone, tablet, laptop, headphones and/or games consoles and other expensive gadgetry in my bag, there’s no need to pay out more money to cover any breakages, losses or thefts. Is there?

There are plenty of things to think about beyond the above regardless of whether you take your gadgets out into the wild or keep them snug as a bug in a rug in your home.

Dedicated cover

One of the key reasons to go for dedicated gadget insurance is because you’ll get a package that covers the specific needs and issues of that device.

While many home insurance policies will cover gadgets, you are bundling them into a bigger insurance package that covers lots of different products.

Many gadget insurance policies cover things like unauthorised usage or even e-wallet cover, something you don’t normally find with home cover. 

Cover anywhere

Home insurance is just that, it is insurance for things stolen or broken in your home. That might mean that dropping your phone down the toilet at work isn’t covered, nor may they be covered if you take your gadgets on holiday. A devoted gadget policy could be detailed to cover you wherever you are or whatever you are doing, including up to 180 days worldwide.

Manage the individual policies

If you’ve got loads of gadgets, insurance cover for each individual item would mean you’ve got the right solution for each device rather than a “catch all” approach. For example, you may be offered flexible repair options allowing you to take your Apple devices to be repaired at your local Apple store.

Avoid big excess claims

We’ve all been there. To make a claim on any insurance we have to pay the excess fee, which is essentially your contribution towards a claim. With some insurances the price of the excess is normally increased to bring down the cost of the policy premium. That’s great for when you are talking home insurance because the likelihood is that you’ll be using it to cover something or a collection of things that add up to a sizeable amount.

You might find though, that the excess you have on your home insurance far outweighs the cost of the gadget you want to claim on, especially if it is a broken screen. With standalone gadget insurance that’s unlikely to be the case and you’ll only pay an excess amount depending on the value of your gadget

Time

When it comes to your phone, you probably use it every waking moment, and probably given half the chance you would use it while you are asleep too, it’s okay really.

Some home insurance claim systems can be lengthy, especially for smaller things, whereas a standalone gadget insurance policy should be quick and simple.

Peace of mind

Most people have the odd worry. The idea of insurance is that it can take some of those worries, box them up, and take them “off the table”. Now you don’t have to worry what happens if you lose that shiny new camera, or break that lovely new phone. If you do, the insurance is there to sort it out. Peace of mind is a great thing.

Get a quote in 10 seconds with Pocket-lints favoured partner: Gadget-cover.com

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12
Oct

Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which is best for you?


Amazon has just released its new music streaming service, Music Unlimited, in the US. It’s not the first time Amazon has offered a music streaming service as it has Prime Music, but Music UnlimIted has a much larger catalogue of music and is open to everyone.

Spotify on the other hand has been in the streaming game since 2008 and has since amassed in excess of 125 million users, 40 million of which pay for it. It has a huge following and is probably the first service you think of when you think of music streaming.

It’s clear then that Amazon has a mission on its hands to topple Spotify’s reign, but it has some competitive pricing options and intuitive features that set it apart.

But which service is best for you? We’ve compiled together all the features of both, how much they cost and how you can access them to help you make your decision.

  • Which is the best music streaming service in the UK? Apple Music vs Spotify vs Tidal and more

Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: How much do they cost?

Amazon Music Unlimited is only available in the US at the moment, so we can only go on US pricing. It has been confirmed it will be made available in the UK before the end of the year.

If you don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime, a Music Unlimited membership will cost you $9.99/month, but if you do have a Prime account then you’ll only pay $7.99/month or you can $79 for a whole year.

Amazon also offers a membership for $3.99/month but you can only stream music through the Echo speaker, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap. Amazon has said it has plans to introduce a Family membership for $14.99/month or $149 for a year.

Spotify has two tiers, a free, ad-supported tier and a Premium tier that costs £9.99/month.

Spotify also offers offer a family subscription plan which costs £14.99/month for you and up to five family members. Each member gets their own personal account.

Students can also get a discounted membership for just £4.99, but they have to sign up through UniDays or NUS Extra.

Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: What devices are they on?

Amazon Music Unlimited is accessible through the Amazon Music app. The app can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, as well as Mac and PC. You can also access it through a Web player in your browser and through the company’s Echo devices.

Amazon’s Fire tablets and the Fire TV also have an app and you can also play music through a Sonos Multi-Room system or Roku media streamer.

Amazon has also said that select BMW, Ford and Mini cars are Amazon Music-enabled and provide access to the service through its infotainment system when connected to a smartphone.

Spotify is available almost everywhere, there’s an app for iOS, Android, PC and Mac but is available on a list of devices that’s almost too long to put on here. You can get a Spotify app on select TVs from Panasonic, LG, Sony, Samsung, B&O and Philips, and on Bose, Sonos, Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha, Pionner, Naim, Libratone and Revo home entertainment products.

A wide range of car manufacturers, as well as Uber, have either built-in access via Spotify Connect, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The Sony PlayStation has an app for Spotify that will let you play your music from within games and you can also access it through Google Chromecast and Chromecast Audio. You can find a full list of devices here.

Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which offers better sound?

Amazon hasn’t revealed the streaming bitrate quality of its library, but we’d have a guess and say it will be 320kbps as this would put it on par with Spotify.

Spotify reserves the 320kbps streaming quality for its Premium tier. It’s called high quality on computer and extreme quality on mobile. If you use the free tier and listen on a mobile, you can choose between 96kbps normal quality or 160kbps high quality. The same 160kbps streams are called standard quality on computer.

We haven’t heard Amazon Music Unlimited yet, so we can’t say which one sounds better. But since Amazon hasn’t said it’s going to offer high-resolution audio, we can assume they’ll sound very similar.

Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which has more music?

Again, Amazon hasn’t revealed exact details about its service. All it has said is that Music Unlimited will offer access to “tens of millions” of songs from the major labels.

Spotify has around 30 million songs in its catalogue, but the songs you’re able to listen to may vary depending on where you’re listening from. It’s not clear if Amazon Music Unlimited will have the same location-dependant library.

Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: What do they feature?

Radio

Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer personalised radio stations based on artists and tracks you like.

Amazon Music Unlimited has the unique ability to be used through the Echo range of voice-controlled devices. You can ask Alexa, Amazon’s assistant, to play songs based on an artist, genre or even for a mood and setting.

Spotify also has mood-based playlists and a list of auto-generated stations and you can also choose to start a station based on an artist or song you’re currently listening to.

Playlists

Both services will let you create your own custom playlists you can then share with friends, or you can save curated ones to your collection.

Discovery

Amazon hasn’t specified exactly how you’ll be able to discover new music through its service, but it has put great emphasis on the newly redesigned Music app, which it says will make music discovery easier than ever before.

Spotify meanwhile has a feature called Discover Weekly, which is an automatically curated playlist of songs that it thinks you’ll like based on your listening habits. It’s updated every Monday morning and from our experience, we’ve always liked what we’ve heard.

Connectivity

Amazon Music Unlimited can be played through the Echo devices, Fire devices and Sonos multi-room systems.

Providing you subscribe to the Premium tier of Spotify, you can use Spotify Connect. It’s a way to stream music to compatible speakers, home entertainment systems or even in an Uber taxi.

Assistant

Because of the integration with Echo devices, Amazon Music Unlimited can be used with Alexa. You can ask Alexa all manner of questions to get the music you want, such as “play music for a dinner party” or “play Britney Spears greatest hits” and so on.

Spotify has no built-in assistant as such. You can’t ask Siri to play songs through it either, as it will default to playing music through Apple Music instead.

Offline

Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer offline playback. Amazon offers it as standard but you can only download songs from Spotify if you subscribe to the Premium tier.

Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which is best for you?

So we come back to our initial question, which music streaming service is best for you? Both offer a compelling argument. We obviously can’t fully recommend Amazon Music Unlimited right now because it’s not available in the UK just yet, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.

If you already have an Amazon Prime membership it could definitely be worth it because of the cheaper monthly cost compared to Spotify. And if you’ve bought an Echo speaker or Echo Dot, paying just $3.99/month makes it incredibly worthwhile.

If it were us, we’d get an Echo Dot and hook it up to our home entertainment system so we could have a large catalogue of music on demand and a good quality system to play it on.

Spotify on the other hand is available almost everywhere and offers a free tier. It’s worth noting that while the free tier still lets you listen to Spotify’s entire 30 million strong music catalogue, it does come with some limitations.

You can choose whatever song you want if you’re listening on a PC or Mac through the app or web player, but if you listen on smartphone or tablet, you have to make do with shuffle-only access. That means you can choose an artist, but not a specific song, instead you have to rely on Spotify to shuffle their tracks.

But Spotify’s service is incredibly easy to use, it sounds good and it has some incredibly useful music discovery features.

We can’t wait to try Amazon Music Unlimited here in the UK, as it seems to offer a genuinely compelling case to switch from Spotify or indeed Apple Music.

12
Oct

Amazon Echo Dot review (2016): Forget the Echo. Buy this instead.


The robot assistants we were promised as children are finally ready for the home. Well, sort of. Instead of walking, talking humanoid automatons like Rosie from The Jetsons and Robby the Robot from Lost in Space, our well-spoken helpers are housed in plastic and sit on tables. They answer our questions, control our homes and sometimes tell us a story. The most ubiquitous assistant so far has been Alexa, an Amazon-powered attendant that has made the jump from a $180 tower to the $50 Dot, which isn’t much bigger than a hockey puck. That sort of drop in size usually results in a loss of features. In this case, you’re going to want to go tiny.

Hardware

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At only 1.3 inches tall, the Dot (available in black or white) virtually disappears into your home. It can be placed anywhere, and it won’t disrupt your carefully decorated room. Like the larger Echo, the second-generation Dot can be used to fill an Amazon cart. But that’s not the only thing people use it for. Instead, the Alexa platform is an incredibly helpful connected home hub, a fountain of random facts, an audiobook reader and a music player.

Indeed, it’s music where the Dot really shines, thanks to an audio-out port and Bluetooth speaker support. That gives it access to nearly any audio system in your home. The full-size Echo’s built-in speakers sound fine too, but the stereo system I already own sounds better.

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Also, you can switch between wired and Bluetooth speakers on the fly by enabling and disabling the Bluetooth connection with your voice. That feature allowed me to switch my audio source in two different rooms using a single Dot. That said, the Alexa platform does work with Sonos if you want that type of audio system and you have the money. Unfortunately, you can’t play audio out of both a wired and a Bluetooth source at the same time. Like the Echo, the Dot has an internal speaker, but it’s too anemic for audio playback to be truly enjoyable.

And while about 90 percent of your interactions with the digital assistant will be voice-based, there are physical buttons on top of the device as well. The most important of those is Microphone Off, which, as you’d expect, stops the device from listening for the “Alexa” wake word. It’s a great feature for when you want to discuss sensitive topics and you’re feeling a bit paranoid. Indeed, there’s good reason for being cautious with sensitive material: Sometimes the Dot and Echo think they hear “Alexa,” even when that’s not what you said. Now a bit of your conversation has been recorded as a query, sent to Amazon’s servers and also stored in the app.

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Additionally there are volume buttons that replace the full-size Echo’s twistable top. Fans of the knob will be disappointed, but most of the time I use my voice to raise and lower the volume anyway. The buttons are surrounded by an LED ring that indicates when the Dot is listening and thinking. It also reflects the current speaker volume. It’s a nice indicator that your assistant is listening, and it can be seen from across the room without being too bright or blinding.

In use

The thousands of “Skills” (what Amazon calls third-party add-on features for the Alexa platform) are where Amazon has a distinct advantage over Google’s forthcoming speaker hub, called the Home. It already supports popular connected-home brands such as Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue and IFTTT, as well as platforms from WeMo, Insteon, Lutron, Honeywell and Ecobee, among others. Plus it works with travel and recipe apps. You can order a pizza, flowers and a car with it. You can check bank balances and get news briefings from NPR, Fox and the AP. You can hear sports scores from ESPN, and you can even figure out how much gas is in your car using the “Automatic” Skill.

I tried nearly all of these (except ordering pizza, because ew, Dominos) and they all worked like a charm. But the Skills library — like all app stores — is filled with some add-ons that are better left ignored. For example, the Moon Age add-on notes, “you can know the moon age by asking to [sic] Echo.” What does that even mean?

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Adding all these Skills requires using the Alexa app, which is clearly the weak link of Amazon’s platform. I’ve been using an Echo for more than a year, and in the past few months the app, frankly, has been a pain to use. The issue is that it says it’s not connected to the internet, even when my phone and Echo speaker both can access the network without a problem. If it doesn’t think it’s online, the app becomes worthless. Fortunately, you can also tap into Alexa via your web browser. That workaround has consistently worked for me. But I usually learn of a new Skill while on the go, and if 20 percent of the time I can’t add it because the app is buggy, that’s frustrating.

Another confounding thing is that you can’t really have two Alexas in adjoining rooms. Amazon says that its Echo Spatial Perception feature (ESP) determines which device hears you the best and sends answers only to that piece of hardware. But during my tests, the Dot and the Echo both replied and answered when I said the wake word or made a query. Even if I was sitting in front of one of them, if the other assistant heard me, it would react. To combat this, I changed the wake word on one device to “Echo.” Those in larger houses with more rooms might have a different experience altogether, though.

The competition

While there are rumors of an Apple device on the horizon, the only real challenge to Alexa’s dominance in this field is the forthcoming Google Home. While the Home does have some Internet of Things capabilities, they pale in comparison with the Echo and the Dot. While the Google offering works with four connected home platforms, Alexa supports more than 13 different manufacturers and developers. But the $129 device will allow for audiocasting to multiple devices that support Google’s audio and video streaming service. The Dot, meanwhile, can send music only to a single device.

The Amazon Dot is also out sooner, but only by a few weeks. It starts shipping next week, on October 20th, while Google Home goes on sale November 4th. Engadget will have a full review of Home once it’s available, so stay tuned for that over the coming weeks.

Wrap-up

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Even with multiple wake words, the inability to stream to multiple devices and an app that sometimes fails, the Amazon Dot is an incredible value at $50 a pop. Dropping one in the kitchen and one in the living room seems like a no-brainer. I’ve used the Echo tower for more than a year and it’s one of the only — if not the only — IoT devices that actually works as advertised while continuing to gain features. Alexa doesn’t roll around the house cleaning up your mess like the home robot of our dreams, but it does make your life better by bringing all your various services and information into an easy-to-use setup. Plus, thanks to the audio jack, the $50 Dot is a much better value than its taller cousin. Just don’t call it Rosie.

12
Oct

BMW’s motorcycle of the future doesn’t require a helmet


BMW has unveiled a slew of concept vehicles to mark its 100th birthday, but its fourth and last example might be the most daring. Its new Motorrad Vision Next 100 concept motorcycle would supposedly be so smart that you wouldn’t need a helmet, or even a padded suit. The key would be a self-balancing system that keeps the bike upright whether or not you’re moving — newcomers wouldn’t have to worry about toppling over, and veterans could push limits further than usual.

Also, notice the absence of the usual space for an instrument cluster? That’s because you wouldn’t need it. Most information would instead display through a smart visor that shows data as it becomes relevant. All told, you’d spend more time enjoying open air driving and less time worrying about your speed or range (BMW will only say that this is a “zero-emission” bike, but it’d likely be electric).

Like the other Vision Next 100 concepts, you’re not going to see this exact motorcycle on the road any time soon. However, it might not just be due to the grand technological ambitions. While a self-balancing system could prevent you from crashing the bike yourself, it wouldn’t protect you in many serious collisions. What if you’re forcefully ejected from your vehicle? Regulators would likely require some kind of helmet, even if it’s not as cumbersome as what you wear today.

Via: Designboom, Bloomberg

Source: BMW

12
Oct

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell launches a VR company


Atari’s Nolan Bushnell is busier than ever these days — in addition to his mobile game efforts, the video game pioneer is launching a virtual reality company. Modal VR is promising a combination of hardware and software that delivers high-end virtual experiences of the sort that make an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift seem like small potatoes. It’s completely wireless, low latency (under 10 milliseconds) and accommodates multiple users in areas as large as 900,000 square feet. There are full body tracking suits, to boot. Instead of limiting you to sit-down or room-scale VR, developers could create immersive experiences that fill whole fields and warehouses.

As you might guess, Modal VR isn’t designing something you would buy for personal use. You’d most likely use it in arcades — think of it as a very, very advanced version of the Virtuality rigs from the 1990s. Businesses could also create custom VR apps for their workers, such as 3D modelling tools that let engineers see life-size examples of their work.

Modal’s technology is still in the prototype stage, and it will only start shipping beta developer kits “soon.” If it works as well as promised, though, it could extend not just the capabilities of VR, but its reach. While many people can’t justify buying their own hardware, they might not have to. You’d only have to pay on a per-session basis, and could join in multiplayer games that are impractical (or in some cases, impossible) with existing tech.


Via: TechCrunch

Source: Modal VR

12
Oct

Pandora rebrand hints at its future in on-demand music


Pandora has been promising a big shift to on-demand music ever since it bought Rdio in 2015, and it’s hinting at that sea change through a very conspicuous way: its branding. The company has given itself a new look that, as the company puts it, reflects the nature of music as a “personal experience.” The days of that staid-looking “P” and matching word logo are over. Instead, you’ll see a look more reminiscent of a tech startup, with a “dynamic” brand that mixes up patterns and colors.

The announcement isn’t just about cosmetics. Pandora says that its Plus subscription and upgraded free tier should now be available to everyone, so you have something to do beyond stare at the new visuals. However, the rebranding may have a more enduring effect than feature availability. It’s not so much an attempt to modernize as a statement of purpose — Pandora wants you to think of it as more than just an internet radio provider, and the makeover is the first step in shattering those preconceptions. Let’s just hope that its on-demand music service (still due later this year) lives up to the hype.

Source: Pandora Blog

12
Oct

The White House reveals proposals to research and fund AI


President Barack Obama’s administration believes that artificial intelligence can be a positive force in the United States, vastly improving specialized areas within health care, transportation, education and policing over the coming decades. In two reports released today, one day ahead of the White House Frontiers Conference, the Obama administration calls for long-term investments in AI research and a broad range of investigation into the ethics, security and uses of AI.

The report also emphasizes the current limits of AI, noting that narrow AI systems have rapidly advanced over the past few years, but general-intelligence systems — machines that learn and respond as humans do — are decades away.

“Long-term concerns about super-intelligent General AI should have little impact on current policy,” the report Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence reads.

The report outlines a few areas of interest for the government to implement AI systems, including within policing and justice, a topic Engadget covered during AI Week 2016. The administration is exploring how AI can bolster existing initiatives such as the Data Driven Justice and Police Data Initiative, both of which attempt to “provide law enforcement and the public with data that can better inform decision-making in the criminal justice system, while also taking care to minimize the possibility that AI might introduce bias or inaccuracies due to deficiencies in the available data,” the report reads.

Another major issue that the report considers is AI’s impact on jobs and the economy. The report recommends the White House conduct a study on automation and the economy, to be followed with a public report released by the of the year.

The government should also explore ways to improve the understanding of and uses of AI in key agencies, the report says: “For example, Federal agencies should explore the potential to create DARPA-like organizations to support high-risk, high-reward AI research and its application, much as the Department of Education has done.”

The administration also wants to ensure federal employees are knowledgable about AI and its potential impact on Americans’ lives. Along with a call for AI training for federal employees, the proposal suggests an exchange model that would allow experts from federal and state governments to rotate among departments, “colleges and universities, Indian tribal governments, federally funded research and development centers, and other eligible organizations.” This is currently known as the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program.

“For example, agency staff sent to colleges and universities as instructors can inspire students to consider Federal employment,” the report reads. “Likewise, programs that rotate employees through different jobs and sectors can help government employees gain knowledge and experience to inform regulation and policy, especially as it relates to emergent technologies like AI.”

There’s no need for broad regulation of AI research or practice right now, the report says. Experts and commenters who weighed in on the issue suggested that existing regulations be adapted as necessary as they evolve to include AI systems. The government invested $1.1 billion on unclassified R&D for AI systems in 2015 and is poised to spend a total of $1.2 billion in 2016.

The federal government isn’t the only organization getting serious about the future of AI. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon recently partnered to support AI research and recommend best practices in terms of ethics. The tech companies’ initiative is called the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society.

Source: White House

12
Oct

Google Sprayscapes lets you build surreal 360-degree landscapes


Google has long held a reputation for being an experimental company, so it was notable that it felt the need to build Android Experiments, the platform it launched last year to show developers how weird you can get when building smartphone apps. The crazy interactive “paper planes” demo Google showed off at its I/O developer conference earlier this year is a perfect example of what the company is encouraging developers to do with Android Experiments.

All developers are encouraged to build Android Experiments, but today Google is launching one of its own called Sprayscape. It’s a weird name, but fairly accurate once you start using the app: It turns whatever your camera sees into a virtual spray paint gun that lets you splash the landscape around a 360-degree virtual canvas. The phone’s gyroscope is used to orient your position inside that sphere.

I won’t fault you if that description just made things more confusing. Here’s an example of an image I created using the app. That should clear everything up.

Still confused? I don’t blame you. It took me a long while to figure out how to best use the app, partially because there’s nothing in the way of directions when you launch Sprayscape for the first time. All you see is a black screen with some white grid lines outlining a 360-degree space. It sort of feels like you’re in an empty Photo Sphere (remember those?).

After many failed experiments, I realized that if you tap and hold on the screen, it’ll “spray” whatever the camera sees onto the 360-degree canvas; if you keep your finger on the screen and move the camera around, you’ll start filling in that space with the colors of the world around you.

It’s not altogether different from creating a Photo Sphere, but Sprayscape encourages weirdness and creativity and is absolutely not well-suited to capturing an accurate representation of the world around you. Once I realized that, I started getting weird. I took my phone on a walk and started randomly spraying in whatever was around me as I walked, with no concern for stitching together a coherent scene.

Another time, I tried to “write” on the virtual wall, with little success; there’s only enough room to get in about three letters, and a lack of precision makes it a pretty tricky prospect. That’s fine, though: There isn’t a “right” way to use the app, and it’s clearly meant for experimentation. Ultimately, the creations I liked the best were when I stood in one spot, spinning around to capture as much of the scene as I could. The results evoked where I was standing, but in a blurry, surreal dream-like way. Stitching together results from various locations looked much weirder and disjointed.

Unfortunately, the app is also pretty buggy right now in some crucial ways — namely saving your creations. Once you’re done making your scene, you can tap a save button that’ll upload an image file to your Google Drive account. You can also upload the link to a Sprayscape sharing site that’ll let others view it in their browser, on web or mobile. Viewing in a browser works pretty well, actually; you can pan around the scene by moving your phone, or click and drag around if you’re on a desktop.

But a few times times my creations simply didn’t save to Drive. I’m not sure where they went, but they were gone, never to return. I didn’t exactly mourn the loss of any of my abstract, messy creations, but the overall process for saving and sharing your creations could be a bit smoother. The app also straight-up crashed on me several times, but I’m not going to fault Google too much for that. I’ve been testing a beta version, and I’ll be looking to see if the app that’s now out in Google Play is more stable. The good news is that using the “share” feature to email links around to my weirdo creations seemed to work just about every time — the files just didn’t always end up in Google Drive.

Given Google’s interest in letting people generate their own “VR-ish” content, Sprayscape is a fun tool to achieve those ends. The results can be viewed in Google Cardboard, of course, but Sprayscape creations can still be fun to view in a normal browser. I may not have come up with any great pieces of 360-degree art in the few days I had to play around with the app, but I have little doubt that more skilled souls will use this to make some pretty fascinating landscapes. The app is out now for Android, and Google says that an iOS version will launch soon.

12
Oct

Verizon now says the Pixel will get Android updates immediately


Since it was announced that Verizon was the only US carrier selling Google’s new Pixel smartphone directly, there’s been some confusion about what that’ll mean for Android updates. Originally, it sounded like the Verizon version of the Pixel wouldn’t get Android updates at the same time as the unlocked versions, which meant Verizon customers could end up waiting for the carrier to approve the updates — something that has historically slowed things down significantly. (To refresh your memory, just look at how badly things with when Verizon sold the Galaxy Nexus way back in 2011 and 2012.)
But Verizon now says that it won’t make Pixel owners wait. According to a statement received by Ars Technica, all versions of the Pixel will be updated simultaneously. “First and foremost, all operating system and security updates to the Pixel devices will happen in partnership with Google,” Verizon’s statement reads. “In other words, when Google releases an update, Verizon phones will receive the same update at the same time (much like iOS updates). Verizon will not stand in the way of any major updates and users will get all updates at the same time as Google.”

Verizon also noted that its version of the Pixel is carrier unlocked, and it included three pre-installed apps, all of which can be uninstalled by the user. That’s about as good as we could possibly hope for when talking about an Android phone on Verizon — historically, they’ve been full of uninstallable apps and Android updates could be delayed for months. In fact, this might be the first time Verizon has offered an Android phone that’ll get updates at the same time as unlocked phones sold directly by Google.

Google also confirmed that the Verizon Pixel would get updates simultaneously, saying that “OS updates and monthly security patches will be updated on all Pixel devices (Verizon and non-Verizon versions) simultaneously.” Both of these statements from Verizon and Google are pretty unambiguous, so we’re hoping both companies live up to their words here. Previously, we would have recommended all interested Pixel buyers purchase the phone directly from Google — but if Verizon makes good on its promise, it’ll be hard to fault anyone for buying the phone directly from them.

Source: Ars Technica

12
Oct

Pandora Rebrands Mobile App Ahead of On-Demand Music Service Launch


Online radio service Pandora today announced a rebranding of its iOS and Android apps, complete with a new logo that includes a “vibrant and bold color scheme” that the company says will showcase “the next phase of the product and the music experiences Pandora brings you.” The app’s icon has transitioned from a gray background with a navy blue “P” to an all-white background a lighter, bolder “P.” It’s also shifted from an uppercase to a lowercase font choice for “Pandora.”

The old Pandora logo (left) and the new one (right)
The company’s aim with the updated brand scheme is to introduce an aesthetic that “embraces the dynamic range of sound and color,” so the logo can adapt to any musician, song, or genre available on Pandora. The new P icon is said to serve as the user’s “portal” into the streaming radio service and its new ad-free subscription service Pandora Plus. Pandora also created a video to showcase its new brand.

Music is a personal experience for everyone, from the artists creating it all the way to the fans listening to it. And as Pandora continues to evolve the most personal music experience, our new look embraces the dynamic range of sound and color, visualizing the energy and emotion that artists pour into the creation of music, and that we feel as listeners. Our dynamic brand is composed of form, color and pattern, which we implemented into the new P icon and serves as your portal into the unique and diverse range of music you love.

The rebranding comes ahead of Pandora’s impending on-demand music listening service, which CEO Tim Westergren has confirmed will arrive “later this year.” The service is believed to cost $9.99 and offer users the ability to listen to any song and musician they want, create playlists, and various other features, all putting it in the competitive music streaming category alongside Apple Music and Spotify.

Amazon today also entered the on-demand music streaming space with Music Unlimited, which grants users access to tens of millions of songs and costs $9.99 per month (or $7.99 for Amazon Prime subscribers). If users have an Amazon Echo, they can also subscribe to an Echo-only $3.99 streaming option.

For Pandora, the company mentioned that the rebranding will begin to rollout to iOS and Android users throughout today, “whether you listen to ad-supported Pandora or Pandora Plus.” The new look will then make it to the desktop, web, and other devices “over the year.”

Tag: Pandora
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