Google Play All Access – No access if you have an iOS device

gmusic_allaccess_20130515Google added subscription streaming to its cloud music player. Everyone compares it to mindshare leader Spotify. But, it is much closer to Microsoft’s Zune Market (now named Xbox Music). Like Microsoft’s offering you can buy music and, optionally, pay for the ability to stream from a large music collection. There is no free ad-supported option like Spotify.

Just as Microsoft focuses its music service to its own platforms, Google Play All Access only supports Android in the mobile world. Its web-based interface works across desktop platforms as well as Windows RT, however. The lack of an iOS app is a big limitation for me. It would be nice to be able to stream music to an iPhone or iPad. And, the web interface for the desktop needs a bit of work in its navigation interface.

If, however, you have an Android device, update the Play Music app to be able to stream from the All Access service. Google provides a free 30-day trial. And, if you start the trial and opt to pay for the service before June 30, 2013, the monthly recurring fee will be $7.99 instead of the regular $9.99. There is no indication how long this reduced price will be in effect.

The Android Play Music app provides a sparse but usable interface. Its Explore option will show you recommended, featured, and new music lists. You can also explore by music genres. I didn’t find this feature particularly useful. And, it seemed especially weak in the world music category. But, it might just be a learning curve issue. One thing to pay attention to is the apps settings. I recommend limiting it to WiFi-only (see screenshot) until you learn more about how the app operates. I found, for example, that it downloaded over 250MB of data while testing it. One factor is the “Add to Library” downloads, for example, an entire album. Just remember that a “library” is different from a “playlist.”

My initial opinion is that Spotify’s Windows software (I haven’t tried the Mac OS X version) is easier to than Google Music’s web interface. Spotify’s UI makes it easier to search for music, discover related music, create playlists, and, in general, simply play music.

In a post-June 30 world where both Spotify and Google Play All Access will cost $9.99 per month, I think Spotify’s support for iOS devices and better desktop interface wins. Oh, and one more thing… Google Play All Access only lets you share music on Google+. If your friends are on Facebook (along with hundreds of millions of other people), that is just too bad. Google’s current social strategy feels very 1990s AOL walled garden-like to me.

Android
Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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4G Android data hog apps: Amazon AppStore & Google Currents

datawiz_datahogappsI started using the free DataWiz from Princeton’s Edge Lab to learn how apps on my Nexus 4 use wireless broadband data. I quickly found two badly behaving apps (in my opinion).

The first was Amazon’s AppStore. It downloaded 9MB of something over 3G/4G. I don’t know what this somewhat was since I did not download any apps from Amazon. And, it had not notified me of any app updates. I found a setting to force it download apps larger than 1MB only when connected to WiFi.

The other misbehaving app is Google’s Current – its magazine reading app that I never use. It managed to download 2.4MB even though I never used the app that day. And, unfortunately, like other Google apps, it cannot be uninstalled. Updates to the can be removed but not the app itself. The solution for this app was to set sync to manual. It should never sync since I never use the app.

If you are wondering what on your phone is using up your 3G/4G data, you might want to take a look at the free DataWiz app.

Android

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Fitbit milestones: 5000+ miles & 11+ million steps

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Happy to say I passed two Fitbit milestones in the past couple of days.

1. 5000 miles
2. 11,000,000 steps

fitbit_11m_steps

Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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My Nexus 4 “Ordinary Things” photo series on Google+

"Ordinary Things" photo series.

“Ordinary Things” photo series.

I stopped posting regularly on Google+ on October 3, 2012. However, recently, I started posting near daily to a photo series I call Ordinary Things. Here’s why:

I bought a Nexus 4 phone to replace an HTC HD7 (Windows Phone 7) earlier this year. However, it was rarely used to take photos because I use an iPhone 5 for that function. The Ordinary Things photo series is a way to force myself to use the Nexus 4 to take photos and to learn more about both it and the Snapseed photo app (now owned by Google) – Most of the photos have some processing using Snapseed. So, it seemed like posting these photos to Google+ would make it an all-Google effort. You can find me on Google+ at:

Todd Ogasawara on Google+

Android
Digital Photography
Mobile Devices

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MobileViews Podcast 62: When old tech is good enough…




Podcast Powered By Podbean

[Audio length - 48:43]
In MobileViews Podcast 62 Todd Ogasawara and Jay Stone discuss the relationship software and hardware being so good that consumers do not feel the need to upgrade or update to the latest version. This, of course, affects growth, revenue, and the bottom line for tech companies.

Apple
Microsoft
Mobile Devices
podcast

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I miss the Fail Whale. Don’t like the new Twitter mutant

twitter_nowhale_20130413

Saw this for the first time this morning. What the heck is this Twitter mutant thing? I miss the old Fail Whale.

Mobile Lifestyle

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Angry Birds Stars Wars is free from Starbucks app

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The Angry Birds Star Wars game for iPhone is free for a limited time if you use the Starbucks iOS app. Check your messages in the app for the free download link.

iPhone

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FCC iOS/Android speed test app turned off

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The recent update for the FCC’s speed test apps for both Android and iPhone turned off the ability to run a test. And, the new app is not available yet.

Android
iPad
iPhone

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Windows Blue designers drawing inspiration from Windows 1.0

Image courtesy  of Wikipedia.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Microsoft Windows features non-overlapping windows, drew a bit of interest, but failed to capture the mind-share and marketshare of its popular predecessor. I am, of course, speaking of Windows 1.0 and MS-DOS. But, the description fits Windows 8 and Windows 7 too. Windows 1.0, however, could do something Windows 8 Metro (Modern Design) cannot: Windows 1.0 could display more than two tiled windows at the same time.

The designers of the update to Windows 8, codenamed Blue, appear to be drawing inspiration from Windows 1.0. The Verge reports that Blue will allow more than two tiled windows too. Unfortunately, only a single row of tiles will be allowed. I encourage the Blue design team to take a closer look at Windows 1.0 (see screenshot above) to draw from its advanced 1985 design.

Image courtesy of The Verge

Image courtesy of The Verge

Microsoft

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New MobileViews Podcast cover art

MobileViews_Podcast_x320On March 21 Apple sent email to podcasters publishing through iTunes telling them that they need to provide new cover art that conforms to the new 1400×1400 pixel format (JPEG or PNG). So, my old ugly MobileViews cover art has been replaced by this new ugly cover art. The new cover art reflects that this one podcast stream hosts both the MobileViews and ComicsViews podcasts.

Apple
podcast

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Fender USB Stratocaster Guitar: Broken oddball cable connector

fender_usbstat_HA153The Squier by Fender USB Stratocaster Guitar is unique among Fender’s legendary guitar series for a couple of reasons:

1. It has a USB interface that lets it work with the iPad and iPhone.
2. It is only available through the Apple Store.
3. It has an oddball Apple 30-pin connector to mini-USB connector cable.

This last item has caused a bit of grief for a good friend of mine who is notorious for taking meticulous good care of his gear. This is the only 30-pin to mini-USB cable I’ve ever seen. So, if it breaks, it is difficult to replace (aside from using a Rube Goldberg collection of adapter cables). And, break is exactly what it did for my friend. You can see his photo below. The mini-USB connector completely disengaged from the cable.

Fender no longer even features a product page for the guitar. So, one has to wonder what is going on there. However, it is still listed as available through the Apple Store. So, my friend’s next step is to contact Apple and Fender to see if:

(a) This cable breakage is covered by some kind of warranty since the guitar was only introduced in November 2012 and my friend bought his a few months after that.
(b) If a replacement cable can be found anywhere.

fenderusb_sy_2

Apple
iPad
iPhone
Mobile Lifestyle

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Nexus 4 charges wirelessly just fine with Energizer Qi charger

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The Verge reported that the wireless inductive charger accessory for the Nexus 4 (which became widely available just recently itself) is now available for $59.99. I was giving it some thought as a possible purchase when I remembered that I had an Energizer Qi-Enabled 3 Position Inductive Charger (Amazon link) that I used tested with an iPhone 3G a couple of years ago. The Nexus 4 also uses the Qi wireless charging technology. So, it seemed like it should charge using the Energizer product.

Initial testing indicates that it does. Placing the Nexus 4 (in a case) on top of one of the two Energizer Qi pad’s charging areas started charging the phone after waiting a few seconds. You can see in the photo above that the Nexus 4 indicates it is, in fact, being charged while sitting on the Energizer Qi pad. The current Amazon price of the Energizer Qi pad is $68.24. So, it is $8.25 more than the custom dock for the Nexus 4. However, it can charge two Qi devices at the same time. And, it is not limited to the Nexus 4 form factor.

Disclosure: Energizer provided the charger, a charger case for a BlackBerry, and a charger case for an iPhone 3G for evaluation.

Android

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