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Review: Definitive W7 + Play-Fi, hands on with an AirPlay competitor for home wireless music


I love the concept of streaming music around the home. There are a lot of great wireless Bluetooth speakers for wireless music on the move, but it’s still unclear what to choose for a static home environment. Apple’s answer is AirPlay, but it has flaws: no multi-room support from iOS devices, limited adoption by speaker manufacturers, and spotty reliability at best.

I’ve been trying an AirPlay alternative, called Play-Fi, which is a competing industry technology for home Wi-Fi music streaming from DTS. Specifically, I tested the Definitive W7 wireless speaker which integrates Play-Fi. Read on for my review  ….


Apple Music expected to include Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ album, a digital first [Update: confirmed]

Dr Dre Eddy Cue Jimmy Iovine

Dr. Dre with Apple’s Eddy Cue

[Update: Apple tells us that The Chronic will definitely be available tomorrow on Apple Music.]

[Update #2: The Chornic is available on Apple Music and available to purchase digitally for the first time on the iTunes Store.]

Taylor Swift’s 1989 album isn’t the only high profile record exclusive coming to Apple’s new streaming music service when it launches tomorrow. Apple Music is said to include Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic for streaming, Rolling Stone reports, which will be a digital first for the hip-hop album.


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Say Play iOS app makes music streaming as easy as speaking the name of the track


You’ve long been able to tell Siri to play any track on your iPhone, and the Say Play app gives you the same ability with music you don’t own. Just open the app, hit the red button and speak the name of the track.

To be sure, you could do a voice search in YouTube, but the app appears to simultaneously search several music video sources, and continues to play the track while you’re using other apps. As you’d expect from an app powered by Nuance, voice-recognition is faultless, and in my brief tests it was lightning-fast.

The app costs $0.99 on iTunes.

Sonos releases redesigned iPhone & iPad apps w/ universal search & more

First launched a couple months back as a beta for Android users, Sonos today announced that its redesigned mobile app for iPhone and iPad users is now available. On top of a streamlined interface with a darker color palette (pictured above), the app also introduces a new universal search feature and much more:


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Beats Music teases upcoming iPad version of streaming service


After being announced last fall and debuting an iPhone app at launch in January, streaming music service Beats is finally ready to ship an iPad-optimized version of its software… almost. Beats Music tweeted the photo above earlier today with the caption “THIS JUST IN: Your favorite Music App is feeling ready to grow in size…literally… “. The news follows recent moves to increase accessibility to becoming a paid subscriber to the service as it recently added in-app subscription purchasing capability (something which gives Apple a 30% cut of the rate).

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Rdio, Crackle, & Vudu updated with Chromecast streaming support


Adding to the catalog of Chromecast-supported content, Rdio and Crackle are both adding the ability to play more content from your smartphone, tablet, or browser to your TV today.

Crackle has refreshed its Android and iOS apps with support for Chromecast streaming. The Sony-backed content provider serves up a number of movies and TV shows for free including comedian Jerry Seinfield’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” original.

Video streaming service Vudu has also added Chromecast support in the latest versions of its Android and iOS apps. The Walmart-owned service includes HD movies and TV shows with no subscription.


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Spotify iOS app adds touring dates for artists, instant search w/ playlist & profile results, & new languages

Spotify-iOS-appThe Spotify iOS app receives an updated today that brings a few new features along with version 0.9.0 of the iPhone and iPad app.

The first new feature is the addition of touring details and concert dates in the Artists view. It’s a feature that Spotify recently teamed up with Songkick to offer through its web interface.

In addition, Spotify says it has improved search with new instant results as you type and “the ability to search playlists and user profiles.”

The app has also added a number of new languages including full support for Japanese, Russian, and Indonesian.

Full list of what’s new below:

What’s New in Version 0.9.0

New: Never miss a gig! Artist views now feature touring details.
New: Spotify now speaks Japanese, Russian and Indonesian.
New: New Search rolling out now. Get ready for instant results, and the ability to search playlists and user profiles.
Fixed: Many bugs conquered.
Fictitious: This app shot the sheriff.

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Spotify Connect offers Airplay-like wireless streaming with greater freedom


Spotify has announced a new service launching towards the end of the year that offers a new way to stream music from iPhones and iPads to any compatible speaker system. Unlike AirPlay, once you set the streaming going, music is streamed direct from the Spotify server to your wifi-equipped speakers, freeing-up your device for other tasks.

Unlike other wireless music solutions, using Spotify Connect won’t drain your battery. Plus you can continue to use your phone or tablet to call friends or start playing your favourite game without missing a beat.

A lot of big players are on board, including Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Marantz, Philips, Pioneer, Sonos and Yamaha. Some existing wireless speakers will also receive firmware upgrades to enable them to support the Spotify Connect service.

While the ability to be able to take the device out of the loop while continuing to stream music is a nice touch, it’s yet another standard and of course only works with Spotify. You’ll also need a paid Spotify subscription to use it. However, it’s likely that most (if not all) of the speaker systems supporting it will also support AirPlay, so you shouldn’t have to choose between the two.

The service will be iOS-only at launch (with apps updated to support it), with Android following later. Full press release below.

Spotify Connect: the new way to play at home

Today, in collaboration with the leaders in home audio, Spotify launches Spotify Connect – a new home audio experience giving you effortless control of your music across your phone, tablet and speakers with millions of songs built right in. Simple, seamless and hassle-free.

Bring your music home. You’ve just walked through the door, listening to your favourite playlist on your phone. With Spotify Connect, simply hit play on your living room speakers and the music instantly fires up, right where you left off – making sure you never miss a beat.

Then pick up your tablet to keep controlling the music from your sofa, or seamlessly switch the sound to your iPod Touch in the kitchen’s docking station.

None of the hassle. Thanks to Spotify Connect, you won’t need to rely on unstable connections to stream music between your devices. No longer will incoming phone calls, loss of signal range, or watching a video spoil the party.

Unlike other wireless music solutions, using Spotify Connect won’t drain your battery. Plus you can continue to use your phone or tablet to call friends or start playing your favourite game without missing a beat.

Choose your home speaker system. Spotify Connect will be available on a wide range of speakers and home audio systems from music hardware specialists including Argon, Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Marantz, Philips, Pioneer, Revo, Teufel and Yamaha, with further brands coming soon. Look out for the Spotify Connect logo on compatible systems.

“Today, listening to music at home can be a frustrating experience – dropouts, below-par audio quality, signal range and phone restrictions, battery drainage, it’s basically a hassle,” says Sten Garmark, VP Product Management at Spotify. “Spotify Connect solves this by giving you effortless control of your music across your phone, tablet and now speakers with millions of songs built right in.”

Spotify Connect will roll out to Spotify Premium subscribers on iPhone, iPad and home audio systems over the coming months, with Android and desktop updates to follow.

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John Mayer’s new ‘Paradise Valley’ album now available to stream on iTunes


John Mayer is allowing fans to stream his new CD, “Paradise Valley”, on iTunes a week before its scheduled release. This is Mayer’s sixth studio album and features guest appearances by Katy Perry and Frank Ocean. Those who opt to preorder the album will instantly receive a download of the cut ‘Wildfire’ followed by the entire album on August 20th.

John Mayer has strong connections with Apple. He helped Steve Jobs introduce GarageBand 1.0 back in 2007 and even received one of the very first MacBook Airs back in 2008.

Just don’t go downloading it for free, OK?

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Rhapsody releases completely redesigned iPhone app with new UI, full-screen player, much more

Rhapsody is rolling out an all new iPhone app today following some big updates to competitive music services earlier this week including Pandora and Rdio. Rhapsody is calling this app update “a completely new experience” for iOS and broke down on its blog a ton of changes its made to the UI on top of adding new features like customizable organization for your library and downloads, improved album and artist pages, and a new full-screen player.

         Personalized organization: The music you curate lives in the My Music section, which now has improved organization into two key categories:

o    Library: The central folder for your Rhapsody music when connected to the Internet. Music is sub-categorized by playlists, artists, albums, stations, queue and listening history

o    Downloads: All the music you can’t live without can be downloaded for easy offline playback

·         Upgraded Album and Artist pages: Read a review of an album, shuffle tracks from an artist, and much more

·         Full-screen player: Showcase gorgeous artist and album imagery that takes advantage of iPhone’s full screen real estate

·         Pop-up menus: Easily add tracks to “My Music,” download, add to a queue or favorite by tapping the + image