Music

iTunes 9: Blu-ray And App Organization And Twitter

Posted on August 10, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News, Gadget News, Music | Tags: , , , , |

By MG Siegler, Tech crunch

This is completely a rumor, but an awesome one. Citing a “pretty reliable” source, Boy Genius Report is saying that the next version of iTunes will add a bunch of new, highly requested features. Specificially, BGR’s source says iTunes 9 features Blu-ray support, a new way to organize iPhone apps within iTunes, as well some kind of integration with Twitter, Facebook and possibly Last.fm. iTunes

Each of those features have been talked about for some time now on the web. But as BGR notes, the talk of Blu-ray does line itself up well with an AppleInsider report from yesterday that very vaguely suggested Apple has new iMacs due shortly with features that have long been on the wish-lists of Mac owners. Blu-ray is certainly on that list, and seems like a pretty good candidate, despite Steve Jobs’ calling the format a “bag of hurt” as recently as October of last year.

More compelling may be the talk of a new way to organize iPhone/iPod touch apps in iTunes. This has been badly needed ever since it became clear that people were downloading a ton of apps to use on one device. Currently, system for managing them within iTunes is quite franktly, awful. The concept video posted at the bottom of this story shows how it really should work.

BGR says the Twitter/Facebook/Last.fm stuff from its tip was more vague, but you can imagine that if such features were integrated it would involve tweeting out or updating your Facebook status with what song you are listening to. It’s possible that for Last.fm, iTunes would build-in support for logging what songs you are playing, something which Last.fm currently does through its own software.

The Twitter angle is also interesting because of the rumors of talks between the two companies a few months ago. We were unable to confirm those rumors, but perhaps the two sides did meet to talk about something like this. Obviously, that’s just speculation.

Apple has worked with Facebook in the past to get support for uploading pictures built-in to the newest version of iPhoto. The integration is pretty slick as it also allows you to tag Facebook friends in pictures, and keeps edits made on both iPhoto and Facebook in sync.

And just imagine if Apple made a feature not only to send the name of a currently playing song to Twitter and Facebook, but if it included a link to buy the song on iTunes as well. That could mean some significant sales.

While we’re speculating, I would also love to see a Genius feature for iPhone apps, something which I talked about the need for recently.

Again, these are all just rumors for now, but we could see if they’re true or not as early as next month when it’s likely that Apple will hold some kind of iPod even, just like it does every September.

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Credit Card Sized MP3 Player

Posted on March 16, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Laura June, Engadget

credit-card-mp3-player

We’ve seen some ultra-thin MP3 players, even ones that were credit-card sized, but this newest one actually maraudes as a credit card, numbers and all! There’s perilously little information available about the device, but we can tell you this: you’ll look and feel awesome sporting it, should you ever be able to get your hands on one; which we doubt. Price and availability are a mystery to us all.

Update: As pointed out by several of our astute commenters, this appears to be a Tokyo Flash concept for a Bluetooth adapter modeled on a previous credit card styled MP3 player.

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Kideo player: curated YouTube for kids

Posted on March 14, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad

kideoplayerI don’t have a good history with YouTube sites for kids. My first experience was with TotLOL, where I found the selection of videos lacking and had my wits nearly destroyed by that green gummi bear video. Today I decided I had recovered enough to brave the wilds of the kid-vid genre and check out Kideo Player.

I have to admit, it totally won me over.

Kideo Player is curated by a father of two, and his taste is videos is a lot better than the spotty results you get from community moderation. The curator has a stake in the videos he selects, because his own kids watch them. Minimizing parental annoyance seems to be a priority, too: think Sesame Street, not nightmarish gummi bear. The library of videos seems to lean heavily toward educational material: I saw sign language, Spanish lessons, and animal vids when I was watching.

Kideo Player also has a more attractive, more kid-friendly design than Totlol (the dog and cat mascots are seriously adorable), and controls that even a two-year old can use by himself. Hitting spacebar skips to the next video. That’s the only thing a kid has to learn to use the site. All in all, this is exactly the video site I would have wanted if YouTube had been around when I was a little kid, and probably the site my parents would have wanted, too.

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Last.fm music downloader

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , , |

By Martin, Ghacks.net

There are several ways to listen to music online. One of the popular music community websites is last.fm which does provide extensive options to listen to music online by offering custom music radios. Users can tune into those radio stations on the last.fm website and listen to their favorite music genres there.

Last.fm Downloader (via Life Rocks) is a free portable software program for the Windows operating system that can connect to any last.fm radio station to record the music that is played there. The software is absolutely fool proof as it provides only a few buttons and configuration options.

The url of the radio station has to be pasted into the application which is the only thing needed to start the recordings. Settings make it possible to change the download location of the music files, to define a maximum size limit or download file count limit, to start an external application if a limit is reached and whether to download cover art and make use of a deep folder layout while downloading.

lastfm_downloader

The last.fm software will download three different songs at a time from the radio stream and save them to the local computer. Several songs are shown that are next to be downloaded from last.fm.

The downloaded songs will be named artist – title.mp3 by default and \Artist\Album\Artist – Title.mp3 if the deep folder structure has been selected.

An alternative to Last.fm Downloader is Last Sharp.

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Playlist.io: store music in the cloud with Drop.io

Posted on March 11, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad

playlistio

Drop.io is known for having one of the best, most simple file storage interfaces out there. They’ve already expanded into file sending (usend.io) and tweeting (tweet.io), and music playlists are the next thing on the hit list. Enter playlist.io. It gives you 102mb of space to upload audio files into a playlist that you can play or redownload from anywhere.

Once your music is uploaded, you can customize the look of your playlist, or subscribe to it in RSS. Possibly the coolest feature is Dropcast, which lets you subscribe to your playlist as a podcast in iTunes. Forget turning Playlist.io into the next Megaupload or Rapidshare, though. It’s not searchable, and they have a one-click takedown policy.

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YouTube blocks music videos in the UK

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

youtube-music

Google and the group that licenses music videos in the UK have hit a stumbling block in negotiations. And that’s led Google to block UK users’ access to premium music videos. That covers music that has been uploaded by artists and record labels for which Google pays a licensing fee, as well as user uploaded videos that have been claimed by copyright holders.

In other words, the only music videos you’ll be able to watch in the UK now are for artists that aren’t covered by the PRS agreement in the first place — or music videos that have been illegally uploaded by fans and which haven’t been flagged as infringing on copyright yet. It’s just like the YouTube of yesteryear.

Without delving too deeply into the Google said, PRS for Music said, the two sides are pointing their fingers at one another accussing each party of being too greedy. But negotiations are continuing, so the music videos could return soon.

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kre-8 cellphone concept is only for music buffs

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: Mobile World, Music | Tags: , , |

By Nicholas Deleon, Mobilecrunch.com

kre8

This is one of the better concepts I’ve seen ’round these parts, and I see plenty of them. It’s called the kre-8 (the name could use some work, yes), and it’s a cellphone designed, as it were, for those who fancy themselves as DJs, music creators, etc.

So what is it, and why should you care? Its designer, one Jose Tomas DeLuna , describes it as “the next-generation music tool/communication device for the musically creative and the aspiring musician as well.” That covers just about everyone on planet Earth, right?

kre8-1

Like the iPhone, the kre-8 would be outfitted with a touchscreen and an accelerometer. That last part is key, since, depending on how you hold the phone, it’ll go into one of three different modes: instrument mode, mix mode and record mode. All musical output conforms to the MIDI standard, so, theoretically, you’d be able to integrate it into your multi-thousand dollar Pioneer setup. Even better, all the music you compose, mix or whatnot can be shared over the 3G connection to other kre-8 users. These other users would then either merely enjoy the music you created, or can mix and add to it as they sit fit. Crowdsourcing!

Presumably kre-8 also makes phone calls, but cellphones haven’t been about phone calls for some time now.

Also, keep in mind that it’s just a concept, and hell will freeze over before you’re likely to see it move beyond an Adobe Creative Suite render.

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Survey shows increasing preference for MP3 by youngsters, audiophiles weep

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Darren Murph, Engadget.com

baby-headphones

We can already envision the flame fest on this one, so we’ll just cut to the chase. Jonathan Berger, professor of music at Stanford, has been conducting some pretty interesting tests on incoming students, and he’s been recording results that’ll surely make audiophiles cringe. He has been asking his students to listen to tracks in MP3 format as well as in formats of much higher quality, all while asking them to select the one they like best; increasingly, youngsters have been choosing the sizzling, tinny sounds of MP3 over more pure representations. The reasoning may have more to do with psychology that audiology, as many conclude that generations simply prefer what they’re used to. Ever known someone to swear that vinyl sounds best, pops and all? So yeah, what we’ve really learned is that MP3 is more of an “acquired taste,” but those still attempting to build their SACD collection should be genuinely afraid of the future.

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Big Music Will Surrender, But Not Until At Least 2011

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , |

By Michael Arrington, Techcrunch.com

I had a surprisingly candid lunch conversation last week with a big music label executive, and a good part of our talk focused on the future of music. I asked the usual question: Why are you guys so damned clueless? Your business is disintegrating before your eyes, and all you do is go for short term cash gains (lawsuits, mafia-style collection rackets from venture backed music startups, etc.). The long term costs are horrendous – an entire generation or two of young music lovers feel no remorse at outright stealing music. Particularly since most online streaming is now free, it’s hard to understand why downloading or sharing songs should be a crime.

His response: It’s all part of a master plan. The labels fully understand that recorded music, streamed or downloaded, is going to be free in the future (we’ve argued this relentlessly). CD sales continue to decline by 20% per year, and the only thing that’ll stop that trend is when those sales reach zero. Nothing will replace those revenues.

They also understand that recorded music will largely be little more than marketing collateral, meaning that the Internet services being sued today for copyright infringement will be embraced in the future as ways to get the word out on hot new music. These services pay for the privilege today (either through high streaming rates or in court), but in the future they’ll be the ones getting paid by labels. Think radio payola at a whole new level, and there won’t be any more talk about social networks giving stock to labels and artists. Money will flow the other way, as it should.

By 2013 (maybe as early as 2011) it’ll make sense for the labels to finally reorganize their business models around the reality created by the Internet and person to person file sharing services. No longer will the labels be tied to revenue limited to sales of master recordings – by then most or all artists will be under 360 music contracts that give the labels a cut of virtually every revenue stream artists can tap into – fan sites, concerts, merchandise, endorsement deals, and everything else.

But until then, he says, the spreadsheets and financial models dictate that suing customers and partners just makes too much sense. Venture capitalists have directed hundreds of millions of dollars, via their litigation-mired startups, into the label coffers. To some extent those payments will continue, although the big payment days are likely over. Apple still sends a lot of money to the labels for paid downloads, and sites like MySpace Music, Imeem, Rhapsody and Last.fm pay big streaming dollars. Until CD sales really stagnate, all those revenue streams bring in more money than facing reality.

For most industries, embracing old revenue streams until they are completely petered out is a great way to open the door wide open to competitors with more innovative business models. But the Innovator’s Dilemma problem doesn’t necessarily apply to the music industry. The big labels have a lock on talent, and there’s no reason to believe that new artists won’t continue to strive to lock themselves in to one of them.

What this means for us music consumers – don’t expect much to change for the next few years. But sometime in the next decade we’ll see a real renaissance in how music is distributed and consumed. And who knows, a decade after that we may have all forgiven the music labels.

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Pay-For-Play Comes To Online Radio.

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , , |

By Erick Schonfeld, Techcrunch.com

jango-logoWhen it comes to promoting new music, pay-for-play schemes are generally frowned upon. The practice, which involves music labels or artists paying radio stations to play their songs in heavy rotation, dates back to the beginnings of terrestrial radio. It got so bad in the 1950s that Congress had to intervene, but it keeps rearing its head in new forms.

Now, pay-for-play has hit online radio. Jango, a music streaming service which claims 6 million monthly listeners, is selling paid placement to labels and artists through a program it launched last week called Jango Airplay. For as little as $30, a band can buy 1,000 plays on Jango. Each song has links to buy the song at Amazon or iTunes.

Given the scandalous history of pay-for-play on terrestrial radio, it is not surprising that people are skeptical about whether it is a good idea to bring it to the Web. Matt Rosoff at Cnet sums it up:

This tarnishes the entire service with a distinct air of “suck”.

Rosoff is under the impression that good artists don’t need to pay for promotion. I am not so sure. Bands don’t break out without some sort of promotion, whether that is paid for by their labels, or earned through new kinds of algorithmic and social promotion we are seeing with online music services from Pandora and MySpace Music to iLike to imeem.

If we accept paid placement in our search results, why should online music be any different? The real question is relevance. Either the paid promotions will make Jango a better listening experience and the experiment will pay off, or it will make it suck and alienate its listeners.

Unlike pay-for-play on regular radio, where the same songs are broadcast indiscriminately to every single listener, Jango’s Airplay songs are targeted to specific stations. The artists themselves choose what other kind of music they want to be played next to, just as an advertiser on Google chooses what keywords should trigger his advertisement. A heavy metal band might be better off buying plays on a Metallica station than on a Bob Dylan station. The whole point is to find listeners who are more likely to become fans.

In addition to being more targeted, Jango offers a feedback loop which does not exists on regular radio. Listeners can block songs from ever playing again, or they can give them a positive rating. Any Airplay song which garners 50 positive ratings gets pushed into regular rotation free of charge. In fact, a drop-down window encourages listeners to rate each Airplay song. My only problem with how this works is that the drop-down box characterizes the song as belonging to an “emerging artist” rather than clearly labeling it as an ad (see here).

It is an ad, and it should be clearly marked as such. I am okay with this sort of promotion as long as t is targeted to my listening preferences. The way Jango has it working now, any given listener will hear an AirPlay song no more than once every two hours, and no listener will hear the same Airplay song more than once a day. That is certainly better than listening to the same blaring commercial for auto insurance every 20 minutes.

But Jango needs to make its promotion algorithm a little more sophisticated. Even before promoting songs with 50 positive ratings to regular rotation, Airplay songs that get rated highly should get played more often, or be cheaper to promote. Just as paid search ads that get clicked on more often are cheaper to the advertiser because they are more relevant, songs which resonate more with their targeted audience should get more promoted plays.

Designed correctly, there is a place for paid promotion in music, despite what the purists might think.

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Zivix Headliner Digital Guitar Is Rock Band & Guitar Hero Friendly

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Game, Music | Tags: , , , , |

By Andrew Liszewski, Ohgizmo.com

headliner-real-digital-guitar

A Minneapolis-based company called Zivix has developed a real guitar with special fingertip sensors allowing it to be used with games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The idea is that players who’ve spent countless hours mastering the games might actually be able to learn to play a real guitar at the same time, since the Headliner features strings and is the same size as a standard electric guitar.

There’s no official release date for the Headliner just yet, but according to an anonymous submission on Slashdot, Zivix has managed raise about $800,000 and hopes to have the guitar on store shelves sometime this year. But convincing gamers they should shell out $249 for the ‘real’ experience provided by the Headliner, as opposed to the not-so-real experience of a $40 Guitar Hero ax will probably be the company’s biggest hurdle.

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Nokia to Talk Music on March 11

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Mobile World, Music | Tags: , , |

By Chris, Mobilewhack.com

nokia-music

Nokia has scheduled a music-related event for March 11. What will “Your Music Player Is Ringing” event reveal? Is Nokia going to launch a new music oriented phone? More music services? DRM-free tracks? We don’t have any inside information so we’d have to wait for a couple of days to get to see what the event is all about. Until then we’ll stare at the purple-pink banner here.

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PlayOn adds Amazon VoD and Revision3 content

Posted on March 8, 2009. Filed under: Music, Software World | Tags: , , |

By Dave Freeman, Crunchgear.com

playonIf you haven’t heard about PlayOn, MediaMall’s PC-to-console video streaming software, you will soon. Moving to become a major player in the streaming content world, PlayOn has grabbed some major wins lately, and it doesn’t look like they’re planning on slowing down. In a software update hitting today, PlayOn has added streaming support for Amazon’s Video on Demand service along with content from Revision3.

PlayOn is available for $40, and currently compatible with the PS3 and Xbox 360. You just install the server software on your PC, then stream the content over your network back to your console of choice. It’s well known that PlayOn is working on adding Wii compatibility, which ought to make it the dominant force in the console streaming market.

This news comes just days after the announcement that Roku has added Amazon VoD support to their $99 player, and the service has found its way to TiVo boxes and Sony Bravia TVs as well. It’s quickly becoming a must-have feature for anything that plugs in to your TV and has a net connection. If you’ve already got a compatible console and aren’t looking to add a new box to your AV set, PlayOn seems like a fairly solid alternative.

PlayOn has long supported Hulu, CBS.com, ESPN.com, CNN.com, YouTube, and Netflix, and these latest additions are rounding things out nicely. Next up on PlayOn’s plate is ABC.com content, for which they’re currently in talks with ABC. It’s beginning to look more and more like the average joe won’t actually need cable or an antenna in order to stay entertained in their living room.

We’ve just started putting PlayOn through the paces, but we like what we see so far – if you want to check it out for yourself, a 2 week trial is <a href=”http://www.themediamall.com/playon/&#8221; target=”_blank”>available at their site</a>.

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More Bad News For Online Music Fans: Economy Kills Fabchannel

Posted on March 8, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , , |

By Robin Wauters, Techcrunch.com

fabchannelAmsterdam-based online concert destination site Fabchannel is calling it quits after 9 years of digital goodness, blaming the poor state of the economy as a whole and the crisis in the online music and advertising industries in particular.

This is the official press release:

FABCHANNEL STOPS ITS ACTIVITIES

Online concert channel Fabchannel.com ceases its activities as of today, due to bad economic prospects within the music and online advertising market.

During the last nine years, Fabchannel have been successfully promoting concert recordings of national and international artists online among a large international audience.

The Fabchannel business model bases itself on two essential ingredients: international streaming rights and international advertising/sponsoring revenue. After a substantial investment in 2007, Fabchannel has been focusing fully on increasing its reach among the international audience and the development and implementation of online advertising formats and partnerships.

After an energetic start in 2008 with the introduction of video commercials on Fabchannel.com, media partnerships with renowned news sites like nu.nl and Spiegel.de as well as signing a worldwide partnership with Universal Music Group, in the last few months it has been getting ever more difficult to reach the set targets. The audience has not increased as planned, mostly due to the majority of major record labels giving no consent to record their artists. At the same time, the online advertising and sponsoring market has been put under big pressure due to decreasing budgets of advertisers and sponsors.

The management and shareholders of Fabchannel expect that this situation is not going to change during the next years. Therefore, they have jointly taken the decision to stop all activities in order to avoid getting into financial problems and, for example, lose the possibility to use the archive they have been building in the future.

Fabchannel’s concert archive will go offline on Friday 13 March. During the upcoming months, Fabchannel will strive to make suitable arrangements with employees, customers and suppliers.

We’re very sad they won’t be around anymore soon and that we have to put this one in the deadpool, but that’s just the way it goes.

(Thank to Robbert van Geldrop for the tip)

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Amua: cool, minimal Last.fm player for Mac

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad.com

amua

I went looking for a Last.fm client for my Mac recently, and discovered that Amua is well worth considering. It passes the basic tests for a good Last.fm app: it scrobbles tracks, it lets you skip, love and ban songs, and provides access to artist, user and tag stations. It also stays out of the way in a menubar icon, and only shows its small, discreet current track display when you tell it to.

I didn’t realize it at first, but Amua uses iTunes to stream songs from Last.fm. Not a big deal to me, since I have iTunes open 90% of the time I’m on my Mac. If iTunes is a dealbreaker for you, then you might need to find yourself a different player. There are reasons to stick with Amua: it hardly uses any system resources, and it supports Growl. The main improvement I’d like to see would be hotkeys for the play/pause/skip functions. The iTunes hotkeys will stop Amua, but won’t get it going again or skip to the next track on Last.fm.

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Ffffoundtape is the new Muxtape, Ffffound-style

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad.com

ffffoundtape

The photo-bookmarking and discovery site Ffffound still has of the most sought-after invitations online, and it’s been around for quite a while. Now there’s a sister-site called Ffffoundtape that’s trying to apply the Ffffound approach in the world of mp3s. To add an mp3 to Fffoundtape, you can either enter its URL at the site or grab a bookmarklet and click it when your browser is open to an mp3 file.

So far, most of the stuff shared looks to be from popular Mp3 blogs like the ones indexed by The Hype Machine. The thriving mp3-blogger community gives Ffffoundtape a strong base to work from, and since there’s no searching, uploading or downloading, it might stick around longer than its predecessors, like Muxtape and Favtape. It’s still up to the sites hosting the mp3s to take them down in a reasonable amount of time, so Ffffoundtape should be in the clear. It isn’t the easiest thing to use, though. The bookmarklet didn’t work on the first try, and you have to enter the song information by hand regardless of whether you use the bookmarklet method or paste the link.

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Open source Elisa Media Center goes cross-platform

Posted on March 5, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Brad Linder – Downloadsquad.com

elisa-for-windows

Elisa is an open source media center application that looks and behaves an awful lot like Apple’s Front Row software. The program was initially developed for Linux, but in January the Elisa team released the first version of the application that can also run on Windows.

The media center suite includes a full screen interface for interacting with your music, movie, and picture collections. Elisa also supports plugins, including tools that let you access online media from Shoutcast, Yes.fm, YouTube, and Flickr.

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Amazon VoD now rocking Roku set-top video player

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By David Chartier, arstechnica.com

Roku on Tuesday announced that Amazon’s Video On Demand service would join Netflix on its cheap streaming video player. The addition of Amazon’s à la carte video service complements Netflix’s subscription model, elevating the Roku player to an even better position for competing with the Xbox 360, Apple TV, and anything else vying for living room attention.

roku_amazon_vod3-thumb

Roku on Tuesday announced that Amazon’s Video On Demand (VoD) service is coming to its compact, $99 digital video player. Now that the Roku player features both Netflix’s back catalog of streaming titles and Amazon’s more recent catalog, it is a much more viable competitor to the growing mass of hardware offering streaming and downloadable video options for the living room. As we saw in our coverage of VoD’s debut last September, Amazon’s service offers à la carte rental and sales of movies and TV shows.

Roku says that a software upgrade enabling VoD support should appear within the week, though it has already arrived for one Ars staff member (it is officially version 2.0). A key difference from Roku’s Netflix experience, however, is that Video On Demand users can browse, purchase, and rent content directly from the player, thanks to Amazon’s self-control-defeating 1-Click shopping option.

Netflix’s catalog of 12,000 streaming titles still focuses mostly on back-catalog titles, while Amazon’s Video On Demand service brings 40,000 movies and TV series, many of which are available on the same day as the DVD. While Ars found VoD to be compelling (but still flawed) at its debut in September 2008, the service’s arrival on Roku’s affordable player is one of the things we’ve been hoping for. Now Roku offers a balanced choice between a subscription plan for active video consumers and pay-per-play content for more casual audiences. Amazon also provides some offline mobility via its Unbox Video Player, allowing Windows users to download content and take it with them on the go.

There are a few caveats to Amazon VoD on the Roku box, however. Tim Twerdahl, Roku’s Vice President of Consumer Products, told Ars that while Roku has had HD support for Netflix streaming content since last December, Amazon does not yet offer HD (or 5.1 surround sound) streaming for third-party devices like Roku or TiVo Series3 players.

The addition of Amazon’s VoD service to the Roku streaming player is largely a win. While the company does not release specific sales numbers, Twerdahl did share that the Roku player is “well into six-figures” since its release in May 2008.

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Amazon’s VoD now working through the Roku

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Justin Mann, TechSpot.com

amazonBoth Amazon and Netflix are about to collectively reach a much larger audience, with the introduction of Amazon’s Video on Demand service to the Netflix Roku. The tiny media player that Netflix sells, originally designed solely for their streaming service, has been somewhat displaced by other hardware that the video rental company also opened up their service to. Amazon’s VoD introduction brings a new avenue for profit for them, as well as offering existing Roku owners a lot of new content – for a price, of course.

The big difference between the two is that Netflix’s service is subscription based, whereas Amazon’s is on-demand, where you pay per video you watch. Given the different nature of the services, it seems logical that they will blend together on the Roku. If Netflix doesn’t have what you want, Amazon’s service might – with no need to sign up for something extra. It definitely gives the Roku another advantage over other hardware devices, from Blu-ray players to the Xbox 360, which also can stream Netflix video.

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MyMediaPlayer 2 improves the desktop Hulu player experience

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Jay Hathaway

mymediaplayer2The last time Download Squad took a look at MyMediaPlayer, Christina praised the concept of an Adobe AIR-based Hulu viewer, and the ability to watch shows and search for new ones at the same time. She also knocked MyMediaPlayer because it only showed the embedded versions of Hulu videos, which meant a serious restriction on viewing quality.

MyMediaPlayer 2 fixes that issue, adds Linux support, and is visually more appealing than the previous version.

Some of the new features in MyMediaPlayer 2 include a guide page for quick browsing of shows and movies, a full-screen TV listing mode, and, most importantly, full-screen video.

Since MyMediaPlayer shows Hulu content uncut and with all the ads, the main incentive to use it over your browser is the addition of nice little UI touches like these. It also only shows only full-length movies and shows, so you don’t have to browse Hulu’s endless clips for full episodes they don’t carry.

Source: downloadsquad

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Hulu Gets An Unofficial Desktop App In MyMediaPlayer2

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Erick Schonfeld

mymediaplayer-ten-foot

Everything comes around full circle. First we had Joost, Babelgum, Veoh, and others create standalone client software for watching online videos, but the ease and ubiquity of watching directly in the browser trumped whatever technical benefits a standalone client provided. The rise of YouTube, and more recently Hulu, proved that. But now that watching videos on the Web is something many of us spend an increasing amount of time on, the idea of a better viewing experience through a download client may now be making a comeback.

Hulu, in particular, now has an upgraded, if unofficial, desktop app in MMediaPlayer2. Developed by Paul Yanez, this video player is more of a demonstration app than anything else, but it is still quite functional. MyMediaPlayer2, which was recently released, is an Adobe Air app which features 400 TV shows and 208 movies from Hulu. You start with a grid view, which resizes depending on the size of your screen and the window. The larger you make the window, the more thumbnail TV show icons appear in the grid dynamically. When you click on a show or movie, it then takes over the top half of the screen, with a list of other episodes below with the date, description, run-time, and a thumbnail. There is also a full-screen mode that works with a remote and allows for a ten-foot viewing experience. The app also includes Twitter integration. Now the whole world can know every time you are watching an episode of The Hustler.

But Yanez is not married to the idea of watching videos outside the browser. The app also works natively in Google’s Chrome browser. Simply go to this URL: http://www.paulyanez.com/labs/mymediaplayer2/app/. That link seems to work in Firefox as well. And Yanez even has a version that works inside Microsoft Outlook. I am not sure why yoou’d want to watch videos in Outlook, but you can.

Yanez has bigger ideas about what a media player should do, and has created an overall framework for what a Web media player should be. Many of these ideas are realized in MyMediaPlayer2. Before you go ahead and download the app, though, you should know that it regularly becomes disabled every time Hulu makes a major change to its service. If this happens again, Yanez suggests that you email Hulu CEO Jason Kilar to complain.

mymediaplayer-grid

hustler-hulu

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Source: techcrunch

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Tap Tap Revenge 2 Has Landed

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: iPhone, Music, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Jason Kincaid

taptapThe sequel to Tap Tap Revenge, the iPhone’s most popular game ever, is hitting the App Store tonight. The original version(iTunes link) of the game has been downloaded over six million times and spawned a number of spinoffs featuring licensed music from Weezer and Nine Inch Nails. You can learn more about the sequel here, and we’ll update the post as soon as it goes live on the App Store. Update: You can download the app here.

Created by iPhone development house Tapulous, the TTR series is akin to a ‘Guitar Hero’ for the iPhone, asking users to tap their fingers on a flurry of scrolling blobs that are presented in time with the music (it’s fairly easy to get started, and very addictive). Tap Tap Revenge 2 will include a new game engine with a revamped look and feel, along with some gameplay additions that include new moves like the “Tap & Hold” and “Multi-Tap”. The game will feature over 150 free songs (downloaded after installing the app) including music from Death Cab for Cutie, an exclusive song by The Cyrstal Method, and another by Stroke 9.

The game is expanding its social options, tapping into the iPhone’s network effect to create a ‘Challenge’ system that lets users face off with friends, who attempt to beat each others scores. The game will also include an ‘achievements’ system, and a complimentary new feed for alerts, allowing users to keep track of their friends’ accomplishments. There’s also a “Kids Mode” that offers a more basic version of the game for younger children.

TTR2 is sure to be another hit for Tapulous, but the game is still hindered by the App Store’s ban on allowing developers to include in-game transactions. Whenever Tapulous wants to release a premium song on the TTR platform, it has to do so through an entirely new game – it can’t sell premium songs through an integrated store in Tap Tap Revenge. If Apple ever does remove the restriction (and it should), Tap Tap Revenge and its sequel could well become some of the store’s most lucrative titles.

Source: techcrunch

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Music recommendation site Mufin releases desktop player

Posted on February 28, 2009. Filed under: Music, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Lee Mathews

desktop-player

Back in October of 2008, our own Christina Warren snagged some beta invites for Mufin‘s web-based service for our readers. Now their crew has now released a public beta version of their desktop player for Windows.

Once you install the player and show it the way to your stash of audio files, and it begins the (lengthy) process of examining each track’s “sound fingerprint.” It can take quite a while for Mufin to complete its analysis, so you might want to relax and check out some Time Wasters while it does its thing.

Suggestions can be made either from your own library or from Mufin.com. Now, they might not always right on target, but I’m not going to hold a grudge against a piece of software that can’t find decent, non-Primus matches for a song like “Here Come the Bastards.” Even if Mufin misses the mark now and then, it’s still a great way to familiarize yourself with new artists.

Apart from recommendations, the player can also analyze a file for artist and track information using AuidioID. You can also let it auto-generate playlists based on a single track, and essential functions like ripping, burning, and copying tracks to an MP3 player are also included.

You’ll need to register for an account in order to take full advantage of the player, so head over to Mufin, sign up, and download the player. More details about the desktop player are available at Mufin.com.

Source: downloadsquad

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Apple, EMI unveil iTunes Pass

Posted on February 25, 2009. Filed under: Apple, Music | Tags: , , , |

Apple has just launched a new service called Pass for its popular iTunes music store. It’s like a season pass for a favorite artist, in this case the electro band Depeche Mode. Fans who pay $18.99 for this first iTunes Pass immediately get two Depeche Mode singles, Wrong and the “Black Light Odyssey Dub Remix” of the new track Oh Well.

Then, on April 21, they’ll receive Depeche Mode’s new album called Sounds of the Universe. Between now and when the pass expires in 15 weeks, fans will also receive videos, remixes and other content, some of it exclusive. All the material is automatically downloaded (in the DRM-free iTunes Plus format) into iTunes. Subscribers receive an email letting you know it’s there.

It’s worth noting that the press release announcing iTunes Pass came from EMI Music, not Apple. Before thinking this is Apple’s entree into the music subscription business, which is something Steve Jobs has pooh-poohed in the past, note that iTunes Pass is quite different.

Under an all-you-can eat music subscription plan at a place such as Rhapsody, you have access to the material only as long as you keep paying a fee. With iTunes Pass, you own the content that has been downloaded, even after the pass expires.

It’s a safe bet Apple will soon extend iTunes Pass to other performers. In the release, Apple Vice President Eddy Cue says, “iTunes Pass is a great way for artists to give exclusive music and video, on their own schedule, directly to their fans. iTunes customers are going to love getting additional content directly from their favorite artists right when they make it available.”

But Apple isn’t saying who those artists are, much less when the material will be available.

Apple also announced the public beta of Safari 4, which is available today for both Windows PCs and Macs. It incorporates a “Top Sites” visual preview feature, as well as the clever Cover Flow feature (for flipping through your Web history and bookmarks) that is familiar to Mac and iTunes users.

I just started testing the new Safari, and it looks positive at first glance. I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve spent more time with it.

Source: usatoday

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5 iPhone apps that will make you a hero

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: iPhone, Music | Tags: , , , , , |

By Jay Hathaway

You don’t need to be super-strong, invulnerable or able to fly to be a hero. Sure, that worked for Superman, but don’t forget that Batman got out of all kinds of tough situations just using his gadgets. Maybe you don’t have a tricked-out car or a utility belt, but if you have an iPhone, you can be a hero, too. Here are some iPhone apps that might help out:dlsiphonehero

1) Urbanspoon

Superpower: Settling arguments about where to eat

When you’re out with a date (or a group of friends) and nobody can decide where you’re going to eat, Urbanspoon’s iPhone app can come to the rescue. Just put in some search terms (or don’t, whatever) and shake it. It’ll give you a restaurant that will hopefully settle your argument without any hurt feelings over who got to choose. If you end with a place that nobody likes, just shake again. It’s also handy when you’re by yourself in a new neighborhood and want to sample the local eateries, so you can use it to be your own hero, too!

2) HopStop

Superpower: Getting anywhere fast in some big cities.

Before you complain: yes, I know this only works in a handful of cities, particularly New York, Chicago, Boston and DC. The thing is, it works so well you might as well have superpowers. I can’t count the number of times I’ve overheard someone on the phone in Manhattan saying, “Why don’t you just HopStop it?” HopStop is well known for giving some of the best point-to-point directions via subway or cab, and telling you how much it’ll cost to get there. Plus, it’s expanding to new cities all the time.

3) RepairPal

Superpower: Not getting overcharged for repairs

RepairPal gives you price estimates for the various things that could go wrong with your car so you can make sure you’re not getting insanely overcharged. I’m a geek, but I’m by no means a car geek, so I doubt I’d even have a clue how much to pay for car repairs without looking it up. This way, you can do it from the road while you’re waiting for the tow truck to come and collect your broken car. It’s not like having the power to remember everything, just the power to remember things that will save you a bunch of money.

4) iFirst Aid Lite

Superpower: Knowing how to deal with any basic injury

iFirst Aid is an app that offers easy offline access to first aid info taken from a published guide by a registered nurse. It shows you how to deal with burns, bleeding, CPR, poison and choking, and it also contains a list of worldwide emergency numbers. If you’ve ever thought about carrying a first aid book around but felt silly about it, why not get an app instead? It takes up way less room in your backpack. Mutant recuperative abilities not required.

5) Wikipanion

Superpower: The world’s collective knowledge in your pocket

If you’re at all like me, you look things up on Wikipedia all the time. Or, more to the point, you’re away from your computer and you WISH you could look things up on Wikipedia all the time. How many bets would have been settled if I had just kept Wikipedia in my pocket with the Wikipanion app? It’s faster and more legible than browsing to Wikipedia with Safari, and it lets you save photos to your iPhone and play Wikipedia’s .ogg recordings of word pronunciations. Who needs superhuman brain-power when you can take Wikipedia everywhere?

Source: downloadsquad

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