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Tag: Spotify

Spotify Notifies Users of Unauthorized Access

Posted by JenThorpe at 2:09 PM on May 27, 2014

Spotify logoSpotify users may want to consider changing their passwords. A post on the Spotify blog titled “Important Notice to Our Users” makes it clear that Spotify has had some “unauthorized access” to their systems and internal company data. Another way to phrase that would be to say that Spotify has been hacked.

The blog contains some details about what happened and gives advice to Spotify users. In their blog, they note that their evidence shows that only one Spotify user’s data has been accessed, and that this did not include any password, financial or payment information. (They also mention that they have notified that one, unfortunate, user).

As a “general precaution”, Spotify will be asking certain Spotify users to re-enter their username and password to log in “over the coming days”. In addition, they are going to guide Android users to upgrade over the next few days. Spotify also points out that offline playlists will have to be re-downloaded in the new version. There is no action recommended for iOS or Windows Phone users.

Roku Streaming Stick Review

Posted by Andrew at 4:47 AM on May 15, 2014

This is Gonna Be FunRoku‘s streaming media boxes have been around since 2008, arguably taking the #2 spot behind the Apple TV. This is an impressive achievement considering the absence of a major brand behind the product line. Here in the UK, set-top boxes like Apple TV, Roku, and Google TV have a relatively low-profile: the BBC’s iPlayer catchup service is massively popular, but as the app is widely available on satellite decoders, cable boxes, games consoles and laptops, there is little demand for an additional streaming device. The latest generation of low cost, plug-in streamers from Roku and Google may well change this. Let’s take a look.

Roku Box

What I have here is the UK edition of Roku’s Streaming Stick, a thumb-sized streaming device that plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port, bringing Roku’s wide range of content and 450+ channels to a British audience. We’re used to a high quality TV service from the likes of the BBC, so the content has to be there, and we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s get it out of the box first.

Roku in Box

The Streaming Stick is presented in Roku’s trademark purple with neat packaging that promotes “This is going to be fun”. In the box is the Streaming Stick itself, a remote control (including decent batteries) and the power supply, which is actually a USB charger, connecting to the Streaming Stick via microUSB.

Streaming Stick and Controller

The remote control is slightly different to the previous generation – there are no game buttons, motion controller or headphone jack, and it uses WiFi Direct rather than Bluetooth to communicate with the Streaming Stick. Admittedly of little consequence unless you are an existing Roku owner expecting those features.

Getting started is easy – plug the Stick into the TV’s HDMI port, power it up with the microUSB cable and put the batteries into the remote control. Switching over to the HDMI channel, the Roku Streaming Stick initially asks for the password to a local wifi network. Once connected to the wider internet, existing Roku owners can can login with their credentials or new owners can sign up for a user name and password. Apart from having to use the remote control rather than a keyboard to do the finger work, it’s painless.

Roku uses the metaphor of channels to deliver media and content. For the smartphone generation, these are more easily thought of as apps which mostly deliver video content. In addition to programmes, there are games, weather forecasts and picture viewers. From the hundreds of channels available, you add favourites to your account to build up your collection. Some channels / apps cost a few pounds, but the vast majority are free.

My Roku Channels

From a UK perspective most of the major players are on-board with apps for BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Demand 5 and Sky Store. ITV player is noticeable in its absence. There are apps too for Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, Flickr and the Roku Media Player which does what it says, playing locally available pictures, music and video. There are lots of other apps and channels to choose from, categorised by type to help you find what you want.

Channel Categories

Many of the channels are US-centric and there’s a ton of faith-based programming, mostly Christian with a smaller number of other faiths. Local US TV stations are also present, which can be fun if you are going to be visiting an area on holiday or business.

US Local News on Roku

Of course, there are plenty of independent content producers as well. GNC is right at home on the Roku….

Geek News on Roku

To complement the content, there’s also an app for smartphones, which lets your device replace the remote control, both at a simple button pushing level and for more advanced features such as choosing new channels.

Roku App Remote Control Roku App

But the real trick is the “Play on Roku” feature which pushes content from your smartphone to the Roku, including music, photos and videos. All you do is select the content on your phone and, bang, it’s up on the big screen in glorious HD. It’s a great feature and a fantastic way to review photos and short videos on a larger screen, especially after a holiday. If you take a lots of photos with your smartphone, it’s almost worth getting a Roku for this feature alone.

One final thing…as I mentioned, the Roku Streaming Stick is powered by microUSB via a provided USB charger. I found that the Streaming Stick wasn’t terribly fussy about the power source and that you can easily run the Stick from other sources, such as a USB battery pack or even the TV itself, if equipped with a USB port. Could be handy to know if you are travelling or simply want a tidier entertainment unit.

MicroUSB Roku

Overall, the Roku Streaming Stick is a great little gadget that provides loads of extra content for UK viewers. It might be a more expensive at £50 than the Google Chromecast at £30, but there’s more content and the Roku has a remote control, which I think is a plus point. It’s handy too for a second TV that perhaps doesn’t have a satellite or cable connection, and can now use iPlayer or Netflix. It’s a neat, plug’n’play solution that is about as simple as it can be.

Thanks to Roku for the review unit.

Libratone Speakers at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 1:45 AM on April 21, 2014

Danish audio specialists Libratone are relative new kids on the block, being established in 2009/10, but they’re making a strong impression with their colour co-ordinated hi-fi wireless speakers. I took the opportunity to learn more about Libratone’s range from Tom at The Gadget Show.

Libratone Speakers

Libratone ZippLibratone works with both Apple and Android devices supporting a range of protocols, including AirPlay, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA, Libratone has four models in the range;
- the Lounge, a soundbar to go below a flatscreen TV
- the Zipp, a cylindrical speaker which is both AC and battery powered
- the Loop, a freestanding or wall-mounting round speaker
- the Live, a freestanding three-sided dipole speaker

All the speakers have removable covers that can be changed to suit the decor, either fitting in discreetly or standing out as a feature. Although it’s difficult to assess the audio quality in an exhibition hall, the demo I heard was suitably impressive and if you are in the market for this kind of product, I would definitely give them a listen.

Spotify updates its UI, adds new ‘Your Music’ option

Posted by Alan at 7:07 AM on April 2, 2014

spotify-black

Spotify remains one of the top music streaming services in today’s market, competing with iTunes, Rdio, Google and others. The good thing about this crowd at the top is the simple fact that competition frequently leads to innovation.

Today Spotify announces an all-new, revamped user interface, referring to it as “paint it black” in an announcement. An appropriate reference for both the look and musical nature.

“Today we’re launching the best-looking Spotify ever. Introducing a new darker theme, refreshed typography and rounded iconography, playing your favourite music has never looked so good. We’re not only improving our looks though”, Spotify’s Diego Planas Rego.

You Music is designed to help better organize the music your most interested in. “Save albums and browse their beautiful cover art, gather your favourite artists and create playlists for every mood and moment. Found a song or album that you like? Just hit save to add it to your collection. It’s that simple”, Rego claims.

The new update is for both computer and mobile versions of the service. You can learn more by visiting the site.

My First Hour with Twitter Music

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:13 PM on April 18, 2013

Twitter Music  Twitter Music released today to the general public. I have been playing around with it for the last couple of hours. When you go the website the first thing you will see are the most popular tracks . You can choose from Popular, Emerging, Suggested, Now Playing and Me. How they are curating some of these categories such as Suggested and Emerging isn’t clear. So far I haven’t recognized a lot of the artist on my suggested list, that is neither good or bad just interesting. To play a song you simply tap on it. If you have a premium Spotify or Rdio account you can play the full song, if not it plays a 30 second clip, which appears to be an iTunes preview. Which makes me wonder what happens when you come to a song that isn’t on iTunes. When you play a song a rotating circle appears at the bottom of the screen. If you are on a iPhone and you tap on the rotating circle it will go full screen. You can fast forward or rewind by swiping the outer ring of the circle backward and forward. You can go to the next song by simply swiping to the left. To stop it you just tap on it. You can control the volume directly in the app. If you are using the web version and tap on the same rotating circle you are shown a view of the artist twitter profile page. If you tap on the right arrow on you keyboard it will take you to your next song. You can swipe forward or backwards with in the song by using your mouse, although it is very hard to control. I haven’t discovered any keyboard short cuts for that, but I might be missing something.

There are a couple of things I noticed right away. The first was there is no way to save a song or tag it to buy later. Unfortunately, to play a full version of a song you must have either of a premium Spotify or Rdio account. I had no problem connecting to my Spotify account on the iOs version. At first the connection to Spotify wasn’t working on the web version, however it is now. It is an iOs app only and is built for the iPhone or iPod, although it does play fine on the iPad. Since I have an Android phone I am hoping they bring it to the Android platform soon. I am not sure how much I am going to use it I like the ability to check out emerging artist and what my friends are listening to.  I think it will be something I start playing and then let it run in the background when I just want to listen to music, but don’t care what it is.

Spotify Available on the iPad

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:18 PM on May 2, 2012

Today, May 2 Spotify released a new app for the iPad. It is available in the iTunes App Store. In order to use the app you have to be a Premium member, which is $9.99 a month. The premium membership allows you to access Spotify on a mobile device. It is a beautiful app and very easy to use.

When you first open it you have to sign in using either your Spotify account (if you have one) or your Facebook account. The first page you will see is the What’s New Page. On the left hand side are Search, What’s New, Inbox, Playlists, People. These option are available on all screens.

Whats New
 

At the bottom of the screen is the song you are playing. To see the album art in full screen you simply tap on the arrows next to the album art icon. Then if you want to star the song, share it or find out more details about it, just tap on the album and then the options are listed below it. To go to the next song on the playlist swipe up, for previous song swipe down. To go back to the main page tap on the black section of the screen and hit the hide button.

On the People tab you can click on the person icon and see their top tracks, top artist and published play list. If you tap on an artist it will open up a tab on the right hand side of the screen and show; related artist, the artist top hits, their albums and singles. To close the tab simply swipe right. Under the setting’s tab you can control offline mode, crossfade, gapless playback and whether you want to make the session private or public.

The one thing I noticed was when I uninstalled and then reinstalled the application, the people’s faces I was following no longer showed up under the People tab. There was just a grey profile with a number underneath. If you tap on the grey profile, on some of them the name would appear, but on others nothing would happen. It appears the names would appear only if the person had published a playlist. If you have a lot of friends who publish playlist this can get a little annoying. To fix this problem I powered down my iPad completely and than power it back on again and the pictures were back.  Other then that small annoyance I really like the Spotify app for the iPad. It is beautiful and highly intuitive. If you have a premium account I highly recommend downloading it.

Sonos Streams at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:06 PM on April 14, 2012

Sonos Play 3 Sonos are well-known for their innovative audio products which integrate together to build highly controllable wireless hi-fi systems. Simplistically, you can start with one or two units and build-up over time until you can play music in any room in the house. The Sonos system can be controlled via smartphones and tablets with apps available for both iOS and Android devices.

I chat to Ian about Sonos’ latest developments including Spotify streaming, their entry-level unity the Play 3, and the larger Play 5.

Spotify Now With Apps

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:51 PM on November 30, 2011

Spotify, the music service announced today that they are going to be adding apps to their service. I downloaded the beta version to try it out and to see if this is something that is big news today, but will be forgotten by next week or is it a game changer. I say it depends on whether they can get developers to create apps for the platform. They released the Spotify Api for Apps which allows third-party developers to create applications that can then be added to Spotify. However it is my understanding that the developer is paid nothing for placing their apps on Spotify, (other than the publicity), So I am not sure how many developers will want to develop for Spotify. Right now in the beta version there are 9 applications

Like Facebook when you click on the plus button next to an app it is added to your side bar under the Radio icon. Some like We are Hunted, Moodagent and Pitchfork are great for finding new songs and artist. Others like Tunewiki and Fuse give you information about the song or artist. The one that looked the most interesting to me is Sounddrop, you add a playlist to Soundrop and then share it with your friends, who can vote tracks up and down and add their own. I can see this becoming very popular, it reminds me a lot of Turntable FM. Although the fact it requires you to log into Facebook to use it is a definite negative, at least for me. Also at one point, Soundrop kept on asking me to log into Facebook, even though I was already logged in. I finally had to close and reopen Spotify to fix it. I not sure if the problem was with Spotify itself or Soundrop, this version of Spotify is still in beta and so problems like this are not unexpected. The one thing that was planned that did bothered me was with the Rolling Stone app. The Rolling Stone app recommends various albums, songs and playlists to play. There is also an option to read a review of the song or album, however if you want to read more than the first couple sentences of a review, you are taken out of Spotify and into the Rolling Stone Web site on a browser. I understand why Rolling Stone did it this way, but as a user I hate it.

I plan to use a lot of these apps within my Spotify account but I am not sure it is a game changer, like I said before it will depend on whether developers are willing to develop for the platform, but it has great potential.

Best Buy Selling Napster? To Rhapsody?

Posted by J Powers at 1:06 PM on October 3, 2011
Rhapsody

Rhapsody

The details are not disclosed, but it looks like Rhapsody has come to an agreement with Best Buy to take over Napster service. Of course, this is Rhapsody’s attempt to counter the surge of users on Spotify.

Napster was founded in 1999 by John and Shawn Fanning. Of course, issues arose with the downloading of illegal music, which was brought to the forefront by the band Metallica. The peer-to-peer sharing site went bankrupt in 2002, then sold their assets to Roxio, who then sold the company to Best Buy.

Rhapsody has also been in the music space since 2001. Their music streaming service has gone through a few changes, but survived for over ten years. So when Spotify brought a surge to the online streaming service category, it would make sense that Rhapsody would want to counter.

“This deal will further extend Rhapsody’s lead over our competitors in the growing on-demand music market,” said Jon Irwin, president, Rhapsody. “There’s substantial value in bringing Napster’s subscribers and robust IP portfolio to Rhapsody as we execute on our strategy to expand our business via direct acquisition of members and distribution deals.”

The only thing we know from the details is that Best Buy will still keep a stake in the company. That could become a great marriage for Rhapsody, because Best Buy has been known for putting bundles into their product sales. Getting someone on a service for a couple free months and hope they don’t cancel the membership when the time comes.

Currently, Rhapsody and Napster are the two largest on-demand music services. With the acquisition, they will be able to run against Spotify and the Facebook integration.

The deal will be finalized on November 30th.

Spotify and Facebook

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:28 PM on September 27, 2011

SpotifyI have a Spotify Unlimited subscription which I created as soon as Spotify became available in the U.S. If I am not listening to Podcast or watching something I am listening to music on Spotify. I also have a Facebook account, mostly to keep up with my family and friends from high school and college. Occasionally if there is a song I really like or it triggers a memory I share it to Facebook, along with Twitter and Google Plus With the new Facebook update if you connect your Spotify account to Facebook, every song that you play is shared to it. There are several other music applications that also work this way, including IHeartRadio, Earbit, Rdio, Slacker Earbit and Songza.

I connected my Spotify account and it works. If you have your Facebook account open to your profile and you are listening to a song, that song will appear as you are listening to it. I connected my Spotify account to Facebook for a couple of days and then decided that my friends really didn’t need or want to know every song I listened to. Plus because I have music playing in the background and I like to try new playlist from ShareMyPlaylist I may not even like the song that is playing.  I am just doing some exploring to find new songs, artists and bands. One solution would be to disconnect Spotify from Facebook entirely, but I don’t want to do that.  I could see using the information later to set up playlist. I just want to have more control on what I share and when I share it. My solution to this has been to go into app settings in Facebook and click on edit and then go to custom settings and set the share to only me.  I hope this will work when the new Facebook changes go public. I want to use Facebook to collect the information, but only share the songs I want to. I wish there was a way to be able to share specific genre to specific groups, For example if I am listening to jazz music then I only want to share that with friends who like jazz and not those who like rap.

I am also not happy with the way apps are being integrated and dependent on Facebook. For example if you want to sign up for Spotify now you must have a Facebook account. To me this is a case of putting all your eggs in one basket. Granted Facebook is a big basket. However not everyone wants to have a Facebook account for various reasons including privacy concerns. Spotify has now cut itself off from these potential users. Plus it means as a user the more the apps I use are integrated into Facebook the harder it is to leave. I have already been through the walled-garden era with AOL, I really don’t want to go back.