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Stitcher update adds offline mode to iOS app

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 12:35pm

Stitcher Radio has added an "offline mode" to its iPhone and iPad mobile apps.

Stitcher is the on-demand internet radio service focused on news and talk radio and podcasts.

The update allows a listener to download over 10,000 radio shows and listen when there's no available data connection. There's apparently also a new comments system and improvements to Facebook sharing, searching, and AirPlay compatibility.

Read more from Engadget, including the press release, here

Spotify will apparently become a web-based service

Monday, September 10, 2012 - 2:00pm

Spotify seems busy. Various sources say the on-demand (and custom radio) music streamer will soon launch a browswer-based version of the service. In other words, instead of downloading and installing Spotify on your desktop, you'll simply be able to listen via Chrome or IE or Safari at Spotify.com (like you'd listen to Pandora or AccuRadio), which will make it easier to use the service from multiple computers (and make it easier for potential listeners to sample it -- no download/install necessary). TechCrunch has more here, AllThingsDigital here. What other reasons might Spotify have for putting its service on the web? Evolver.fm has some ideas here.  

What's more, TechCrunch here has also picked up the idea that Spotify may push its "App Center" (the section of the desktop software where you can find cool third-party uses of Spotify) to its mobile app (there's currently no link to the App Center on mobile devices). Last week Hypebot.com reported here on Spotify's Android app update.

System would use Pandora-like ratings to gauge user's interests, but still just a patent for now

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 12:50pm

iPhone musicApple has been granted a patent for a system that would let users replace ads (or other content) in audio or video broadcasts with their own content.

Apple Insider thinks the patent hints "at technology headed to the battle for the living room... the system could be tweaked for cable which would lend itself nicely to the set-top box Apple is rumored to be shopping around to U.S. providers." Just try a Google search for "Apple TV rumors" to see the level buzz in this area.

But the patent also singles out radio, whether it be AM, FM or streaming. It's actually titled, "Seamless switching between radio and local media."

Basically, it would work like this: A device using Apple's system could "determine when an upcoming broadcast segment or media item is not of interest to the user," whether it be an annoying song, a talk radio segment the user doesn't like or an ad. "When such an event is detected," writes Apple Insider, "the device will seamlessly switch to stored media until the unwanted content is completed." Stored media in this case could mean an mp3 song or podcast stored locally on the device.

The system would determine what users like and don't like using a rating system, "much like the system in place with apps like Pandora."

In other words, picture a TiVo where you can watch a short clip of a favorite show instead of an ad break.

Apple Insider goes into much more detail on Apple's new patent here.

Apple's radio app from 2010 patentThe patent is interesting as it could potentially make non-customizable radio (or TV) broadcasts much more relevant to individual listeners. Apple notes, "because the user has no control over the media broadcast, the user can typically only tune to a different media broadcast, or listen to or consume the broadcast content that is not of interest." With its system in place, a user wouldn't have to listen to such content anymore.

It could also potentially mean Apple could "strip out all the ads on your radio station," notes James Cridland in Media UK (here).

Of course, it could also mean absolutely nothing. It's just a patent for now.

In 2010, Apple submitted a patent for a native radio mobile app for AM, FM and satellite stations (RAIN coverage here; pictured left). We're all still waiting for that one. Same goes for Apple's "lifestyle companion app." Or that iPad optical stylus. For every smart cover or pinch-to-zoom patent, there's a smart bike or hybrid touchscreen desktop computer.

Point being: Apple patents hardly indicate when or even if such products or features will reach consumers’ hands. But we can't wait to find out! -- MS

European webcaster Aupeo! launches Windows Phone app

Friday, July 27, 2012 - 12:20pm

Aupeo on Windows Phone 7Berlin-based Internet radio service Aupeo! has launched an app for Windows Phone devices. The app offers access to the service's hundreds of genre-, mood- and artist-based customizable radio streams.

"It's a well designed app, and one we believe is well worth checking out," writes WPCentral (here).

You can find more from Aupeo here.

If you're interested in finding out more about Aupeo, the company's CEO Holger Weiss will be a panelist at our upcoming RAIN Summit Europe. Click here to find out more.

 

Text-to-audio app SoundGecko looking to "reinvent the radio with personalized information"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 1:20pm

SoundGeckoA new service from an Australian start-up transforms articles from the web into a radio-like experience. SoundGecko, from Melbourne's 121cast, automatically transcribes print articles from the web and outputs an audio mp3. Their free iPhone app even plays these transcribed articles back-to-back, essentially creating a personalized news audio stream.

"Our vision is to reinvent the radio with personalized information and entertainment," said 121cast's Long Zheng.

Give SoundGecko a URL -- by sending it to a special email address, pasting it directly into SoundGecko's website, or via Chrome extension -- and the service delivers an mp3 recording within 30 seconds to your email address, or to the service's iPhone app, or pushes the file to a linked Dropbox or Googe Drive account.

"Since our soft launch we've had hundreds of users requesting nearly a thousand articles," Zheng told The Verge.

"I have been testing the service over the past few days and although it isn't perfect," writes The Verge's Tom Warren, "I found that the text-to-speech voice is great for when you want to simply sit back and listen to an article during a commute."

Our own experience with the app is similar. Here's how I've used the service over the past day: while browing the web, I used the SoundGecko Chrome extension to send a variety of interesting articles -- which I didn't have time to read just then -- to the service. Then this morning on the train, I fired up SoundGecko's iPhone app and listened to my articles in one continuous radio-like stream.

It was overall a very smooth and exciting experience, though as Warren writes, it isn't perfect (yet). But 121cast has a few ideas on how to improve the experience, including possibly hiring professionals to "read out the most popular URLs" (on-air talent?).

Apps for Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8 are on the way. SoundGecko is currently free to use, though the company is mulling putting caps or perhaps premium features.

You can find SoundGecko here and The Verge's coverage here.

Major upgrade makes Pandora iPhone app more like its site and iPad app

Monday, July 9, 2012 - 11:30am

Pandora's iPhone appPandora has launched a new update for its iPhone app; it includes a healthy share of new features.

Among the changes is a new design -- ahering to the service's blue themed website -- song lyrics and artist bios (features already included in Pandora's iPad app, more here). Users can also now view and rate recently-played tracks, just like on Pandora.com. There's also apparently tweaks to improve battery life and some other changes. 

The upgrade generally brings Pandora's iPhone app closer in line with its website. The new features are also nicely presented in a manner than in no way distracts from the previous, focused experience of listening to personalizable radio. Lyrics, artist biographies, advanced rating abilities -- everything's there if you want it, but until then it doesn't get in the way.

You can find more coverage from The Verge here.

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