New Sprint app bundle "Entertain Me" adds iHeartRadio, Slacker, Spotify to some Android phones

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 1:45pm

U.S. wireless carrier Sprint announced that select new Android and Windows phones will enable FM radio listening by way of the NextRadio tuner app.

To be clear: the phones will receive on-air, FM broadcast content (as opposed to streaming via the data network).

The NextRadio app, developed by Emmis Digital and announced in November, will enable "backchannel" data that will allow broadcasters to supply additional information ("now playing data," images to accompany ads, for instance). This data link will also allow communication in the other direction (for the listener to interact with programming).

Unrelated to the FM radio news, Sprint also announced a streaming app bundle called "Entertain Me" for the "Sprint Zone" on Android phones. "Enterain Me" will include apps for iHeartRadio, Slacker, Spotify, and Sprint Music Plus (downloads and ringtones) -- as well as other entertainment options.

Advisory board suggests U.S. share 1,000MHz of spectrum with industry for wireless broadband

Monday, July 23, 2012 - 11:30am

Noting that "in just two years, the astonishing growth of mobile information technology — exemplified by smartphones, tablets, and many other devices — has only made the demands on access to spectrum more urgent," an advisory council to the president recommends the U.S. identify 1,000 MHz of government-controlled spectrum to share with private industry for wireless broadband.

The advisory group is called PCAST, for President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. You can read its report here. Instead of "clearing and reallocating" spectrum already used by federal agencies, the team advises a "sharing" model —  the model used for "white space" technology in the television band, which uses empty TV channels for "Super WiFi." In fact, PCAST says sharing should be the norm —  not the exception.

"Improvements in performance make it possible for devices to deliver services seamlessly even in the presence of signals from other systems, so that they do not need exclusive frequency assignments, only an assurance that potentially interfering signals will not rise above a certain level," reads the report.

Ars Technica covers the story here.

Sonos adds visual improvements to iPhone, iPad, and Android tablet apps

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 12:00pm

Sonos, the wireless home music device company, has announced updates to its Controller apps for iOS and Android.

The Sonos system enablea you to play your digital music collection throughout your home, on your stereo, intercom, or home theater systems. The system is controlled remotely via apps for iOs and Android phones and tablets.

The updates are mostly visual, and make the apps more pleasing to the eye, and perhaps easier to use. For Apple's devices, the update includes support for the high-resolution Retina Display on both the iPhone 4S and New iPad (hope you've been saving your CD cover art in a good resolution!). For the Android version, the Sonos Controller for tablets is optimized for both 7" and 10" devices, and include "landscape mode."

There's more in the Sonos blog here. Photo from The Verge here.

$99 dollars (in China) gets you a wireless Internet radio/TV device

Friday, March 23, 2012 - 11:55am

It may not be much for looks, but the Fulljoin NMP001 is a wireless Internet radio receiver (plus it can play your music collection) for under a hundred bucks.

"Running on a variant of Linux, the manufacturers claim that this little device is able to tune in to more than 20,000 radio stations and 2,000 TV channels over the Internet," reports UberGizmo. But with a 2.4" display, your television viewing will likely be limited (there's no "video out" functionality).

Looks like it's only officially available in China, too, but check it out here. UberGizmo's coverage is here.

U.S. smartphone ownership closing in on 100 million, comScore reveals

Monday, February 6, 2012 - 11:00am

Last week comScore released its data on the U.S. mobile and smartphone market, details of which broadcasters and webcasters might find interesting. The study examined the final three months of 2011.

-- 234 million Americans (age 13+) used mobile devices.

-- Almost 98 million Americans owned smartphones in Q4 2011, which is 40% of all mobile subscribers.

-- Google Android remains the top U.S. smartphone platform, with a 47.3% market share. Apple iOS was second with just under 30%; RIM (Blackberry) slipped to 16%; Microsoft was under 5%; and Symbian (Nokia) was 1.4%.

-- Nearly 48% of U.S. mobile subscribers used apps, almost 24% listened to music on their phones.

Read more (including comScore's press release) from Engadget Mobile here.

NC county first to deploy new "Super Wi-Fi" wireless broadband

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 11:00am

New Hanover County, N.C., has become the first U.S. region to make available a "white space" broadband mobile network -- what the FCC apparently calls "super Wi-Fi." (Read more in RAIN here and here). Members of the public can reportedly test the servcie by visiting some county parks, and county officials are using it for security cameras where cabling would be impractical.

County officials say they plan to take advantage of the capabilities of the new technology to provide data services to remote county offices (e.g. at landfill sites), to save money on surveillance cameras, and for other communication (e.g. to transmit water quality data for easier monitoring).

"White space" is unlicensed spectrum in the range used by VHF/UHF television frequencies. Signals in low frequency bands, such as white space, can travel farther and penetrate walls more easily than signals used in common Wi-Fi networks. In 2008 the FCC voted to allow carriers and devices to use certain white space spectrum. New Hanover County was ideal to launch the Super Wi-Fi, as it was the first to successfully transition from analog to digital television (which opened lots of VHF/UHF frequency space).

"For now," the StarNews reports, "county visitors and residents can only tap into Internet access over the white spaces in areas provided by the county... But new products are being developed for other uses, such as consumer-grade wireless devices that could allow Wi-Fi service to reach all areas of a home."

Read more here and here.

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