Spotify, the trendy music on demand service that has garnered tremendous media attention in Europe, has finally launched in the U.S. as rumored last week. Spotify announced earlier this month that it would become available in the U.S. “soon,” though open negotiations with Warner Music Group were reportedly preventing the company from setting a firm launch date. Apparently Warner finally came around. The Spotify service lets users stream unlimited music on demand, and also build and share playlists. For the time being, the free ad-supported version of Spotify that allows streaming to Windows and OS X PCs only is available as an invite-only service in the U.S. Those who don’t want to wait, however, can pay: a premium $9.99 per month subscription will let users stream ad-free music to mobile devices, share playlists and cache music for offline playback. A $4.99 intermediate plan will remove ads from the stream, but it doesn’t support streaming to the company’s mobile apps, which are already available for iOS devices in the App Store and for Android devices in the Android Market. A nifty little intro video can be seen below along with Spotify’s full press release. More →
On Tuesday Slacker introduced a new subscription service called “Slacker Premium Radio.” Slacker Premium allows you to search for artists and play songs, or even full albums, on demand. Similar to Rhapsody, you can also cache songs for offline playback on your phone where a 3G or Wi-Fi signal isn’t available. The streaming radio service said that it offers 6 times the amount of music that Pandora offers, although it remains unclear how its library stacks up against Rhapsody or Microsoft’s Zune service. Slacker Premium Radio is available for the web, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry now for $10 per month. More →
Yesterday, at the AllThingsD conference, Google’s Andy Rubin demoed a new, improved version of Google Maps that is due to hit Android devices “in a matter of days.” Mr. Rubin was careful not to give up too much information, saying he wanted to allow the Maps team to have the honors of detailing the new application, but he did give us several key pieces of information. First, the new version of Maps will be available, for the time being, for Android devices only (phones and tablets) and will be vector based. The vector-based maps allow for smoother scrolling, dynamic content loading, and less data being transferred over the network. Second, the new Maps will store maps that you query ofter for lightning-quick load times. If you always find yourself searching for restaurants or coffee shops in Times Square, that map will cache locally on your phone (it will even be able to used cached maps to navigate when offline).
Although not mentioned during his interview, Engadget is reporting that the new Maps will be supported by the Galaxy S, Nexus S, DROID, DROID x, DROID 2, DROID Incredible, EVO 4G, and G2 smartphones. Mr. Rubin did also say the version works on tablets, so we’re guessing that the Galaxy Tab will have the dubious honor of running these new bits as well.
It is a pretty exciting time to be a member of the Android family! More →