It seemed forever ago that Google announced their Music Beta service. Upload up to 20,000 songs (for free, albeit at a snail’s crawl) to be streamed to and downloadable to any computer. Access to the service on iOS devices was limited, for a while, to a clunky HTML-5-based weblication. Eventually, third parties got in on the act.
IIS bills their app, gMusic as powered by last.fm and offers scrobbling if that sort of thing is important to you in a Google Music player. They also bill the app as fast loading, though this was not our experience whether over WiFi or 3G.
Opening up the app on the iPhone, all the buttons are tucked away in a hidden sidebar. Tap the stacked line button in the upper left and the screen slides aside to find your library list. On the iPad version (which only works in landscape), all the controls are out where you can see them, with the play, forward, and back buttons up top. Music is broken down into playlists, artists, songs, albums, and genres. After that there are auto playlists, offline songs, then the settings. There isn’t much to settings and auto playlists are the same wherever you go.
Pretty simple controls
Tap one of the song categories and you are given a long list of those with a search bar and a shuffle button at the top. Tap an arrow next to the name of an album or song track and an overlay screen appears that allows you to play that song next, to add to a playlist, or to create an instant mix based around that track. A slider button at the bottom of these options allows you to download the song for offline playing.
Make an instant mix or download a track
This was by far the slowest loading app and it had to reload to the full extent if you’ve changed your Google Music database in any way. By far its biggeset problem however was its apparent struggles with metadata — a pretty big sin actually since all data is organized and found on the web through metadata.
Hey there, metadata trainwreck
An example. Tap on Genres, then pick a specific one, and you are taken to a higgledy piggledy list of bands, often duplicates. Tap that band name and do you get an album listing? No, you get a number of songs, many of which aren’t even by the band in question. This settles itself out eventually and begins showing correct track names in the list, but often songs played without a track name listing.
Resolved itself eventually, though will it stick?
While that may just be general bugginess, we like the hierarchy of our metadata to be respected. Tap Genre, we should get a list of our tagged genres — and we do. Tap one of those genres and we should get a list of artists, then albums, then songs. gMusic jumps straight to a song listing. This makes finding an album to play more complicated than it needs to be. This is more Google’s fault, as the app is merely aping what happens if you were doing the same thing online, though we can’t say following Google’s lead in this instance is a good choice.
Opting for a simple white on black scheme belied by the app’s much more exciting orange start up page, App for Google Music from developer MinhMobileDev loads fast and presents your music listings in a fairly stripped down interface. In fact, the app is nothing more than a skin for the web app version of Google Music. The one trick it sports that is worth spending any money on is that the app allows you to sign in to up to three different Google Music accounts.
Passcode lock? To hide my explicit lyrics?
That can be helpful if you have multiple machines in your house and various accounts or if you’re road tripping with other Google Music users. We didn’t have much use for it, but we see how valuable an option that would be.
No real difference between the two, except one’s free
Six buttons run along the app’s bottom to take you to settings, to switch between accounts, to update your database (if you’ve made changes or added or deleted music), a help button, and a Twitter button to take you to the rather neglected account of Mike Nguyen, the developer. The app’s top has your navigation buttons. In the iPad version of the app, it mysteriously works better in landscape, though there isn’t any great changes to the operations or layout.
Controls for the music
Artists is the first of the tabs that appear at the top, then Albums next to that. To see more, swipe to the left and your screen changes to a Songs view, then Playlists, then Genres. If you’ve spent any time in Google Music on your iPhone, then you know what to expect. Google has not had a stellar track record when it comes to their iOS apps and their music weblication’s weaknesses are why someone might want a third party’s offering.
Navigation through Google Music isn’t very optimal either. Swipe the to the Albums list, find your album then tap it and you’re taken to a screen just for that album with the tracks listed below. If you pick the wrong album, tap the headphones in the upper left to go back, but you don’t go back one screen. You return to the Artists lists and have to renavigate your way back to the Album list to find the album you really wanted. We also found in the iPad that the headphones required repeated tapping to get results.
Metadata gives context; Google should know better
Unless you have multiple Google accounts with multiple music libraries and you want quick switching back and forth, there’s really no reason to pay for this app as it provides nothing you can’t get for free through Safari.
Connect Technology Co., Ltd opted for a light wood grain motif in their Melodies app. It immediately opens to your Playlists with a + button at the top of the list to quickly make a new one. Arrow buttons on the right give you the choice of playing that playlist or enabling the whole list to be available offline. Tapping the name of the playlist itself takes you to the track listing. Tap a song and you are taken to a screen with its album art, song name, artist name, and album above music controls.
An appealing visual style
If playlists aren’t your speed, Melodies also has Artists, Songs, Albums, and a More button at the bottom for additional options. Here the architecture of your library’s metadata is given preference over Google Music’s rather sloppy organization. Tap Genre and you get a list of them; tap a particular genre and you are list of artists who are sorted into that genre; tap an artist for a list of albums; tap an album for the song tracks.
All songs are love songs
Navigation is no trouble either as at the top where the familiar Now Playing button usually resides in music apps there appears to the left a back button that takes you back exactly one screen. This is considerably more screens and more taps than the others, though we find we’d rather tap seven times to navigate directly to a track than to scroll up and down a list looking for it manually or searching it out by typing its name.
Get to the heart of things here
Also tucked away under More are Thumbs Up (your Google Music favorites, more or less), a list of your purchased songs, where you’ll find your offline tracks, and the settings. Our only complaint with this structure is that there’s no way for us to move categories so as to move Genres to a more prominent place.
New playlists in a snap
As a player, Melodies had no problems whatsoever. Even with very weak 3G signals we experienced no interruptions in our playing and very little lag between tracks. This one is going on our home page, ATT data throttling or no.
This was one of the few weeks when we had a very clear winner. Music players need to play music without a hitch and only one app did that this week. gMusic had struggles with metadata and an amazingly slow initial load time even on WiFi, while App for Google Music brought one mostly unnecessary new feature to the table. Melodies was slick, had a lovely eye pleasing design, and worked flawlessly with a 18,000 track library — no mean feat. While we agree that some of the problems of this week can be laid at the foot of Google Music, Melodies was able to hurdle those obstacles. It’s just a great, great music player, one of the very best cloud-based music apps, and unless pixellated album art is a killer for you, it can be embiggened for iPad use without any problems whatsoever.
HQ: To Do for iPhone is for those who need more than Apple’s built-in Reminders app, but not anything as complex or costly as some of the full on GTD (Getting Things Done) or power-user productivity apps available in the App Store. Part of the new generation of big, bold, user experiences, HQ: To Do does a good job of making sure most of what you need is always right under-thumb, and available, with a couple taps or swipes. And it looks great doing it.
Creating projects and lists in HQ: To Do is very easy and fast because the UI isn’t cluttered with an overflow of options. HQ: To Do also makes use of quick gestures like sliding over a project for easy access to checking it as done, deleting it, or making edits.
That makes HQ: To Do a good fit for everything from groceries to packing lists to daily to-dos. The touch targets are large, which makes the interface easy to use while out and about, and there are enough colors and contrasts to easily let your eye quickly find exactly what it’s looking for.
It’s also really easy to see which tasks are still pending, which tasks are done, and which are (long?) overdue. If you’re action oriented, HQ: To Do makes it simple to know what’s next. HQ: To Do also makes clever use of gestures so, once you’ve gotten familiar with it, getting around is as quick as a swipe and a flick. There are even “quick-swipe” filters to rapidly re-order and re-organize your projects.
When iBooks Author was announced a few weeks ago, users hoped it would make it easier to publish your work to the iBook Store. However, once those users delved into the EULA, it became clear that to get any exposure outside of Apple’s own store, one would have to use a different method of publishing. Fortunately, there are other options. Read on to find out how you can publish an e-book without licensing restrictions.
In either Pages ’09 or Sigil, you will be able to use a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor to create your book content. Mark up the pages exactly as you want them to appear when you export the ePubs. We’ll fill in the ePub metadata information when we begin the export process.
Before we export a book in Sigil, we need to set the Metadata for the ePub file. This include the book name, author name, and a few other basic items. To edit this information, click Edit Meta (or press Fn + F8). You can click the “More” button to add even more basic metadata including ISBN, etc.
Once you have inserted the appropriate metadata, click File Save As to begin the export process. Type in the name of your book, and ensure that the .ePub file type is selected in the drop-down menu.
To export ePubs in Pages, click File Export. From the Export dialog, select the ePub tab and fill in all of the necessary metadata. You can select the option to have the first page of your document become the cover of the ePub book. When you’re done, click the Next button, select a save location, and click the Export button.
If you decide later that you want to have custom artwork for the cover of your ePub book, you can add it in iTunes. Simply import your book into your iTunes library, then right-click on it and select “Get Info.”
In the Get Info dialog, click the Artwork tab, and paste in any image that you wish; or click the Add button to navigate through your hard drive. When you click OK, iTunes will add the artwork to your ePub book.
Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.
The Devium Dash Kickstarter project is a replacement stereo system for your car with one big difference. Its brain is your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S. This unique in car audio system is currently gaining a lot of interest on Kickstarter for good reason. You simply replace your existing car stereo with the Devium Dash, slot in your iPhone 4 or 4S and you then have access to all your media, hands free Bluetooth calling system and of course satellite navigation.
Toss the CDs, chargers, and FM transmitters and show off your awesome piece of technology. Get your phone out of the cup holder, your pocket, or the unsightly windshield mount. Now there’s a place for everything. Dash, patent pending, is the convergence of the car stereo and your smartphone. Today’s smartphones provide a level of connectivity, accessibility, and usability that has not been possible in the car audio market Dash doesn’t require that you learn a new interface to use your stereo. You already know how to use your phone to access your music, your navigation app, your phone calls, and the incredible number of other apps in your phone’s marketplace.
Obviously the downside is that you have to remove your existing in-car entertainment system to fit the Devium Dash. If you are happy enough to do that and the unit is compatible with your car model then installation should be pretty simple. A dedicated app will be available at launch which will enable you to drag shortcuts for your most used apps to a landscape home screen. Devium are also working on a landscape dialler screen; as currently it is only available in portrait.
The Kickstarter project has so far attracted pledges of over $20,000 which is just under the half way mark before it gets funded. It still has 45 days to run so we will keep a close eye on it to see if it makes it.
When you write a document in Pages, do you tend to use formatting like bold, italics and font size to denote specific sections? If so, you’re not making the most of this excellent word processing package.
Rather than simply increase the font size and make the text bold each time you create a heading, why not make use of styles in Pages? This handy little drawer, which slides out from the side of the interface, is the easiest way to not only apply styles to your projects, but also keep them uniform. This ensures that all of your headings and titles look the same throughout your text, thereby avoiding distracting switches in the aesthetic of your work.
BEFORE: Use Pages as a straightforward text editor and you’re missing out.
AFTER: Take control of styles and your work will scream of professionalism.
Every document in Pages has a set of defined styles, from the basics in a blank document, through to more detailed styles found within the beautiful Pages templates, available from the Template Chooser.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be assuming that you have no formatting applied to your document or that you are starting a document from scratch. In our example we’ll be using a report document that uses standard body text with headings and titles in a bold typeface. By using the Styles Drawer we’ll then apply new styles and show you how you can quickly adjust them and create new styles if need be.
Once you’ve mastered these techniques, you’ll be able to turn any boring text document into a professional piece of work. It will also be adjustable at any time to suit your needs, simply by heading back to the Styles Drawer and making changes. Using styles can help you enhance almost any text document, from a school report to a business proposal, to produce a polished final product. Let’s take a look at how to achieve this in eight simple steps.
1 of 9
Start by launching Pages and selecting the blank word processing template from the Template Chooser to start a new word processing project. Alternatively, you can load any text document you may have already created, as we have with our report document.
The Styles Drawer
To show the Styles Drawer, click on the circular, blue button at the top-left of the interface just below the View and Outline buttons. All the styles in your current document will now be listed in the Styles Drawer, which will slide out to the side of the interface.
Highlight the title text of the document and click on the Title style from the Styles Drawer. The title you selected will now have the Title style applied to it. Don’t worry about the way it looks, we’ll show you how to adjust the default styles over the next few steps.
Now select the first heading in your document and click on the Heading 1 style in the Styles Drawer. The heading text will now have the heading style applied to it. Do the same for any other headings in your document until all heading text uses this style.
To quickly select all instances of a style in your document, click on it in the Styles Drawer then click the downward-pointing arrow next to it. Click the Select All Uses of… option from the drop-down menu that appears. Here we’ve selected all uses of Heading 1.
With all instances of a particular style selected, you can change the look by adjusting the font type and size from the Format bar. Changes will be applied to all instances of this style and the arrow next to the style name in the Styles Drawer will turn red.
Click on the downward-pointing arrow next to your style that turned red. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Redefine Style from Selection to make this the default format for that style. You can continue to make changes to any other styles you are using.
Create New Styles
To create a new style, add text to your document and apply the font type and size as well as any other settings. Click the downward-pointing arrow next to the highlighted style in the Styles Drawer and click Create New Paragraph Style from Selection to name it.
To quickly apply styles to text, you can set keyboard shortcuts for individual styles. Click on the downward-pointing arrow next to any style in the Styles Drawer, and hover the cursor over the Hot Key option on the drop-down menu.
With iOS 5, Apple introduced a split keyboard mode for the iPad, so we could more easily type with our thumbs when holding the iPad in both hands. If you already use the split keyboard, you know it provides one of the best touchscreen typing experiences on any tablet. But did you know Apple built in “phantom keys” to make typing with the split keyboard even faster and easier?
If you’re not familiar with the split keyboard, it’s easy to enable.
Bonus tip: Once you get the hang of it, you can simply “pinch to zoom in” (like you would to make a photo or website bigger) to split the keyboard, and “pinch to zoom out” (like you would to make a photo or website smaller) to join the keyboard back up again.
It turns out, When using the split keyboard, the empty spaces on the inside edges actually function as if the missing keys were actually there. So, for example, if you want to type ‘H’ you can just tap the empty space next to ‘G’, and your iPad will subsequently output ‘H’ without actually requiring you to tap the key. (And vice-versa.)
This is a great feature for those of us who type based on muscle memory and expect keys to be where we’re used to them being. Most of us don’t have thumbs long enough to reach entirely across an iPad screen, but when we’re typing fast we’re certainly apt to reach a little but, anticipating an extra key to be there.
By making “phantom keys” available, but invisible, Apple provides the best of both worlds. Our eyes see where we should be typing, but the system catches us if our thumbs inadvertently overreach themselves.
It’s thoughtful user interface design like this that’s makes typing on the iPad even faster and easier than it otherwise might be.
Check out the video above to see it in action.
Source: Finer Things in iOS
Hey, how about that Super Bowl, am I right? Okay, you got us — we didn’t watch the darned thing because we were working hard all weekend while the rest of you planted your backsides on the couch to indulge in cheap beer, stale nachos and the high blood pressure that surely comes from such testosterone-driven forms of entertainment. Most of you are probably having a hard time adjusting to a bad case of the post-Bowl Mondays, but we’re here to help with a heaping helping of tech news for this manic Monday, February 6, 2012.
No one likes to be left behind when cool features like Siri are introduced and touted as only available on newer hardware. Despite the valiant efforts of hackers to port the intelligent assistant technology to older iOS handsets, Ars Technica is reporting that Apple may have had a valid reason for limiting it to the iPhone 4S. “According to recent SEC filings from technology start-up Audience, Apple incorporated an improved version of its background noise filtering technology directly into the A5 processor used in the iPhone 4S — technology that improves Siri’s speech recognition capabilities.” Of course, the basic functionality of Siri has already been available in software-only form as a free app, since discontinued after Apple’s release of the iPhone 4S in October — but coupling it with Audience’s “earSmart” IP would certainly make a more convincing case for keeping Siri tied to newer hardware.
Yeah, yeah, we know: You want an Apple television, and so do the analysts. But what about major electronics retailers? According to The Verge, apparently Best Buy also wants one, and wants one badly enough to query its customers with a survey exclusively dedicated to a theoretical 42-inch “AppleHDTV” which may retail for $1499. Now, before you get all excited and start clearing space on your credit cards, this is in no way an indication that said HDTV will ever arrive in stores — Best Buy or otherwise. It sounds more like the retailer is getting a feel for what customers might like to see from such an offering, especially when features like a “built in iSight camera and microphone for Skype,” neither of which sound too Apple-like in this day and age. (FaceTime HD, anyone?)
With an audience of millions watching the Super Bowl on Sunday night, Samsung introduced the latest of their attack ads against Apple in the form of a whopping 90 seconds of pure delusion. The spot opens with the usual bored-looking hipsters, presumably in line for the next iPhone, in what can only be described as sheer make-believe — hey, we stood in line for the first two iPhones and nobody looked as bored and tortured as these folks. Of course, the dark cloud parts when one of them spots a dude with his new Android-packing Samsung Galaxy Note, which reintroduces the stylus to a world that has pretty much forgotten about it. The hipsters get so excited they take to dancing in the streets for the majority of the commercial time before the spot ends with Samsung’s slogan “The next big thing is already here”… followed a moment later by a “Coming Soon” notice. Confused? Yeah, us too…
Still rocking one of those awesome unlimited data packages from the original iPhone back in 2007? If so, ATT apparently hates you and wants you to die — okay, so they don’t want you to die, but they do want you to surrender your unlimited data and get with the times. According to iLounge, customers are starting to receive text messages warning that they’re in the top five percent of data users — a penalty that comes with reduced data speeds for the remainder of the billing cycle. So what is the top five percent, you may ask? If you guessed five or even 10GB, guess again: This particular user got whacked at only 2.1GB, which is ironically under the new 3GB for $30 data plan the carrier recently began offering. What gives? “Data consumption by all smartphone customers, including the top 5 percent of smartphone data customers, varies by month and by market,” explains Emily Edmonds, Director, ATT Corporate Communications. “As of August 2011, the average data use across the country by the top 5 percent of ATT smartphone customers was 2 GB per month.” Sounds more like a way to strong arm users grandfathered with undesirable unlimited plans into getting with data caps, if you ask us.
Hey, Redbox… slow down! You’re making our heads spin here! If you weren’t paying attention earlier today, you might have missed the big news that the DVD rental kiosk giant is indeed preparing to take on Netflix with a new subscription-based streaming service in an unlikely partnership with Verizon. Concerned that the company might be abandoning those giant red kiosks? Don’t be, because Fast Company is reporting that Redbox had yet another huge announcement this afternoon, dropping $100 million for competitor NCR — the folks behind their sole competition, Blockbuster Express. The deal will now bless Redbox parent Coinstar with “more locations than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined” — and they predict those DVDs will keep slinging for upwards of another decade, to boot.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Create a great video but struggling with pairing it with the perfect music? YouTube Producer has come to the rescue! YouTube Producer offers tens of thousands of copyright free music that you can add to your videos before sharing to YouTube and not fear that it will be removed for containing copyrighted material.
Most of us have music libraries filled with copyrighted material and need an app like this to even add music to our movies that will be uploaded to YouTube. YouTube Producer has a great selection of music that can be sorted by genre, mood or tempo, but does have some limitations. Namely, the music you choose for your video must be placed in the background of the entire movie. Using it’s music for just your intro, for example, is not an option. You do have control over volume, however – either mix the music with the movie’s audio, or have only the new music.
This is not a full-blown video editor, so if that’s what you’re looking for, move along. YouTube Producer simply provides you with some music to add to the videos in your Camera Roll then upload to YouTube. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The YouTube Producer provides you with the perfect background music for your videos.
- Wedding video? There’s a song for that.
- Hawaiian vacation video? There’s a song for that.
- Christmas video? There’s a song for that.
The YouTube Producer songs are
- HIGH QUALITY
- COPYRIGHT FREE
- UNLIMITED (tens of thousands)
- 4 Tempos
- 12 Genres
- 19 Moods
- simply choose a random song
- or choose from the most popular songs
YouTube Producer is available on the iPhone for free.