Google Music Will Allow Users to Share Music With Friends

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 12:30 AM |
Tagged: store, music, mp3, itunes, Internet, google

Google seems to be slowly surrounding itself in our online lives, and their soon to be released Google Music Store is sure to ensnare users even more tightly (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). The company’s music service has been in beta for a few months now and currently operates as a virtual music locker and allows users to upload their music collection to Google’s servers so that they can stream their music to computers and mobile devices. Unfortunately, the lack of a store required users to buy their music elsewhere and rip or download and then upload their music to Google Music which was kind of a pain. A store is on the way; however, so not all hope is lost. To make the upcoming music store exciting, the company hinted at a mysterious “twist” that would accompany the launch of the MP3 purchase and download service.

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According to Business Insider, a source who claims to be in the know has stated that the “twist” in the Google Music Store is not only a twist tie but is a huge space warping, planet sized twist that will allow users to share their purchased music with their friends and family. This is a huge leap into the current decade for the music industry, and is sure to be a popular feature for Google. Google is allegedly paying hefty upfront payment advances to the music industry for the rights to allow users to share music with others. It seems that streaming subscription services like Spotify and Zune have been successful in softening the outlook of the RIAA after all, at least to the point that allowing users to share their own music is something the music industry will at least consider for the right price (I apologize for the ire/tongue in cheek nature of this particular paragraph).

Unfortunately, the source was not able to detail exactly how this sharing service would work, but will likely involve the ability to share a link with a Google (+?) contact or over email that would then allow the recipient to stream the song for a limited amount of time (say 30 days?). Google being Google, the process may require or “suggest” that the user set up a Google Music account in order to listen to shared music, and thus get new users foot in the door and hopefully buy music to help Google overcome all the RIAA fees. In a further bit of bad news; while the large music labels are able to (bully) their way into charging for the rights to share music, smaller indie labels and independent artists will not be getting any piece of the Google money pie for sharing their music.

Have you gotten a chance to check out the Google Music beta yet? Personally, the sharing ability will be nice and will definitely push me into using the service a bit more than I do now, especially if I can coerce some of my friends away from Itunes so that we can share the new music we find with each other.

"I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers"

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2011 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: purchase, motorola, google

The tech world is always going through changes; much like life in a pond, the small things either grow into big things or something big eats them.  Motorola was once a big fish, but went through some lean times, losing about $4 billion from 2007 to 2009. They started off more than 50 years ago, designing chips for radios and TVs and even providing communication chips to NASA for many missions including the first moon landing.  From there they sold off the TV portion to a little known company called Panasonic, so that they could focus on their communications chips and to start dabbling in what became the 6800 and 68000 series of chips.  Those chips powered Amigas, the original Apple MacIntoshes; even the joint IBM and Apple PowerPC chips were Motorola and that architecture is still used today.

As of today that once big fish is now a part of Google, as they purchased it at a premium of 63% above market value.  That is certainly a decent deal for stockholders and may well be a great deal for Motorola employees as well as they move to a strictly Android based development regime. That may lead to some interesting times in the future, as Google claims that Android will remain open and run on any architecture.  However, now that they own a complete closed development chain, in the form of Motorola's patents and hardware, the open philosophy may run counter to the development of hardware.  John McCarthy of Forrester Blogs, as well as many others are following this story; though it will be quite a while before we know the full repercussions of the purchase.

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"Earlier this morning, Google announced its intention to buy Motorola Mobility for 12.5 Billion in cash or $40/share. There are three broad justifications for the deal:

  • Access to the Motorola patent portfolio which it could then license to partners like HTC and Samsung to protect against the long arm of Apple's lawyers.
  • An integrated hardware/software play to compete with Apple. The problem with this logic is that the deal does not address the fragmentation on the Android platform which is the bigger issue.
  • The set-top business to bolster its lagging Google TV offering."

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Gmail Now Supports Multiple Calls and Placing Calls On Hold

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2011 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: networking, voip, google

The Gmail blog recently showed off a new feature that allows you to put one call on hold while accepting another, a feature that standard phones have had for a long time now. Inside Gmail, you are able to start a call to another computer or a physical phone and then you are free to place this call on hold by hitting the “hold” button. When you wish to return to the call, you simply hit the “Resume” button- just like a normal phone. When a second person calls you, you will be asked to accept or reject it, and if you accept the call the first call will automatically be placed on hold.

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According to Google, the call hold feature “works across all call types (voice, video, and phone)” and the only caveat is a limit of two outgoing calls to physical phones can be active at a time. The only feature I see missing from this function is integration with Google Music that would allow me to set up custom hold music to the chagrin to telemarketers and customer support everywhere. After all, it is almost a Friday and everyone would just love to hear some Rebecca Black, right!?

Source: Gmail Blog

Google creates new image format; Mozilla WebPs all over it

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2011 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: webp, mozilla, google

Google made news over the last year by butting heads with MPEG-LA with their royalty-free and open-sourced video codec: WebM. The hope was to provide an alternative to H.264 which was on a temporary royalty-free basis to end-users wishing to encode videos in the format (it has since been changed to a perpetual royalty-free license for end-users, 3 months after WebM’s release). WebM was mostly received with open arms from vendors, especially of free and open-sourced software such as Mozilla, and really shook up the industry. Google is now hoping to catch lightning twice by releasing a similar project for still images to replace the aging JPEG format. Mozilla’s response is suggesting that Google might just end up burnt by this experience.

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WebP was requested to Mozilla Firefox’s bug tracker, Bugzilla, late last September as an enhancement request for Firefox. Since then, Mozilla closed the bug with a status of “RESOLVED WONTFIX” and a statement that they would not accept a patch for it but will re-evaluate their stance in the future if the format changes. 

So for the near future it is looking like Jpeg, GIF, and PNG will reign Kings of the web. Mozilla’s Jeff Muizelaar goes into quite a bit of detail about their complaints with WebP in their personal blog. If you are a web developer you do not need to rush out and re-encode your images yet; however, you also do not have the option to if you still wish support the majority of web browsers. Typically that is a desire that web designers have.

Source: Ars Technica

News from the honeycomb hideout, Google's I/O

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2011 - 10:42 AM |
Tagged: youtube, sandwich, music, ice cream, honeycomb, google, cloud, Android

The fourth Google I/O took place over the past two days and AnandTech was there to bear witness on the keynote speech and other presentations.  As you might well expect Android was the most talked about, the new Honeycomb update was discussed in great detail and with good reason.  The update allows Android powered devices to use USB peripherals in the same way as a PC, powering mice, keyboards and even XBox controllers which is a big change from only being able to be used as a USB device and offers even more for those interested in the Open Accessory Library. 

Others will be more interested in Google's Music Beta which will let you upload your music collection to the web and includes the ability to make playlists and albums as well as gatherig meta artist information.  You can think of it like Amazon's Cloud service, though hopefully more reliable, but as Google seems not to have got the permission of the record companies it may not be.

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"Google’s I/O 2011 keynote may have suffered from a few choice leaks, namely the new Music service and Ice Cream Sandwich announcement, but Google still managed to include some surprises. Android 3.1, the update to Honeycomb, was announced along with a slew of development platforms, including one committed to bringing better introduction of accessories to Android devices of all types, and a home integration platform based on Android."

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Source: AnandTech