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Android

Phones Without Headphone Jacks Are Here... and They're Extremely Annoying (mashable.com) 431

A few weeks ago, we had an intense discussion on what would happen if Apple's next iPhone doesn't have a headphone port -- and what that means for the rest of the industry, as well as the pros and cons of ditching the legacy port. Over the past few months, we have seen many smartphone manufacturers launch new handsets that don't have a headphone jack. Mashable has a report today in which it says that it is already causing frustration among users. From the article: In the Android camp, phones like Lenovo's Moto Z and Moto Z Force and China's LeEco have already scrapped the 3.5mm headphone jack; to listen to music on the company's three latest phones, users need to plug in USB Type-C headphones, go wireless, or use a dongle. I'm all for letting go of old technologies to push forward, but what is happening is actually going to make things worse. The headphone jack has worked for 50 years and it can work for another 50 more because it's universal. Headphones I plug into my iPhone work in an Android phone, in a BlackBerry, in my computer, in my PS4 controller, in my tablet, in any speaker with audio-out, and so on. I can walk into any electronics store and pick up a pair of headphones and not have to worry about compatibility with any of my devices. I know it'll work. [...] With a universal headphone jack, I never have to worry whether or not the crappy pack-in iPhone EarPods I have will work with the Android phone I'm reviewing or not. I also never have to worry if I'll be able to plug my headphones into a friend's phone to listen to some new song. Same applies for when I want to use my earbuds and headphones with another person's device. And there lies the real issue. I will need different dongles -- a Lightning-to-headphone-jack and a USB-Type-C-to-headphone-jack to be prepared because I do carry both iPhone and Android phone on me daily. Dongles also get lost.
Advertising

Spotify Is Now Selling Your Information To Advertisers (engadget.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: Spotify is now opening its data to targeted advertising. "Everything from your age and gender, to the music genres you like to listen to will be available to various third-party companies," reports Engadget. "Spotify is calling it programmatic ad buying (Warning: source may be paywalled) and has already enabled it." The nearly 70 million people that currently use Spotify's free, ad-supported streaming service across 59 countries will be affected. The ads will be audio-based and stretch between 15-30 seconds in length. The advertisers who buy ad spots will be able to look for specific users by viewing their song picks to find the best matches for the products they're selling. Two weeks ago, China has released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that seems to all but ban ad blocking.
Google

Google and Bing Have No Obligation To Censor Searches For Torrents (betanews.com) 62

Microsoft and Google are under no obligation to weed out 'torrent' results from their respective search engines, the High Court of Paris has ruled. BetaNews adds: French music industry group SNEP went to court on behalf of a trio of artists, requesting that Microsoft and Google automatically filter out links to pirated material. The group had called for a complete block on searches that include the word 'torrent' as well as blocking sites whose name includes the word. The court found that SNEP's request was far too broad, saying: "SNEP's requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site's content, on the premise that the term 'Torrent' is necessarily associated with infringing content".The court added that 'torrent' is a common noun, which has a range of different meanings.
Bug

Apple Begins Rolling Out iTunes Match With Audio Fingerprint to Apple Music Subscribers (loopinsight.com) 61

In May, Vellum's James shared an ordeal that many people were able to relate to. Apple Music had deleted music files from his computer. It's an issue that many of us have faced over the years. At the time, Apple noted that it didn't actually know what was causing this. But it appears, it has finally figured out the issue and patched it. Jim Dalrymple, reporting for The Loop: One of the biggest complaints about Apple Music over the past year was that it wouldn't properly match songs subscribers had in their existing iTunes libraries. That problem is being fixed by Apple. Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn't always match the correct version of a particular song. We've all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc. Using iTunes Match with audio fingerprint, those problems should be a thing of the past. If you had songs that were matched incorrectly using the metadata version of iTunes Match, the new version will rematch to the correct song. However, it will not delete any downloaded copies of songs you have in your library. This is a very good thing -- we don't want songs auto-deleting from our libraries.
AT&T

AT&T Thinks Drones Can Fix Terrible Reception At Baseball Games, Music Concerts (marketwatch.com) 114

Cell services are at some of their worst behaviors at music concerts, baseball games and other similar large public gatherings. AT&T thinks it might have a solution for it. In a blog post today, the carrier company announced the idea of building cell extensions into drones and flying them in to handle the large dense traffic demands. From a report:AT&T has dubbed the drones "Flying COWs" -- the COW stands for âoeCell on Wings.â The drones would boost LTE coverage to areas in need of it during occasional large events. They would be tethered to the ground to prevent them from going rogue and flying away. The trial project is part of AT&T's just-launched national drone program, which will focus on how AT&T and its customers can benefit from drones. The program director, Art Pregler, said they wouldn't have to fly too high, perhaps just under the roofline of stadiums or buildings. AT&T also envisions that Flying COWs could provide boosted coverage in disaster response situations, particularly when vehicles aren't otherwise able to drive into the affected areas.
Android

Google Will Let You Share Movies, Apps, and Music You Buy With Up To Six People (cnet.com) 57

Google reportedly plans to introduce Google Play Family Library plan later this month which will enable users to share their Android apps, games, and media purchases with five different people. The feature, which is similar to Apple's Family Sharing plan, is something that many will find super useful. If nothing, you can split the cost of an app or a music album with your friends. CNET reports:It works like this. Everyone in the group will be able to access every single app, video and book that's available to the [primary] account holder. If you decide to let the kids run wild on your media collection, you can even remove specific titles from the library to keep it more kid-friendly, or hide certain artists you might not want to share with others. You don't have to pay extra to sign up for the Google Play Family Library, but you will need a credit card saved to the account for future purchases. To avoid any financial snafus that might come with multiple account users, Google will send a receipt so there aren't any unpleasant (or expensive) surprises.
Music

YouTube Says Content Owners Made $1B Last Year -- So Music Labels Should Stop Complaining (recode.net) 153

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode: Here's the latest salvo in the back and forth between YouTube and the music industry: A report from Google that says its video site's copyright software has allowed content owners to generate $1 billion in the last year or so. Or, in other words: Hey, music guys! Stop moaning about money -- we're making plenty of it for you. Google's formal message comes via "How Google Fights Piracy," a 62-page mega-pamphlet it is releasing today. Google adds that its Content ID tool, which lets copyright owners "claim" their videos that users upload to YouTube so that ad money can be made off it, has garnered $2 billion since 2007. This is Google's response to a growing concern from the music industry that YouTube doesn't pay well, its Content ID isn't a solution, and that the video platform is built on stolen material.
Technology

Hamilton Producer Jeffrey Seller: Live Theater Is the Antidote To Digital Overload (recode.net) 100

As more people come online and get hold of smartphones, we are witnessing a generation that is reliant on their phones to get news, entertainment, and educational resources among other things. They watch movies and TV shows on Netflix and other services, and they listen to music on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. Naturally, you would think that people in the Broadway theater business must be threatened that nobody will physically attend their show anymore, but that's not necessarily the case, at least not with everyone. Take Jeffrey Seller, for example, the producer of Broadway megahit Hamilton refuses to fold to the virtual reality laden world, and he has numbers on his side. From a Recode article (you can also found an hour-long podcast on this there): The success of "Hamilton," which is sold out in New York through May 2017 and will soon spread to Chicago, San Francisco and London, has convinced Seller that demand for a real, non-digital experience is stronger than ever. He said 13 million people went to see Broadway shows in the past season, and only 500,000 of those were "Hamilton" attendees. By contrast, when Seller first made a splash as the co-producer of "Rent" in 1996, he estimated total Broadway attendance was around eight million to nine million people. "Experiencing art live with friends, with family, with people we love, is so rewarding that people are searching it out amidst the digital age, in which our faces are in our phones seemingly every other hour of the day," he said.Explaining why he thinks that virtual reality cannot completely take over, in a rather crass example, Seller adds, "Do you want to have sex or do you want to have a virtual reality experience of sex?"
Australia

Fair Use Threatens Innovation, Copyright Holders Warn (torrentfreak.com) 148

An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: Various music and movie industry groups have warned that fair use exceptions are a threat. The groups were responding to proposals put forward in Australia by the Government's Productivity Commission. They claim that content creators will be severely disadvantaged if fair use is introduced Down Under . Several rightsholder groups argue that strong copyright protections are essential for the survival of their businesses. This includes a long copyright term of 70 years, as well as the ability to block access to content based on the location of a consumer. In addition, many believe that fair use exceptions will do more harm than good. For example, music group IFPI warns that fair use will threaten innovation and create legal uncertainty. "Licensing, not exceptions to copyright, drives innovation. Innovation is best achieved through licensing agreements between content owners and users, including technological innovators," IFPI writes.
Data Storage

UW, Microsoft Successfully Encoded 200MB of Data Onto Synthetic DNA Molecules (seattletimes.com) 46

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Seattle Times: Researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington said Thursday that they had successfully encoded about 200 megabytes of data onto synthetic DNA molecules. The information included more than 100 books, translations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a high-definition music video from the band OK Go. Previously, the record was 22 megabytes encoded and decoded on DNA, said the researchers. Microsoft's lead researcher on the project, Karin Strauss, said DNA storage of the type demonstrated in the UW lab could, theoretically, store an exabyte (one billion gigabytes) of data in about one cubic inch of DNA material. "Our goal is really to build systems to show that it is possible," she said. DNA is also very durable. If stored in the right conditions, data encoded on DNA could be readable for thousands of years, compared to typical hard disks or flash drives that can fail in a few years.
Google

Google Offers Free 4-Month Play Music Trial Subscription For July 4th (macrumors.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: Google is offering new U.S. subscribers a four-month free trial for its Play Music streaming service in celebration of July 4th. While everyone has their preferred music streaming service, it's hard to pass up a deal like this. The Google Play Music service offers over 35 million tracks and is usually priced at about $9.99 per month, so the offer amounts to a $40 savings. What's more is that customers who sign-up for the trial also gain access to Google's ad-free YouTube Red service, which features original content, and enables offline and background playback of YouTube videos on mobile devices. If you sign-up for the trial and decide it's not for you, you can cancel at any time.
Australia

The Fight To Save the Australian Digital Archive Trove (abc.net.au) 87

Slashdot reader sandbagger writes: A digital archive and research tool developed by the Australian National Archives may be the victim of upcoming budget cuts. Used by an estimated 70,000 users per day, the system may be eliminated thanks to a $20 Million (AUD) budget cut to the agency's budget. Since its 2009 launch, Trove has grown to house four million digitised items, including books, images, music, historic newspapers and maps. Critics of the cuts say that such systems should be considered national infrastructure because there's literally no replacement service.
Music

That Digital Music Service You Love Is a Terrible Business (fortune.com) 240

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from Fortune: Rdio goes bankrupt, Pandora hangs out a 'For Sale' sign and then gets rid of its CEO, artists and labels ramp up their criticism of YouTube. Now we have Tidal in acquisition talks with Apple, while Spotify complains about Apple treating it unfairly... the digital music business is becoming an industry in which only a truly massive company with huge scale and deep pockets can hope to compete... Rdio went bankrupt last year in large part because it couldn't afford to make the licensing payments the record industry requires of streaming services. Deezer, a European service, postponed a planned initial public offering partly because its business is financially shaky for the same reason... [Rhapsody] is still racking up massive losses... Spotify has found it almost impossible to make money, primarily because of onerous licensing payments...

[A]ll the available evidence seems to show that the digital-music business, at least the way it is currently structured, simply isn't economic. The only way for anyone to even come close to making it work is to make it part of a much larger company, like Apple or Amazon or Google. That way they can absorb the losses, they have the heft to negotiate with the record industry, and they can find synergies with their other businesses. In other words, music as a standalone business appears to be dead, or at least on life support.

The article links to an essay by a former eMusic CEO arguing high royalty rates make it impossible to have a profitable business, and the music industry "buried more than 150 startups -- now they are left to dance with the giants."
IOS

Apple Slams Spotify For Asking For 'Preferential Treatment' (buzzfeed.com) 181

On Thursday, Spotify made major accusations against Apple of playing unfair to its music service. The Swedish-based music company said that Apple didn't approve a new version of Spotify's iOS app because "it didn't want competition for Apple Music." The Cupertino-based company has responded to the accusations. In a letter sent to Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez on Friday, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell rebutted the streaming music service's allegations, adding "we find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service," Sewell wrote. BuzzFeed News reports:"Our guidelines apply equally to all app developers, whether they are game developers, e-book sellers, video-streaming services or digital music distributors; and regardless of whether or not they compete against Apple. We did not alter our behavior or our rules when we introduced our own music streaming service or when Spotify became a competitor," Sewell explains. "Ironically, it is now Spotify that wants things to be different by asking for preferential treatment from Apple." And as for Spotify's suggestion that Apple is treading on dangerous, anticompetitive ground, well, Sewell doesn't seem too concerned. "There is nothing in Apple's conduct that 'amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws.' Far from it," Sewell, writes after wryly observing that not only has Apple's platform generated "hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue to Spotify"; but that the Spotify App currently in the App Store is still in violation of Apple's guidelines. "I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store's rules," he quips.Apple commentator John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball:Cry me a river. Spotify has long charged $12.99 via in-app subscriptions to get around the 30 percent "App Store tax". And Apple has now cut the long-term subscription split from 70-30 to 85-15. And Spotify is the streaming service most at war with artists over their abysmal royalty rates. Read between the lines and the real message here is that Apple Music is kicking Spotify's ass.
Music

Apple In Talks To Buy Jay Z-Owned Tidal Streaming Service (9to5mac.com) 61

An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is in talks to acquire the Jay Z owned streaming service, Tidal. 9to5Mac reports: "While specific details are unclear at this point, Apple acquiring Tidal would give it an incredible leg up when it comes to negotiating for exclusive streaming rights. Tidal is currently owned by Jay Z and a variety of other artists, including Kanye West, Beyonce, Chris Martin, Jack White, and many more. Negotiations between Apple and Jay Z are reportedly still early and 'may not result in a deal,' according to the report. Apple is interested in Tidal because of its strong ties to artists, many of which are owners. Tidal has secured the exclusive streaming rights to a handful of notable albums in recent months, including Beyonce's Lemonade and Kanye West's The Life of Pablo." Earlier this year, a report claimed that Samsung, Google and Spotify had all considered buying the streaming service.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Preferred Media Streaming Device? 226

New submitter bkr1_2k writes: Way back when, I had a PC dedicated as a media server using MythTV. That died and I didn't bother building a new one. Consumer electronics caught up and I recently bought an Apple TV (3rd Generation) to use for streaming my media library. I am, unsurprisingly, finding flaws with it. I'm looking for alternative devices that allow me to stream from my media server directly, without the need for a middleman app like iTunes for the Apple TV. I don't need a ton of streaming services (we have Netflix and Amazon Prime but don't use anything else). I primarily want to use this for streaming my own music and movie libraries over my home network, preferably with a user interface that lets me browse those in a fashion that doesn't force me to scroll through my whole library to get to the title that starts with the letter "Z" (A very poor design choice in the Apple TV). Nor do I want any voice controls since they all suck, in my experience. I would prefer an 'open' device that I can update at will with add-ons, but it's not a requirement. What are the current options out there? Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast. Anything else that might fit my needs better? Last week, we asked a similar question: "What's your preferred music streaming service?"
Democrats

Elizabeth Warren Says Apple, Amazon and Google Are Trying To 'Lock Out' Competition (recode.net) 321

Elizabeth Warren, an American academic and member of the Democratic Party, believes that Google, Apple, and Amazon are trying to use their size to "snuff out competition." In a speech about the perils of "consolidation and concentration" throughout the economy, the Massachusetts senator singled out the three of tech's biggest players. From a report:Warren had different beefs with Google, Apple and Amazon, but the common thread was that she accused each one of using its powerful platform to "lock out smaller guys and newer guys," including some that compete with Google, Apple and Amazon. Google, she said, uses "its dominant search engine to harm rivals of its Google Plus user review feature;" Apple "has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services" that compete with Apple Music; and Amazon "uses its position as the dominant bookseller to steer consumers to books published by Amazon to the detriment of other publishers.""Google, Apple and Amazon have created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and ... they deserve to be highly profitable and successful," Warren said. "But the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again."
IOS

Spotify Says Apple Won't Approve New Version Of Its App Because It Doesn't Want Competition For Apple Music (recode.net) 327

According to a report on Recode, Apple has rejected an update to Spotify's iOS app, and that this has caused a "grave harm to Spotify and its customers." The Swedish-based music company competes with Apple's Music streaming app and service. In a letter to Apple's top lawyer, Spotify says that Apple turned down a version of the app citing "business model rules" and demanded that Spotify uses Apple's billing system if it wants to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions. From the report:The letter, sent by Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez to Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell on May 26, suggests that Spotify intends to use the standoff as ammunition in its fight over Apple's rules governing subscription services that use its App store. "This latest episode raises serious concerns under both U.S. and EU competition law," Gutierrez wrote. "It continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple's previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify ... we cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors."
Android

Amazon Prime Will Knock $50 Off an Android Phone If You Watch Amazon's Lock-Screen Ads (recode.net) 153

It's no secret that Amazon's Fire Phone tanked on the market. But while the e-commerce giant is keeping a distance from smartphone manufacturing business for some time, it is not ignoring the platform. The company is now willing to offer its Prime members a $50 discount on two unlocked phone models should they agree to see ads on the lock-screen of their smartphone. Recode reports:Unlike the Fire Phone, which used Amazon services in place of Google, these two phones (the fourth-generation Moto G and Blu R1 HD) will include all the standard Google apps (Play Store, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, etc.) along with Amazon apps for shopping, watching video and playing music. With the discount, the Blu phone will sell for just $49, while the price of the Moto G drops to $149. The move is clearly a modest one but could at some point become more significant, particularly if Amazon is willing to strike deals with other hardware makers to include its apps and services.The bigger news is Amazon finding its way into Google Mobile Services-powered Android smartphones. Most of the Amazon-branded devices don't have Google Mobile Services (Google Play, Google Play Services, Gmail etc).
Google

Google Partners With LyricFind To Display Songs Lyrics In Search Results (billboard.com) 35

Google has signed a multi-year licensing deal with LyricFind, a Toronto-based firm that provides lyrics of songs. As a result of the collaboration, users will now see song lyrics directly in the search results, both the companies have announced. From a BillBoard report:A query for the lyrics to a specific song will pull up the words to much of that song, freeing users from having to click through to another website. Google rolled out the lyrics feature in the U.S. today (June 27), though it has licenses to display the lyrics internationally as well. While the terms of the deal weren't disclosed, LyricFinder Chief Executive and co-founder Darryl Ballantyne projects publishers and songwriters seeing "millions" of dollars in additional revenue from this arrangement.The move comes six years after Microsoft partnered with LyricFind to display lyrics on Bing.com (Archived link).

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