Chrome, Spotify and Android gear up for an appy New Year
13th Dec 2013 | 10:43
Don't worry, be 'appy
If we were to describe the last seven days in a word, that word would be "week" - but if we were to describe the last seven days' news in a word, that word would be "apps".
We've experienced an avalanche of apps, a profusion of programs, a shi– er, a lot of software, and no matter what platform you're on there's bound to be something new to excite and delight you.
First up there's Chrome, whose Keep and Sheets apps have been given an upgrade. Sheets is faster, handles bigger spreadsheets and works offline, while Keep still isn't as good as Evernote. Chrome Apps are coming to the Mac too, with a new section in the Chrome Web Store devoted to OS X-friendly programs. The apps appear in the Dock and turn up in Spotlight searches just like any other Mac software.
Spotify has a new app too: Spotify Shuffle, a subscription-free version for smartphones. The iOS and Android apps don't require subscriptions to listen any more either, and the service has signed an exclusive deal with Led Zeppelin, a band who were famous a very long time ago, to stream its back catalogue to the three people who haven't pirated it in the 14 years since Napster came along.
Streaming gets exclusive
The deal didn't impress Duncan Geere. Spotify is "forcing [consumers] to ask a question that hasn't been necessary to ask for a few years: 'Will it have my favourite band?'" That could be "a dangerous game to be playing… Spotify's early growth was in large part because it had almost everything." Fancy having to sign up with five different services to hear your five favourite artists? Us neither.
As Geere points out, such exclusivity is common in video streaming, where Netflix has taken the step of commissioning its own series such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. That ties in neatly with our latest look at the two titans of video streaming, LoveFilm and Netflix. Which one deserves your cash? That very much depends on what you want to watch and what you want to watch it on. As our guide explains, the two services do very different things across different devices.
One of those devices is the Apple TV, where Netflix's app is getting some new neighbours: this week the US networks ABC and Bloomberg joined the Apple TV home screen, alongside movies app Crackle. There's still no iPlayer, though, and as Chris Smith points out: "The additions bring Apple more in line with other smart TV platforms, but do very little to help users completely cut the cord from their cable provider, which is reportedly part of the problem the company is experiencing in acquiring content for the rumoured Apple iTV set."
What's got 225 apps and is absolutely fantastic? No, not the new Nexus 5 - we mean our gigantic guide to the most kick-ass Android apps around. We've got more games than you can shake a joystick at, skins to make your smartphone sing, apps to keep the kids quiet and apps to make all kinds of noise.
There'll be plenty of noise in February too. That's when Mobile World Congress 2014, or MWC 2014 for short, kicks off. It's one of the most important shows in mobile and this time around we're expecting bendy brilliance, stupidly large screens and all-round awesomeness from the likes of LG, Nokia, Samsung, HTC and ZTE.
Don't expect to see the Samsung Galaxy S5 there, though: we reckon Samsung's going to give its next flagship its own event, possibly just before MWC kicks off.