Spotify music streaming finally available for iOS and Android for free

The free service isn’t an exact copy of what you get on the desktop, since you’ll only be able to select an artist or playlist and hear a stream of shuffled tracks, instead of actually selecting the tracks that you want. Of course, if you want to have full control of your music, you can always subscribe, which won’t break the bank.

I’ve been hoping for this for a long time now as I’m currently using the free plan from Spotify on my desktop and have been looking to replace the radio station in my car with a Spotify station. Say what you may about Spotify, but the ads are considerably less irritating and less frequent compared to the terrestrial radio channels.

Spotify announces free streaming on Android and iPhone, but only in Shuffle mode

At an event in New York today, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced a free streaming product on Android and iOS smartphones, and also on tablets. “We don’t want to make another radio-type service,” Ek said. “We want to make something that’s really great — that really fits into people’s lives,” said Ek. Thus, the focus for Spotify Free on mobile is a Shuffle feature that lets you pick an artist or playlist and hear a stream of shuffled tracks. In other words, the service isn’t straightforward ad-supported streaming on-demand, but is instead more random, like Spotify’s current Radio feature on mobile for free users.

Microsoft might lose its Windows Phone earnings from Android

Forbes reports that Microsoft might lose its revenue from licensing patents to Android phone makers.

Microsoft makes money out of many to most of the Android handsets out there. It’s a substantial chunk of revenue too. On the grapevine we’ve been told that HTC pays $5 a handset, Samsung perhaps as much as $10. We don’t know the total number as Microsoft doesn’t break it out in their accounts but books it in the same division as the Windows Phone licence revenues. And we’re all pretty sure that the Android royalties are larger in that division than the Windows Phone revenues.

Previously, I wrote about how Microsoft is making $2 billion from Android patents. This ruling holds a lot of significance because the judgement will be applied across the European Union, and the ruling is very likely to be the same in the US. It will be a big blow for Microsoft if it lost licensing revenue from the US and EU.

Will Microsoft use Windows RT or Android for low end devices?

Rumors of an Android-powered Nokia phone have been going around for years now, and while there hasn’t been a mass market version of it yet, you can be assured there are at least some Android-powered devices being tested internally by Nokia. There was a loud outcry back when Stephen Elop decided that Nokia would use Windows Phone for its flagship devices, but eventually things settled down and Nokia is currently churning out some pretty decent Windows Phone devices, possibly even beginning to rival Android in some departments.

It’s important to note that Nokia is still using its very old Series 40 operating system for its low end Asha devices. The low end market is still an area where Nokia is strong in, and the company will need to work hard to retain that advantage against competitors such as Samsung and low-cost brands from China.

Now with the majority of Nokia being scheduled to be sold to Microsoft, the question of whether Nokia will still release an Android phone has surfaced again. Using Android has always been a cheap and easy way to target the lower end of the market, but now reports are surfacing that Microsoft might be considering licensing Windows RT for free, which would provide an interesting proposition while increasing Windows RT’s market share, which hasn’t been stellar.

While it’s probably safe to assume that Windows is Microsoft’s platform of choice, let’s not forget that the software giant also makes a healthy profit from the patent licensing deal with Android device manufacturers. Deals that some say could rake in over $3 billion for Microsoft in 2013 alone. Whether Microsoft will be able to continue raking in such licensing fees for Android in the long term remains to be seen, due to the debate over the validity of the patent.

Why Nokia Is Building an Android Phone and Why Microsoft Might Not Kill It

As reported by The Verge and also confirmed to AllThingsD by sources at the Finnish phone maker, the Normandy project has survived despite Nokia’s plan to sell both its Windows Phone unit and the low-end mobile phone business to Microsoft.

As to whether Microsoft will let the project see light of day once it acquires Nokia early next year, the answer is less certain. However, within Nokia there is a sense that Redmond may be willing to pursue the project.

Automatic turns your car into a smart car

Business Insider reviews Automatic, an app that turns your car into a smart car.

Just plug the Automatic dongle (called a Link) into your car’s OBD port and you’ll start getting a bunch of data about your driving logged into the companion app. Much of this data is ultimately meant to help you save money on gas.

It alerts you of driving habits that use more fuel unnecessarily.

For example, Automatic alerts you by making your phone chirp you when you brake roughly, drive 10 or more miles per hour over the speed limit, or accelerate too rapidly. By giving you a heads up about your bad habits, it helps adjust the way that you drive to increase fuel efficiency. Better fuel efficiency means money saved. 

It gives you a score and lets you compete with other drivers.

The app gives you a daily and weekly score based on your driving, and compares your logged fuel economy with the EPA’s estimated value for whatever car you own. If you’re competitive, you’ll love the fact that you can track your driving score week-to-week, and that the app will tell you where you rank compared to other Automatic users throughout the country. 

It remembers where you parked and detects engine issues.

Every time you park, the app also GPS-logs your location, so you never have to search hopelessly for your car in a huge parking lot again. Because the Link is plugged into your OBD port, it can sense when you have engine trouble, and can offer a potential diagnosis.

Foursquare no longer allows private check-ins on iOS 7

Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch that Foursquare no longer allows private check-ins on iOS 7.

Foursquare explains the change:

“As Foursquare continues to grow, we have decided to remove the ability to privately check in,” the entry states. “If you don’t wish to share your location, we’d encourage you to still use Foursquare to get out and explore awesome places nearby!”

Although this only applies to iOS 7, it is only a matter of time before this is implemented on web and other mobile platforms.

This decision speaks to Foursquare’s current direction on several levels. First of all, it coincides with the overall shift of the service away from a ‘check-in game’ to a recommendation engine. Removing the private option means that you can no longer use Foursquare as a ‘personal diary’ of visits, either. It is firmly a public network of curated locations in the vein of Yelp now.

Not a good idea to use a social app as a diary. If you want to keep a diary, go for a journal app instead. I use Day One, which supports recording of your location. Take a photo and save it to your journal along with the location data. A journal app would never choose to go public with your data.

Facebook might be adding a “sympathise” button

Business Insider reports that Facebook might be adding a sympathise button.

When you write a Facebook status, you have the option of choosing to share how you’re feeling from a drop down list of emotions. If you selected a negative emotion like “depressed” from the list, the “like” button under your status would be relabeled “sympathize.”

How about having both the “like” and “sympathise” button at the same time? Some people might just be giving a thumbs up at your expense.

Twitter dethrones Facebook as the best tech company to work for

The Next Web reports that Twitter is the top tech company in the sixth Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards, a list of the top 50 best places to work for in the coming year.

Facebook held the number one spot among tech companies for the past three years, but slipped to third place this year. Twitter took first place while LinkedIn came in second.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Employees’ Choice Awards is based on the input of employees who choose to provide feedback on their job, work environment, and company, via an anonymous online company review survey. Glassdoor then uses a “proprietary algorithm” to determine an overall ranking “based on the quantity, quality and consistency of reviews.”

Google testing delivery drones

Business Insider reports that Google is testing drone delivery.

Google hopes to one day use drones and self-driving cars to deliver purchases made through its new experimental services, sources told Weintraub.

Google is not the only one texting drone delivery. Ever since Amazon’s demo of Amazon Prime Air, UPS has revealed that it is also evaluating the use of drones to delivery parcels. Meanwhile, China is already using drones for delivery.

Lightning cable, the epitome of Apple

John Gruber writes on Daring Fireball about the Lightning adapter.

If the USB developers keeps to the proposed timeline for the implementation of the reversible USB plug, Apple’s Lightning cable would have already been in the market for four years

The Lightning adapter epitomizes what makes Apple Apple. To the company’s fans, it provides elegance and convenience — it’s just so much nicer than micro-USB. To the company’s detractors, it exists to sell $29 proprietary adapters and to further enable Apple’s fetish for device thinness. Neither side is wrong.

Apple doesn’t give a shit what everyone else is doing. To some, that’s what makes Apple great. To others, it’s what’s wrong with Apple. One side thinks, Why in the world should we have to wait until 2016 to have a smaller, reversible plug? The other side thinks, Why in the world would you want a proprietary, non-standard, expensive plug?

The future is now. Guess which camp I belong to.

Using Instagram as a real-time search engine

Joe Weisenthal writes on Business Insider about his use of Instagram to conduct real-time search.

Instagram isn’t perfect, but for the most part you don’t get re-posts (though re-gramming is a thing on a small scale) and you can fairly quickly establish whether a person’s photo makes sense in the context of their previous images. Whereas on Twitter lots of people are news curators, on Instagram people mostly all do the same thing: post what they see right in front of their eyes at that time.

Instagram search isn’t always perfect for news. For one thing, you have to search via one single hashtag, which is annoying. And you can’t search by location (though there are third party search engines that do this). And sometimes you get a lot of people Instagramming a shot of their TV covering news.

But the potential with Instagram is huge in terms of seeing exactly what people are seeing on the ground as events unfold. And it wouldn’t take much for Instagram (owned by Facebook) to improve the search and make it even more useful.

News on Instagram is crowd-sourcing of news. Many more pairs of eyes than news agencies can deploy, covering the news at numerous angles.