Tag Archives: Android

YouTube Red and Google Play Music

I am in the midst of changing over from Spotify (which I’ve been a big fan of over the years) to Google Music, and while only a day or two in I already have some thoughts on it.

While Google Play Music is the same price as Spotify, the benefits are seemingly much greater…the only downside I can see is the “Discover Weekly” playlist that Spotify offers which gives a great view into new songs similar to those I already like.

Google Music gives a lot of the same features, such as a large library of music, no advertisements, and the familiar ability to download songs for offline play.
On top of this Google also allows you to upload 50,000 of your own clips to the library, which in my case means a resting place for the tens of hours of “Abbott and Costello” that I have saved on a hard drive.

But the real deal is that Google Music also gives access to YouTube Red (which if revenue is Google’s goal (it is) will get split off at some point) and a variety of perks including:

  • Offline Playback: You can download movies for offline viewing, which when riding the subway or just being in places with no Internet, and watch it as you’d like. Yesterday I absorbed some music videos and sports talk TV while drowning out the NYC dregs of the subway.
  • Minimizing YouTube on a phone: So you’re watching a music video and you get a WhatsApp message…the ultimate dilemma…do I go respond to the message, or do I stay here and finish my video?
    Well, on Android Nougat you can just reply from the notification bar…but putting that aside for a second, you can now switch to another app or even shut off your screen entirely and you’re watching videos on YouTube.
  • Exclusives: YouTube has signed some of its top stars to make content just for them, as well as some of YouTube’s own content…one example that I am looking forward to?
    Today’s release of “Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough”, a look into Lindsey’s life as she prepares for shows, battles through tough times off the stage, and of course the electricity that flows when she is performing on stage.

Crosswords With Friends

Crossowords With Friends is the latest Zynga word experience to hit mobile devices, and it’s a fun play…for a few minutes.

I’ve had the game for a couple of days, and am hit with a problem. They give you a daily puzzle for free…but it only takes me about four and a half minutes to finish it…so of course I head to the calendar and play older puzzles.

But like most games, older puzzles aren’t free and cost “10 coins” a piece. Thankfully they start you off with a nice sum of coinage, but it wasn’t long until I plowed through all of that too
It’s only been since the weekend, and I’m already 88 puzzles in (thankfully they let you earn coins as well).

The good news is, while all of them are Entertainment themed, due to a partnership with “People”, there is also a daily overall theme, and don’t let the names fool you…the clues and puzzles are just way too simple, regardless what day of the week it is.

  • People Sunday
  • Movie Monday
  • TV Tuesday
  • Wayback Wednesday
  • Top 40 Thursday
  • Sports Fan Friday
  • Smartypants Saturday

The app is available now on Android and iOS.

Buying/Renting Movies Online

When you go to watch a legitimate movie on digital, you are presented with many options, from Apple’s library to Amazon Prime and Vudu to Crackle.

But the biggest issue is: After you “buy” or “rent” the movie, where can you watch it?

If you bought it from Apple, you are stuck to watching it on an iPad, iPhone or Apple TV.
Bought it on Amazon, and you turn to the Prime Video app on iOS, Android, Xbox, Etc.
Similar for Vudu and Crackle.

But recently I started using a different service, one that we all use tens of times a week, but don’t think about.

Google Play Movies. The first thought is that these are only available in a browser or on Android devices.
But if you go to YouTube, log into your account, and visit your “Library”, your purchases all show up there for your viewing pleasure.

This means your iOS and Android devices, gaming systems (such as Xbox One and PS4), as well as your WiFi enabled DVD/Blu-Ray players can all access these videos.
Even devices that don’t allow app downloads, but have a built-in browser, can get to YouTube and access your purchased videos.

Now back to Rogue One and the bonus features…

ParkNYC

ParkNYC is New York City evolving into the tech world, and by the end of Summer 2017 is supposed to be at all Muni-Meter locations in the 5-boroughs.

At the moment it’s mostly situated around Manhattan and hasn’t fully spread to the outer boroughs, but they promise that it’s going to happen in the near future.

When you pull into a metered spot in NYC, you log into the app, select the zone you are parking in (displayed on street signs, on the actual muni-meter, and on the map in the app) (and make sure to select your zone and not the one across the street or around the corner), and put “money in the meter”.

The trick will be to just put in the minimal amount, and keep extending until you leave so that you don’t overpay…but unlike a standard meter, or the current muni-meters, you can’t extend beyond the “Parking Limit”. And to help enforce that, you won’t be able to ‘park again’ in the same zone within a 30-minute window from when your max time runs out.

While you currently need to display a little ticket in your window, showing what you paid for, you won’t need anything in your car when you pay with ParkNYC. When the meter-agent pulls up the zone, it will show them license plates for cars that are currently parked there….and vice versa for when they pull up your license, it will tell them what zone you are currently paying in.
I think this does make it harder on them to walk around and look in windshields since they have to pull up your info to check if you paid…but on the flip side, the horse cops and interceptors can just drive by and never have to peek into your vehicle from their high mounts.

The app is currently available for Android and iOS.

Sleep As Android

I’ve recently been testing a sleep tracker, Sleep As Android, in an effort to see what I can do differently to get a full restful night’s sleep.

The app is obviously available on Android and comes with a free two-week trial (and afterward is a one-time fee of $3.99) which includes a few solid features, including:

  • Sleep Cycle Tracking – Shows you a graph of your sleeping period, from “Awake” to “Rem” and “Deep Sleep”
  • Smart Wake Up – This will set an alarm for you, within a half hour period, and will pick the ideal time in your sleep cycle to wake you up…personally this doesn’t work for me most days, but on a weekend, this could be ideal.
  • Lullabies – I find things like this to be counterproductive (as random thunderclaps wake me up), but they have a variety of sounds to help people get to sleep <Including white noise, oceans, and storms>.
  • Alarm Clocks – These alarm clocks include smart locks to ensure that you can’t just roll over and turn them off, including QR codes, and math problems.
  • Sleep Recording – Records noises throughout the night, including snores, room noises, and anything else that might jar you awake throughout the night.
  • Smartwatch compatibility

One of the things I like best is that while it has smart watch compatibility, it is not necessary to wear one.
Personally, I can’t wear things on my wrists when I am trying to sleep, so the app allows you to just have the phone nearby on your bed to track all these movements.

Spotify Android Update

Spotify finally kicked their Android app a notch.

As someone with an Android phone that finally has a Micro-SD slot, I’d always wanted to use it to store my few gigabytes of mobile music on, which thanks to Spotify I was able to save for offline play.

But Spotify was always weird. Wherever the app initially installed is where the music got stored and if you tried to move it off the phone to the SD card, it wouldn’t allow it.

Many forums had backdoor methods to do it, including clearing the app and reinstalling. Making sure the card had more room free than the phone. Etc. Etc. But regardless what was tried, it would always install on my phone. And I gave up after a while.

With the Android update this week, Spotify settings finally allowed that transfer to the SD card!

While my phone (and SD card) are both overly large, and have plenty of space on them, it’s nice to be able to move the music over.

Spotify Logo

Why @Waze and Moto X Don’t Play Well Together

I’ve had the Moto X for many years now, evolving from Gen 1–>Gen 2–>Pure.

In 2014 I discussed how Verizon wouldn’t allow “Advanced Calling” on the Motorola Moto X 2nd Gen, and now on the Pure (as a recap, this basically means that one can’t do both talk and data at the same time).

I had stopped using Waze earlier that year, after a glitch left all the talking instructions garbled, but recently I figured I’d give it another try.

When I use Google Maps on my Moto X Pure, I need to load the driving instructions before making a phone call, and I need to end calls while I’m driving to have the maps update with the latest traffic overlays.
But the map still keeps track of where I am going, even when the data is disconnected.

On Waze, when I make a phone call, the map just freezes up. With no connection to primary data (even though the phone is still receiving GPS coordinates) the maps just plain stop working.
They don’t move where the car is going. They don’t continue to tell you where to turn. It’s just a plain old frozen map that won’t get you anywhere fast.

Now I understand that Waze needs Data. And I’m sure that Waze works really nicely for many people. But I’m gonna stick to Google Maps.