Apps & updates: Sparrow, Spotify, The New Yorker, Cloud, Bank of America, more

Other than the notable apps and updates below, developers of Shazam, the “9th most downloaded app of all time,” announced today its song recognition service has been used to identify over 5 billion songs. The five billionth tagged song on Shazam was “Blow Me One Last Kiss” by Pink. Head below for our full list of new apps and updates hitting the App Store today:

Sparrow for Mac version 1.6.3: Sparrow’s Mac App Store app was updated today with a number of performance enhancements and fixes. A full list of what’s new in version 1.6.3 is below:

- improved performance when loading huge conversations
– URL in subject can be clicked
– date and subject in headers can be selected
– improved avatar in message cells
– improved IMAP compatibility
– brazilian localization
– fixed progress indicator in message view
– fixed crash when loading some HTML messages
– fixed crash with POP accounts fixed

Spotify version 0.5.4: Spotify received a decent update today that brings the ability to show more stations for iPad users, fixes login issues for Facebook users, and adds stability improvements.

The New Yorker Magazine: Previously only available as an iPad app, The New Yorker is now bringing all of its magazine content to the iPhone with a new universal app available on the App Store now. To celebrate the release of the iPhone version, you will be able to get the Aug. 13 and Aug. 20 issues completely free (old issues are not accessible on the iPhone app). Read more

Apps & updates: Sparrow update/sale, Spotify radio, Bento 4 for iPad, Square reward cards, more

Below is our usual list of the most notable app-related news from today, including, among others: new web radio features for Spotify, the release of Bento 4 for iPad, and updates to both the Square Register and Pay With Square iOS apps.

Spotify Version 0.5.2: First, we have an update to the Spotify iOS app that brings a new radio experience to the service. A report from AllThingsD detailed the new web radio service and described it as “more or less mirrors Pandora’s core radio service.” The service would include advertising and offers users the ability to listen free on mobile devices, and it would initially launch for iPad and iPhone with an Android version in development. The iTunes page explained users could now start radio stations based on genres, artists, playlists, and albums, as well as customize their stations “by voting tracks up or down.”

Square Register & Pay with Square: Square updated two of its main iOS app today with new features. The Square Register app now allows merchants to offer reward cards including punch cards for repeat customers and “Visit specials” to attract new customers. On the customer’s side of things, the Pay with Square app was updated with an interface to view and manage the rewards, specials, and punch cards. FastCompany has a nice breakdown of all the new features.

Bento 4 for iPad: Filemaker released Bento 4 for iPad today for the introductory price of $4.99 (goes up to $10 on July 31). It also included a ton of new features, such as: new drag and drop tools, 40 new themes, “Direct Access to the Bento Template Exchange,” and “Form view, Table view, Split view and Full Screen view.” As noted by The Loop, Apple posted Bento 4 as a new app on the App Store, which means owners of previous Bento apps will have to pay for the upgrade.

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Sony releases ‘Music Unlimited’ Spotify competitor as iOS app

Looking to usurp rival competitors like Spotify and MOG, Sony today launched its Music Unlimited streaming service as an iOS app. We told you in January that it was coming, but today the free app officially hits the App Store with subscriptions starting at $3.99 a month for varying access to the service’s 15 million+ songs and playback features. There is also a 30-day free trial of the premium service.

Previously only available to Android users and Sony products such as PlayStation 3 and Blu-ray players, the service offers two paid subscriptions options, including: a $4 Basic plan that provides basic channels and access to your own library; and a $10 Premium account giving you access to on demand playback for Sony’s catalogue, offline listening. The more expensive packages also offers the ability to create playlists, and access charts, new releases, and premium channels. Unlike Spotify, which recently debuted its iPad app, the Music Unlimited app does not have an iPad-specific version.

The Sony Music Unlimited app is available in the New Zealand App Store now, and it should hit the United States and other supported markets soon. As of March, Sony offered the service in 14 countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. A full list of features for Basic and Premium subscribers is below:

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Spotify for iPad finally lands in the App Store

There were leaks last month showing what might have been our first look at the Spotify iPad app, but today the company officially launched its long-awaited app with a blog post and the video above. The free app has already landed in the App Store as a universal download (an update for users of the iPhone app), and the service offers a 48-hour free trial for non-Premium subscribers with the ability to increase it to 30 days.

Our iPad app looks great. We’ve included Retina graphics and high-definition album art to make browsing a pleasure. Enjoying all the world’s music instantly on your iPad has never been easier. And with the brand new full-screen view and AirPlay integration, Spotify and your iPad are perfect for each other, both as your pumped-up living room stereo and your lean, green music machine when you’re on the move.

Compared to Spotify’s iPhone experience, the iPad app has been completely redesigned with a layered UI more familiar to Facebook iPad app users and packs most of the service’s features apart from the recently launched Web apps. It also includes a new full-screen mode with Retina graphics to take advantage of the device’s display and AirPlay support. Missing is “Collection” view and few other features only accessible through the online service.

The full set of features, as described by Spotify community manager Andres Sehr, is below:
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MOG unlimited music hits the iPad ahead of Spotify

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MOG is a Spotify-like service that streams 14 million songs to your devices and allows you to download music for offline viewing. The free version allows you to stream music against advertising. Meanwhile, the $4.99 version allows you to not only listen to ad-free music but also download music. The $9.99/month version allows unlimited downloads on mobile devices. Today, MOG added one new big device to its list: The iPad.

The iPad version (not universal?) hit the App Store today joining the earlier iPhone version. Perhaps, if you like your music on a native iPad-sized app, it is time to move to MOG (14-day free trial here with unlimited downloads).

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AT&T to implement data throttling in early October, just in time for iPhone 5

Update: AT&T has officially verified this information.

A new change for AT&T Wireless’ Unlimited Data subscribers will soon be taking place. Rumored to be starting in the first week of October, we’ve heard that AT&T will start throttling the data speeds of the network’s top data hogs.  As Verizon (PDF) and Virgin have recently done, AT&T will be adopting a similar plan to try to curb the problem of data congestion and overall network issues that have hurt its 3G network’s performance since the onset of the iPhone.

AT&T will also be releasing its first LTE devices later this year.

We’ve heard that AT&T will rejigger its insurance structure that week as well, which makes us think a certain high profile device may be launching on or around that time.

The throttling plan will work like the others’. The heaviest users will see significant speed decreases for one billing cycle once they go over a threshold of data (we’re guessing 2-4GB?).  These heavy users will still be able to access the network, but at a much slower speed.  At the start of the next billing cycle, their speeds will return to normal.  We don’t have numbers for AT&T’s throttle speeds but Virgin takes you down to 256Kb/s once you’ve reached their 2.5GB limit (not too bad actually – sometimes we’re happy to get 256kbs).  Interestingly, Virgin’s throttle also will also be implemented in the first week of October which may indicate that they’ll be carrying a certain high profile mobile device as well.

Frankly, throttling isn’t so bad if done fairly.  It is a good way to penalize heavy users but without them having to worry about overage charges.  For high end users, however, it wold make sense for AT&T to add the ability to buy more regular speed data like they do now… Read more

Spotify to launch tomorrow in US

We just got word that Spotify will launch tomorrow in the US (as reported last week).  Perhaps something nice to put on your new Mac?

New York, July 13, 2011 – Spotfy, the award-winning digital music service loved by millions of Europeans, will become available tomorrow morning in the United States by invitation and subscription. Spotify is a new way to listen to and manage your music, discover new tracks and share songs and playlists with friends – music whenever you want it, wherever you are.

Be one of the first people in the U.S. to experience Spotify by signing up at www.spotify.com.

Spotify will announce more details at 8:00 AM EST.

You’ll want to hit this link at some point in the morning. Read more

iTunes dominates US music retail, Amazon fails to dent share

The figures are in and they confirm that iTunes remains the biggest US digital music retailer, with Amazon failing to grab too much of Apple’s digital music heartland.

NPD tells us AAPL’s iTunes took 66.2% of the digital music market in the third quarter of this year – that’s up from 63.2% in Q3 2009.  Easy still beats free. Read more

Spotify upgrade, faster, auto-play, retina display, more

Good morning, while I apologize to our US readers as Spotify isn’t available in your area yet, for European 9to5Mac visitors news that Spotify has updated its applications for OS X, iPhone (and Windows) could be interesting.

The new version introduces the customary bug fixes, but also adds support for Mac media keys without interfering with iTunes. The new version also supports auto-play for all track links when clicked on from Twitter, Facebook, feed, etc. Existing users will see their install automatically updated in the coming days.

The big news is for iPhone users, Read more

Google's internal politics complicate its music plans

Google is about to change the music economy, preparing to hand over huge amounts of cash to win rights to offer the music locker service it has been trying to build for Google Music.  However, confused internal politics and music licensing complexity mean Google, just like Spotify and Apple, isn’t set to launch its service before the end of the year. Read more