Rdio preps revamped music streaming app with a focus on free stations

The Rdio music streaming service is preparing to release an updated version of its mobile app later today will place a new focus on its free “stations” feature as competitors like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple’s one-two punch of iTunes Radio and Beats Music crank up the pressure on the service.

Rdio claims its free music library is as much as fifteen times bigger than those of competing apps. Like other online radio services, the new Rdio will automatically create playlists and stations from that library based on a user’s music preferences. Curated stations from musicians and other celebrities will also be available, much like in iTunes Radio.

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Apple TV loses ground to Roku and Chromecast, drops to 3rd most popular set-top box in U.S.

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A new report compiled by Parker Associates and discovered by Gigaom revealed that the Apple TV has lost some U.S. market share to competitors like the Roku and Chromecast last year, causing it to become only the third most popular device in the category.

According to the report, Google’s Chromecast and the Roku streaming device each sold around 3.8 million units in 2013—though the figure is more impressive in the case of the Chromecast, which was only introduced in the second half of the year. Apple, on the other hand, reportedly moved 2 million devices, putting it just below the others.

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Apple defending its streaming technology used by MLB, ESPN, and others against patent dispute

Another day, another patent dispute. This time Apple is defending the use of its HTTP live-streaming service against Emblaze, Ltd., Bloomberg reports.

Specifically, the lawyer for Emblaze has accused Apple of pushing its video streaming technology on sports-related services like WatchESPN and MLB At Bat which support live streaming over apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and more.

Apple began working on its HTTP live-streaming service, or HLS, “no earlier than 2007,” demanding that services such as “At Bat” use the format to drive sales of iPhones and iPads — and inducing infringement of Emblaze’s patent, Pavane said.

“Apple’s HLS is nothing more than Emblaze’s patented solution under a different name,” he said.

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iTunes Radio streaming is now free on T-Mobile, other services also included

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T-Mobile has just announced at its “Uncarrier 5.0″ event (which apparently double as the Uncarrier 6.0 event) that all streaming music services will now be free to stream on T-Mobile, including iTunes Radio. This also applies to Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, and Spotify.

Any streaming you do will always be done over the company’s fastest available network, and won’t count towards your high-speed data limit.

Customers can visit T-Mobile’s website to request new services to be added to the “music freedom” selection. As streaming services gain votes, they will be added to the program.

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Cue: The current TV experience “sucks,” billion-dollar Apple TV business will get bigger this year

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Speaking at Code Conference Wednesday night, Apple’s head of online services Eddy Cue took a swipe at the current state of television and presented his take on where the future of that industry lies. According to Cue, Apple TV sales have risen in recent years and over 20 million of the set-top box have been sold to date. Cue says that the device is billion-dollar business now and is expected to continue growing.

However, the Apple TV isn’t a true TV replacement. Cue took a few moments to point out just how much using TV “sucks” and bemoan the current range of DVR devices. He even went so far as to compare current technology with the VCRs of a bygone era—and he’s not wrong. Cue cited drawbacks such as having to remember to set a recording or trying to manage storage on the recorder as reasons on-demand streaming through the Apple TV is growing in popularity.

That’s not to say he’s especially fond of today’s on-demand systems either, though. Not only did Cue have sharp criticisms for modern recording tech, he even jabbed at the streaming experience on the iPad, noting that the process of authenticating with a cable provider to access streaming content is less-than-ideal. So what’s his solution?

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Apple brings ESPN and 42 local NPR stations to iTunes Radio

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Hot on the heels of the announcement that Apple had acquired the Beats Music streaming service for $3 billion to help bolster its own struggling competitor, 9to5Mac has learned that Apple is introducing a new ESPN station for iTunes Radio. The station will include original ESPN programs like SportsCenter All Night, SVP and Russillo, The Herd, and Mike & Mike.

The ESPN station will also stream the World Cup, making it the first live sporting event to be streamed live through iTunes Radio.

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Apple reportedly discussing the possibility of a TV streaming service with Comcast

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is now in talks with Comcast about the possibility of a collaborative television streaming service. The plan, according to the report, is for Comcast to provide preferential streaming treatment to an Apple-built set-top box like the existing Apple TV.

The service would allow subscribers to stream live TV shows as well as on-demand content provided by Comcast. The agreement between the two companies would allow Apple’s box to continue streaming smoothly even when other connections were bogged down by high traffic and bypass bandwidth issues.

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ABC streaming Oscars to its apps for some, ESPN adds conference feeds to Apple TV

(via Oscar Blog)

Even before Apple introduces an expected refresh to its streaming set top box sometime this year, several content providers are making the current platform even richer with more and more content. Two big players, ESPN and ABC, will be providing content new to the Apple TV very soon, Variety reports. Starting with ABC, the network will stream the Oscars on Sunday live through its Watch ABC apps for subscribers in select cities (details below). ESPN, for its part, has announced dedicated channels within its Watch ESPN app on Apple TV and Roku for following 15 different conferences. Read more

Google Play Music ‘All Access’ for iOS reportedly landing this month following internal beta

Since first announcing its Google Play Music ‘All Access’ streaming service earlier this year on Android, Google has been delaying the release of an official Google Play Music app for iOS for unknown reasons. Android chief Sundar Pichai originally said the app would be out in “the next few weeks” in May, but four months later we’ve yet to get an iOS app or access to the $9.99 month streaming service on iOS. Today, Engadget reports that Google is continuing to test the app internally and will launch it later this month:

Sources aware of Google’s plans have let slip to Engadget that not only is the company currently testing a native Google Music iOS app internally, but that it’ll launch later this month. We’re told that while employees have been invited to test the app, Google still needs to fix a few bugs before it’s ready for release… The company had previously closed the door on iOS users because Flash was needed to enforce DRM restrictions set by music labels. Now, Google appears to have overcome that issue and is nearly ready to launch.

Until the official app from Google launches, popular third-party clients like the gMusic app have been updated to support the “All Access” streaming service. Read more

Apple unveils much rumored iTunes Radio service at WWDC 2013

iTunes-RadioThere were no shortage of details regarding Apple’s much rumored radio service leading up to today’s keynote address. The rumors said Apple was planning on introducing a free, ad-supported radio service, similar to Pandora, that would be highly integrated with a tweaked model for its iAd business. Apple has now officially unveiled the service dubbed ‘iTunes Radio’ and provided some details on exactly how it will work during its keynote presentation this morning at Moscone West in San Francisco.

The new iTunes Radio app is built in to the iOS radio app, and works on the Mac and Apple TV as well. As rumored, iTunes Radio will be free, supported by ads. In a twist, however, iTunes Radio will be completely free (free of ads) if you’re a subscriber to iTunes Match:

The Music app has a beautiful new design and includes the new iTunes Radio, a free Internet radio service featuring over 200 stations and an incredible catalog of music from the iTunes Store®, combined with features only iTunes can deliver. iTunes Radio is the best way to discover new music. When you tune into iTunes Radio on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac®, PC or Apple TV®, you’ll have access to stations inspired by the music you already listen to, Featured Stations curated by Apple and genre-focused stations that are personalized just for you.

As we reported prior to today’s event, the underlining technology is based on Apple’s iTunes Genius feature with iTunes Radio tailoring the experience to your iTunes usage. Apple says there will be Siri integration, and also aims to offer users “access to exclusive “first listen” premieres from top selling artists.” Read more

Google announces Google Play Music and ‘All Access’ streaming coming to iOS in next few weeks

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After launching its new Google Play All Access music streaming service earlier this month at Google I/O, Google’s head of Android Sundar Pichai just confirmed during his interview at the D11 conference that the service will be making its way to iOS. Sundar said the service would be available on iOS in the next few weeks.

Google announced its new ‘All Access’ $9.99/month streaming service as part of Google Play Music at its Google I/O keynote presentation a few weeks ago. The service offers curated playlists, but also allows users to access a radio feature that automatically creates endless radio stations with the ability to remove unwanted songs.

Since launching, the service unofficially arrived on iOS last week via an update to the third-party gMusic client for iPhone and iPad. The app is one of the more popular Google Music clients allowing iOS users to access Google’s music services, but today is the first time Google has confirmed its plans to bring the service to Apple device’s through its own app. Read more