Pebble Smartwatch to Hit Best Buy Stores July 7th; Sell Out in No Time?

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It seems that with every day that passes, another tidbit of news concerning a smartwatch comes along. Could this be the Summer of the Smartwatch. I’d like to think so and while they’re certainly not for everyone, it’s nice to finally see the humble wristwatch enter the 21st century. Sony may have announced their latest and greatest smartwatch recently but, one of the most popular smartwatches is the Pebble. Having garnered somewhere in the region of $10 Million in funds from Kickstarter, it was clear that the Pebble was going to be a hit.

If you’re unfamiliar with the device, it’s pretty much what you’d expect a smartwatch to be but, instead of relying on a LCD display, the Pebble’s face is in fact an e-ink display. Which saves on battery and also gives a unique look. The Pebble has some development going on but, its main use is glanceable information. In the form of calls, SMS, e-mail and more. Along with the weather and other such niceties.

The Pebble got some mixed reviews and while a lot of people agreed that it was lacking in a number of areas, the general consensus was that the Pebble was worth having. Problem is though, it needed to reach a wider audience and it looks like Best Buy is going to be the outlet to help them do that. The above picture is a shot of their new packaging destined for shelves in Best Buy stores. The price will remain at just $149 and should be available around July 7th in store.

Smartwatches, and all wearable computing, continue to be a polarizing subject – you either love it or you hate it. I’m very much in the love it category and I’d hope that the Pebble could go worldwide any day now as I’d like to pick one up in the UK. If you’ve already got a Pebble, let us know how you like it in the comments below. If you’re looking to get one, then bookmark this page and wait patiently for July 7th.

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Intel Getting Ready for a Real Push in Mobile? Ramping up Atom Processor Production

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As of Today, Intel doesn’t have much of a presence in the Android world. They are known for their desktop processors and even the Atom chips in many netbooks and a few Samsung and ASUS tablets. Intel just released their Haswell chips for desktops and laptops, which are supposed to provide amazing battery life. Many laptop manufacturers have already put them into their laptops. Like the Macbook Air, HP Envy 15 and 17, just to name a few. Now Intel is getting ready to ramp up their Atom production line. So they can a rival to other ARM-based processor makers like Qualcomm and NVIDIA.

Intel’s new CEO, Brian Krzanich said, the company is going to be changing quite a bit in the next few months. We should also see some more mobile devices running on Intel’s processors. Krzanich also says that Intel is “evaluating” the schedule for future chips in the hope of improving its timing.

We’ve said this before, but Intel really needs to give their rivals like MediaTek, Qualcomm, NVIDIA and even Samsung a run for their money. Intel is the name of the game when it comes to computers, so why not when it comes to mobile devices?

Intel is currently still the worlds largest chipmaker, and is still dominating the PC industry, with AMD “trying” to catch up. But the PC industry is slowing down, which means Intel needs to look elsewhere for revenue. Since the Mobile industry is booming right now, it looks like the perfect place. I’d love to see a chip like the Haswell Core i7 in my next tablet or phone. Especially with the battery life the Haswell chips bring along. Some laptops say they have 9-14 hours of battery life with the new Haswell chips. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d love that in my phone that I use constantly.

How many of you would love to have a powerful and battery friendly Intel chip in your next phone or tablet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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Featured: Top Ten Best Android Games – June 2013

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10. Rage Of The Gladiator

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Originally developed for the Nintendo Wii, Rage of the Gladiator has finally made it to our doorstep and it certainly is a touch of bad ass. Rage of the Gladiator features awesome 3D graphics with full voice acting and the bosses even have their own personalities and taunt you. You’ll enjoy every battle and utilizing the 14 insane finishing moves you’ll have at your disposal. The best part is that it’s free. Can’t beat that.

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9. Mechcom 3D RTS

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MechCom 3D RTS is a real-time strategy game that, just like all RTS style games of this type will allow you to build up your defenses and take down the enemy base with your massive army of weapons. Grow your army of mechs and upgrade all your units and defenses. Engage in combat in 12 different maps set in 3 worlds, use the old school resource collection system to gather all your components and upgrade your mechs and defenses with 16 alternate mech upgrade combinations. If you love RTS games, this one’s worth checking out.

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8. Brave Heroes

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If a game could blend the best of RPG elements and exciting arcade action Brave Heroes would be it. There are over Dozens of heroes to choose from and over hundreds of strategies to carry out your attacks. You use the simple one touch UI to pick and choose your next move, and there are tons of combinations in strategy. Each character class has their own unique skills and abilities which give the game some replay value. The graphics are great and the gameplay is just simple enough to be addicting and lots of fun. There are some IAP but they don’t seem to be required to enjoy the games full experience.

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7. The Silent Age

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Adventure games have a new entry. The Silent Age. Episode one of this continuing saga is just the beginning. Games like this were made popular on the PC and Mac years ago, and they’ve made a startling comeback. In The Silent Age you’ll play as Joe, a hard-working custodian who stumbles upon a dying man with a last wish. “Save mankind”. You obtain a portable time traveling device and away you go with the adventure. It’s your job to figure out why mankind is in danger and what causes the catastrophe years ahead in the future.

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6. Gear Jack

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Gear Jack was a game of the day last month and certainly well deserved. From developers Crescent Moon Games comes a tale of a heroic little robot that must save the first fully automated space ship created by the humans. The ship has been hit by a massive shock wave, and now floats towards its untimely end within a black hole. You as jack must slide/jump, and run while you solve puzzles and avoid traps as you attempt to save the W.Hale. This game is a great little adventure with cool graphics style and addicting gameplay. Picking it up would give great satisfaction.

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5. Hero Of Many

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Beautiful artistic graphics and wildly imaginative yet exciting gameplay is the only to briefly describe Hero of Many. This atmospheric action/adventure game takes you deep underwater where you lead an army of underwater being who must fight for freedom. There are multiple worlds in which you carry out this adventure and a total of 26 levels. Among the awesome graphics and thoughtful gameplay style, you can immerse yourself into the game even further with the original soundtrack. You must solve challenging puzzles and learn to survive if you’re going to gain the freedom you so desperately desire.

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4. Bounty hunter: Black Dawn

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Another game featured in our game of the day which you can find here, Bounty Hunter:Black Dawn is as close as we may get to Borderlands on Android. It houses the same quirky and loveable cell shaded graphics style that everyone loves about Borderlands and even has some comical dialogue between characters. In this FPS with a total of 4 different classes and unique characteristics to each, you’ll find plenty of adventure, weapons, gear upgrades, and special abilities that help you kick some ass. The game costs about $5, but in my opinion it’s worth it.Google-Play-Banner-Get-it-On-Large1

3. Quadropus Rampage

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Have you ever wanted to just be a quadropus? Floating along the plankton and other sea life, taking in the scenery, playing tennis, saving the world… Yes those are all elements of the day to day in the life of a quadropus. What you think i’d lie about it? You think this is just some fun and games? Some Shenanigans? Well, you’d be right about most of it. Except the lying part. Were all truthful here. Be a quadropus. Go on a rampage. Smack your enemies in the ear with things like rock n roll guitars, the Joyful racket of friendship (no with more slapping power!) and the irrational hoe with balsamic. This crazy adventure is sure to please your gaming needs, as well as make you laugh to potentially squeeze out a little something and possibly embarrass yourself for all eternity.

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2. Final Fantasy IV

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Many hail this as the Final Fantasy of all Final Fantasies. The 4th installment into the series was not only memorable on a level that is virtually unmeasured, it engrossed its players into the magic, mystery, and adventure that some could only hope to be a part of. Beautifully redone with gorgeous 3D graphics and the same loveable storyline, FF IV for android is sure to recapture the hearts of players and fans, and might even pull in some newbies who never had a chance to play the game. Square Enix as always, puts out a stellar game. If you can handle the steep pricing, jump on this train and enjoy what’s to come.

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1.DrakeRider

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Finally landing on the play store last month, DrakeRider brings a whole new immersive and beautiful RPG to your android device unlike any other. First off, its a Square Enix title so that immediately gives it some street cred. It doesn’t need it though because it holds enough weight to go toe to toe with the best of the best in RPG games on mobile. The story is deep and rich, filled with awesome cut scenes as well back and forth dialogue between the many characters. The battle system is entirely different than your standard turn based RPG so many of us are used to. DrakeRider breathes renewed life into the RPG series, and if you’re a fan of the game genre, this is a title you absolutely do not want to miss.Google-Play-Banner-Get-it-On-Large1

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US to Become Fourth Largest Smartphone Market by 2018, behind China, Brazil and India

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We all know that the US is the biggest smartphone market. We also learned not to long ago that India is the #3 largest market behind China and the US. But according to analysts at ABI Research that by 2018, China, Brazil and India will surpass the US as the biggest smartphone market. China and India don’t really surprise me since they have many more people living there than we do here in the US. But Brazil? Yeah that one caught me by surprise.

ABI Research also says by the end of 2013, China will displace the US as the largest smartphone market. And India and Brazil will pass up the US in the next five years:

ABI Research forecasts that the top five countries in 2018 will account for 51% of worldwide smartphone shipments while the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries will account for 33% of smartphone shipments.  By 2018, Western Europe and North Americas’ share of smartphone shipments will be 33% (equal to BRIC) down from 39% in 2013. It is clear that the growth of the smartphone market over the next five years will depend on operators and handset OEMs delivering optimized and price appropriate solutions to the BRIC consumers.

This same firm is also predicting that Russia will be the 11th largest smartphone market by the end of this year and will jump to the seventh spot by 2018. It’s really interesting seeing how all these changes are taking place, and how quickly smartphones are taking over. Nowadays it’s almost impossible to find people that don’t own a smartphone of some type. Even if it is just a low-end device coming from Huawei or ZTE.

So does this mean the US won’t get the best smartphones in 2018? It could. Right now, the US gets many of the “good” phones because we are such a huge market, the OEMs have to bring their “A game” if they want to succeed or even break even in the US. We’ll have to wait until 2018 to see how it all plays out. How many of you are surprised to see China, India and Brazil surpass the US in the smartphone market by 2018?

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Patent Wars Continue as Samsung Complains about Apple Complaining

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Later this year, the US District Court for the Northern District of California is set to commence in a limited damages retrial for the first Apple v Samsung case, to determine damages with respect to the 13 of 28 accused products. This was ordered by Judge Lucy Koh on April 29th of this year. This trial is set for November 12th. But there is a caveat here. Samsung was allowed to bring another motion for a stay based on progress in its efforts to have the USPTO invalidate a few of the patents in this trial. With the asserted claim of the rubber-banding patent being confirmed last month, and other reexaminations being far behind, prospects for a stay are really not bright at all.

It’s come to light now that Apple has “claim vastly greater damages” as shown in the image above. Back in August of last year, the jury awarded Apple damages of $1.05 billion, which was later decreased. But that $1.05 billion was less than half of what Apple was asking for. Samsung decided to challenge the verdict on a variety of grounds. Apple also challenged the few aspects of the verdict that weren’t favorable to it. Judge Koh upheld almost all of the jury’s liability-related findings, which was really great for Apple.

In the November trial, Apple’s damages expert Terry Musika, which is a certified public accountant will not be there. Terry passed away last year. Which means Apple needed to appoint a new CPA, which is Julie Davis. Davis also had to present a new report. She can’t be reasonably required to testify based on someone else’s report. Koh did make it clear that her damages theories would have to be consistent with what the court allowed last year.

Samsung’s motion for relief is heavily-redacted. An exhibit that contained correspondence between counsel actually provides more useful information on Samsung’s objections to Davis’s new 393-page damages report, than the public redacted version of the motion itself:

“By way of example, and without limitation, Ms. Davis’s new report: (a) improperly changes the design around periods; (b) includes new per-product damages calculations, which Ms. Davis calls ‘incremental profits’; (c) includes 42 alternative damages calculations hinging on different assumptions; and (d) includes extensive commentary on new evidence and trial testimony.”

Apple has refused to withdraw Davis’s report and disagrees with Samsung that the case schedule can’t be kept due to a dispute over the report. There’s still over 4 months before the retrial. Not only did the jury award Apple far less than it asked for, but according to what Apple informed the court on the April 29th hearing, “In some places, Michael Wagner came up with numbers larger than the jury came up with.” Additionally, “If you look at the verdict here and you look at it in its aggregate, you look at it at least as certain products, the number the jury awarded was smaller than Wagner’s number.”

So the patent war continues between Sammy and Apple.

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Sony Honami Camera App Available for Xperia Devices, 20MP Sensor Not Included

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The upcoming Sony Honami smartphone is purportedly equipped with a 20-megapixel camera sensor that’s also able to record 4K resolution video in full. You don’t have to be well versed in mobile tech or photography to see that those figures are ridiculous, and awesome. Unfortunately, most of us will never experience hardware like that, at least not without holding the Honami in our very own hands. That being said, if you have a Sony Xperia device you can still try out the new software features in the Honami’s updated camera app.

User krabappel2548 has posted instructions on how to install the unique software on devices like the Sony Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, and Xperia Tablet Z. If you have one of the aforementioned devices, then head on over to the XDA Developers forum and follow the necessary instructions to install the new camera app.

It’s just like any other camera app, so don’t expect it to be revolutionary. There are no crazy additions here. However, the app does come with some features that are exclusive to the new version. Some of those include artistic filters, visual search options, improved focusing (faster), and augmented reality support.

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You can see from the screenshots some of the new features that are available. Pretty cool stuff, especially the visual search feature. Check them out, and let us know what you think in the comments.

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There’s no telling whether or not Sony will update older devices with the same software at some point. That means we don’t really know if the related handsets will get official support for the new camera app, but that’s why we have great developers like krabappel2548. The beauty of Android is that you can pretty much do what you want with the platform, including install updated software versions that would otherwise be incompatible with your device.

Do you have one of the compatible Sony Xperia devices? Have you tried out the new camera version yet, and if you did what did you think? Does this news make you want to get a Sony Honami when it’s available?

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Analyst: Nokia Needs to test the Android Waters Soon

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Nokia is struggling. Windows Phone is struggling. Put them both together and there’s nothing but doom in store for both companies. Luckily for Nokia they still have a lot of cash in the bank. Even after being “irrelevant” for a few years. Right now Windows Phone is not even at 10% market share worldwide, while Android is taking up around 70% of that market share. So why won’t Nokia jump ship to Android? Well according to an analyst by the name of Pierre Ferragu at Bernstein Research, he thinks they should test the Android waters soon.

Right now Nokia is “in bed with” Windows Phone. Basically they have an exclusive contract with Microsoft to make Windows Phones. Now it’s not that their phones are bad, in fact they are built like tanks and have great hardware. The problem here is software. It was reported yesterday that Windows Phone 8 just surpassed 100,000 apps. In comparison to Android, that’s about how many Twitter apps we have.

Ferragu is pointing out that Nokia’s balance sheet is “in a rather tight net cash position.”Also that the company’s finances are at the risk of being pushed to the limit due to Nokia’s specific exposure to the feature phone market and the very slow adoption rate on Windows Phone.

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If you take a look at the image above, you’ll notice that Microsoft took a slight dip in the US market share. Going from 3.2% in the 3-month period ending in February 2013, to just 3.0% in the 3-month period ending in May 2013. That is a really small drop, but when you are sitting at just 3% market share in the US, every little bit counts. Meanwhile Android is sitting at 52.4% in the US.

Ferragu goes on to say that  ”I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nokia adopting Android as its new low-end platform by year end.” That wouldn’t surprise me either. Nokia desperately needs something like Android. Many Android users have had Nokia phones in the past, so they know how great their hardware is. Then you through Android 4.2 or possibly Android 4.3 on top and you’ve got an instant win. But Nokia will need to market their phones if they have a chance against Samsung.

Do you think we’ll see Nokia enter the Android world by the end of the year? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

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Qualcomm Applies for Smartwatch Patent, “TOQ”, Only a Matter of Time for a “Qualcomm Watch”?

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The above photo is just one portion of the Patent Wall that resides in Qualcomm’s buildings. If you think that’s a lot of patents, you should see the rest of the wall, it’s practically a tourist attraction – y’know for industry bigwigs and geeks. It’s pretty routine for a massive electronics giant such as Qualcomm to hold a dizzying amount of patents, they didn’t get to become the number one brand in mobile processors and wireless technology by letting everyone else in on their secrets.

Recently, there was word that Qualcomm would be releasing their own smartwatch this fall under the name of “ZOLA”, which didn’t sound like Qualcomm, a company that facilitates partners like Samsung, HTC, LG et al. Now though, it’s come out that Qualcomm do in fact have their sights set on a Smartwatch, or at least the technology behind them. A recent patent was filed by the company for the “Qualcomm TOQ”, which is described thusly:

“Personal communication hub in the form of a wristwatch; portable electronic devices for transmitting and reviewing text, data, image, and audio files; hands free devices for mobile phones; battery chargers.”

We imagine that Qualcomm are hoping that “TOQ” is pronounced “tock” by the time it hits the market but, we’re not so sure that Qualcomm would bring this to market themselves. In fact, this would properly be the smartwatch equivalent of the “Ultrabook, inspired by Intel” mantra we see with laptops. Qualcomm will probably license this platform out to manufacturers and OEMs that can put their own stamp on things and then subtlety say “powered by TOQ from Qualcomm” or something similar.

It’s certainly not a bad idea either, Qualcomm have all the requisite patents for communication in wireless and the like to make smartwatches work seamlessly with smartphones and having a brand to back it all up should work well for Qualcomm. There’s no doubt that smartwatches are coming, the question now is just from who, and when.

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MediaTek to Join Samsung in the Mobile Octa-Core Game – Producing the MT6592 with 8 Cortex-A7 Cores

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MediaTek has mostly been known for their low-cost and low-performance SoC’s used in many of the cheaper or budget devices. Especially in China. In fact, the Acer Iconia A1 that I’m in the process of reviewing right now is running on a quad-core MediaTek chip. And it’s definitely a low end chip, I’ll talk more about that chip specifically in the full review later this week.

Now MediaTek is getting ready to produce it’s upcoming MT6592. So why is this a big deal? Well the MT6592 is an octa-core SoC that maxes out at 2GHz. That should give your device some sure fire power right? This new SoC will be ready to be tested by various manufacturers by the end of July. It’ll be running with 8 Cortex-A7 processors made using the 28nm tech. There are some reports out there that the MT6592 is scoring over 30,000 points on AnTuTu. Which is about the same as the Snapdragon 800 from Qualcomm and Samsung’s Exynos 5410 SoC.

Samples will be ready for OEMs to use in testing their new devices this month, we aren’t expecting the MT6592 to be in any shipping devices until December 2013 at the earliest. MediaTek is already in most of the Chinese phones now, so I’d expect the new MT6592 to hit the Chinese market first in phones from ZTE, Huawei and others that are from China.

It’s great to see MediaTek getting serious about mobile processors. I just wished this octa-core processor they are working on was a bit more powerful. Say Cortex-A15 cores? But it does appear to be a true octa-core processor unlike the Exynos 5 Octa from Samsung which only runs on 4 cores at most. With 4 high powered cores, and 4 lower powered cores. We definitely need to see more competition in the SoC space. Right now Qualcomm is running away with all the business similar to Samsung with their phones and tablets.

How many of you would love to check out this new octa-core processor from MediaTek? I know I can’t wait to get my hands on a device sporting one of these. I’d love to compare it to the Snapdragon 800 and the Exynos 5 Octa as well.

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YouTube App Getting Background Audio in Upcoming Update; The Labels Are Gonna Love This

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Ryan Matthews, who is no strange to revealing future features of all thing Google, like the new GMail interface, Hangouts, Nexus hardware and more, has gotten his hands on some info about some upcoming features coming to the YouTube app in an update.

Ryan mentions two features, multi-tasking and background audio. Multi-tasking is kind of weird for an app like YouTube if you ask me. It seems like a very high-end feature since not all hardware will be able to handle two apps (or one app and a video) at once and it sort of goes completely against the rumors of the upcoming version of Android but it’s still a nice option to have available.

The multi-tasking is to be accessed from within the app, via a swipe button in a corner, sending the app into a smaller window, leaving room for a second app in the rest of the screen. This sounds very similar to the way Samsung handles it’s multi-window on its devices.

Matthews also mentions that even with these feature working only inside of the YouTube app, a system wide implementation may be launched when the update goes live.

The guys over at Android Police talked to Ryan and he mentioned the other feature, background audio playback. This has been a feature many people have been requesting for a long time and it looks like Google is finally listening (like they did with the new camera and its ability to take pictures with the volume rocker).

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You’ll be able to start a video and then change the app or turn the screen off and the audio will continue playing in the background, much like every single music app does right now. And that’s the point I’m trying to make with this, what if YouTube starts functioning like a glorified music app where you don’t have to pay a dime except for the occasional ad here and there. Some music labels are uploading the music videos themselves, making it perfectly legal to listen to them a million times. So far, you had to watch the video to do it, but now, if you can just make a playlist and play it in the background, it would be like the music labels basically giving you a streaming service for free, albeit a limited one since the library won’t be as complete as real, paid music streaming service like Google Music All Access, Spotify and the rest. Something like this would only offer singles that have music videos but still, that’s a lot of free music.

How does this fit with all the hard work Google has been doing with the music labels lately? We’ll see how they react to this when the update goes live, which according to Ryan’s estimates, it should be in about six weeks, but that’s just his estimate with no real information attached to it.

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