Google Play Music Provides Free, Ad-Supported Music Streaming

These past few days (okay, weeks and weeks now, but this week, in particular) everywhere you turned—especially if you’ve been wired in—all everyone seemed to talk about was Apple Music (and the Taylor Swift revolution). The arrival of the Apple streaming platform has been announced like the Second Coming itself but then—poof!—in flies Google Play Music and steals the show. Perhaps only briefly, but enough to make us intrigued what exactly Google has decided to offer its users this time.

Google Play Music Crafts Soundtracks to Accompany Your Life

Listening to music

Apparently, Google is providing a free tier to Google Play Music hoping it will draw more users in. Elias Roman, a product manager, has shared his vision of Google Play Music which would neither be just a library, nor merely a search engine. It would actually combine the two with the goal of making your everyday life heaps better. No matter what you might be doing at a given point (typing away at your desk, sweating yourself beyond belief while getting that quadriceps in shape, chilling in the warm afternoon sun), Google Play Music would be there to provide a soundtrack for your life.

The app will take all the info it can gather into consideration—day of the week, time of day, your preferences, etc.—to figure out what you’re up to and which tunes would be best suited for you right then and there. So Google eventually ends up churning out a tailor-made playlist that you’d love to listen to at that very moment. Like, say, Songs to Scrub Your Bathroom Floor to, Cookin’ and Karaoke-in’ or Good Morning, Sunshine Radio. Pretty neat, huh?

Free vs. Paid Google Play Music

Google Play Music app

Google Play Music will work less like Spotify and more like Pandora—based on your artist and song picks, it’ll give you future recs. The free version, however, will run with ads, but if you decide to go with the paid subscription, you’ll get an ad-free experience, enhanced by the option to listen to music offline and create and edit your own playlists. Plus, you get your six skips per hour. Still, with or without the subscription, you’ll be able to store and play up to 50,000 songs from your own collection entirely free of charge.

This brand new ad-supported version of Google Play Music will first hit the U.S. It’s already available on the web and, by the end of the week, all of you Android and iOS users will be able to join the lucky desktop surfers as well.

The Fairphone 2 Is a Modular, Recyclable Android Smartphone

Is it like Project Ara? Kind of, but not really.

Fairphone 2 modular smartphone

The main difference between the two is that the Fairphone 2 is, in fact, a traditional-looking phone, whereas Project Ara comes with an aluminum frame with slots for modules. Still, you can swap old parts with new ones on the Fairphone, just like you would on e.g. your computer. You simply remove the back cover and start fixing up your phone.

Take It Apart and Build It Back Up Again

According to the company behind the handset, the Fairphone 2 consists of seven main building blocks which make it really easy for you to swap old parts for new ones solely with your hands and the help of a screwdriver.

There’s the external case, the replaceable battery, and the transceiver i.e. the core of the entire system (comprises the main chipset, modem, memory, flash storage, SIM and MicroSD card slots, antennas, radios, and power management). Other components include the front- facing camera, the rear camera with the flash, the noise-cancelling microphone, the display unit (LCD module, touch-sensing driver, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 lens), the headset connector, etc.

The best part about all of it? The Fairphone 2 and all of its parts are not only repairable, but also recycable – the company wanted a device that would have as little impact on the environment as possible.

“It is important to note that all of the electromechanical components are easily replaceable — none are soldered, apart from the microphones, which need to be. The buttons, which are part of the transceiver, sit on flexible printed circuits that are spring-connected to the main board. The units themselves are also built in a modular way to enable refurbishment,” said Olivier Hebert in the company blog post.

The Fairphone 2: Not About Specs

Fairphone 2

Specs are really not the point of the Fairphone 2 (you’ve probably realized this by now), but it’s definitely nice to see that the company created a phone you can place somewhere between the mid-range and flagship smartphones currently available on the market. Here are what we know about the handset so far:

Display: 5” HD, Gorilla Glass
Resolution: 1080p
Chipset: Snapdragon 801
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB (expandable)
Battery: 2,420mAh
Rear Cam: 8MP
Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Other: dual-SIM support

The Fairphone 2 will become available in Europe in the autumn of 2015, but there’s still no word whether it will arrive to other countries worldwide.

Sharp to Produce Displays for Even Thinner Smartphones

Have you ever thought your smartphone could be thinner? Maybe you have or maybe you’re more than satisfied with its thickness and believe your device is just slender enough, but the fact remains: technology won’t rest until smartphone displays have become as slim as possible. And Sharp, a well-known Japanese multinational corporation, seems to be at the forefront of a new era with its promise to start mass producing new in-cell type touch displays. But what’s all the ruckus really about?

Take Your Pick: Thin Smartphone or Impressive Battery Life

Thin Smartphone

The leaner the smartphone, the more likely it is that its battery life is not that mind-blowingly massive. Sadly enough. But why? Because in order to fit a sizeable battery you need more space. So getting rid of the unwanted volume directly affects the battery capacity. Well, maybe not anymore.

Thinner Displays and Their Implications

With these brand new displays, the touch sensor would be built directly into the LCD, as opposed to being attached to the LCD as it’s typically the case with the existing smartphones. And voila! You’ve got yourself a thinner and lighter display in no time. Which would then also allow room for more imagination and freedom when it comes to future smartphone and display design and innovation.

Innovation Specialists’ Stamp of Approval

Apple iPhone 6

Sharp is definitely not a rookie when it comes to revolutionary ideas, especially regarding displays. The Japanese electronics company was behind the development of the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus displays and has made enormous breakthroughs in the field of display panel space. Plus, their low-power IZGO displays have greatly helped enhance device battery life. So, if they say these thin and light displays are the future, what else can we do but believe them?

Perhaps it’s a small step for displays, but a giant leap for smartphones.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Who Will Win?

Surely you’ve heard Apple Music has been in the spotlight recently and, even though it’s definitely not the first music streaming platform around (nor the last), the reason for all the commotion and excitement is probably the fact it’s gonna offer millions of songs, non-stop radio stations and its very own Android app. But wait, isn’t that what Spotify already does?

Sizing Apple Music and Spotify Up

History of music streaming

To answer our own rhetorical question: it sure is. But, perhaps it’s the size that matters? Or, more precisely, the number of tracks streamed. Spotify’s 30 million might be enough for you (it is, after all, thirty million songs we’re talking about here!), but if you’re into some more obscure bands and tunes, perhaps it’s those 7 million you’ll need as Apple Music’s estimated music library is a staggering 37 million!

Free for the Taking

Also, there’s the free trial issue. Spotify is ready to grant you 30 days of unpaid streaming, while Apple is announcing three months of free trial period. That’s 90 whole days to get you hooked on their app, which is more than enough to convince you to go with the paid subscription once the freebie time’s over, don’t you think?

It doesn’t hurt to remind you that Apple Music will be available starting from June 30, though. And, as for all you Android users, that day’ll come even later.

Stick With What You Know?

Listening to Music

Ultimately, the technology giant believes that it’ll manage to surpass Spotify’s 20 million paid subscribers, which is a really bold statement (though not unexpected).

What do you think—can they realistically achieve that goal? And more importantly—will you be giving Apple Music a shot or are you sticking with the good stuff, i.e. Spotify, Pandora, Deezer and other tried and verified music streaming apps?

BlackBerry Considers Launching an Android Smartphone

Once upon a time when smartphones were a rare and mysterious occurrence, BlackBerry was a god amongst mere mortals. Mortals being the other phones. The not so smart ones. Over the years, however, BlackBerry lost the highest and the brightest spot in the mobile phone world and kept tumbling down as some other giants by the name of Apple, Samsung and LG rose to power. Fast forward to the present day and this little tiny bit of potentially exciting news which has revealed that, apparently, BlackBerry might welcome Google’s Android into its home. About time?

The BlackBerry Classic smartphone

BlackBerry Opens Its Gates to Android

Some will undoubtedly say that such an action is at least half a decade late, others will greet it with their arms wide open nonetheless. Although, the incorporation of an Android touchscreen could be seen as the acknowledgment that the BlackBerry revamping that took place recently has failed to win the world over and that it was time to ‘sell out’ and admit defeat.

Android robot

Still, a BlackBerry device going down the Android path could win back some of the old users that have since moved on to the greener pastures (inhabited by little bright green robots). Even more so with the recent report mentioning the possibility of a sliding keyboard.

Oh, How the Mighty…

Whether or not this leaked piece of news is genuine remains to be seen. On the one hand, the company maintains that it’s still very much committed to BlackBerry 10. On the other hand, the fact that the Great and Powerful BlackBerry, which once presided over the entire smartphone kingdom, now has a market share of less than 1 percent could indeed indicate that this as yet unconfirmed news might not be just a rumor, after all.